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Mystery Instrument

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We were cleaning out the garge over the weekend and found a gorgeous instrument stored in the rafters... but I'm not quite sure exactly what it is.


This instrument is at least 50 years old, probably closer to 75. it was my great-grandfather's, and it's possible that he had it when he immigrated from Ireland in the 1920's.


It's a stringed instrument about the size of a violin, with 8 strings on a fretted neck. However, it has a deeply rounded back, like a lute. My first thought was that it is a mandolin, but as far as I know mandos don't have arched backs... do they?


It's an absoulutely beautiful instrument, and not in bad shape considering it's been sitting in a garage for 50 years. It seems to be a high quality instrument, the fretboard is all mother-of-pearl with abalone inlays, and there is mother-of-pearl all around the edges of the instrument. There are also abalone inlays on the body of the instrument. The woodwork is also quite intricate.


However, half the fretboard is missing (although the neck is in good shape). A lot of the mother-of-pearl around the edges is also missing. There is a crack in the back, but it could be repaired. Strangely, it's still somewhat in tune, although a string is missing.


I can't wait to get this instrument fixed so I can play it. :D

SWR Amps: Amplify your furniture! Errr.... future.
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Sounds like a lute. But he may have played it as a mandolin, as mando's were the principle folk instrument from the turn of the century until the 1920's. People used to have mandolin orchestras, consisting of Mandolins, Mandocellos, Mandobasses, etc. But as you surmised, the typical mandolin was relatively flat by the turn of the century.


I almost forgot! Pictures of this unique find??

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman




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It's probably an arch-back mandolin, as several above have mentioned. Also called a "'tater bug". Go to www.mandoweb.com , the Mandolin Brothers website, and I'll bet you can match it with something in their listings (they specialize in old instruments).


"Eccentric language often is symptomatic of peculiar thinking" - George Will


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It's gonna be an arch-back mandolin. I'm betting it looks like a gourd cut in half with a soundboard and neck stuck on it.

The lute had the headstock bent backwards at a near 90 degree angle and the body is larger. The fretboard is also going to be fairly wide.


Our Joint


"When you come slam bang up against trouble, it never looks half as bad if you face up to it." The Duke...

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please get a photo.


such a discovery would be amazing. unearthing mysterious instruments is the dream of musicians surely...


..reminds me of the smug friend who bought a TR-808 at a garage sale for 10 bucks canadian. the guy actually called out "hey we finally got rid of that old drum machine"

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