Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 32

Thread: Can anyone identify?

  1. #1
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Can anyone identify?

    I have what's probably the most common question on here: What's this?

    Walking through an antique mall today, I found a mandolin. (I don't play {at least not at this point } but have a kid who does.

    It's in good shape—I play violin/viola and know a little about what to look for. The case is heavy, probably bullet-proof, and quite worn. Instrument has a circular label inside it, white with black, block lettering. It says "RENO MANDOLINS" around the outside of the circle. Inside, it reads "OLD NO. 4" and, in much smaller type, "built by PB" and "date: Feb. 1988", with the initials and date handwritten. F style.

    I can't find anything online or in the Mandolin Café search function about this instrument or brand. I texted photos to the kid, he was noncommittal about whether he could use it without trying it. Fair enough. OK, OK, the price they offered me was too good to pass up, and it's sitting next to me on the couch.

    What do I have?

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646° N, 74.2083° W
    Posts
    24,010

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Post a picture. It's your best chance of getting an identification.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Trying to figure out how to do this. Photos are on the Android phone, laptop is Mac.

  4. #4
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Here are a few. Any other angles, etc., that would be helpful?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20170422_140049.jpg 
Views:	336 
Size:	467.0 KB 
ID:	156387   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20170422_141401.jpg 
Views:	313 
Size:	423.3 KB 
ID:	156388   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	20170422_210955.jpg 
Views:	271 
Size:	278.9 KB 
ID:	156389  


  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646° N, 74.2083° W
    Posts
    24,010

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    What it appears you have is a hand built mandolin by a luthier I can't identify that was a rough copy of a Gibson F5. The scroll isn't real pretty and the sunburst leaves a bit to be desired. If it plays and sounds decent it would probably be a fun instrument to own. It's not going to worth a whole lot of money but it doesn't appear that you paid a whole lot of money for it. One of the members might actually remember this builder if he traveled in any of the bluegrass circles in a region.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Helena, Montana
    Posts
    2,872

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?


  7. #7
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Interesting, George: looks like maybe a small, local company that never hit the big time. Tried googling the guy's name on the application, but not much came up.

    This was a well-loved instrument. As I said, the case shows a lot of wear, and the leather strap attached to the instrument has the beautiful patina leather gets from lots of handling. The mandolin itself seems to have been well cared for. One small area where the binding is lifting along one edge for an inch or so, but that's all I see. The sound seems good, Mike. I can't judge the playability. If my kid likes it, it's his. Otherwise, I'll fool around with it for a bit. In any case, I don't think I wasted the $150 I have in it.

    One more total newbie question: this one did come with an extra set of strings. I was just looking at strings online. A full set is only $15–$25? (Being used to paying closer to $120 for a set of viola strings and about $80 for violin strings (and only getting four per set), this seems . . . unusual. Are all mandolin strings steel core?
    Last edited by Louise NM; Apr-23-2017 at 12:23am. Reason: spelling errors

  8. #8

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    $150 for a hand built instrument is a bargain. Well done. Congratulations. Th most expensive mandolin strings set would not cost more than a $100.00 Violin playrs are paying the inflatd prices for everything. Take bows, for instance

  9. #9

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Sounds like a great mandolin for the money! Enjoy it!

  10. #10
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Anything else I've seen in that price range had a run-in with a staircase or a car in reverse. Got a lead on someone who can look at/repair/advise on the binding where it's lifting. The guy who looked at it at a guitar shop said it doesn't need anything beyond new strings to be performance-worthy, and he thought it sounded great.

    I get the impression that mandolins are rather singular instruments. The guitar people seem more-than-a-little reluctant to work on them. True?

    Vic-Victor, bows can get pricey, it's true, but boy, does it make a difference when you find the right one. Like a lot of things, if you stay out of the antiques market your wallet is happier.

  11. #11
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Manchester - Lancashire - NW England
    Posts
    14,187

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Hi Louise - One of the most popular brands/gauges of mandolin strings are D'Aaddario EJ74's. They're very fine strings/not expensive & widely available,so i'd opt for a new set of those to begin with. Let it settle in for a few weeks & if you decide to,you can try different brands/gauges of string. As a musician,you'll know not all strings suit all instruments & try a few different makes of pick (plectrum). They can produce a variety of tones, & pick shape / thickness / string brand combos. can bring out the best in any mandolin if it's half decent,which this one seems to be,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  12. #12
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,346

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    ...I get the impression that mandolins are rather singular instruments. The guitar people seem more-than-a-little reluctant to work on them. True?..
    You need to find a repair shop that works on a variety of acoustic instruments, and a tech with at least some mandolin expertise. Reattaching lifted binding is a relatively straightforward job, but a good shop that can check the mandolin's set-up, adjust bridge, nut, truss rod if necessary (if it has a truss rod -- I don't see a cover), etc., would be a real plus.

    The price is very reasonable, if it is indeed a hand-built, luthier-made instrument. Even if it's an Asian import that's been reworked, it would still be quite affordable.
    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

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    The other big difference, unlike violin strings, mandolin strings don't last, so the expenditure might be more over time.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  14. #14
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Allen, was anyone importing from Asia in 1988?

