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Thread: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

  1. #1

    Default Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    No stake on this, but this come up for sale so rarely. Not sure if that's a good price, but it's certainly rare.

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W

    Default Re: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    These are actually pretty cool, I have no idea how they sound. Past discussions and pictures can be found here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    I own a Merrill aluminum-bowl, spruce top mandolin. I bought it on eBay for about $150 12-15 years ago; it's in substantially better shape than this one, though it does have a repaired top crack. It still has its "cloud" tailpiece cover, which this one is missing. However, this one has much fancier tuners, enclosed and engraved. Both this one and mine have substantial floral engraving on the bowl.

    I would consider this one overpriced, or at least priced at the top of what even a collector would pay for a Merrill. I'm also dubious about the attributed date; according to this Mugwumps article, Neil Merrill's Aluminum Musical Instrument Co. only sold instruments in the late 1890's, before he was sued for not paying his suppliers, and the company was sold for debits. I find references to later aluminum instruments, such as a violin supposedly made in 1932 for Aluminum Musical Instrument Co. by Alcoa, but I doubt any later instrument would be labeled "Merrill."

    I wouldn't pay nearly $600 for a Merrill in this kind of shape, but they are rare. As to sound, mine sounds pretty much like any bowl-back I've played: clear, trebly, sweet tone, not much bass, good for folk, classical, ethnic music, not so much for bluegrass.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    In my posting, I was going to add "I think Allen Hopkins might be one of very few owners of these instruments (and plays it regularly). Hope he weighs in." Glad you did!

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  6. #5
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    Ann Arbor/Austin

    Default Re: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    Here's a couple shots of the Merrill for posteriority, and also a pretty good detail of the aluminum bowl to top detail.


    Why the Brits prounce it aluminium.
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  8. #6
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    Sep 2015

    Default Re: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    It does have the option to make an offer.....

  9. #7

    Default Re: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    Thanks for the Aluminium/Aluminum link.

    We are plagued by a similar naming woe. On the way to Seattle I pass over the "Hood Canal" bridge between the Olympic Peninsula and the Kitsap Peninsula. Given that this body of water is two miles wide and 600 feet deep "canal" is a strange moniker. George Vancouver wrote "canal" on one chart and "channel" on another. I want to blame Webster, no matter how unfairly.

  10. #8
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Mansfield UK

    Default Re: Merrill aluminum bowl back on

    It's expensive. The price tag in that photo says $750! Someone's dreamin' . . . I recently bought one of those in an auction in UK for a lot less than that. Here's some photos
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    It is pretty loud and rings like a bell. Sound sample here

    There was another one on eBay recently, I think for about $150 but I can't find it now.
    Last edited by tonydxn; Feb-02-2019 at 6:34pm.
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