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Thread: E.Belton?

  1. #1
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    My wonderful brother-in-law who lives in St. Gallen Switzerland knows that I enjoy playing my mandolin. So as he and my sister were recently in Northern Italy antique shopping, he finds this "mandolin", as he called it, not being musical himself. Hey buys it and sends it to me by way of my mother who was visiting. All he told me is that he bought me an antique mandolin that was pretty bumped up, but he thought I would want it.

    Ok, I know nothing about this thing, but it is NOT a mandolin. It is a fairly large bowl back, quite old, with scalloped fingerboard, a scrolled headstock, beautiful carved soundhole and has 6 strings. It has a very faint signature that seems to have been stamped into the face of the instrument below the soundhole and though it is difficult to read, it appears to be "EBelton" in script.

    It is banged up, but I think that it can be repaired if it is worth it. Anyone know anything about this very interesting instrument?

    Thanks,
    Gibby

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    Registered User Alex Timmerman's Avatar
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    Hello Gibby,

    If it is has about the same size of a mandolin, your brother most likely bought you a Lombardian Mandolin (Mandolino Lombardo). This is a type within the Mandolin family with a scalloped hardwood fingerboard and six gut (or nowadays nylon) strings to play on.

    A photo of the instrument would be best to be sure.


    Greetings.

    Alex

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    You would be lucky if it were a Lombardian mandolin. My guess: more likley it is one of those German-made lute guitars. Is it about guitar size with scalloped fingerboard?

    Photos would help, BTW.

    Jim
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    Registered User Alex Timmerman's Avatar
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    Yes Jim, I think you are right. Especially because of Gibby´s mentioning of the "large bowl back" and "beautiful carved soundhole".

    Alex

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    Thank you both for posting. I will bring home the digicamera and see if I can get some pics of this thing posted.

    Just in response, it is larger than a typical mandolin, but not nearly as large as a guitar....maybe a 1/2 or a 3/4 size guitar.

    I was facinated by the scalloped fretboard. Had never seen anything like that myself.

    Pictures soon,
    G

  6. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Like this one?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    One thing that seems more in favor of the mandolino Lombardo than German guitar-lute is the scalloped fret board. This was standard on mandolino Lombardo but not too common on guitar-lutes. Still, any better than half guitar size wouldn't be typical of the standard mandolino Lombardo. Click the name to see a typical mandolino Lombardo.

  8. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    The one German Guitar-Lute I owned did have a scalloped fretboard. I suppose there are some that don't, but most I have seen do.

    The one I posted was from Pamela's Music in the UK:

    Quote Originally Posted by
    G178 Lute guitar
    A bowl back lute guitar of German origin about 1920s. Scalloped fingerboard. good general order. Plays with medium high playing action. No apparent cracks but some of the back joints have been re-glued. £225
    Jim
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    Interesting. #While I've seen a good many, I've never owned one of these things. #I can't recall how many had scalloped fingerboards, but it seems to the fog of my memory that of those I've seen fewer were scalloped than weren't. #Of course, I could be wrong. #Most of those I've come across were decidedly at the low end of the spectrum.




  10. #10

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    Like Alex, I noticed Gibby's reference to the "beautiful carved soundhole" a bit late. #While I've seen guitar-lutes without scalloped fretboards, I have never seen a mandolino Lombardo with a carved rose. #How long are the strings, Gibby, nut to bridge.

    I used to be pretty disparaging of the Wandervogel-inspired guitar-lutes, until I realized how close their lineage was linked to an instrument with real historic legitimacy, the mandora. #Now, I have even entertained thoughts of pursuing a decent one. #Do you still own one, Jim?




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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Eugene:
    Mine was a lower model and I sold it on eBay long ago for a little more than I paid for it. The one at Pamela's looks better.

    Jim



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    THE PICTURE ABOVE IS IT! Only difference is a slightly different carving in the soundhole and bridge...otherwise this is exactly what I have....

    So it is the German lute! I went to the Pamela's page above and there were several, each with its own distinctive carvings and such, but definately the same instrument and the aging of this instrument would probably place it into the same category of the one's on her site....very early 20th century.

    It has seperation in the bowl in a couple of places an the neck has slightly come away from the body making it appear warped, but it does not look like warp, but just slight separation....all else looks ok on this instrument.

