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Thread: new to mandolin,could use help with id

  1. #1
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    Default new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Hello all,My name is Don and thank you for letting me join.
    Me and my lady decided to take up mandolin.So we are shopping around for one.
    Can anyone help me id a mando I may buy?
    I know next to nothing about them.
    I am looking at a bowl back but this is the one my girl wants and our anniversary is next week.
    So any help would be great..Thanks,Don
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  2. #2

    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    There are many experts here who can identify your mandolin. But, in regarding which type of mandolin you should buy, they will all ask one question first: what kind of music do you want to play?

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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Quote Originally Posted by twangdog View Post
    There are many experts here who can identify your mandolin. But, in regarding which type of mandolin you should buy, they will all ask one question first: what kind of music do you want to play?

    We know what we want to play,folk,romany (sp),celtic,a bit of grass.I am just a bit ocd when it comes to knowing about thing's.
    Do not even have one yet and am already looking into how to do set up and repairs.

  4. #4

    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    If you want a bowl back, then you will need to limit your list of musical styles you wish to indulge in- mandolins have evolved and been chosen to cover a number of musical types. The mandolin you have in mind appears to be a good quality instrument but I cannot identify it. It appears to be in a high quality Geib & Schaefer case- circa 1920s. This suggests- assuming the two have been together for a long time that the mandolin is a good one- it certainly looks good but as to its current level of playability, then as a novice, you have to rely on others to advise you. I began playing on one of my great grandfather's bowl backs from the 1890s. Now, it is a perfectly reasonable instrument, but when I pick it up to play, I wonder how I ever got started! My father learned to play another of his mandolins- a Vinaccia, that I have just had mended. My guitar/mandolin man who is as good as it gets after 55 years tells me it is a great instrument but it is not easy to play- in fact it's a challenge that I am not up to meeting! I repaired it in memory of my old Dad. You may wish to buy a vintage instrument as you love it- and it may be an investment. You might also wish to buy a relatively inexpensive new mandolin that is relatively easy to play- receiving advice from somebody trustworthy you know or in a music shop that specialises in mandolins- or is oriented towards them- as opposed to solid body electric guitars!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    I don't know how long the mandolin and case have been together. The case doesn't really form fit to the mandolin. Look at the added padding. The mandolin will be hard to ID as well. It doesn't look like any one builder but it does look like it's decent. The case almost looks like a mandolin banjo case.

    The mandolin is reminiscent of some later built Chicago instruments. Let me see if I can find those threads. Note: nowhere near what I was thinking about.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Some thoughts that should help:

    1 - Is there a label or other markings on the inside, usually on the back and/or the neck block? Even just partial wording, a print font, or some format of serial #, that may seem like gibberish to most of us (think "...cia Frat..."), can tell the more expert folks exactly what you're looking at.
    2 - Photo of the back of the headstock: Details of tuning mechanism can help indicate when & where it was built.
    3 - YOUR location! Adding that to your user profile often prompts folks to suggest nearby luthiers or other helpful individuals, but not if they don't know where you are.

    BTW athensduck: Google indicates a popular duck pond in Athens, AL... close?
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Also, can you post a picture of the back of the headstock so we can see the tuning machines?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    consider the Big Muddy in the classifieds right now! Not mine, but they are the real deal, simple and affordable.

    Enjoy the journey!

    f-d
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    If you want a bowl back, then you will need to limit your list of musical styles you wish to indulge in

    .... I began playing on one of my great grandfather's bowl backs from the 1890s. Now, it is a perfectly reasonable instrument, but when I pick it up to play, I wonder how I ever got started!
    I'd take that Vinacchia anyday.

    You can play ANY music on a bowlback.

    You can play any music on any mandolin.

    Some people are convinced that you have to have a certain mandolin...the one you have would be a fine overall instruments.

    Don't believe them.

  11. #10

    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Serviceable and very playable bowlbacks can be had quite cheaply, I got mine for around $90. I'd make sure the neck/top/back were all in good shape though. Odds are before long you'll have a bowlback, archtop, flattop, and a mandocello though.

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  13. #11

    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    I must admit to being baffled by this mandolin- it has that A style body and Vega made some a little like that but then there is that headstock shape. I do think it looks like a well crafted instrument and it could be ideal for a number of styles. I think Mike is probably right that the case is not original to the mandolin. I just made the point that certain musical forms have become known for their totemic instruments- the F5 and bluegrass being a classic example. I will not be taking my 1923 A2 snakehead to the bluegrass jam tonight as I want to show off my new $60 1930s mystery mandolin that I think is a Harmony made instrument. It is loud and bright and it it is fun to play but it is no in the same league as the A2. Personally, I do not see a bowl back as being an ubiquitous mandolin for all genres but if one works for others on that basis, then more power to their elbows and wrists. The Vinaccia does intonate well but many old Naples mandolins do not and the tuners do not really like holding strings to pitch for very long.

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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Actually I found a similar Vega but there were still too many differences. It might explain the case though
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  17. #13

    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Mike, I have been holding my A2 case in front of the photo and I think that is what the case was made for originally. However, that is not to say it might not have been made for a Vega mandolin. I have seen the odd 1920s Washburn ( made by Regal?) with some similarities but again not enough and nothing comparable to that headstock. Somebody must know who made it and I would be very surprised if it was made outside of the USA. Seeing the tuners might shed some light on the era and where it was made. However, I have seen a 1930s Clifford Essex guitar made in London- possibly by Marco Roccia that had Grover "TOP" tuner strips on it and they were original to the guitar. US made tuners could be sourced and used although most European makers bought tuners from Markneukirchen in Germany although, as we know, Selmer of Paris used a French maker.

  18. #14
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Looks something like a Washburn Style C, but headstock's differently shaped, pickguard different as well.

    I'd buy it, assuming price is reasonable; construction and materials are attractive, and you can play the types of music you mention on an oval-hole, flat-back instrument, as well as a bowl-back.
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  19. #15
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    That's a new one to me. It's not from any of the big builders - Vega, Lyon & Healy, Regal, Washburn, Stromberg Voisinet, Weymann, and the Larsons can all be ruled out. It's probably from a small workshop; I'm getting a general east-coast vibe from the headstock, pickguard, and the maple back, but that's just a hunch and wouldn't narrow it down very much.
    www.OldFrets.com: the obscure side of vintage instruments.

  20. #16
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    We've also seen a few nice mandolins made in Canada with that Waverly tailpiece. The tuners might give us a chance at a date.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  21. #17
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    I went out and looked at Favilla's as well. Whoever built it was good at what they did.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  22. #18
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    So far this Galiano/Ciani mandolin in this thread bears some resemblance to the OP's posting. Similar shape but mahogany back and sides and different headstock and pickguard shape.
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  23. #19
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Close, still some major differences. Oscar Schmidt?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  24. #20

    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    In the early to mid-1930s or thereabouts OS adopted the "open book" headstock shape on guitars and mandolins but I would be very surprised if it was made by Oscar Schmidt. It really is an enigma and ideally more photos might help uncover more clues- it is a real mystery instrument. I think Galiano instruments were made by a few makers and OS was one of them. Let's hope this is identified before our heads explode thinking of possible makers!

  25. #21

    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Is that an open seam or a split in the lower/mid back seam? Strange dark line there. Can't quite tell from the original pic.

    Here are two zoomed-in views of that pic, maybe someone can give a better idea of the condition of that seam. You'll need to click the pic probably several times altogether to make it maximum size.

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    I do *not* think the suspicious dark line is the result of typical low-res jpg artifacts, those look different (such as around the edges of the mandolin in these pics).

  26. #22
    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    It looks to have a quality neck though.
    I never fail at anything, I just succeed at doing things that never work....


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  27. #23
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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    I'm wondering how much the seller wants for it . . .

    The bridge looks a lot like the ones Weymann put on their instruments, but the rest of it doesn't look much like theirs.

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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

    Ok,been a busy week,sorry. The seller say's he was told it is a 1921 vega or washburn.Has had professional repairs done to it..It is in a 1920s Gibson A jr case.He want's right at $600 for it.Though I am hopefully going to be trading for it.He is out of town and is supposed to meet me the day before my anniversary (it is for my girl).Thank you guys for all the help so far.

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    Default Re: new to mandolin,could use help with id

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ID:	170308 here is the back of headstock..

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