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Thread: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

  1. #1
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    Default Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    I found this "Martin Style 20" mandolin on eBay.

    Problem is, I believe it is a Martin Style 15, from about 1930. Either way, the price is still pretty good -- for now.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/32531015426...Bk9SR8Sxi_7WYA

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Yes, it's style 15. We don't see many- they were in production from 1930 til 1941, and made 208 of them.
    The only one I've played I remember as being a pretty good mandolin.

    I'll estimate the year as between 1935 and 1937-- although it still has bar frets, it has a decal logo on the front of the peghead, and no Martin stamp on the back of the peghead. Martin stopped stamping their heads in 1935. [That last statement sounds kind of odd .]

    I'm pretty sure that Martin continued to use bar frets on at least some of their mandolins for a couple of years after they discontinued using them on guitars.

    I believe that the bridge on the reverb instrument is probably a replacement.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-19-2022 at 6:05pm.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Yes it's a 15, yes the bridge is a replacement.
    These things had enormous top braces ("tone bars") and often under-built tops in the tailpiece area. It is not uncommon for the top to fail in the tailpiece area.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    A Style 20 would have 2 points, no?
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Yes. From a distance, they look very much like Lyon & Healy style B's, but when you look at one up close, you will find that the arching and carving is very different on the Martins.

    The style 20 that I worked on a couple of years back was quite a good mandolin. The braces were not enormous on that one. I remember that the brace behind the sound hole was set at an angle so that the treble side was closer to the bridge than the bass side. There were no signs of structural problems on that one.

    I'm pretty sure that the carved Martins that I've heard of that had the structural problem were all f-hole instruments. I don't know how those were braced.

    John, I see you're back from your flood recovery efforts. Hopefully you didn't get too bitten up.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-20-2022 at 12:39am.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I remember that the brace behind the sound hole was set at an angle so that the treble side was closer to the bridge than the bass side.
    That's interesting...like we see with Martin and most Italian bowlbacks.

    Different species of mandolin tops, of course.

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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    A Style 20 would have 2 points, no?
    Yes. The Style 20 does, indeed, have two points.

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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    I contacted the seller today. He corrected the listing. I wish it really was a Style 20 because I'd be interested in buying it.

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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Bernunzio had a couple of style 20's that sat around for a long time, but they're gone now.
    They didn't make a lot of them-- 232 before WWII, and 30 more shortly after.
    It might be a while before we see another one on the market.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    I had a 1940's style 2-15 for awhile. It was a very underwhelming instrument and it had that issue that John mentioned above at the tailpiece end. I actually bought it on eBay because it came with a L&H taipiece cover.

    However ----> the Style 15, 20, 30 (without the 2-) are different. They were made earlier and all had oval holes and while not being in the same league tone or volume wise as Gibsons or L&Hs, they were nice instruments. There are a couple of folks who own them locally.

    It will be interesting if this one sells at $1400. I think that is a bit optimistic, maybe a good price for a Style 20.
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    I love the case “swag” that comes with some of these old instruments, insight into the owners past!
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    the Style 15, 20, 30 (without the 2-) are different.
    I'm not familiar with the Martin Style 30. What was it?

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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    It was a sunburst oval hole model with diamond and squares fingerboard inlays and fancy bindings all around.

    They only made 2 of them. One went through Gruhn's shop about 20 years ago. It was in lovely condition, and a good sounding instrument. I almost bought it, but at the time I didn't want to spend $2500 on a mandolin.
    IIRC, the other one turned up somewhere more recently, but was pretty beat up.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    The only pic I could find is a 2-30:

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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    So when did the Style 20 / 30 turn over to become Style 2-20 or 2-30?

    Here is a what I have in my notes as a 1951 listed as a 2-30 and 1937 Style 30...should this really be a 2-30 as well?

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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Those are both 2-30's.

    The "2-" prefix in front of the model number was Martin's designation for a carved f-hole mandolin.
    All model 15, 20, and 30 mandolins without the "2-" prefix were oval hole mandolins.

    My references are Mike Longworth's book, Johnston and Boak's book, Gruhn's Guide, and the instruments themselves.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    According to the Johnston/Boak book, style 15s & 20s were made from 1929-1942, the two style 30s were on each in 1932 & 1941. From 1949-52 there were special style 20S mandolins made for students of Carlos DeFilipis.

    The f-hole mandolins first appeared in 1936 and also ended in 1942, though the 2-15 started up again in 1947 and was made until 1964.
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  22. #18
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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post

    The "2-" prefix in front of the model number was Martin's designation for a carved f-hole mandolin.
    All model 15, 20, and 30 mandolins without the "2-" prefix were oval hole mandolins.

    My references are .......the instruments themselves.

    Check. Are there labels / stamps with the model numbers on them?


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    Default Re: Martin Style 20 mando? Mislabeled?

    Some of their mandolins have model stamps, some do not.
    Guitars have had model stamps on the neck block since 1931. Some of the modern era instruments have labels designating the model.

    Martin's application of model numbers and names was very consistent from the beginning of the 20th century through about 1980 or so. Since then, they have been a bit less orderly in some cases, but not sloppy.

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