    Would it be worth my while to have someone repair it? Is it possible to repair a bowl and reset a neck on this instrument....I would love to have it in playing condition.

    What would be the tuning on an instrument like this?

    You guys are great....thanks so much.
    G




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    Hey Eugene,

    I have a guitar-lute that is in many pieces.... maybe we should talk! :-) And yes, mine has a scalloped fretboard... it was a very common feature. I too tend to view these instruments with an increased sense of legitimacy due to their rather obvious evolution from the germanic mandora.

    As to whether to restore one, it is a tough call. These instruments don't command much in the way of value in today's market. My own would take much more work than I could ever realize (failing a world-wide Vanderfogel Renaissance). And so... mine sits in shards... in a box... its very, very sad indeed.

    As for taking up the Vanderfogel traditions... I look rather silly in Lederhosen and my singing voice is not something I'm willing to share...(count yourselves lucky on both counts) :-)

    Eric



    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Just my own curiosity. I always assumed that these were sort of hybrid retro-romantic instruments -- and a way for someone to looks like they were playing a lute but in actuality were playing a guitar. Therefore, would the tuning be the same as standard Spanish guitar?

    Jim
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by (jgarber @ July 31 2004, 19:01)
    Therefore, would the tuning be the same as standard Spanish guitar?
    Yes, as were some sizes of the earlier mandora.

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    Hi Jim,

    Yes, the Wandervogel (actual spelling) lute (aka guitar-lute/lute-guitar) was indeed tuned to the same intervals and pitches of a guitar... so they are identical to guitars from a functional perspective. However, though their popularity coincided with that of the guitar, there were six-course (and larger) lute-like instruments going back at least to the early 18th century in Germany... and Bohemia (and Italy!)... namely the so-called mandora or gallichon(e).. and occasionally "liuto/leuto". Smaller mandoras were tuned in E (like the guitar), larger instruments tuned in D, and still larger instruments were tuned in A. Some have pointed out that some early Germanic composers for the guitar (e.g. Scheidler) were probably mandora players first.

    Especially given its cultural environment (the idealistic (nationalistic?) Wandervogel movement)... I see the lute-guitar as a continuation of a long Germanic tradition, rather than some spinoff from the Spanish guitar. Clearly the "classical" guitar won out in the end... so we tend to see things through that lens looking back.

    Eric

    Here's a lovely 6-course Italian-style mandora by David Tecchler (1707)
    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  18. #18

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    If you recall, Jim, we handled that marvelous mandolino-mandola/mandora matched pair by Presbler at the Met too. Mighty tasty. I also like David Van Edwards' efforts to reproduce some mandora models

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    I like the mandoras with the crooked necks better than the guitar lutes. The guitar-lutes look to me like the props a movie maker would use to say "Renaissance" or ye olde tyme... you know, while not necessary being true or authentic to the time period.

    Jim
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    Hi Jim,

    I'm not sure what you mean by "crooked necks"... maybe you prefer the bent-back lute-style peg-head? I'll just point out that the sickle-shaped peghead has plenty of historical precedent. Aside form the mechanical tuners, this peghead is consistent with the Italian version of the mandora (as shown in the photo of the Tecchler) and is also, of course, the traditional peg-head shape for the mandolino (more or less). As the note on David's Website indicates, some makers apparently built mandoras with both types of pegheads.

    I guess I'm just a sucker for the sickle-shaped peghead... though one can certainly find more nicely-turned examples on earlier instruments.

    Eric



    "The effect is pretty at first... It is disquieting to find that there are nineteen people in England who can play the mandolin; and I sincerely hope the number may not increase."

    - George Bernard Shaw, Times of London, December 12, 1893

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Eugene @ July 31 2004, 20:08)
    Quote Originally Posted by (jgarber @ July 31 2004, 19:01)
    Therefore, would the tuning be the same as standard Spanish guitar?
    Yes, as were some sizes of the earlier mandora.
    ...even comfortably before proper guitars had six strings.

    I actually like the sickle-shaped pegboxes on the 18th-c. Italian mandoras better than the back-bent lute style. #I tend to like either better than early 20th-c. guitar-lutes. #The guitar-lutes I like best are those occasional pieces you see with six pegs through a pegbox and no geared tuners: way close to a modern mandora, eh?




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