    I got it to a gentleman this afternoon who will reattach the binding. He was recommended by two different music stores—they farm some work out to him—and he seemed to know his stuff. Also seemed to know where to draw the line on what he is and is not wanting to do, which is always a good sign! Overconfidence is not a good thing. He liked the sound of the instrument, and was surprised that I found it running around loose, as it were.

    Brick, how long do mandolin strings last? Do they break, rust, go false, or just lose tone? I can only get 3–6 months out of a set of violin strings, depending on brand and how much I'm playing. Viola strings, thankfully, last longer, and the cellists I know use the same set forever.

    Ivan, I'll have to investigate types and brands of strings, and see who in town carries what. I'm a huge believer in buying strings and other sundries locally. They may be a bit more expensive, but it's well worth it to keep a good local music shop in business. The mail order places aren't going to be a ten-minute drive away in an emergency.

  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Boulder, CO & Chesterfield, MO
    Posts
    2,564

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    If you're used to violin strings, I would suggest you try flatwound mandolin strings. They will feel more akin to violin strings under your fingers. The usual go to strings for flatwound are D'addario EFW74 http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/dmaflme11fw.html.
    If you want to splurge and have longer lasting strings as well, Thomastik makes some great ones http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/thprflwomast.html

  16. #16
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Thanks for the suggestions. Others are wound with round wire? Sounds like that would tear up your fingers in a hurry.

    I suppose different strings are necessary depending on whether one is playing Vivaldi mandolin concerti, Celtic music, or bluegrass. Having done some reading since this little guy crossed my path, I'm amazed at the versatility and universality of the mandolin. The NY Times ran an article a few months ago about mandolin orchestras, a few of which still exist. Pretty cool.

  17. #17
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    7,444

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    for regular mandolin strings, I'll also echo the suggestion of using EJ74s from D'Adderio.

    for flatwound strings, I prefer Thomastik-Infeld, "Heavies," which are not that heavy.

    I'm excited for you!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  18. #18
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Sugar Grove,PA
    Posts
    2,960
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Sounds like a great mandolin for the money! Enjoy it!
    I'll second that! Ya know some makers goods may not look pretty who cares it should be about sound/playability etc....Good Deal on it if it sounds good

  19. #19
    Registered User Sakamichi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Tybee Island
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    I know nothing about mandolins yet, and I would have paid $150 or more if I stumbled across that one. That is, if it didn't break from my stumbling across it.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Brava! - What a find! Please post a sound sample when you get it set up properly. I live for stories like this …

  21. #21
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Vancouver Island
    Posts
    1,338

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Yes, good find. Case alone would run about $150.

    In my experience a set of mandolin strings lasts at least as long as a violin set. And they're very much cheaper.

  22. #22
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,346

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    Allen, was anyone importing from Asia in 1988?...
    Yes. I began seeing Alvarez F-model mandolins in the mid-1970's; they were made in Japan then. Within a few years there were several brands of mandolin being made first in Japan, then in Korea, and later in China, and imported into the US.

    I'm not saying that the one you found is Asian-made; more likely that an individual builder in the US made it. However, I've seen Asian mandolins that have been reworked here, with inlays being added, finishes re-done, etc. Whatever the genesis of this one, you got it at a good price for a solid-wood, carved F-model mandolin. I hope it gives you good use.
    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

  23. #23
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Allen, come to think of it, there's a guitar around the house here that is Korean, and probably about the same age as this mandolin. Everyone who has looked at the mandolin has said "hand-built" so far. The fact the maker put his/her initials and the month and year on the label makes me think there was definitely some pride in it.

    The fascinating link George Lane posted in #6 has my curiosity aroused. Looks like someone started a company to build instruments and it fizzled. I am bound and determined to find someone who knows something about the company.

    Haven't talked to my kid yet about whether or not he wants it. I know he prefers A-style, and would really like a mandola or octave. Maybe I'll set him up with a nice Eastman A instead, and keep the ugly duckling for myself. He has a killer Eastman viola, and several of their violins and cellos cycled through the house as the kids needed progressively bigger instruments. They do good work. I won't have the F back from the repairman for a couple of weeks anyway, and the kid is across the country.

  24. The following members say thank you to Louise NM for this post:


  25. #24

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    I couldn't find much info online, because Google brings up Ronnie Reno when I do a search for Reno Mandolin........and, of course, there seems to be pages on Ronnie Reno, Don Reno, Don Wayne Reno, etc............almost like a "Nascar" family tree!

  26. #25
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    523

    Default Re: Can anyone identify?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I couldn't find much info online, because Google brings up Ronnie Reno when I do a search for Reno Mandolin........and, of course, there seems to be pages on Ronnie Reno, Don Reno, Don Wayne Reno, etc............almost like a "Nascar" family tree!

    Yep, them guys gum up the search engines!

    The document looks like they applied to register the trademark and then did not follow through, 1989-1990. Assuming that's when they were around, it was pre-internet, so I'm thinking they didn't leave much of a digital footprint.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •