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Thread: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    I have this mandolin I inherited that I decided to restring and tune yesterday. I'm told it belonged to my great grandfather. It has a cutout in the headstock and some fancy engraving on the back of the headstock. I wasn't smart enough to take pictures of that yesterday but I took these pics. I can add pics of the headstock later tonight.

    https://media.discordapp.net/attachm...613_210213.jpg

    https://media.discordapp.net/attachm...613_190721.jpg

    Through googling and seeing some threads here it seems like it might be a model from 1910ish. Also debating on if I should get a new pic guard for it or leave it all original.

  2. #2
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Very cool!
    Timothy F. Lewis
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  3. #3
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    It looks very similar to a Martin. I wonder if it was made by then. Very nice mandolin. Here's a photo of a Style B Martin

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Cary Fagan

  4. #4
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Not sure, Cary, about this one being a Martin made Stewart.

    Hopefully the OP can post some more photos out of its case to help determine.

    Here's a rotated view of it for starters.

    The detailing (fretboard, soundhole, headstock) doesn't look like Martin to me, but from only a couple off-angle photos it is hard to tell.

    I had a Martin made / Ditson label B model for awhile (don't ask what happened to it).
    It was pretty much identical to a Martin B but for a few very minor items.


    Mick
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    What gauge of strings did you put on? These are designed for light strings. I use a 10-36, some might say a 9-32 would be better, but the 10's haven't done anything detrimental over the years.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    It's definitely similar. Pick guard is slightly different shape. But the part where the strings loop on to doesn't have a cover like yours. Whether that's the design or it's a piece that was lost decades before I was born I couldn't tell you though.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    I believe I used 10-36. I'll double check the package when I get home. They seemed similar in size to the rusted ones that were there.

    I'll definitely get some more pics of it. Front and back headstock. A more straight on image of the full body. One of the case especially if i notice any stamp or something on it.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Jake Wildwood has listed this mandolin labelled S S Stewart as a Martin product- it looks very similar and there are plenty of good photos that can be used in a comparison. I assume that he's right about this but I cannot elaborate. Indeed, there are other S S Stewart mandolins that are somewhat similar but nobody can pin down the maker. The style of label seen was used in the 1920s and 30s.

    https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/20...t-style-b.html

  9. #9

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Looks pretty identical to mine minus the plate that covers the strings and there's no pin to put the strap on. So it's likely the same and those are just pieces that were lost at some point.

  10. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    It will be very apparent if it's a Martin product but you will never know without seeing the back of the headstock and the inside.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  12. #11

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    I'll add the extra pics later on tonight but going from memory, that one that Nick posted seems identical. The metal with the engraving on the head stock and all. There could be some subtle differences. How do I post the image in here directly though? Rather than using links?

  13. #12
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    It's not the engraving that will identify it, make sure you get a shot of the back of the neck leading up to the back of the headstock.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  15. #13
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    It's not the engraving that will identify it, make sure you get a shot of the back of the neck leading up to the back of the headstock.
    Agree that the back shots will really help determine.

    I'm pretty sure Martin used the same body molds for their jobber mandolins as for their own (and why wouldn't they?)

    The Martin shape is pretty iconic so some good straight on front and back shots will likely yield Fuzzy LL the brass ring.

    If yours indeed has a rosewood back...which Martin didn't always use on their jobber B style mandos, then you really have found the Holy Grail.


    Mick
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  16. #14

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    If that is the case should I look into some restoration work or keep it original minus the strings I already did? I found a shop 5 minutes from home owned and run by a guy that's been doing instrument repairs for 40 years I guess.

  17. #15
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by FUZZY_LLAMA View Post
    If that is the case should I look into some restoration work or keep it original minus the strings I already did? I found a shop 5 minutes from home owned and run by a guy that's been doing instrument repairs for 40 years I guess.

    Two things, it may not be a Martin built instrument. The other is that a guy that's been working on musical instruments for 40 years may not be the right guy. You need someone that is familiar with this sort of instrument. There are people out there but let us see the back of the headstock and neck.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  19. #16

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    It's these guys https://bedrossianmusic.com/repairs/

    They seem like they're a good choice. But still I'll get the pics in here first. I'll be able to post them in 3.5-ish hours

  20. #17
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    I just sold a 1922 Martin /Beltone B Style mandolin with all koa body. One of 12 made. Here is a shot of the neck and headstock.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #18
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    If you're in R.I., a better choice for repairs might be Max Girouard. He knows mandolins and guitars well.
    It looks like Bedrossian is mostly structured to handle orchestral instrument repair.

  22. #19

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    I am indeed in RI and I appreciate the suggestion. Also taking several pics now. If anyone wants to tell me how to straight up post them here that'd be appreciated. If not I'll he doing the links again.

  23. #20

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    On a pc there is a row of icons at the top of your message as you write it. The third from the right is the icon you want to click on. It will say insert image when you hover over it. A box will pop up where you can upload an image. Tablets or phone may be laid out differently.

  24. #21

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Operating on phone but luckily I can put browser in desktop mode
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  25. #22

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    Second post because I forgot where I left off on the pics.
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  26. #23
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    It appears to have been built by Martin. By chance do you have the tailpiece cover? They can be found but it may not be engraved. The case has value as well as they aren't real readily available. Look inside with a flashlight. Is there a stamp on the center strip on the back towards the neck?

    The tailpiece cover would be the two top pieces in this picture. It would also have been engraved.
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    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

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  28. #24

    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    I already know there's no tail piece cover. They only additional item I have is a harmonica-like tuner. And a stamp on the case or the mandolin? Only stamp I can find is in the case behind where the neck goes and it's like a raised pointed peanut shape. I thought I included this pic but I doubled up on a different one.
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  29. #25
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    Default Re: Old S.S. Stewart mandolin

    The Martin history books only document that "Buegeleisen and Jacobson [B & J] of New York City had Martin make ukeleles and related instruments with the S.S. Stewart label from about 1923-1925. Other manufacturers also made similar instruments for B & J." There is no mention of Martin made mandolins with a Stewart label.

    But, after examining your photos and comparing them with a 1919 Martin in hand, I am convinced that your instrument was indeed built by Martin. Among other things, the shape of the brace visible through the sound hole and the dart on the peghead are right. And yes, the back and sides are Brazilian rosewood. This instrument is equivalent to a Martin style B except for some differences in the soundhole purfling, back stripe, and the pickguard shape.

    I can't tell for sure, but yours appears to have T-frets, which would tend to indicate a build date of late 1934 or later. Original T-frets on an earlier Martin instrument would be an anomaly. That seems to me to be a little late for a Martin instrument made for another company, and has me scratching my head. But I am convinced this instrument was made by Martin.

    An almost identical instrument was sold on Reverb sometime ago: http://www.reverb.com/item/41146583-...show_sold=true I was never sure of that one because of the poor pictures. But it looks like your instrument did have at least one brother.

    10 - 36 will probably be all right if the instrument is structurally sound. I wouldn't go any heavier. And in this case, I would suggest that you confirm that any repair person you use specifically has considerable experience with pre-war Martin instruments.

    Nice find. Take very good care of this one.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-14-2022 at 7:54pm.

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