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Thread: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

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    Post Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Hi everyone, I ran across a very unique mandolin the other day. I am thinking about buying it but can't find any information about it and I'm not sure about the price. It is a 70s "Earthwood" mandolin made by Ernie Ball. It looks to be in very good condition and they are asking $400 for it. Does anyone know anything about these instruments? Thanks in advance!

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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    I thought that “Ernie Ball Earthwood” was a range of strings and not of actual instruments but I stand to be corrected.

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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by autiger47 View Post
    Hi everyone, I ran across a very unique mandolin the other day. I am thinking about buying it but can't find any information about it and I'm not sure about the price. It is a 70s "Earthwood" mandolin made by Ernie Ball. It looks to be in very good condition and they are asking $400 for it. Does anyone know anything about these instruments? Thanks in advance!
    Any photos ?

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    I thought that “Ernie Ball Earthwood” was a range of strings and not of actual instruments but I stand to be corrected.
    They made one of the first acoustic bass guitars.

    http://earthwoodfan.net/the-earthwood-owners-registry

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Played an Earthwood acoustic bass guitar at NAMM in 1975. Outstanding sound & huge volume. Best acoustic bass guitar I've ever played. Actually loud enough to be heard in a group. In comparison, more recent instruments marketed by other prominent makers are basically silent if not plugged in.

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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Looking at the photos on David’s link, I can see why they sound better than the rest of the herd. They look like something out of a mariaci band! Nevr seen one; I don’t think they ever made it to the “old” world.

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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    Looking at the photos on David’s link, I can see why they sound better than the rest of the herd. They look like something out of a mariaci band! Nevr seen one; I don’t think they ever made it to the “old” world.
    The body is a lot like a guitarron, good call.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    The Earthwood bass guitar, and the Tacoma Thunderchief, are about the only acoustic bass guitars that can hold their own acoustically. Unfortunately, neither is still being made.

    Here's a relevant Acoustic Guitar Forum thread on Ernie Ball Earthwood instruments. Early 1970's, about 2K instruments produced in various types. The cited info from Ernie Ball mentions "mandolas" rather than mandolins, but that might just be someone writing 40 years after the fact, being unfamiliar with mandolin-family terminology.

    Without seeing a pic, I would mention that several of the posters on the thread mention the Earthwood guitars -- not bass guitars -- as being somewhat crudely made, and not projecting sound very well. They were definitely larger-bodied instruments. Whether their mandolins followed similar patterns, we can't tell without seeing the one in question.

    I concur in the general opinion of acoustic bass guitars -- buy a guitarron. I picked up a tourist-grade Honduran one, made of finest plywood, and I'd take it over any acoustic bass guitar I've ever tried to play unplugged. However, one has to deal with the idiosyncratic semi-re-entrant tuning A1 D2 G2 C3 E2 A2. Or make up your own.
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Yeah, information about the bass was the only thing I could find, except for a few pictures of Earthwood guitars. I'll try to take some pics of the mandolin next week. We're in blizzard weather right now, so I can get out. I'm tempted to just go ahead and buy it since it seems to be pretty rare.

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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Update: I just received an email from Ernie Ball about the Earthwood mandolin. They indicated that there was indeed a Mandola but will need pics and a serial number. In hindsight, I am pretty sure the one I saw was a mandola and not a mandolin. As soon as this blizzard is over I think I might just go ahead and buy the thing if it's still there. I'm intrigued that I can't find anything about it anywhere, and EB seems to have limited information about it too.

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  17. #11

    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by autiger47 View Post
    ... I think I might just go ahead and buy the thing if it's still there.
    I've never seen or heard of one, but based on the prices people ask for Earthwood basses and guitars, $400 might be a shrewd investment, IMHO. In other words, if you didn't bond with it, I'm sure someone would want it to complete their Earthwood collection....

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    The letter from Ernie Ball quoted in the Acoustic Guitar Forum thread I found also mentioned "mandolas," not mandolins. It would be interesting that a company would decide to build the much-less-popular mandola rather than mandolin, but on the other hand, Earthwood instruments were big, so maybe they went with the larger instrument.

    I'd love to see a picture of the instrument.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    I went by today and took some pics. It appears to be in pretty good condition with a few issues. The saddle/bridge is lifting a bit off the top and would benefit from being re-glued. The top has a slight arch, although I cannot tell if that is part of the original geometry (all of the internal bracing is till intact and glued to the top). It generally needs to be cleaned (see headstock around tuning pegs... the dark parts are dirt). The back also appears to have some wear marks... almost like it has a nitro finish and was left to rest on some rubber (like a stand or something).Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #14

    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    I think you found a rare bird! FWIW, it looks like it is at an antique mall -- most of them have items from various consignors and I've found often the management will offer a 10% discount, just by asking, "is this your best price?" Sometimes they will even offer to call the consignor to see if they will take an even lower offer. Worth a try. Good luck!

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Hmm...its rarity may contribute more to its value, than its overall construction and sound -- though you can't really tell without playing it. I've never seen another one, that's for sure.

    I'd make a reasonable offer, say $275-$325, and see if the seller will negotiate. There can't be a crowds of eager buyers for mandolas of any make, and it may sit in the seller's inventory for a long time.

    Holding two strings with one bridge pin (I owned a Regal tiple built that way, and swapped out the bridge for a Martin bridge after a month or so) is a truly bad idea. Try to change one string of a course if it breaks... Plus, there aren't such things as ball-end mandola strings, so you'll need to buy equivalent gauge guitar strings -- then cut off 40% of them and throw the excess away.

    Still, being the owner of the only Earthwood mandola still existing on the planet (if that's so) would have to be worth something.
    Allen Hopkins
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    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

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Just curious: what is the scale length of this mandola?

    I agree with Allen about the two strings per bridgepin design.
    Jim

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  26. #17

    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    I believe it is 17".

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    Default Re: Ernie Ball Earthwood?

    Quote Originally Posted by autiger47 View Post
    I believe it is 17".
    If so, definitely a mandola, tuned (normally) CGDA, low to high, a fourth below a mandolin.
    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

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