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Thread: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

  1. #26
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    i would like one of the older solid oval hole variety. It could be ratty, like my F2.

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  3. #27
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    While it's possible the asymmetrical extension could be a sign of better quality, am even skeptical of that. Mine has that, yet the fret markers are off center and the end of the extension has putty to smooth out where wood was ripped in construction.

    Even with that, this one has a strip of ebony (or, more likely black stained hardwood) between the fingerboard and rest of the neck.

    Part of me wonders if, like Galliano, these were built by individuals based on parts from a company and then shipped from a central source? Am suggesting this as an article on Ukranian fiddler Pawlo Humeniuk (who lived in New York City) states that his violin making and repair was noted in a Homenick Brothers violin catalog. If Homenick was subcontracting on violins, maybe they did so on mandolins, too? (This is from the Richard Spotswood article on Pawlo.)

    Probably wrong, but this could account for all the variations one sees on the pre-war Strad-O-Lins.
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  5. #28
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    i would like one of the older solid oval hole variety. It could be ratty, like my F2.
    The thing that has always stopped me from buying one of the oval hole Strad-O-Lins is they are usually priced the same as the F hole SOLs. Some of them were priced at $6.50 (model P-340) brand new (see Photo 48 in the Strad-O-Lin social group) when F hole SOLs went for twice that. Plus, Stradolin wouldn't put their name on them and they put their name on some pretty hinky stuff. Case in point... if you type in 'Vintage Strad-O-Lin Mandolin' on a current ebay search (their links are not working, again) you come up with that $6.50 P-340 model, now selling for $269.99 (with no takers for months). Also, I don't believe the P-340 model has an elevated fretboard.

    If you are going to get an oval hole SOL, look for model P-343 in Photo 27 and 49 in the Strad-O-Lin social group. Model P-343 was $12.50 new back in the day, solid woods with fretboard extension.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    While it's possible the asymmetrical extension could be a sign of better quality, am even skeptical of that. Mine has that, yet the fret markers are off center and the end of the extension has putty to smooth out where wood was ripped in construction.

    Even with that, this one has a strip of ebony (or, more likely black stained hardwood) between the fingerboard and rest of the neck.

    Part of me wonders if, like Galliano, these were built by individuals based on parts from a company and then shipped from a central source? Am suggesting this as an article on Ukranian fiddler Pawlo Humeniuk (who lived in New York City) states that his violin making and repair was noted in a Homenick Brothers violin catalog. If Homenick was subcontracting on violins, maybe they did so on mandolins, too? (This is from the Richard Spotswood article on Pawlo.)

    Probably wrong, but this could account for all the variations one sees on the pre-war Strad-O-Lins.
    You think you've got off center fret markers, take a look at Photo 46 in the Strad-O-Lin social group, that Homenick labeled Stard-O-Lin looks like a guy missing teeth. I've seen some pretty bad Stradolins and some fabulous SOLs. I've seen Gibson do some shoddy work, too and that was before Norlin got ahold of Gibson.

    As for farming work out, Gibson made guitar bodies for National and Dobro made resonator parts for Regal. It was the depression, times were hard and folks were just trying to make a living. So, anything was possible. Not like today, everybody is too proud. 'Ain't too proud to beg' would have never made it as a hit today.

    Did Favilla make mandolin necks for some D'Angelico mandolin bodies he had sitting around that filled a rush Christmas order for Stradolin... we will never know. However, back then (before WWII) it seemed customary to do so. It's possible a lot of people and companies helped fill mandolin orders for Stradolin but again, we will never know for sure. Did those P'Mico catalogues sell a lot of mandolins for Stradolin? Catalogues worked pretty well for Sears & Roebuck.

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  7. #29
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by your_diamond View Post
    The thing that has always stopped me from buying one of the oval hole Strad-O-Lins is they are usually priced the same as the F hole SOLs. Some of them were priced at $6.50 (model P-340) brand new (see Photo 48 in the Strad-O-Lin social group) when F hole SOLs went for twice that. Plus, Stradolin wouldn't put their name on them and they put their name on some pretty hinky stuff. Case in point... if you type in 'Vintage Strad-O-Lin Mandolin' on a current ebay search (their links are not working, again) you come up with that $6.50 P-340 model, now selling for $269.99 (with no takers for months). Also, I don't believe the P-340 model has an elevated fretboard.

