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Thread: Batwing Flies Again!

  1. #1
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    Default Batwing Flies Again!

    My very first mandolin was a Harmony Batwing purchased used around 1980 from the String Shoppe, Ontario St. Buffalo NY, the late Ed Taubleib Prop. Honestly never really took to it as I was Playing Bluegrass guitar mostly, and some banjo. About 15 years later I started playing mandolin some and I got hooked. The Batwing by that point was pretty bad on the action and bolt on neck soon gave out. I moved on to more playable instruments and the 'Wing became a wall hanger. I looked at it the other day and I wondered if.... Well some hard wood shims, a dowel, some longer wood screws and some industrial two-part epoxy and its now playable again! Not the greatest sound (I guess none of the Harmony instruments were) but cool no doubt. Accompanied by the ever popular Banjo Bear.Click image for larger version. 

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    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Awesome!

  4. #3
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Nice job, and nice to be reminded of Ed. I certainly knew the way to his shop, I probably bought 6 guitars from him.
    Play it like you mean it

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  5. #4
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Slap a pickup on that bad boy and you'll be groovin' high.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1..._as=subscriber

  6. #5
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    I have one. but the electric version with pickup. I find it difficult as there seems to be a big taper from nut to bridge and strings get wide apart. Also not having a break angle at bridge doesnt feel right. Not sure of when Id use it.

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    I should try that! I could become B.B. King on the Batwing. Look out Lucille! Thanks Jaycat
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Tom C that's what happened with mine. Try loosening the strings a lot and then tightening the connector screws under the neck joint on the bottom of the instrument. If they had worked loose that may bring the neck back down (the peg head will drop) and the action becomes better. However the neck block (inside the body) on these Harmony Batwings are notorious for failure. Then you might have to get creative with shims, wood screws, dowels and especially epoxy to stiffen that joint. After I rebuilt the joint I had to shim the bridge a little too but I got the string clearance back 3/32" at the twelve fret so it's playable. I definitely have too much time on my hands!
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Thanks Bill. That's a long way from Oregon. Ed only closed his shop about 3 years ago. He passed about 18 months ago. Some of my very favorite vinyl albums were bought on Friday nights (pay day)
    at his shop. Ate a lot of boxed mac and cheese back then too. Wonder if there's a connection.
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

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  11. #9
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Thanks for reminding us all of Ed. I got my first good mandolin there. Fond memories of that shop
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Here is mine. All in solid condition so far with good action. I enjoy just looking at it.
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  13. #11

    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    The second one shown directly above is one made by Harmony in Chicago while the original instrument is one made in the Far East- Korea, I think after Harmony was "revived" some time later. I know the original Harmony made mandolin has quite a large neck block which affects the sound. I'm not sure if the Korean made version has this construction- it probably is very similar but it does not have the "cloud" tailpiece.

  14. #12
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    ....That's a long way from Oregon. Ed only closed his shop about 3 years ago. He passed about 18 months ago. Some of my very favorite vinyl albums were bought on Friday nights (pay day)
    at his shop. Ate a lot of boxed mac and cheese back then too. Wonder if there's a connection.
    It wasn't too far from Allen and Elmwood, back in my mac 'n cheese days. i had a similar Friday habit as well, for country blues records. Of course there were no cds then
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    NickR, so Hudmister has 2 Batwings? That makes him either a collector or a hoarder of 'Wings. Lets not revive that thread. Cool 'Wings HUD!
    Bill I was finger picking guitar back then (Gibson 60s LG-0) and remember buying Mississippi John Hurt, Sonny and Brownie at Ed's. We might have rubbed elbows at some point.
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    My very first mandolin was a Harmony Batwing purchased used around 1980 from the String Shoppe, Ontario St. Buffalo NY, the late Ed Taubleib Prop. Honestly never really took to it as I was Playing Bluegrass guitar mostly, and some banjo. About 15 years later I started playing mandolin some and I got hooked. The Batwing by that point was pretty bad on the action and bolt on neck soon gave out. I moved on to more playable instruments and the 'Wing became a wall hanger. I looked at it the other day and I wondered if.... Well some hard wood shims, a dowel, some longer wood screws and some industrial two-part epoxy and its now playable again! Not the greatest sound (I guess none of the Harmony instruments were) but cool no doubt. Accompanied by the ever popular Banjo Bear.Click image for larger version. 

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    Great to see Ed mentioned. He was an early mentor to me ~45-ish years ago. He kindly tolerated my presence many an evening and Saturday afternoon in the shop. I made a complete bollocks of my first attempt at restringing a guitar, and Ed stopped what he was doing and taught me how to do it. Along with providing a lot of other good advice about instruments and life in general.

    Ed told adolescent me (who at the time wanted to be either Billy Gibbons, Ed King, or Ted Nugent) that the musicians who can really play were playing bluegrass. A couple of years later I discovered he was right.

    There's a quotation from Ed here on the wall in my shop:

    "While I don't want to demean those who play electric guitars, a solid body guitar to me has no soul. Only an acoustic guitar with an acoustic body has a soul."

    A great regret for me is that I didn't make the effort to pay Ed a visit when I saw the Buffalo News article about the String Shoppe closing. Didn't realize he would only be around for another couple of months after that. I remember Ed with fondness and gratitude.

  17. #15
    Registered User GrooverMcTube's Avatar
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Small world. I saw this thread last night but had no reference point for a 'batwing'.

    Wandered into the local guitar shop today (first time in a year), and lo and behold! Next to the single Rogue they had for sale was a Harmony Batwing! Cool looking thing, didn't take long to see where they got 'batwing' from (although I though it looked more like a Bat-a-Rang). Had a built-in gold foil pickup and was a consignment piece. I googled 'Harmony Batwing' a minute ago and it popped up as a Reverb item (NFI).

    Small world indeed.

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Was the Batmobile parked out front? I swear since I posted my repair I've seen it cruise by my house, as if someone was searching for something. And those search lights at night. Nah, couldn't be the Batwing could it?
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    NickR, so Hudmister has 2 Batwings? That makes him either a collector or a hoarder of 'Wings. Lets not revive that thread. Cool 'Wings HUD!
    I only have but one. I took about seven photos that day and the difference in appearance is sunlight. Direct sun on the picture of the body and cloud going over on the full instrument shot. I wish I had two Bats, adding one with a pickup. I keep mine hanging upside down in the basement.

  20. #18
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Hanging in the basement. Leave a window open so it can roam at night. Hope it finds its way home before dawn. Gotta love it!
    Wait didn't I used to do that?
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

  21. #19
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    A little closeup of the iconic batwing mandolin head stock. Note how the plastic face plate is shrinking away from the edges. I believe this mandolin was made in the early 70's.
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  23. #20
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Yep, I checked mine and the same thing. The cover is de-laminating. Another (minor) repair.
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

  24. #21
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    Default Re: Batwing Flies Again!

    Wow, check out the 'Wing in the classifieds! More pics please!
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

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