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Thread: ~1955 Silvertone mandolin with cracked body, worth fixing?

  1. #1
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    Mar 2010
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    Question ~1955 Silvertone mandolin with cracked body, worth fixing?

    I'm sorry I'm posting this in Uke Tech Support, but there's no section for mandolins (which is surprising with as many people i've notices say they play). If this thread should be somewhere else, please move it.

    I just aquired from my dad my great-uncle's solid top Silvertone mandolin. I guess my grandpa got it when my uncle was killed in '59. My dad loved when my grandpa would play it, so it has a lot of sentimental value for my family and is something everyone would like to see fixed. However, I did some research and I guess these were a Sears catalog brand and were very common. Even now, you can get a vintage Silvertone mandolin from various places for about $200-$400.

    To make this mandolin functional again, it'll need some major work. the worst part is the crack on the side. It does look like that can be mended, but is that going to kill the sound? Is it going to be worth the cost? (not even sure how much it will cost to fix) Other things that will need replacing are the geared tuners--they're all rusted. the piece that holds the strings is also rusted, but looks salvageable. It has no bridge or nut. the frets and fretboard look good.

    So is it worth it? I can put up pics if anyone is interested.
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  2. #2
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    Apr 2008
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    Middle TN
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    I would say, look up a pro to fix it. It may not have been an expensive instrument in it's day or even in this day, but sentimental value can't be measured in dollars and cents.
    The foregoing opinion is mine, freely offered and worth precisely what you paid for it.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by arashi_nero View Post
    I'm sorry I'm posting this in Uke Tech Support, but there's no section for mandolins (which is surprising with as many people i've notices say they play). If this thread should be somewhere else, please move it.

    I just aquired from my dad my great-uncle's solid top Silvertone mandolin. I guess my grandpa got it when my uncle was killed in '59. My dad loved when my grandpa would play it, so it has a lot of sentimental value for my family and is something everyone would like to see fixed. However, I did some research and I guess these were a Sears catalog brand and were very common. Even now, you can get a vintage Silvertone mandolin from various places for about $200-$400.

    To make this mandolin functional again, it'll need some major work. the worst part is the crack on the side. It does look like that can be mended, but is that going to kill the sound? Is it going to be worth the cost? (not even sure how much it will cost to fix) Other things that will need replacing are the geared tuners--they're all rusted. the piece that holds the strings is also rusted, but looks salvageable. It has no bridge or nut. the frets and fretboard look good.

    So is it worth it? I can put up pics if anyone is interested.
    First a resource - http://mandolincafe.com/forum nice bunch of folks happy to give their .02, plenty of expertise on repair and value.

    In my opinion, especially since it has sentimental value, I'd repair it and play the heck out of it. They were factory-made entry level instruments made for Sears by Harmony (IIRC). Often solid birch and the like, and they tend to have a ton of character. Not a rare collectors item, but a real work-horse. I have a Harmony tenor guitar of a similar vintage and love the hell out of it.

    Repairs by a decent tech (you don't need a pro-luthier for a crack) should be cheap enough if you are just looking to stabilize it and not make it go away. It shouldn't bother the tone a bit. Labor in my area isn't too bad. I think I paid $80 for fret dressing, and a top-wood crack fix and a pick-up install (not including pickup) total. Check your local shops for a decent repair head. Like a good mechanic, they can be hard to find, but well worth the search.

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  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Pretty much what Grumps said.

    I'd probably fix it up just because it has some character.

    If it were me I'd be tempted to do the nut and bridge first, just so I could see how it would sound. If it were a complete dud, then perhaps not bother with the rest, but if it sounded promising I'd take the nu/bridge back off and give it a full overhaul.

    A crack in the ribs/sides is very unlikely to affect the sound noticeably. Some mandos deliberately have holes/ports in the ribs, so it's certainly not a huge issue unless it compromises the structural stability of the rest of the mando.

    Even a top crack, if well repaired, need not make a drastic difference to the sound.

    Tailpieces and tuners are available from StewMac for a pretty fair price. They do a range of budget mando tuners that are actually not too bad at all. You'll need to check post hole spacing before ordering tuners, just to make sure they'll fit well.

    I agree with GC. Seek out a good tech/repair guy locally. Many should be capable of fixing a side crack.
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  5. #5
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    Mar 2010
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    cool. thanks for the encouragement everyone. other than being old and worn (and cracked haha), it really is a good looking instrument. i never had a desire to learn mandolin until i found this in my dad's closet. but then again, that's exactly how i started with the ukulele. i found my dad's old soprano in his closet with one string, only 2 tuners, and no saddle. i fixed it up and can't get enough of it.
    Kani ke ‘ō, he ihona pali
    Jason - the 'ukulele playing bassoonist punk!!

    Oscar Schmidt OU-4 Tenor 四弦 shigen
    Lanikai LU-8 Tenor 八弦 hagen
    EleUke Cutaway Jazz Concert 電弦 dengen
    1968ish Beltone Soprano 旧弦 kyuugen
    1950ish Dixie Banjo Uke 芋弦 imogen
    Makala Dolphin Red burst 赤弦 akagen --my son's uke

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