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Thread: Bowlbacks of Note

  1. #7226
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Sorry, I thought it was in this thread ( could still be) but photo of front is here. Mine loooks like same condition to yours.
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  2. #7227
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Mr. Smith writes that his Vega is from 1913. How do you date a Vega bowlback? I have one almost identical to Mr. Smith's. Its peghead number is 27496. Is this what you use to date the instrument? Thanks for your help.

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  3. #7228
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    Mr. Smith writes that his Vega is from 1913. How do you date a Vega bowlback? I have one almost identical to Mr. Smith's. Its peghead number is 27496. Is this what you use to date the instrument? Thanks for your help.

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    Yours is just like mine except mine has an engraved cover clamshell type-Jim thought mine is a style 2? He said he'd find out for sure later, I found a site to date these things on the internet? I typed in Vega serial #'s? Yours is probably a 1912? Do you have any idea what its worth? Jim said he'll chime in later about model and price? I like it but I don't play classical-mine is museum mint quality. I just can't find the different models-Jim said he had old catalogs?

    I just looked and yours is a 1911! I searched Vega mandolin serial #'s and looked under a post on the Café here!

    If mine isn't worth too much I think I'll keep her as its very nice! If only 300 bucks or so that is but if 800-1000 I'll let her go so someone can get some use out of it!

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  5. #7229
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Worth? Not really sure. I bought mine at a Maine thrift store for about $100. It needed a headstock repair which I had done. The luthier I use in MD had one of these in his shop and mentioned they generally go for $600-$700 dollars. He, like me, has a great deal of admiration for these.

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  7. #7230
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    A headstock break is a bummer-yours is still nice! I don't mind cracks/repairs etc. I almost bought a 23 Loar F-5 with a headstock break-Gil repaired it so I know it would've been sound and one can hardly tell there was a break! If mine is 700-800 it can go bye bye but I want the experts to let me know for sure as its seriously a sweetheart, in perfect condition-was in an attic so I'm very surprised it survived and isn't hammered!


    I imagine one has to use extra light strings on these correct?

  8. #7231
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    The repair was expertly done and is difficult to see unless you are looking for it. The instrument is solid, great intonation and great tone ... great tone. I'm not an expert, but light strings will do ... something like Dogal Calace Dolce RW92B

  9. #7232
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Absolute best strings are Dogal Calace RW92b dolce. I never thought much of American vintage bowlbacks until I got that Vega and tried those strings. Worth it to try out. You might even enjoy playing with those strings.

    Will: I think that pricing may be a little high even in mintish condition. I would guess more like $600-800 more like it considering what a bad rap bowlbacks have. Still Vegas, Martins, Washburns among a few others are excellent bowlbacks in general.

    ——-
    Whoops. I saw the 800-1000 estimate. There are a few folks on the cafe looking for bowlbacks so possible in the lower range IMHO.
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  11. #7233
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ——-
    Whoops. I saw the 800-1000 estimate. There are a few folks on the cafe looking for bowlbacks so possible in the lower range IMHO.
    The most I've seen paid for these would be around $400-600 bucks, but that was a few years ago and I am not sure of today's market. It's nice instrument, though, I've played several of these over the years and a buddy owns a few in his large bowlback collection.

    As we know those well made and still in good condition bowlbacks do not command the prices that other vintage mandolins sell for; it's a combination of supply and demand and current taste.

  12. #7234
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    David: yes you are probably correct. I was being optimistic. Frankly, that is probably one of the last ones I would sell partly because it was such a bargain and a fine sounding instrument.
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  14. #7235
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Hey guys were these Vegas mass made? Were they sold throughout certain catalogs like say "Sears"? I'm new to these things and if mine doesn't sell in my add I placed yesterday I will keep it because its so clean! No issues at all, not even the slightest fret wear, the paper backing inside the body that covers the ribs is also perfect with no bubbling or separations etc.! They did a great job building these as the multiple layers of binding are perfect as is the inlays and the board etched inlays! The tortoise shell "I'm guessing anyway" pickguard is perfectly inlaid into the top with perfect pearl inlaid into that! I'm gushing a bit over the pride of work that was used on these but I've said it before back then makers took serious pride in what was made and sent out for sale! Now if mine is a style 2 was there a fancier model #1?

