Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

  1. #1

    Default Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    Hi everyone,

    My father in law has an old mandolin that was either his fathers or his grandfathers that we are trying to identify. I told him I could take it to the experts .

    A little backstory, although I don't know how relevant it is. The family emigrated from Russia to the US around 1921, and they lived in St. Louis. Apparently his grandfather was a musician back in Russia. My father in law has had it for many years although he doesn't play at all, he had it restored and/or set up sometime in the 1970's in St. Louis. He doesn't know when or where it was purchased originally. I didn't see any markings. If anyone can identify the instrument or has any information about it we would be really interested.

    I would love to get it into working shape. I have played it a little bit but very gingerly. I've seen recommendations for ultra light strings in other threads. Aside from that I am curious to know what the best way to store these instruments is. Do they make special cases for the bowlbacks?

    I hope the pictures come out okay, if not I can take more. Thank you!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mando 1.jpg 
Views:	51 
Size:	92.5 KB 
ID:	196261   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mando 2.jpg 
Views:	46 
Size:	58.3 KB 
ID:	196262   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mando 3.jpg 
Views:	50 
Size:	67.9 KB 
ID:	196263  


  2. The following members say thank you to MandoBenjamin for this post:


  3. #2
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    4,498

    Default Re: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoBenjamin View Post

    I've seen recommendations for ultra light strings in other threads.

    ......Do they make special cases for the bowlbacks?
    Yes, there are special cases for bowlbacks, ranging from leather, canvas, fiberboard, wood, fiberglass, etc.

    It sort of depends on what's available and fits, how much protection you need, and how much you want to spend.

    You definitely want to use very light strings on a bowlback; yours looks sort of OK from the side view, so far so good! Just make sure that the set of string on there is not a set of 11's - 9's would be better. My bet is that the strings are a bit too heavy but that's just a guess based on the jpegs.

    Yours is not a fancy instrument, but looks like a decent instrument with rosewood ribs. I have a "Carl Fischer" mandolin that is very similar.

    Thanks for posting!

  4. #3

    Default Re: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    It looks a lot like a Washburn Style 118 from the fairly early 1900s. As I assume it does not have a Washburn label, then it may be a very similar mandolin made by Lyon & Healy to be sold by a third party.

  5. The following members say thank you to NickR for this post:


  6. #4
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor/Austin
    Posts
    5,657

    Default Re: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    David's right....extra / ultra light strings only on this.
    It looks as if the neck might be in pretty playable shape.
    The bridge looks a bit sketchioso but that can be adjusted / replaced much easier. Perhaps just a new bone saddle.

    Could you post some more photos, please, if you have them. Most interested in a side view to check out the neck as well as some back views to see the neck and headstock.

    Nick's guess of L+H is always a good one...particularly with that headstock profile, but I've never seen that pickguard on a Washburn.

    The 118 model on page 138 of Keef Pleijsier's book doesn't really resemble this.

    Nor did L+H typically use this type of bridge....of course it may be a replacement. Of course, Vega and the proto-Vegans did.

    I'm thinking this could also be out of the NE.

    Some more photos would help.

    Mick
    Ever tried, ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again. Fail better.--Samuel Beckett
    ______________________

    '05 Cuisinart Toaster
    '93 Chuck Taylor lowtops
    '12 Stetson Open Road
    '06 Bialetti expresso maker
    '14 Irish Linen Ramon Puig

  7. The following members say thank you to brunello97 for this post:


  8. #5

    Default Re: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    Thank you everyone for the fast responses. The action on it is pretty good, it feels like it would play very nicely with new strings. I am afraid to get too aggressive with the tuners. I will defiantly post some more pictures but it may take me a couple of weeks, as the mandolin is not at my house.

    I wasn't able to find a case by searching on Google, maybe I am using the wrong terms. David, are there any brands that you would recommend?

  9. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,269

    Default Re: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    I got a hard case some years ago from Elderly Instruments (NFI,) I don't know if they still have any. If I remember correctly, it was about $50.00, but I have several bowlbacks and use it for transportation only. I keep mine in gig bags (not specifically designed for bowlbacks but they fit.) If you are interested, I will look up the make.

  10. #7
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,917
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoBenjamin View Post
    Aside from that I am curious to know what the best way to store these instruments is. Do they make special cases for the bowlbacks?
    Eastman makes real good fiberglass bowlback cases. I have one for each of my bowlbacks. They are light and really strong, and when not being played my bowls are locked in their cases. I use nothing else.

    Once upon a time I was forced to gate check my bowl back. At the end of the trip I picked it up and the white case was all scuffed up with a repetitive pattern of black scuffing. I never found out what it was, transport tires, luggage roller tires, some other luggage handling machine? But, the mandolin survived perfectly, had absolutely no issues at all, and the scuffing all washed off with some industrial strength Gojo.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	bowlback case.jpg 
Views:	18 
Size:	31.2 KB 
ID:	196276
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  11. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Howell, NJ
    Posts
    24,985

    Default Re: Another unmarked bowlback from the "attic"

    I'd have to do some further research but I think this might be a Harmony product built in Chicago.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •