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Thread: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User CaskAle's Avatar
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    Default Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    Do any members have any experience with the brand Radiotone?

    There is a double chambered mandolin for sale on ebay, which they say was made in 1930. It looks to be well constructed going by the images.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    2006 thread on Radiotone.

    In the US, Regal made instruments under the "Radio Tone" label; apparently the two words were separated. In Europe, there were a variety of (generally) inexpensive instruments, attributed to Germany, and sold in the UK labeled "Radiotone" (one word). Pete Townsend's first guitar was an arch-top Radiotone.

    Recently, National Resophonics in CA has issued a "Radiotone" model of resonator guitar.

    There are other Cafe discussions, including this one on a Radiotone double-top mandolin, accessible by search.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    This it the only reference to a double top in either of those threads:

    Quote Originally Posted by scheftler View Post
    Radiotone was one many brands of significant distributor J.E.Dallas and sons in UK. These double top mandolins were made in Schonbach (now Luby) in Czechoslovakia in the late 30s and were dedicated to british market. It is carved spruce and maple (not laminated!), ebony fingerboard, MOP inlays, adjustable ebony bridge. Special "kind of virzi" - second top - is a thin flat spruce gripped on both chocks onside the body.
    More detailed thread on a european site

    I can't seem to find the eBay listing (prob in Germany?) -- perhaps the OP can post the link? However I did find this page with a pictured 1930 double top mandolin. Attached are the pics.

    Also, a lame Google translation:

    For some productions a mandolin is as sound color and that a good tip. Not only for the usual folk sounds

    About the Radiotone I hardly find anything on the internet, so here are some facts:
    The little one. The usual scale of 33 cm and a total length of 64 cm The ZrgenhŲhe is 6 cm.
    The woods are classic: maple for the back and sides and spruce for the top. The neck is painted, so I can not say what kind of wood was made. The fingerboard is made of ebony. The remaining materials are mitter while probably all on the index: ivory knobs for the mechanics, real tortoise shell pickguard and mother of pearl for the deposits, which are all beautifully worked. Crocodile leather for bags.
    I have different information on the manufacturer's site: Some say the U.S., the other Czech Republic.

    What makes this mandolin is the Double Top, two blankets! As can be clearly seen in the picture above is in about half the depth nor used a blanket. I've never seen in any other instrument.
    I know only one called Soundbox certain Maccaferri guitars.

    "The first mass of Selmer Django guitars recorded for that time on trendsetting details, such as self-contained, self-lubricating mechanisms, cutaway and in most cases, an internal 'Soundbox." It was a case within the body, with opening to the sound hole, the floor was made of spruce. Anchored was this internal sound chamber at four points of Zargenkranzes, and below the scarf hole there was a kind of shield that would distract the vibrations from the bottom of the body. goal was the best possible balance of to get sound. "

    I once had a Selmer D-Hole copy in hand, which had a sound box. But for that I can not say much because the guitar sounded not very good.

    After I had been in the studio the merkwŁdigsten mandolin in hand, I decided to finally time have such a part in the collection, but a great sounding instrument!
    Eventually, I once had an experienced colleague said that the A style mandolins for recording better suited his. I have no idea if that's really true, but the Radiotone has exactly the sound that I expect from a good mandolin. The percussive attack and beautiful pearly, smooth highs The old timbers are giving it another fine production.
    You really have to ask you a microphone in front of the instrument and it sounds very good!

    A nice detail in Radiotone also is the cover for the device where the strings are attached. The part can be folded up, to hang from the strings and fold again and then the damped strings behind the bridge. Very nice for shots!

    And I agree, of course, in the mandolin guitar tuning, simply because I'm too lazy. So instead of GDAE I agree in DGH E. The problem is the very high Saitenzu would occur if the mandolin strings as biases. That worked even, at least for a while, when I still had no new strings. The two lower strings I had relaxed again, if I had not used the mandolin. But that is certainly not good for the instrument and play it is not because of the high voltage well.
    So I'm glad that when I string producers of my confidence got a custom set of strings can wrap and calculate.
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    Jim

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    Ah! I did find it on ebay.co.uk. It was over today. Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin
    Jim

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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    Has anyone ever had their hands on one of these? I’ve spotted one locally and, from the photographs available, it looks as though it’s in dire need of a neck re-set. In fact it looks so bad, i suspect that the neck might be a bolt-on of some sort. Any ideas before I spend time thinking about it? (Not that I need another mandolin!)