    If you are going to get an oval hole SOL, look for model P-343 in Photo 27 and 49 in the Strad-O-Lin social group. Model P-343 was $12.50 new back in the day, solid woods with fretboard extension.
    Good advice, I'm sure, but the problem is, there aren't many oval hole examples around at all. Jake W told me they come up about once every 5 years (at his shop). I might not ever see model P-343. How picky can a person with MAS be under those circumstances?

    (Though in thinking about the ovals, the model you point out is the one that I'd love to have)

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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    ...Ukranian fiddler Pawlo Humeniuk (who lived in New York City) states that his violin making and repair was noted in a Homenick Brothers violin catalog.,,
    Humeniuk/Homenick??? Could they be the same person/people? Kinda weird, IMHO. Many names of immigrants were anglicized by agents at Ellis Island, so.....

    I do know I've never seen a picture of them together......hehe

    As far as cheaper original price as a reflection on the current quality, sure I would say it can be an indicator, but not the only factor in buying a vintage mandolin. Even solid wood that was considered "crappy" 90 years ago, might sound pretty good today. I say trust your ears and you may get a bargain. Shortcomings in finish quality don't concern me on a 90-year old instrument -- it has proven itself over time by the fact it is still intact, IMHO.
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Mar-16-2022 at 10:35am. Reason: clarity

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  11. #31
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    the model you point out is the one that I'd love to have)
    I would PM Cary Fagan and see if he wants to sell that one in photo 27. There is a lot of swapping, up grading, buying and selling going on here. The worst thing that can happen... he says no. Let him know if he changes his mind or runs into another one he should let you know. I'd also put a buy ad in Mandolin Cafe Classifieds and also watch ebay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Humeniuk/Homenick??? Could they be the same person/people? Many names of immigrants were anglicized by agents at Ellis Island.
    Could be brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles or possibly whole communities (Think Fiddler on the Roof). Wish we had proof.
    Last edited by your_diamond; Mar-16-2022 at 1:12pm.

  12. #32
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    For the oval hole models, the later, plywood ones with other labels are, well, not junk, but not great. I have one branded Stadium. All laminate mahogany, one piece tailpiece. Fingerboard is elevated, but there is nothing underneath it. Just hanging out by itself over the body. Think more camping instrument or beater.

    Here's the article on Pawlo if anyone is interested - https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/humeniuk.htm
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    ...Many names of immigrants were anglicized by agents at Ellis Island, so...
    Actually that has been proven to be untrue. I heard the stories for years myself but the historians have said it didn't happen. It does make sense. No names were written down at Ellis Island, the names came from manifests of passengers of ships where the names were already written down. If a name was anglicized it didn't happen on the island.
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  16. #34
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by your_diamond View Post
    I would PM Cary Fagan and see if he wants to sell that one in photo 27. There is a lot of swapping, up grading, buying and selling going on here.
    Pretty sure he doesn't have that mandolin any more
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...=1#post1796406

  17. #35

    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    If a name was anglicized it didn't happen on the island.
    What?!! You're saying The Godfather, Part II was historically inaccurate?

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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    What?!! You're saying The Godfather, Part II was historically inaccurate?
    Pretty much, yeah.
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Pretty sure he doesn't have that mandolin any more
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...=1#post1796406
    We shall see. lol

  21. #38
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    It's true, I don't have that Stradolin anymore. It has a happy new owner (last I heard). I've had five Strads pass through my hands. Those oval holes are quite adorable.
    Cary Fagan

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  23. #39
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Here's the article on Pawlo if anyone is interested - https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/humeniuk.htm
    That's a super interesting article, Eric, thank you for posting the link.


    On the ovals, I've been casually keeping my eyes peeled for about a year. A project I have on the back burner is a Stradolin T shirt with two mandos on it. The drawings (pen and ink) have been finished for some time. I used a picture of Cary's mandolin as a model for the oval hole in the design.
    Last edited by Sue Rieter; Mar-17-2022 at 7:46am.

  24. #40
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    That's a super interesting article, Eric, thank you for posting the link.


