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Thread: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

  1. #1

    Default Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    Greetings members of Mandolin Cafe,

    I am a new member to this forum. I used to visit this forum a few years ago, when I was interested in mandolins. Presently I have become interested in mandolins. I have made this post in the hopes of asking a question about a mandolin.

    I am a beginner to playing the mandolin and I would like to ask whether the Marco Rebora mandolin is a good mandolin to use as a beginner.

    The Marco Rebora mandolin in this question is the same one as this one in this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5khbk_eA7E

    The description in that YouTube video provides further information on the Marco Rebora in the video: "This is an old Neapolitan mandolin, in the de Meglio style, built by Marco Rebora in Naples, in the very early 1900s."

    In summary, I would like to ask whether a beginner should use a restored Marco Rebora mandolin, a bowl-back mandolin, supposedly from around the early 1900s.

    I would be grateful for anyone providing their feedback.

    Sincerely,

    FinisVitae

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  3. #2
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    Oh, wow, I get to go first...

    Well, I am in the minority of folks on this forum that love bowlback mandolins. I tend to play more Italian and other music rather than the style on the video, but the instrument sounds nice, although it might sound a bit different with a different player and holding position as many players sit the mandolin on the upper leg rather than in between.

    Now - the 2 big questions.

    Do you want to play a music genre that typically does NOT use bowlbacks, such as Bluegrass? If so this may not be your best choice for a first mandolin. If you want to play Classical, Italian, and other styles, it could be ideal. I've played jazz (but many players want an archtop mandolin) and Klezmer and choro on bowlbacks, too.

    The other issue would of course be the price.

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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    David Brown has given great advice above; i.e., think about what you want to play! The video is of another David, last name Hynds. David Hynds restores old mandolins. I bought my restored Calace from him. It is about 100 years old and thanks to Mr. Hynds it is a very good sounding and playable instrument. If the Rebora was restored by him I would expect it to be well done.
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  7. #4
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    Well, as Peter says, that's our old friend, Dave Hyndes, who's done the restoration and is demonstrating there.
    He does very good work restoring and resurrecting old Italian bowlbacks.

    I own a couple of proper DeMeglio bowlbacks and they are very nice mandolins. Like David, I love bowlback mandolins and play just about anything on them, though I do favor the Italian ballo liscio and classic Neapolitan era songs.

    And I at least try to play in a proper seated position.

    I've often wondered about the progeny of these so-called DeMeglio 'copies'...supposing that many of them likely could have been made by the DeMeglio folks, themselves. Some of them are almost exact facsimiles. And the DeMeglio output was prodigious.

    If you want to play the mandolin, starting with a nice, restored bowlback would seem like a good place to me.

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  9. #5
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post

    And I at least try to play in a proper seated position.
    Just to show what was the way to hold a mandolin in the old bowlback-era books:



    Plus, one can stand and stroll with no strap too:



    Just wanted to add that to the thread.

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  11. #6
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    My first mandolin was a pawnshop Czech mandolin, back in 1966. It was a lot f fun,. and I still have several to play with.

    If you like it, why not? The great thing about mandolins is the exceptional variety; buy the ticket, take the ride. It will not be your only mandolin, I suspect.

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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    I may be not understanding the question.

    There is no reason at all the Marco Rebora mandolin is not a good mandolin to use as a beginner. It is a great choice for a player at any level.

    I don't believe in the myth of a beginners mandolin. There is no mandolin that is deliberately built for a beginner, and no mandolin that would be inappropriate for a beginner, that I have ever heard of.

    I can see a beginner, unsure of his or her commitment to the mandolin, finding a budget mandolin to "try out". (In which case it might be even better to borrow or rent a mandolin for a month, if possible, and save even more money.) But budget mandolins are not especially made with the beginner in mind. They are made for the budget conscious buyer in mind.

    Newbies: get any mandolin you want, the better quality the better so that you don't struggle with build issues of the mandolin itself. Get the best you can afford. Quality will never be inappropriate.
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    A "beginner" can learn on any properly adjusted mandolin. Which one you want to acquire, may to some extent depend on what type of music you want to play once you learn. The other issue, alluded to above, is that bowl-back mandolins are a bit more tricky to keep in a good playing position, than flat-back mandolins. Not a major drawback, but a consideration.

    Seems like the Marco Rebora is a good-quality instrument, a plus. Be aware that bowl-backs are more lightly-constructed than most flat-back or carved instruments, and should be strung only with extra-light strings. They're overall more fragile than the general run of flat-top or carved-top mandolins, so you should handle yours carefully.

    The bowl-back was the dominant style of mandolin for centuries, and generations of mandolinists learned on bowl-back instruments. The limitation on learning the instrument is not the mandolin's design, but the learner's motivation, aptitude, and use of instruction -- whether in-person, by book, video, or however.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    If the question is whether a beginner should start with a bowlback, I answer why not? I have to believe that in the history of mandolin like instruments throughout the world more folks have started with a bowlback than anything else.
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    You guys make good points:

    Any playable mandolin is OK to learn on.

    Bowlbacks are wonderful instruments, but need a bit of special care.

    You can play any style of music on any sort of mandolin, although some (many?) styles are associated with a certain type of mandolin.

    If price is not the issue and one thinks they will stick to playing mandolin, get the best one you can even to use as a learning tool.

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  21. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    FinisVitae: Hmmmm... your name has a little bit of darkness to it. End of Life? Frankly, not if you are interested in playing the mandolin. Mandolins add spice to life and can be survival tools in these strange and dark times we live in.

    Having said that, my sage friends above have spoken wisely to you. One thing I am not sure of is why you are referring to a video made nine years ago about a Rebora mandolin. Does Dave have another one to sell that he restored? In that case, it makes sense and he has been doing this for a number of years and stands by his work.

    Or are you just looking for a mandolin that is like that one, in which case, you don't have to only look at Rebora mandolins. If you like the sound and/or look of that one, then also look at DeMeglios which are pretty common snd are excellent mandolins.

    Also, where are you located? If you are in the UK you may have an excellent selection overall of Italian mandolins. If in US you might consider some of the vintage American bowlbacks, if you have your heart set on that style of mandolin. But I would suggest to buy from a reputable dealer since you could easily get stuck with an old bowlback which are often over a hundred years old and may not have been taken care of very well.

    I am also a big fan of bowlbacks and do play them as well as the other styles of mandolin. However, I also would give you the caveat that you might find it easier to hold a conventional mandolin especially if you are used to playing guitar.

    Good luck on your search.
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  23. #12

    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    I really don't understand this question, anybody can play anything they want to.

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  25. #13

    Default Re: Should a Beginner use a Marco Rebora Mandolin?

    Dear Mandolin Cafe Members who replied to this thread,

    Thank you for all your replies. You all have convinced me of the ability for a beginner to use a Marco Rebora Mandolin. I will take all of the information you all have provided into account.

    Sincerely,

    FinisVitae

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