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    No never seen one I don't believe but neck sets sure aint cheap! If you can get a squealing deal it may be worth it?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    Ray (T)

    I nearly bought one recently on ebay- a good instrument. I think I have seen that one you mention on the internet- Gumtree. This mandolin type has been discussed at this site. I did find one being played- an audio on YT but I cannot locate it. Alternatively take a look at this one:

    https://schoenbach.webnode.cz/photog.../#dsc-7216-jpg

    Here is that audio on YT-great sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCjN1UTY1DA
    Last edited by NickR; Aug-16-2019 at 2:19pm.

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  9. #8

    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    Cask Ale

    The mandolin on ebay, I bid on it twice- it was sold firstly and then it was re-listed with what was wrong with it- presumably, the reasons given for its return. Both times I was sniped. It did not have its bridge or pickguard and had a crack in it. Whoever won it the second time around has fixed the crack and a problem with the heel- added the guard and a non-adjustable bridge- and glossed up the case and added electrics. That does not mean it is not a good mandolin but it is not original. If you search for Radiotone Mandolin on ebay and then check the sold box, you will see the other example that I was also sniped on- all original and very nice all round. I don't think I am meant to have one of these mandolins!Mind you, my new Chinese mandolin- sold under the brand of Feeling has roared to the top of my fave raves!

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    Not only donít I need another mandolin, I donít need a repair job sitting around so, unless anyone has anything to add, Iíll probably give it a miss; thanks.

    I doubt itís the one from Gumtree Nick. This oneís for sale by auction in the UK with no estimate. Other than the neck issue it looks OK. Given that itís still strung up and thereís a couple of picks still in the strings it looks as if somebody might have knocked it over or sat on it with dire consequences. If it goes for nothing, which would be unuusal in thse parts, it might be worth it for the case.

    Over to whoever may be interested - https://www.bamfords-auctions.co.uk/...view-lot/5018/

  11. #10

    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    That is not the one that was on Gumtree. Yes, it looks as though something untoward has befallen the mandolin- a great shame.

  12. #11
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    So, I bought the Radiotone mandolin in the Bamfords auction. Got it for £88. Here is a close-up of the damage to the neck joint:
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    It does not look like the result of being sat on - if it was I would expect to see considerable damage to the body round the neck joint. With the instrument in hand it is clear that this is a two-piece heel which at some point in the past has come apart and been clumsily re-glued by some well-meaning handyman. Now the whole joint has come apart, probably from the mandolin being stored in hot and/or damp conditions. I haven't carefully examined the joint yet, but it looks like a simple mortise and tenon joint, not dovetailed. I reckon it should come apart very easily and be a simple fix.

    This is the first time I have seen one of these and I have to say I am very impressed with the quality of the woods used, the appointments and the build itself. It is easily the best-quality European mandolin I have ever seen.

    I will post more photos as I progress and a sound sample when it's finished. In the meantime, if anyone wants to know anything about it, please do ask.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    I can honestly say I've never seen a repair like that one before.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  15. #13

    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    That's great Tony. I am sure you can fix it up and it will be a great instrument. One of those on ebay I saw appeared to have a very similar problem- it is the one that is on ebay right now.

  16. #14
    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    The double soundboard mandolin model was the Radiotone 855r and pretty much the top of the range. They were mostly built for the British market by a co-operative of stringed instrument builders in Schonbach and imported to the UK by JE Dallas and Co.

    Schonbach (now Luby) in the western Czech Republic was a major violin making centre from the 18th century or so and the original home of Hofner and Framus until they moved west in 1946 or so. Schonbach is only 6 miles across the Czech border from Markneukirchen in eastern Germany, which was a another major centre of musical instrument production (and the original home of CF Martin).

    Violins were the main product of Schonbach, so it is not very surprising that they used good wood and the violin style mortice neck joint was the usual way of attaching the necks. The glue joint for the block which made up the lower part of the heel was always a weak point and there are many Hofner mandolins and some guitars which have needed that repaired. There is some more info on Schonbach/Luby in The Mandolin- a history.

