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Thread: Really unusual

  1. #1
    Registered User wreded's Avatar
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    A friend came up to me after church where i play and, noticing that i have a mando, asked if i could look at hers. "It's really old and could be from Portugal." i volunteered to look it over and have seen nothing like it ever. i took some pics and would like to know if anyone has even a clue to what it may be. i can find no writing, label, or serial number on it anywhere. i have never even thought about tuners like this.
    Any clues?
    Thanks,
    Dave
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Here is a thread that discusses these tuners a bit and here is a search of the cafe using the search term waldzither. You can poke around through those articles and learn more about these Portugese tuners. I'm not sure if this is a waldzither, it's just that these tuners seem to collide with that description quite often.



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  3. #3
    Registered User wreded's Avatar
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    Mike,
    Thanks for the links. Like i said, i've never seen anything like these tuners and i've spent a good bit of time in Europe (about 14 years all told). Not exactly what i expected when asked to look at an old mandolin. i was really expecting an old Lyle, Washburn, or something. Now that i know what to look for i'll dive in.
    Thanks!
    Dave

  4. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Have at it Dave, those things always scared me a bit
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    It is Portuguese or built by Portuguese makers. Sort of the progenitor of the Brazilian bandolim, its big brother is the Portuguese guitarra.

    Here is another similar one:




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  6. #6
    Professional Novice Chris Travers's Avatar
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    neat looking instrument! I wouldn't buy it tho.
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  7. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Here's a five-course, ten-string guitarra, that Bernunzio has on sale. #He calls it a "member of the cittern family," so I'm inferring a tuning in fifths. #Maybe I should stop by his shop and see how it's been tuned.

    And here's another 12-string one he has "in restoration." #Both of them have the knurled-knob tuners with screw that retracts the string hook to increase tension.

    And again, here's a guitar-shaped, 12-string one, with the same style tuners. #I wonder how one obtains double-loop-ended strings, one loop around the tailpiece hook, the other around the hook on the tuner. #I would guess one would have to twist the second loop into the string by hand.
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  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (allenhopkins @ Mar. 11 2008, 22:34)
    ...I wonder how one obtains double-loop-ended strings, one loop around the tailpiece hook, the other around the hook on the tuner. I would guess one would have to twist the second loop into the string by hand.
    You buy one of these.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #9
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    I've been playing the twelve string version of this instrument for many years. Here's a pic. The tuners stay in tune very well once the instrument is properly set up. Getting strings is an issue, so i had to learn to wind my own to make loop ends. When i went to the Azores a few years ago, i bought 4 sets of strings.

    I can't tell from your photo, but the other disitinguished aspect of these fado instruments, is that the fingerboard often has a very pronounced radius to it. I play mine with a slide on my little finger, and i can easily play one string at a time without touching the others.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (MikeEdgerton @ Mar. 11 2008, 21:30)
    I'm not sure if this is a waldzither, it's just that these tuners seem to collide with that description quite often.
    No, that isn't a waldzither, it's a mandolin from Portugal, where this type of tuners has been traditional for centuries, and is still the system of preference in fado guitar and the like. #

    Similar tuners were used on some (but by no means all) waldzithers, originally simply as a gimmick by one particular maker, Boehm from Hamburg. #As Boehm were good at marketing, people have ever since associated these tuners with waldzithers. #The Boehm tuners are a bit different from Portuguese ones, though: they do not have the protruding shafts with the knurled wheels. #Instead, you tune them with a square tuning key.

    Martin



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  11. #11
    Registered User wreded's Avatar
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    Martin,
    Thanks for Your answers. Is there a way i could tell where it was made? i can find no writing inside and no label. Are there any usual tell-tale markings or designs? Could You point me to some current makers. i really want to tell this lady what she has.
    Thanks,
    Dave

  12. #12
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    With no label or "provenance" you're shooting in the dark -- but -- these instruments tend to get associated with Portugal or with Portuguese enclaves in other countries (Providence RI being a good example, Boston and the general New England area as well).

    Your friend already said "It could be from Portugal," and that's a good start. #As to builders, I'm not aware of anyone in the US regularly building guitarras or fado instruments, but you might want to start looking in the "world music" area, especially chasing down fado singers and ensembles.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  13. #13
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    There were a number of instruments built by Portuguese makers in Boston and Providence areas. I prob have some names in my files at home.
    Jim

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