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Thread: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

  1. #1

    Default seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    My mother-in-law passed this on to me and said it was her mother's, so I'm guessing it's from the 1930's-40's. I've done a little research on the B&J label as a distributor, but am guessing it's a Lyon & Healy build from the headstock shape and the cool striped binding. Just curious if anyone has any info to add from looking at the photos? About to put a fresh set of strings on and see how it sounds!

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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    It's earlier, early teens maybe. By the 20's those tuners were gone. Most likely made in Chicago, could be by Harmony or L&H derivative (Regal). Doesn't change the value a whole lot. The value is in the family connection. String it up and enjoy it.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    I have one of these mandolins- the finish is made to resemble Koa but it is birch and the binding is the "rope" style as seen on Hawaiian instruments to complete the pretence and to cash in on the Hawaiian craze. They were sold by Bruno as the Vernon as well and were made by Regal in the 1920s. Mine is a wreck and will never play- the top is horribly warped but it did not show in the photo. There was one on eBay recently- another wreck!

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  4. #4

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Here is the one on eBay- it's still for sale. I already have one and I don't want another! This is probably better than mine- it could not be worse! Those Bell Brand tailpieces were used into the 1930s. https://www.ebay.com/itm/15464120846...m=154641208461

    Here's one that was on Reverb- it has the Regal label inside and a hefty price tag as well!

    https://reverb.com/item/116612-regal...mandolin-1920s

  5. #5

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Here's one that was on Reverb- it has the Regal label inside and a hefty price tag as well!

    https://reverb.com/item/116612-regal...mandolin-1920s
    Mine looks almost exactly like this, except for the 2 screws in the pickguard. The case is exactly the same as what I have. The label inside mine looks like it could have been placed over another, or one was removed and then the B&J label was put in? Either way, I'm super-happy to learn more about it - thanks for your help!

  6. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    I have a B & J Victoria bowl-back that's the spittin' image of a Lyon & Healy product, other than a differently-shaped headstock. The B & J firm sold instruments from a variety of sources, for sure.
    Allen Hopkins
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  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Here is the one on eBay- it's still for sale. I already have one and I don't want another! This is probably better than mine- it could not be worse! Those Bell Brand tailpieces were used into the 1930s. https://www.ebay.com/itm/15464120846...m=154641208461

    Here's one that was on Reverb- it has the Regal label inside and a hefty price tag as well!

    https://reverb.com/item/116612-regal...mandolin-1920s
    OK, and would you like to point out the major difference between the OP's and this one? I'm sure they don't know.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #8

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Mine and the OP's do not have back binding but the Regal branded example may have it. Certainly, you get detail differences on a basic instrument depending on who was selling it. I believe mine may have been made a little later as you get the "cut out" on the pickguard and he has mentioned that his does not have screws.

  9. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    For posterity.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  11. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Mine and the OP's do not have back binding but the Regal branded example may have it. Certainly, you get detail differences on a basic instrument depending on who was selling it. I believe mine may have been made a little later as you get the "cut out" on the pickguard and he has mentioned that his does not have screws.
    You missed the biggest difference but OK.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  12. #11

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    OK, and would you like to point out the major difference between the OP's and this one? I'm sure they don't know.
    I'm sure I still don't know. Not even sure what OP means... Yes, I'm a noob.
    Been a guitarist & bassist for decades, but this is my first experience with a mandolin.

  13. #12
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    OP means "original ost" or "original poster," depending on context.

    As to the major difference, perhaps we'll all find out once this teachable moment passes.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  14. #13

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    I'm not sure, and I cannot see the bridge as well as I would like to- but it is possible the top of the mandolin in question has more of an arch to its top. I know mine is pretty flat (as is the Regal on Reverb) except where it erupts on one side of the sound hole due to the distortion- and the side has also distorted really badly but that can be seen in the photo. Photos can be tricky to evaluate- had I known about the top, I would not have bought that old Regal but it was not much of an outlay at all!

  15. #14

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    So I removed the old strings, cleaned it up a bit and put a fresh set on. It's been in a musty basement for decades - with no string tension - so after letting it acclimate to new strings and a new environment, it has a pretty nice tone but some serious intonation issues. I can tune the strings open relative to one another, and chords in the first few frets sounds good, but anything above that goes wildly out of tune. I was pretty careful about getting the bridge in the right spot, so I'm guessing the neck is the problem, although it looks ok to my inexperienced naked eye.
    Looking for suggestions on what the problem(s) might be and potential fixes. Just want to have some ballpark ideas so I can decide if it's worth sinking some $$ into. As I said, the tone is nice and I'd really love to make it playable for the family connection/history, but don't know if it's worth sinking a couple hundred bucks into.

  16. #15

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    It is possible that the fretboard in terms of the fret positions is not accurate- you find that on many old Italian bowl backs which were cheaply made for tourists. You mention the position of the bridge but you may have to spend some time moving it about a bit. Although mine is a mess I made it play by buying a bridge for it but I later used that bridge on another mandolin, so I can't use mine for reference to help you. I will see if I can find another bridge and set it up. You may be unlucky and have an instrument that just has not been made properly but I would spend a bit more time with a tuner and move the bridge around and see if you can improve matters. If the neck is seriously curved then that would explain things but you state it looks okay, so that does not appear to be the root cause.

  17. #16

    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Usually neck problems will show up as buzzes and rattles, lost notes or problems with action more than intonation issues. Fret placement can cause intonation issues but more often it can be nut filing, bridge saddle problems or action too high. All of those, except fret placement, are fixable in the setup process without a lot of pain. A good luthier, with mandolin experience, could tell you better with the instrument in hand.

    How high are strings at the twelfth fret? One way of checking is by sliding coins beneath the strings and seeing how many you can get beneath the strings. At the first fret they should just barely clear the frets.

    The one big neck problem that can cause intonation issues is if the whole neck is pulling or top collapsing. That could be seen best from a side view. In that case it would be expensive to fix.

  18. #17
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: seeking info for B&J Victoria A-type

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzhead View Post
    ...I was pretty careful about getting the bridge in the right spot, so I'm guessing the neck is the problem, although it looks ok to my inexperienced naked eye...don't know if it's worth sinking a couple hundred bucks into.
    When you say the "right spot," do you mean where the bridge was before (as shown by marks on the top, etc.)? That may not be the correct placement; try comparing the fretted note at the 12th fret, with the harmonics (the little "chime" you get when you just touch the string above the 12th fret, then pick it). Lotsa mandolins have the bridge incorrectly placed; if the fretted note and the harmonic are unison, the bridge should be where it should be...

    Wouldn't hurt to have a repairperson take a look at it -- one with mandolin experience, if you can find one. Poor intonation can also be caused by too-high action, with strings being over-stretched when pressed against the fingerboard. And remember, you have a family heirloom instrument that cost you nothing; a couple hundred bucks to get it playable is still a bargain, as compared to purchasing a new one.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
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