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Thread: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    I recently picked up a mandolin built for Tiny Moore of The Texas Playboys by Bob Venn- cofounder of Roberto-Venn school of Lutherie in around 1968. The mandolin has Tiny Moore decaled on the front of the headstock and Venn Customs Phx. Arz on the back of the headstock. The mandolin has 2 of Bobs signature wooden covered pickups. Director of Roberto Venn William Eaton has verified this as a Bob Venn instrument, and it is well known that Venn did repairs for Tiny in the 50’s and 60’s- although I haven’t found any picture of Tiny with the mandolin. It was found at a pawn shop so getting any information on its history is impossible. Tiny lived and owned a music store in Sacramento about 3 hours from here- so that gets it pretty close. Bob Venn instruments are extremely rare and I have not found any information about him or his builds other than a paragraph on the Roberto Venn website. I am looking for information reguarding what the value for the instrument may be as a Bob Venn instrument and what the Tiny Moore ownership adds to the value.

    Any help is greatly appreciated!
    Dylan Keel
    Humboldt Guitarworks
    Last edited by Keelkraftguitars; Mar-01-2019 at 11:58am. Reason: Mistype

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Here is a link to a Pinterest album since I'm not sure how to directly upload photos:

    https://www.pinterest.com/dkeel0837/bob-venn-mandolin/

  3. #3

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    I wonder if this mandolin was made to be sold by Tiny Moore from his music shop. It may have been a one off or part of a larger run. Perhaps, it was one with a view to make more that never transpired.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Tiny sold copies of his personal Bigsby Mandolin from his music store in Sacramento- made by another luthier. This one is very uniquely shaped and built from birdseye maple and walnut body with laminated neck- not something that would have likely been intended to represtent a production instrument. It also has Bob Venns signature wooden pickup enclosures- that in those days would have taken many hours to make by hand.
    Last edited by Keelkraftguitars; Mar-01-2019 at 1:30pm. Reason: mistype

  5. #5

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Yes, you see him with his Bigsby- on album covers etc- I can think of two that I own. Perhaps, there is someone who saw him with this mandolin.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Wow that's great! Are yours Bigsbys or the copies from Tiny's shop? Who made the copies for him- perhaps Semie Moseley at the Moserite factory? I believe I have seen videos of him playing the Bigsby, Bigsby Copies, and Mandocasters.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Sorry to bring you down but I was referring to the albums I have by Tiny- not Bigsby mandolins. Now, owning one of those mandolins would be incredible.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Thanks for sharing the pictures. I went to Roberto-Venn. I appreciate being able to see this unique mandolin.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Keelkraftguitars View Post
    Wow that's great! Are yours Bigsbys or the copies from Tiny's shop? Who made the copies for him- perhaps Semie Moseley at the Moserite factory? I believe I have seen videos of him playing the Bigsby, Bigsby Copies, and Mandocasters.
    I bought one the Tiny Moore models directly from Tiny in the 1980s. I had it for many years and sold it a few years ago. It was made for Tiny by Jay Roberts. Tiny played one of those at Ashokan Swing Week when I met him there and ordered one. I got it by the end of the year.

    This one was not mine (mine was black) but you can see it was copied from the original Bigsby one.

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  11. #10

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    I'm about 99% sure that this mandolin was built by Bob in 1977 at the Roberto Venn School of Luthiery in Phoenix. I never saw it completely finished, but I shaped and sanded the body and quite possibly wound the pick ups. I had been living in Citrus Heights and had hung around Tiny Moore's shop a lot before moving to Phoenix so Bob recruited me to do the "scut" work. It's very cool to see the finished instrument after all these years.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    WOW! That is exactly the kind of information I was hoping for! The pickup selector dates to 11/68- so I had assumed it was built prior to the school being opened. Thank you very much!

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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    I was hitch hiking and landed in Sacramento in the late 60's or early 70's and stumbled upon this music store filled with electric mandolins. It soon became apparent it was Tiny's music store. It was an amazing place and something like a museum with all of the fine instruments and memorabilia. Nice thread here.

  14. #13
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Wow, that is a heck of a pawnshop find.

    I've documented four different mandolins belong to Tiny here: http://emando.com/players/Tiny_Moore_slideshow.htm

    But this one is not among them.
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Thanks for the interest- I am totally new to the field of mandolins and Tiny Moore. Everything I know about this I have learned since finding the instrument- so If any information needs to be corrected or can be elaborated on- by all means please feel free to help me out!

    I really hope that it is something that someone will be interested in owning once I get to the bottom of it. I have been buying and selling instruments for years and don't often have to reach out for appraisals- since these days internet makes it so easy to obtain value on any thing ever mass produced. This mandolin seems to be very difficult if not impossible to place a value on since Bob Venns instruments are so rare (I can't find a price or past sales record on a single guitar- nor a picture of a Venn Instrument online), and I don't have a picture of Tiny Moore with the instrument, only his name on the headstock and the relitavely close proximity to Sacramento. The relationship between Venn and Tiny is documented, Venn doing repairs for him as far back as the 50's from what I've gathered- so to me it would make sense that the mandolin was either a personal gift or a commission.