    On the ovals, I've been casually keeping my eyes peeled for about a year. A project I have on the back burner is a Stradolin T shirt with two mandos on it. The drawings (pen and ink) have been finished for some time. I used a picture of Cary's mandolin as a model for the oval hole in the design.
    Look forward to seeing it, Sue!
    Cary Fagan

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  26. #41
    FIDDLES with STRADOLINS your_diamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    At lease a good portion of Mandolin Cafe & Stradolin Social Group know you're looking for an oval-hole SOL, so hopefully somebody will give you a heads-up. Also, SOL T-shirts! Great idea.

    Now back to Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good? In the 1941 P'mico catalogue (listed earlier in this thread), it shows both Stradolin AND Armstrong branded mandolins... with the more expensive models bearing the Armstrong name, on that page. Currently, there is a (badly damaged) Armstrong mandolin (mistakenly called "made by Harmony") on ebay that has BLACK BACK AND SIDES which (almost always, I've owned several) is LAMINATED BACK AND SIDES, SOLID TOP... SO MID-GRADE, at best, in quality. From that catalogue page one might infer the more expensive models had the Armstrong name but the Armstrong on ebay being a mid-grade just goes to show, when it comes to Stradolins, just about anything is possible.
    Last edited by your_diamond; Mar-17-2022 at 11:10am.

  27. #42
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Sue, please add me to the folks that would proudly wear a Strad-O-Lin t-shirt!
    My late 40s-early 50s two-pointer is now back in operation. A fun little instrument, even if it does have f-holes.

  28. #43
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis Kearns View Post
    Sue, please add me to the folks that would proudly wear a Strad-O-Lin t-shirt!
    I'll probably work on it this fall. I didn't mean to highjack the thread, nor am I trying to conduct any business here.

    Maybe after I find an oval, I'll have to start looking for a two-pointer like yours, so I can have a set of Strad-O-Lins

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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I didn't mean to highjack the thread.

    Maybe after I find an oval, I'll have to start looking for a two-pointer like yours, so I can have a set of Strad-O-Lins
    If you hijack the thread, I'm coming along for the ride. Buckle up everybody! lol

    Oval or Two-pointer you might want to grab which ever shows up first. Both are rare. Had a Two-pointer and like a fool I sold it. Now I can't find another. It was a full inch wider than the usual SOL.

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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Came up just the other day on Western Mass. CL for only $275

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    Looks alot like Eric's
    Did anybody here on Mandolin Cafe end up with this?

  31. #46
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    It sat there on CL for so long I almost drove down there and got it. Just a little too far with the gas prices these days.

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  33. #47

    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Here are photos of my 1936 Strad O Lin mandolin. I think it may be a 660 Serenader model. Purchased from an estate sale in Georgia for forty dollars! I put a new tailpiece and bridge on it as the originals were toast! It sounds very sweet and is very playable.
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  35. #48
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Wow, what a deal! I'm so jealous! That's my holy grail mandolin
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  36. #49
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Wow! That's a cool find. Rare too.

    Looks to be a pre-WWII model with the oval hole. There have been a couple documented out there, but not many. Glad you found an original style bridge.

    A couple of questions for you - what is the scale length of that one? Regular 13 3/4" or shorter? Also, what is the body width? My oldest Strad-O-Lin is 9 1/2" wide. That one looks about the same.

    And like Sue, I'm also looking for one of those. Betting it sound great.
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    Default Re: Strad-O-Lin mandolins - which, when, how good?

    Greetings,

    I'd really only owned beginner-quality mandolins in the past (since the 1970s) and, a few years back, decided to go shopping for something nice with a friend who's a serious player. We met up at what he thought was one of the area's best stores (about an hour away) and didn't really find anything I liked enough to purchase. Motivated by my disappointment, I looked on Google to see if there were any other stores on my way home that I could hit and ended up buying a Stradolin (hyphens removed from logo at that point) at the only place I found.

    I'd never heard of the brand before, but I really liked the feel and sound of the instrument (and the price met my fairly modest budget), so I decided to pick it up. It seemed really nice at first, but I eventually found a few minor problems that I needed to address and have been using it quite a bit since. The timing also worked well for recording the most mandolin-centric piece my prog band (Advent) has ever written, with the results coming out very nicely.

    Coincidentally, I just picked up another mandolin I like a bit better and may eventually decide to sell this Stradolin at some point.

    Cheers,


    Alan
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