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Thread: Howe-Orme mandolin video

  1. #1
    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Default Howe-Orme mandolin video

    I know it's been ages since I've posted here and I've mostly been playing guitar these past few years -- but not entirely. I recently started messing around with my Howe-Orme mandolins and decided to pull together a lot of information I've been sitting on since 2006 when Gregg Miner and I published our article in Fretboard Journal. So I slapped together a deep-dive into information about Howe-Orme mandolins and put it up on YouTube. Some is speculation but with some factual basis. It ended up being almost an hour and a half so if you know in advance that your attention span is only about 5 minutes, best not to bother. It's not a slick YouTube video by any means and I'm not looking to monetize the effort, just want to share what I know. Aftger starting the project, I discovered that two key sources I'd relied upon for critical information -- Rick Turner and Patrick Sky -- have both passed. So it seemed all the more important to preserve this information and communicate my appreciation for all I learned from them.

    If this sounds like it may be up your alley, the link is:

    https://youtu.be/phO95fR2M0c

    If you check it out, let me know what you think.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Thanks, Bob. This is great.

    I look forward to watching.

    I enjoyed Rick's contributions here.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Many yummy mandolinetto in the video and nice examples of how they sound. A couple of comments.

    I am blessed to have a "columbus" 1890-ies mandolinetto (came to me with intact body, but broken headstock, repaired). I have it strung with extra light strings and I play it with a Wegen 250 pick. It works at Irish sessions and English Country Dances. Does not work at a bluegrass jam. Also good for busking, "what a funny looking ukulele you have!"

    1) my tone is much richer, less plinkey, even a bit bassy. I think due to combination of light strings and heavy pick.
    2) "how to hold the thing" was answered for me. as pictured in the old method books and as Bill Monroe did it, pretty high, right arm parallel to the strings, wrist rests on the tail-piece. with a mandolinetto, all other ways, including "on the knee", as in the video, do not seem to work.

    (sorry I did not have time to watch all 1.5 hours of the video, just watched pictures and sounds. If the spoken text can be posted here, I would love to read it)

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    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    The spoken text isn't written down anywhere. I did have some notes on cards but mostly just winged it. I don't know of any way to extract transcripted text from the video. If someone else does, you're welcome to do it and post it here.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    I listened and watched the whole video and i am glad I did. Thanks for sharing the mountain of work. Quite interesting.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Hey Bob… so nice to have you back if only for a short time but nice to see your image and hear you speak on the video. I look forward to watching it in its entirety soon.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob DeVellis View Post
    The spoken text isn't written down anywhere. I did have some notes on cards but mostly just winged it. I don't know of any way to extract transcripted text from the video. If someone else does, you're welcome to do it and post it here.
    Bob, there's a 'caption' function you can turn on with YouTube, my students use it, but I admit my Texas twang does result in some odd translations.

    I found this tutorial from UH on how to download those captions but haven't tried it out yet.

    I think I'll give it a try myself.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    A few minutes ago the thought hit me that I had listened to the whole video with interest but I don't remember hearing the word "mandolinetto". So is that a word that was used when these instruments were new? And did it or does it apply specifically to one or another of the mandolin family.

    Just curious. And it could well be that my elderly ears have betrayed me yet again.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

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    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Thanks very much, Hank. It's comforting to know that people are making it all the way through. It's a lot of information. I tried to make it more engaging than just me talking by using a lot of graphics but it's still admittedly a pretty long haul.

    As for "mandolinetto," as far as we know, that's a term that either C. Bruno or Sears came up with to describe their flat-topped, guitar-shaped mandolins, which appeared after the Howe-Ormes were first released. The Elias Howe Company never called their guitar shaped mandolins (either the Howe-Ormes with the humped top or the flat-topped University models) mandolinettos.

    Jim, thanks much. Nice to be remembered from the old days. Now that I'm retired, I may check in more often but my wallet disapproves of my spending too much time on instrument forums (fora?) for reasons we all understand.

