Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

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Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby Les Forgue » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:37 pm

I think this is a mandolin; maybe it is a lute? Or some other related type of instrument?
Can anyone tell for sure by the photos?
I recently acquired this instrument; It is missing bridge, saddled and strings; The seller, who appeared to be 60 or 70 years old, claims that his grandmother played this on river showboats; he estimated its age as over 100 years, “turn of the century” (that would be from 19th to 20th, not the most recent century turn).

Here is the first photo.
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mando 20090914 top full.JPG
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby Les Forgue » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:38 pm

Here is the 2nd photo.
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mando 20090914 side.JPG
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby Les Forgue » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:39 pm

Here is the 3rd photo.
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mando 20090914 back full.JPG
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby Bournio » Mon Sep 14, 2009 3:48 pm

Apparently Lute can refer to any deep bowl backed instrument... So it is a lute!

But t is a lot like a mandolin with the 4 courses of strings, I'd see if you can get a bridge and stuff that'd fit,m and some strings, and tune it like a mandolin, maybe down-tuned a little incase of the tension...
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby allanlummox » Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:28 pm

That's a Mandolin - the earlier Italian incarnation, with a soft, mellow sound.
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby La.Blue » Tue Sep 15, 2009 3:47 am

I think that "they" refer to it as a bowl back.
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby Les Forgue » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:57 pm

It needs strings and a bridge/saddle.
After having done some research, I plan to start off with flat wound strings if they don't cost too much; if flat wound are too expensive, I'll start with DeArrio J74.

I will price a bridge and saddle too, but seems like I remember them being very over-priced so probably I will make them myself; the bridge from the hardest wood I can easily get and the saddle from bone or antler; or maybe I'll make a one-peice bridge/saddle from bone or antler.

Since the soundboard is flat, the bridge does not need to really be in the form of a 'bridge'; it can be a solid flat piece with the entire bottom in contact with the soundboard.

Does anyone here play a mandolin of this type? What strings do you recommend?
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby allanlummox » Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:37 am

I've played with them - my Father in law has one. Regular Mandolin strings will do. In American folk circles, they're also called "Tater bugs".
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby bobby81 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:43 am

looks like a bowl back mando i have. try these strings, i like the lighter gauge on the bowl back, personal preference - but i think the bowl back helps the volume and allows a lighter gauge to be heard.
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby bobby81 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:47 am

sorry... not the sharpest knife in the drawer am i? here's the strings - d'addario mando strings j73 phosphor bronze light.
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby allanlummox » Wed Sep 16, 2009 3:14 pm

Well, the round backed instruments in general are LESS loud than flat ones - the bowl directs the sound forward, but a flat (or Arched) back participates in the tone production. This is why guitars and Mandolins mostly have flat backs now! Remember, American Mandolins have to keep up with Banjos and Dobros.

The whole discussion, in fact, is reflected in Louis de Bernier's novel, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" - the Italian protagonist gasses for an American flat backed Mandolin.
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby jeffl » Wed Sep 16, 2009 4:13 pm

Lummo, you're erudite as hell, lol!
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby allanlummox » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:28 pm

I also once got taken to task for tuning an Oud - middle eastern cousin to the Lute - like a Mandolin. Seems only Turks do that, and the owner of the Oud was Palestinian. People from that part of the world take these little differences seriously!
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby jeffl » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:18 pm

allanlummox wrote:I also once got taken to task for tuning an Oud - middle eastern cousin to the Lute - like a Mandolin. Seems only Turks do that, and the owner of the Oud was Palestinian. People from that part of the world take these little differences seriously!
I'm surprised that you didn't get your hand chopped off, lol! Did you get to jam any middle-Eastern music...?
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Re: Is this a mandolin? Or lute? Or other?

Postby bobby81 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:28 pm

perhaps it was poorly expressed, but my point was not to compare bowlback and flatback mandos, it was to recommend a string gauge for a bowlback. the lighter gauge string works for me, and imho compliments the design of a bowlback. that's all. as far as sound projection is concerned, the real winner isn't a flatback either, its an arched back design. if we're gonna talk about projection, volume and tone maybe we should consider charly kaman's work, and other factors, such as materials and dimensions. the bowlback mando disappeared (in the US) largely as a result of changing tastes in popular music, marketing and an inferior ergonomic design, not because it was too damn quiet.

i didn't like the book, so i didn't bother seeing the movie.
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