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Thread: Sovereign Mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default Sovereign Mandolin

    Hello,
    This is a mandolin I was given as a gift less than a year ago. It is my first, and I'm having a blast learning to play it. I know little about it - best I've heard is that it is likely mid-20s and I've seen on the internet that Oscar Schmidtt bought out the Sovereign line? Does anyone know anything else about this type of mandolin?

    Thanks so much!
    Bob
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    And here are a few more pictures...
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Or was it that Kay/Harmony bought out the Sovereign line from Schmidtt? Sovereign was a Harmony product in the 1960's. This mandolin is quite similar to a Weymann Mandolute.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    ...

    Sovereign was the higher-end Oscar Schmidt brand, then they also had La Scala and Stella brands as well. Hilo was their Hawaiian guitar brand from back then, too.

    OS vanished around 1940 and the names of their brands were sold to Harmony. You see Harmony releasing new OS-named instruments (Stella and Sovereign) in late 1939 (?) I think.

    Your mando dates to around c.1920-1925, just as you suspected. RE the Weymann mandolute comment -- yes and no -- these have a more distinct canted top design and they sound like a darker, saucier version of the canted-top flatbacks (with the teardrop shape) produced by Lyon & Healy, Harmony, and Regal at the time. The Weymanns tend to be deeper-bodied and with less of a cant (almost just domed) and higher, thinner bracing, which produces more of a refined tone with (generally) sculpted bass.

    Does that make sense?

    My short-of-it? These things kick butt after they're gone-over and setup.

  5. #5
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    It's nice to have a proper, easily searchable Sovereign thread. I figured Mike E would dive in on this, so I am glad, Jake, that you picked it up. I don't know much about them, other than they do seem to be a notch above ordinary and I tend to toss in a desultory bid when they pass by on ebay. Typically, good looking mandolins. Here is one I have in my files which looks very Chicago to me (unlike Bob's) though my guess this is also '20s and predates the Harmony era (or perhaps that started sooner.....) I have seen some very nice bowlbacks under their label as well.

    This would seem a good place for folks to weigh in with a few more examples. I don't have good Mandolute images in my files, but that would also be a nice pair of photos to comp to illustrate Jake's point.

    Mick
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Definitely predates the Harmony era... I've worked on that same design about a dozen times in various OS-named (and distributor named) variations from the '20s. You can check em out in some reprint catalogs, too -- fun stuff!

  7. #7
    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Nice instrument.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and insight into this instrument! I quickly fell in love with it, and I'm excited to see where things go from here.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Hello! Joined just to post in this thread. I have a Sovereign M280 that is from the 90's I believe but I haven't seen any made that recently anywhere else or been able to find any information on it at all. It was purchased from a local music store in Dickson, Tn called Mary's Music I believe. It is basically the same as this one but darker.

    http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/90U-5011.htm

    Does anyone have any information on it or links to material where I can learn more about it? Thanks so much.

  10. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Yours is an imported mandolin that was brought in under a few different brand names and is related to the mandolin in this thread only by name, there is no connection by builder.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Gotcha. Thanks so much. Where can I find some information about it?

  12. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    The quick answer is that you probably won't find any definitive information. These didn't set the world on fire and the company that used the name probably didn't use it very long.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    So basically, they were just knock offs? It seems like if there are enough out there that people know kind of what happened with them that there would at least be a site dedicated to bashing them! Ha, I appreciate all of your feedback.

  14. #14
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    Honestly I think you'll find at least one picture of a similar mandolin in the worst scroll of the last century thread but it won't give you any more information.

  15. #15
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sovereign Mandolin

    I thought I'd renew this thread with my newly acquired Sovereign...Except for having a replacement bridge, it is all original and in great condition with the original canvus end-loading case.. Plays very nicely and I'll agree about the "darker, saucier" comment.

    I have a serial number stamped on the brace seen below the soundhole: 30 07642

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