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Thread: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

  1. #1
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    Default The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Hi Folks,
    In the 20's, the quest for volume lead to a lot of innovation: horn violins (Stroh), cone resonators (Dopyera brother's National and Dobro brands), and funky built-in resonator designs (see the round-bodied wood-topped Paramount tenor harps, the Paramount "style L" tenor guitar, and similarly-designed Tieri mandolins).

    I'm always on the lookout for these sorts of oddities, and I was fortunate to recently acquire a 1920's "The Ernst" mandolin, created by C. Hugo Ernst. Ernst, who built instruments near Camden, New Jersey, patented a mandolin and guitar design with a double chamber.

    https://patents.google.com/patent/US1180991


    I'm attaching a photo through the "extra" sound hole: it may not be obvious, but there is a wooden panel that is almost "suspended" under the main body of the instrument, creating two resonating chambers. The result is a fairly impressive boost in volume, and a unique vintage tone. Thought I'd share this bit of mandolin history.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #2
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    So a double back with a separate sound hole for that lower chamber .. a novel build ..
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Gelas in France developed a double-topped mandolin (as well as other stringed instruments); old thread on the subject.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Not so novel. I had a late 19th century Violin with an internal double sound board. Martin built the model America guitars with a secondary body. For this category we can also include the modern Kerman mandolins. Also virzi tone producers fall into this category as well. Joseph Bohmann installed brass rods inside his instruments to resonate with various frequencies. All these were attempts to enhance the sound of a stringed instrument.
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Well my good friends here might cluck their tongues about it, but I think it's muy coolioso, novel or not.

    Interesting that Ernst was from Camden, NJ between the Weymann (Philadelphia) and the Oscar Schmidt / Ciani / Ricca North Jersey orbits.

    It has the gourd / melanzane shape and amorphous pick guard as a Ciani mandolin I have, likely from the same era.

    Thanks for posting!

    Please post more information, feedback and photos if you can.

    Mick
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Second soundboard suspended below the top of Ceccherini bowlbacks. Sort of an Italian super-Virzi. I don't think it produces more volume, but the tone becomes quite charmingly chime-like

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Selmer did a double back in the Jean Django Reinhardt Era .. too..
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    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Might be a silly question, but, why the quest for volume in the 1920s? Larger audiences produced by fewer infant deaths and more leisure time? Just curious ...

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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    Might be a silly question, but, why the quest for volume in the 1920s? Larger audiences produced by fewer infant deaths and more leisure time? Just curious ...
    One reason I've encountered: as jazz was becoming all the rage, string players needed ways to be heard among the horns. Or maybe there were just too many banjos around ...!

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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Well my good friends here might cluck their tongues about it
    No clucking, Mick. I am just fascinated by experimentation in music, successful or not. It is amazing how many variations of this theme. That is also why I am interested in patents. My fiddles are patented circa 1915 and though Not a double soundboard have unique construction and unique tone as well. I just acquired my fourth example currently ready from restoration when I return home at the end of this week.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Selmer did a double back in the Jean Django Reinhardt Era .. too..
    Yes! The Mario Maccaferri designed Selmer grande bouche had an internal sound reflector mounted on the back. However I think Django preferred the petit bouche for soloing and his rhythm guys played the other.
    Jim

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    Default Re: The Ernst: 1920's attempt at more volume

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    Might be a silly question, but, why the quest for volume in the 1920s? Larger audiences produced by fewer infant deaths and more leisure time? Just curious ...
    Other examples of the "louder!" movement were resonator-backed banjos, the National/Dobro introduction of aluminum-cone resonator instruments, and, of course, the construction of larger guitars, both arch-top and flat-top.

    The fact that one of Martin's up-sized instrument was the OM (Orchestra Model) might provide a clue. Of course, this was near the cusp of introduction of electric amplification, which tipped the balance forever (I'd guess) in the direction of string instruments, which work seamlessly with magnetic-pickup systems that make Jerry Garcia's guitar louder than the "76 Trombones" mass marching band.
    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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