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Thread: Is this a mandolin?

  1. #1

    Default Is this a mandolin?

    Please excuse my ignorance. This belonged to a friend's grandfather. It's probably 80-100 years old. I'm just wondering what the proper name for this type of instrument is. The scale length is approx. 13". Thanks, Jim
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  2. #2
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Yup. It's a bowlback mandolin. I'm sure others will enlighten you further. Don't be concerned about ignorance. We learn by asking.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Built in Europe probably sometime between WW1 and WW2. ..... next!

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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    And probably built in Germany or Czechoslovakia, judging by the floral inlays.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by rickbella View Post
    And probably built in Germany or Czechoslovakia, judging by the floral inlays.
    Thank you everyone for your info. Yes, the label says "Made in Czechoslovakia". Unfortunately, the neck is in bad shape with an extreme concave bow of at least an 1/8" that makes it basically unplayable. It will be an interesting wall decoration. Cheers

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    If it’s just the neck bowing, and not separation at the heel from the body, which can be a very difficult/expensive/unfavored repair on a bowl back, this pretty instrument can be made playable by fairly simple means; removing the fret board, planing the neck and, if necessary, adding a thin wedge or shim. Done this several times. The eventual glue up should be against a very flat surface because the frets tend to be too small to stand much leveling afterward. I certainly wouldn’t do this to a particularly valuable or historic instrument.
    If you’re lucky, you will only have a couple hours of work and the neck may be done with it’s bowing. Unlucky, it will continue. Replace strings with the lightest you can find.

  10. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    That bridge looks like it came from a guitar and is not proper to a mandolin. Yes, eastern Europe or Germany is possible origin or could have been built in Catania, Sicily, which was a hotbed of instrument production in the earlier part of the last century.
    Jim

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    That bridge looks like it came from a guitar and is not proper to a mandolin. Yes, eastern Europe or Germany is possible origin or could have been built in Catania, Sicily, which was a hotbed of instrument production in the earlier part of the last century.
    Jim, I thought so about the bridge, but what looks like a wide guitar bridge is a narrow one with a shadow - at least on my screen. The painter’s tape was probably marking the bridge position, maybe for the last string change, or part of some attempt to compensate for the bowing.

  13. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Jim, I thought so about the bridge, but what looks like a wide guitar bridge is a narrow one with a shadow - at least on my screen. The painter’s tape was probably marking the bridge position, maybe for the last string change, or part of some attempt to compensate for the bowing.

    Here is the full size image of the bridge. There is definitely a black or ebonized base which does not look like a mandolin bridge. In fact the white saddle it is even angled on top of the ebony-like base. And if those pieces of blue tape are indicating the proper bridge position they are not done very well IMHO. Yes there is a shadow but still looks like a guitar bridge to me.

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  15. #10
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    I don’t think it’s a guitar bridge. It looks like a prety standard/modern flat-top mandolin bridge. i.e. similar to ones used by Fylde.

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  17. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Nah. The base is much wider. All the Fylde bridges are much more gracefully carved. In any case it is not original to the OP’s mandolin.
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  18. #12

    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Here is a thread which is about a similar mandolin and Jim has posted up a photo as well and we can see the sort of bridge these were blessed with when new. The mandolin in question is one made after the Czechoslovakian state nationalized all the workshops and dates from the 1950s or even the 1960s. I would reckon it is 70 years old maximum and is not in the same league as those instruments made before 1939. The tuners which are almost certainly original, show it to be 1950s at the oldest.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...nd-information

  19. #13
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    That is pretty clearly a guitar bridge and certainly not original to the instrument.

  20. #14
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    Default Re: Is this a mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Nah. The base is much wider. All the Fylde bridges are much more gracefully carved. In any case it is not original to the OP’s mandolin.
    I said similar, not identical.

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