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Thread: Stahl Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Stahl Mandolin

    Hi folks, A client asked me to inspect a Stahl Mandolin he recently purchased and had drop shipped to me from the seller. I've researched Stahl instruments in the past and know that many but not all instruments they sold were Larson Brother built instruments. They also used a variety of other builders including Regal.

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    I've received the mandolin today and have given it a once over. I have observed the following:

    1) What appears to be an ebonized maple finger board, definitely NOT ebony.

    2) The curl at the end of the fingerboard is exactly like Many Regals I have seen and worked on. The one verified Larson Mandolin I was able to locate online has a more complex curve to the fingerboard end.

    3) The wood marquetry on the top is a typical Regal pattern (though I have seen it on other Chicago built instruments as well).

    4) I see no numbers of any kind, anywhere. Just the Stahl label.

    5) It does have the "back over the neck heel" construction, something I don't usually see on a Regal.

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    I'd love to hear the thoughts of the forum members on just what this is.

    The Mandolin is is very good condition, with no cracks or splits in the top, back and sides. The one issue I have noted is a slight warpage of the top on both sides of the sound hole; a common issue in older guitars and mandolins. I have proposed adding in 2 popsicle braces; one on either side of the sound hole running from the first brace (just before the neck side of the sound hole) to the second brace ( just past the end side of the sound hole). I'd appreciate your thoughts on just I have here and confirmation that I'm going to do the correct repair.

    Thanks very much!

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  2. #2
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    It does not look like Larson work to me.

    I had a more or less similar mandolin pass through here a couple of years ago. The top and body shape were identical to the one in your picture, and the purfling was the same. The back and sides were mahogany, and it was unlabelled. It was my opinion that it was built by either Regal or Oscar Schmidt. My opinion about your mandolin is the same.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    Yes, I agree. The only reason I was waffling on the builder is that Jake Wildwood had restored a very similar instrument in 2012 and was calling it a Larson. The only difference was a slightly different tuning gear cover and he mentioned finding numbers on the braces. I see no numbers on any bracing.

  5. #4
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    Other builders also sometimes stamped numbers into braces.
    I've seen pictures of both of the Wildwood instruments, and do not believe them to be Larson made either.

    A few things I expect to see on a Larson mandolin that are not present on any of the instruments mentioned above:

    Narrow body with no convex curve at the shoulder
    Light back brace[s], more triangular in shape.
    Fingerboard binding, if present, is inlaid into the side of the fingerboard, with an ebony stripe showing underneath
    Soundhole binding also inlaid, with spruce visible underneath

    An example of a Larson mandolin with a typical Larson shape: http://www.sprucetreemusic.com/produ...ndolin-c-1910/

    Nice rosewood on your client's mandolin. Today, it's hard to fathom that we were swimming in gorgeous Brazilian rosewood 100 years ago.

  6. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    ...Today, it's hard to fathom that we were swimming in gorgeous Brazilian rosewood 100 years ago.
    All gone to kitchen knife handles and furniture veneer. The Brazilian embargo on un-milled rosewood didn't help, either.
    Allen Hopkins
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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    The biggest culprit: Massive deforestation to provide grazing land and real estate.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    The biggest culprit: Massive deforestation to provide grazing land and real estate.
    Also a major culprit was Chanel No. 5 perfume which ground up massive number of logs for scent.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    Even though Brazilian rosewood was readily available 100+ years ago, in general, it was still only used on the better instruments.

    Also, I have seen many 100+ year old instruments with Brazilian rosewood VENEER back and sides -- which leads me to think manufacturers were dealing with price points even back then....

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Stahl Mandolin

    100+ years ago I have also seen Mahogany back and sides with stunning hand painted Brazilian grain that until you looked inside would fool you.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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