    Do you know how much $ this model was new from the catalog/shop by chance in 1913? I'm very much into history and like to learn all I can about instruments I know nothing about! Thanks for all your help guys! I can see how and why some of you love these old models as I'm into the old Gibson's of the 20's and 30's but have had many top tier teens mandolins, mostly Gibson's and some Lyon & Healy's-one I wish I would've kept as that one was perfect, an A model 2 point longer scale with the Violin type headstock! It was superior and flawless, perfectly made-it went to a Classical player maybe in San Francisco who loves it, it even had the original purple lined rectangular case "Looked like a smaller version of a Loar F-5 case!" This old Vega has a GREAT tone I think but I've never played a bowl
    back this clean before and with this amount of perfect playability! I just played some very trashed ones and that turned me off but this one is a different little beast!

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  16. #7236
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Whenever I can get to my computer, Will, I can post catalog pages of these and there specifics you ask for.

    For now, the styles go up in ornamentation more or less. Style 1 is plainest and style 5 has lots of inlay. There was someone who posted a style 5 a while ago. After that there were the artist models. There may be some Pettine models on the first pages of this thread.

    This thread: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...back-mandolins
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Jul-25-2020 at 10:46am.
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  18. #7237
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Will Smith: I believe I was right that yours is a style 2. I scanned the models 1-5 pages from the copy of my 1910-5 Vega catalog with specs and prices. Attached is a pdf.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Vega1910-15cropt.pdf  
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  20. #7238
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Yep Mine is a style 2! Originally 40 bucks! Thanks for all that info/PDF very interesting-Mine is so clean if it doesn't sell I may have to keep it! Thanks again.

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  22. #7239
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    Yep Mine is a style 2! Originally 40 bucks! Thanks for all that info/PDF very interesting-Mine is so clean if it doesn't sell I may have to keep it! Thanks again.
    Mine is also super clean. Didn’t even need any goings-over by my luthier. With Dogal Calace RW92b strings sounds as good as any bowlback. Sings so sweetly.
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  24. #7240

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Beautiful 1910 Raffaele Calace 16 Bis. Just listed in the Classifieds. Here for posterity.

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  26. #7241
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I was very lucky and someone offered me an Embergher 5 bis in good shape. Here are some photos:
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  28. #7242
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Lucky is an understatement. That does look like in excellent condition. Are those Thomastik strings? I can’t tell if that is an original bridge or whether it is a proper repro one.
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  29. #7243
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    It's true, I was not only lucky, I was honored. Thank you very much for your help with the question I asked about the small separation between the ribs .

    Strings are Dogal RW92B, I want to try Thomastik or Optima and see how they get together. The bridge does not look original, it has a different shape than others I have seen in photos, and it's not compensated:

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    Now I only need a good case. I have read many topics on the forum - very good information - and I doubt between a couple of options (I'm located in Europe):

    - The Dogal case that looks like the one Violinking copies: https://www.miletti.it/shop/Custodie...ODIA-X-MA.html

    - A fiberglass one that looks like is made by the same manufacturer as the Eastman:
    https://shop.scavino.it/astuccio-man...17.gp.79742.uw

    - Or contact Kingham or another maker and order a custom one

  30. #7244
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    I have doubt about the bridge as well. My only example is from considerably later, so designs might have changed, but the bridge on the mandolin in question seems sort of crude when contrasted with the splendid workmanship of the rest of the instrument.

    Be that as it may, a lovely instrument. Congrats to the new owner.

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  32. #7245
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Aliparla, Having myself just acquired a Pecoraro Embergher, I, too, am on the lookout for a good case. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about the cases you look at. Thanks. -- Joe

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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    a million+ views. Wow!

  34. #7247
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    Aliparla, Having myself just acquired a Pecoraro Embergher, I, too, am on the lookout for a good case. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about the cases you look at. Thanks. -- Joe
    Hi Joe, congratulations on your Pecoraro! Post some pictures if you can!

    I'm moving house at this moment, so I will have to wait some weeks until I have a final address to made the order. I'm gravitating towards the Dogal, but is easier for me as I'm located in Europe.

  35. #7248

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Quote Originally Posted by aliparla View Post
    I was very lucky and someone offered me an Embergher 5 bis in good shape.
    Fantastic! Congratulations.

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  37. #7249
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    aliparia, per your request, here are photos of the 1980 Pecoraro I just acquired. Both the sound and the playability put this instrument in a whole other class than what I am accustomed to playing. What magic is this? Why don't other bowlbacks sound as though you're performing in a cathedral? -- Joe

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  39. #7250

    Default Re: Bowlbacks of Note

    Lovely.

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