    Cheers

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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    Congratulations Tony. Glad someone bought it who’s likely to fix it up and play it. At least it looks like a reasonably straight forward fix. I expected it to have a dovetail and to see far more damage.

    Mentioning no names, there is a luthier friend of mine, now retired, but not a million miles from Derby who simply glued his guitar necks straight on to the neck block - no dovetail, mortice/tennon etc. He reckoned that the right glue was stronger than wood and I’ve never actually heard of one of his instruments failing in that respect

  19. #16
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    All done. Here are some photos:

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    General comments: I don't like the violin-style neck joint - not strong enough for a mandolin. But at least it's simple and easy to fix if it does go. I like the MoP heel cap, but I don't think that's original - it was covering a hole where someone had inserted a long screw to mend the broken heel block (never works, that). Nice bearclaw on the soundboard. Nice flamed maple on the back and sides. Good quality tuners with classy engraving. I like the sculpted pickguard bracket. I don't like the flimsy bridge saddle.

    This is a big fat mandolin, bigger than a Gibson oval-hole I think. I like the way it feels when I play it, but the sound is disappointing. Nothing special at all. Heavier strings might help it, but with that neck joint, I don't dare. (String gauges I used: 9/12/22/35)

    Note on the value of these: one sold near me through some kind of Craig's List type site for £60 (July 2019). In June 2019 one sold on eBay for £591 (and yes, it did sell at that - not just the asking price). I think the seller was extremely lucky. I certainly wouldn't pay that for one of these.

    I will post a sound sample when I've learnt to play a tune on it.
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    I've handled a couple and whilst they looked attractive, that's where it ended for me. Very poor sound and more of a novelty. I know someone who has one and it also needs a repair. The double top makes a talking point but I don't really rate it at all. They never seemed to do simple things like correct intonation bridge and that always annoys me. Like a lot of the German Hofner, Hoyer mandolins etc. No thought about tone or such. Strings sitting on a pinacle of bridge saddle gives a very thin sound.

    Woods etc look good but after the initial pleasure of holding such a thing when it comes down to playing it, non starter for me.

  22. #18

    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    I'm glad you have put it back together- if nothing else, you have an instrument you can sell for a handsome profit. With regard to the tone, it begs the question whether a good bone bridge- or an ebony bridge from wood with no adjustment might improve the sound somewhat. I notice that the mandolin like yours at the Schonbach Guitar Gallery has no grooves in its bridge saddle. Likewise, it has the original heel- no inlay/heel cap.

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  24. #19
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    I was too hasty in my initial judgement of the sound. A mandolin that hasn't been played (or even tuned up) for years often takes a while to 'wake up'. After a few days under working tension, it does sound much better. It's still a quiet mandolin though. It would be a nice instrument to keep at home and play privately, but for playing with other instruments or in a public situation, it doesn't come up to the mark. Sound sample here:
    https://youtu.be/kQy7K7KVzvo

    Reluctantly, I have to agree with Jimmy Powells' assessment. Good suggestion from NickR - maybe I'll experiment a bit with the bridge.

    Note on the strutting inside - it has one strut which runs laterally, but not all the way across. It lies south of the bridge, so the bridge is sitting on the soundboard between the strut and the soundhole. Doesn't seem like a very sensible arrangement. Might sound better re-configured as a mandola with the bridge in the middle of the soundboard (I'm not going to do it though!)
    Mandolins: Bandolim by Antonio Pereira Cabral
    German flatback by unknown maker converted from a descant Waldzither

  25. #20

    Default Re: Radiotone Double Chamber Mandolin

    I bought a Tone Rite for mandolin a month or so ago. The seller sold it as the guitar version but I agreed to test it on a guitar and it seemed to work- so I kept it. I have a hand carved hand made mandolin crafted by arguably Britain's best maker of archtops- his last mandolin made in 1982. It has always been muted and I have felt it could be louder- although I recognise that f hole mandolins are quieter than oval hole instruments. It got nine days of the Tone Rite at full power and it was unquestionably a lot louder than before its treatment session! I think it is more than likely that your Radiotone is waking up having been dormant for quite a while, I would imagine.

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