NOMD (New Old Mandolin Day)

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by nmiller, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

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    I've been looking for an old flat-back mandolin for a while, and I figured that I'd know "the one" when I saw it. Well, I finally saw it.

    The instrument wasmade by Tunica; all I know about the brand is that it was made by an Italian immigrant to New York. The serial number, 25013, suggests to me that it was made in 1925. The top is spruce, the neck is mahogany, and the back and sides are up to debate. The shop I got it from said they might be maple or koa, and I'm leaning towards koa based on the grain and the sound.

    When I first saw pictures of it, I thought the instrument was actually a Stromberg-Voisinet creation based on the headstock shape and the floral decoration on the back of it. However, the headstock shape is slightly different than contemporary S-V instruments. In addition, S-V used decals to achieve their decoration, whereas this on mandolin it is definitely hand painted.

    As you can see in the pics, there is quite a lot of abalone trim. The fret markers are actually engraved mother of pearl (the engraving wouldn't be easy to see in abalone). The tuning buttons are also pearl. There are a few nicks to the binding and a stable crack under the pickguard, but otherwise it's incredibly clean. I love the bridge with MOP inlays.

    The tone is pretty much what I would expect for a spruce/koa mandolin - sharp and sweet, and very clear in the low notes. Remarkably, the neck is perfectly straight after all these years without a truss rod and the instrument plays as well as it looks. It's not very loud, but I really wanted an instrument that I could play sitting on the couch.

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  2. george4908

    george4908 Member

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    Wow, what a beautiful instrument. I'll guess maple for the back and sides, just because koa seems like an unusual choice for this sort of thing, but who knows?
     
  3. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

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    I thought that koa would be really odd as well, but there are thin dark lines in the grain perpendicular to the flame that I've never seen in maple. I couldn't get them to show up in photos.
     
  4. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Looks like maple to me.

    Nice mando.

    Congrats.
     
  5. pitner

    pitner Member

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    Maple but very nice.
     
  6. Lawn Jockey

    Lawn Jockey Member

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    Eastern Maple can and does have prominent vertical grain lines. I have had several Les Paul Standards with Plus Tops that almost looked like a tic-tac-toe board.

    It's awesome. Mineral streaks are awesome too.

    Congrats on a cool mando. That thing SCREAMS Celtic.

    :AOK
     
  7. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

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    Ah, maple it would appear to be then.

    I just noticed that the crack is actually in the pickguard, not the wood under it, which I guess is good news.
     
  8. OOG

    OOG Member

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    yep, maple
    BEAUTIFUL bent top mando
    enjoy it
     

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