    Brunello, I'll check out the captioning function and see if I can figure it out. At one time I was using a speech-to-text program when I had some tendonitis and was trying to type less. It came up with some hilarious if somewhat embarrassing interpretations of my spoken words and I soon realized that I couldn't risk using it for any professional writing. The algorithms have probably improved a lot since then, though.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Think I found the subtitles function. It provides a nice written version of the video about "how warm" mandolins.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Thanks! An entertaining bit of scholarship that held my attention clear through, especially the setting of the scene. Comparing the how-warms to their contemporaries, even heard on my small device, also revealing.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Bob: I just watched until the end of the section on who built the H-O instruments. Years ago I acquired a Vega cylinder guitar. I was waiting to see if you mentioned those. I can’t say 100% but mine had the cylinder top and back but was missing the neck adjuster that the H-O guitars had. I seem to recall writing to Rick Turner about it but don’t think he ever replied at all. I since sold it but am in touch with the current owner and also I am sure I have some photos of that guitar. I am not at home at the moment but I could send those to you or post some here. Now it is also possible that Vega copied the H-O guitars but again the question would be for them to tool up to copy the but more likely they were already tooled up to produce them.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Sep-22-2022 at 7:13pm.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    Comparing the how-warms to their contemporaries, even heard on my small device, also revealing.
    Autocorrect strikes again and compares Howe-Orme instruments to todays microwaves and air-fryers!
    Jim

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Hey all - a few things:
    1) Wow, what a surprise, Bob! I promise to carve out time to watch this asap (took a quick look - thanks for the mention!). Thanks for doing this.
    2) Re "mandolinetto." You can blame me. Correct, these would be classified/described strictly as "guitar-shaped mandolins." But how boring is that? So I used the term "colloquially," but what I would now describe as "organologically" (in these last 3 decades, I've gone from "making shit up" to being a published Grove scholar). Indeed, I turned "harp guitar" into an organological term, and invented the family term "fretless zither." I penned both entries for the last Grove Dictionary. Sadly, I didn't push them to add "mandolinetto." But, yeah, I'd argue that via the vintage collectors world and my article(s) the vernacular use can now be considered valid organologically. At the end of the day, it's all just semantics for nerds.
    3) I was reminded of H-O recently when the rarest of all turned up privately, then publicly. Take a look! https://reverb.com/ca/item/59613508-...wa-canada-rare
    I low-balled him (to me it's one of those we call in the business "priceless-worthless" - who but me really wants it that badly?!), and didn't get a reply. Now I see what he was thinking. Regardless, it's a wonderful piece of history that A) belongs in a museum (mine!) and B) in the history books (rather than just on Reverb, though he DID do a lot of diligent research, that even I had missed). Bob, did you know of this one? My first thought on seeing it was "if only Rick could have seen it!"...

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    PS: I almost forgot - I'm doing my own little video series about the museum (each is just a minute or two). Today's will include harp-mandos briefly, and we showed a couple (pretty damn cool ones) in this episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzixDWfX-pk
    Sorry to spam your post, Bob, but thought you guys would dig it.

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    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Jim - Yeah, I've seen pictures of those. I think they were a fair bit later than the original cylinder back mandos. Is that your impression?
    Bob DeVellis

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Gregg: No, I hadn't seen that. It's the first intact one I've ever seen. Of course, you, Banana, and Rick get mentioned. Pat Sky may be someone who you didn't know but his work on tracing Elias Howe's history was very helpful. It's a shame about him and Rick passing. Yes, Rick would have loved getting his hands on that Reverb item. He was an amazing guy in lots of ways.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    This is just nerdy speculation (a thing that happens whe Gregg and I communicate with each other), but when I looked at the image of the banjo lute that Gregg linked to, my first reaction was wonderment at the fact that the top was intact. On Howe-Orme mandolins that haven't been restored, an intact top is a real rarity (and probably means it was left unstrung). On the banjo lute, I wonder if that floating neck joint saved the top. In the video, I talk about the destructive effect of the neck joint glue softening up and the neck pivoting forward at the joint under string tension and pushing into the top. I wonder if the floating joint played a role in protecting the top on the banjo lute. It wouldn't pivot, I don't think, the way a mandolin neck would. And, of course, there's no glue at the joint to soften and give out. Once again, RIck would have been able to provide an in-depth analysis and cogent explanation.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Sidenote...I used to live up the street from Rick Turners shop and stopped in to visit and chat often. Rick was a wonderful guy & so full of knowledge. Early on he showed me his collection of Howe-Orme instruments of which he had many. These have been the only ones I have personally seen and been able to play. They were lovely with a rich more delicate, precise voice. Rick was quite in love with them.