    I was told by one well-regarded instrument appraiser that he would have to base the value on the prices fetched by Roberts Bigsby style Mandolins- but there were a great many of those made and sold through Tiny. This is an entirely custom one of a kind instrument made personally for the most well reguarded electric mandolin player of the 20th century! Most of Venn's notoriety comes from the Roberto Venn School of Luthiery, but his contribution to the art of guitar building seem to be substatial enough to carry some weight in the world of rare instruments. I also believe that even though the instrument isn't in demand doesnt mean it is not valuable to someone. Anything rare is worth as much as someone's willing to pay for it I suppose.

    Thanks again to those of you interested in this thread- I'm still hoping some pictures will turn up sooner or later.
    Again any help is greatly appreciated!

  16. #15
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Try reaching out to Skip Maggiore at Skip's Music in Sacramento:
    https://skipsmusic.com/

    Skip now owns three mandolins that belonged to Tiny when he died: late '40s Gibson EM150, the Bigsby 5-string, and Tiny's personal Roberts 5-string. It's conceivable that Skip might know something about other mandolins belonging to Tiny.

    Jay Roberts made more than one model of mandolin. The standard Tiny Moore 5-strings go for $2.5K and up. A less common Roberts, the "Tiny Moore Jazz 5," might be worth a little more because it is scarce. Then there are a handful of oddball Roberts mandolins that don't seem to have much to do with Tiny. These have sparkly finish and it would be hard to put a price on them, although one of them (a doubleneck) was here on the Classifieds recently and didn't last long at $4.5K.

    I imagine that Tiny's Bigsby mandolin, if it ever goes up for sale, would fetch $100K or more. But after all, it is a Bigsby and its place in music history is well known. A mandolin that Tiny owned but was not known to play might get a little price bump from its provenance, but nothing like $100K. One is reminded of a Gibson mandolin that had belonged to Duane Eddy, which some lunatic was trying to sell on eBay a few years ago for $25K. An instrument that Eddy performed with might be worth a premium. One that he just had sitting around the house (he was known as a guitarist, not a mandolinist) would not.

    The fact that the Venn mandolin wound up in a pawnshop probably means that Tiny let go of it at some point. That weakens the provenance argument somewhat, I should think. Heck, I bought a Flatiron mandola from Gruhn that had once belonged to Mike Compton, but maybe Mike would have kept it around if he liked it better.

    Here's an article about a Mosrite 5-string that belonged to Nudie Cohn, much more famous as a tailor to country singers than for his mandolin playing. I could be wrong, but I doubt anyone would have been foolish enough to pay the $400K. That's the kind of price you put on something you don't really want to sell. https://patch.com/washington/seattle...t-sale-seattle
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    As Martin noted above those three mandolins that Tiny owned and played are now owned by Skip. I think it must be a strange story about this Venn instrument. No doubt that he intended it for Tiny but I do wonder whether it ever got to him but I find it odd that it was in a pawn shop. Maybe it was stolen at some time. Nevertheless I think its value is probably more that Bob Venn built it than any connection to Tiny Moore. The Bigsby one is iconic to those of us who appreciate Tiny's music.

    I wonder if Deke Dickerson might have some clues about this Venn instrument.
    Jim

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    With Dylan's permission, I'm uploading his photos here.

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  20. #18
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    I gather than Bob Venn had a Semie Moseley connection? If so, you can try contacting Ed Elliott in Oklahoma. Ed also worked with Semie and builds his own guitars using old Mosrite shop equipment. He's designed his own e-mandos as well as building a few very nice-looking Tiny/Bigsby copies. Don't know if he and Bob ever worked together but it's possible.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    This instrument is now for sale on Reverb:
    https://reverb.com/item/24421627-tin...ye-maple-burst
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    This instrument is now for sale on Reverb:
    https://reverb.com/item/24421627-tin...ye-maple-burst
    Wow! $10K with a bowed neck???

    Sure, Tiny was great, but $10K? Not sure if Tiny's "star power" would translate into that kind of money, IMHO......

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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Wow! $10K with a bowed neck???

    Sure, Tiny was great, but $10K? Not sure if Tiny's "star power" would translate into that kind of money, IMHO......
    Yeah, that's way more than I'd be willing shell out for that mandolin. I actually like the Roberts design better ( and own one).
    Chief. Way up North. Gibson 1917 A model with pickup. JL Smith 5 string electric. 1929 National Triolian resonator mandolin with pickup. National RM 1 with pickup. Ovation Applause. Fender FM- 60 E 5 string electric (with juiced pickups). 1950's Gibson EM-200 electric mandolin. 1954 Gibson EM-150 electric mandolin. Custom made "Jett Pink" 5 string electric- Bo Diddley slab style. Jay Roberts Tiny Moore model 5 string electric.

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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    <Removed by Moderator. Posting Guideline violation>
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Jun-01-2019 at 10:46pm.

  25. #23
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Hey, compared to Nudie Cohn's Mosrite it's downright affordable!
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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    To me, it’s not pretty and there are no sound clips to overcome that. And the neck has no truss rod and bowed from the tension of only 5 strings. While that could be fixed, I’ll bet it takes quite a while to sell north of 3k.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bob Venn Tiny Moore 5 String Electric Mandolin

    Update to this thread. The price is lowered on Reverb to $5000. Tiny Moore’s Bob Venn Customs 5 string electric mandolin.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Sep-26-2019 at 11:21am.
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