    Billy

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob DeVellis View Post
    Jim - Yeah, I've seen pictures of those. I think they were a fair bit later than the original cylinder back mandos. Is that your impression?
    i thought I had seen those cylinder guitars in a catalogue reprint. I will check when I am home.
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob DeVellis View Post
    This is just nerdy speculation (a thing that happens whe Gregg and I communicate with each other), but when I looked at the image of the banjo lute that Gregg linked to, my first reaction was wonderment at the fact that the top was intact. On Howe-Orme mandolins that haven't been restored, an intact top is a real rarity (and probably means it was left unstrung). On the banjo lute, I wonder if that floating neck joint saved the top. In the video, I talk about the destructive effect of the neck joint glue softening up and the neck pivoting forward at the joint under string tension and pushing into the top. I wonder if the floating joint played a role in protecting the top on the banjo lute. It wouldn't pivot, I don't think, the way a mandolin neck would. And, of course, there's no glue at the joint to soften and give out. Once again, RIck would have been able to provide an in-depth analysis and cogent explanation.
    This is an interesting post, Bob, and I, too, wish Rick was still with us to follow up on.

    This same upward neck rotation with subsequent top sinkage north of the soundhole is the source of a large majority of problems I've seen with Italian and US made bowlback mandolins.

    The desire for a thin, responsive top in a non carved carved cross section didn't allow for strengthening this area.

    Embergher and CFMartin added stiffener plates in this area to help. Embergher even experimented with small braces to either side of the soundhole.

    L+H thickened the entire top and switched to stiffer neck woods.

    Of course, on the Italian bowlbacks there was no neck / neckblock joint, they were of one piece, but on the US bowls there are dovetail or pinned joints or other configurations.

    An interesting subject of converstations and I miss old timers like Rick and Pablo H's input from their long experience with a wide range of instruments.

    I found them both knowledgable, accessible and charmingly irascible in their own ways.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Gregg - I watched a few of the videos about the museum. Fantastic stuff! You've acquired some incredible instruments and obviously some international fans. It's really great that you've gone to the effort and exdpense of preserving and documenting all those rare and woderful instruments. Everyone should check out these videos.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Many thanks for this, I really enjoyed both the talk, and the instrument demonstrations.

    One very minor comment: I would be wary of attributing Bickford as a H-O player based on a publicity shot. Consider this image where the mandolinist appears to be endorsing Ceccherini:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now I happen to know that gentleman quite well (OK it's me!), and that's certainly not what he normally plays in gigs

    In this case the publicity shot was taken while filming a music video, and of course the instruments were chosen to match the vibe of the shoot. We all own when we're seen with, we all play them at home at least some of the time, but they're not gigging workhorses.

    If the photographer had the run of Bickfords collection, I bet he suggested Bickford pick out all the coolest looking instruments he had. I don't doubt he owned a H-O, it's more a question of what was his "main" instrument, and/or what he performed live with. If Bickford was anything at all like modern mandolincafe inhabitants, we can probably bet he'd picked up more than a few mandolins on his tours!

    Of course none of this detracts from the quality of the H-O instruments.

  28. #24

    Default Re: Howe-Orme mandolin video

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob DeVellis View Post

    If this sounds like it may be up your alley, the link is:

    https://youtu.be/phO95fR2M0c

    If you check it out, let me know what you think.
    Honestly, it did not seem like it would be up my alley. My interest lies pretty much in Bluegrass, Gibson Loar f5s and all things Loar-like.

    I watched your video though and found it fascinating. You did a great job of weaving all that history and little known (at least to me) information into a very interesting presentation. One that managed to hold the attention of even my sometimes less than lengthy attention span. Great job!

    Clark.

    Oh and while I'm not ready to go looking for an H-O instrument, I really dig that hognose snakehead.
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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