I'm a happy camper!

just picked up this mandolin…

Just got this on Ebay. I’m hopin’ that it plays as nice as it looks. It is a Martin Style B mandolin from 1920. I’ve been lookin’ for a style B for a couple of years. Check out the brazilian rosewood back and side… sweet… :)

That’s a beauty! Congrats on winning the auction.

How do you play those things anyway? My fingers always seemed waayyy too big…


Wow - Brazilian, that’s fancy. Actually my mandolin is made out of Brazilian too. It gives it a darker, thicker sound which isn’t always desirable for mandolin. May I ask you how you paid for that baby? PM me if you don’t want to make it public.

Nevermind - I just searched on eBay. I now know your eBay account name, that you have 41 + feedbacks, that you bought this mandolin from Bryan Antiques in Maine (where I’m from I might add), and that you probably did a private deal with this guy (and maybe got a good price because the item didn’t meet the seller’s reserve). Ain’t the internet great :laugh:


I was looking for a darker sound since my F style mandolin is quite bright (carved solid spruce and maple). So the F is for bluegrass (has a nice "chop) and this one is for playing everything else. I guess you don’t always want the sound of your instrument to slap you in the face.

As for what I paid, it was about $100 more than the top bid. I was plenty happy with that since it is in such nice condition, not a crack anywhere and even the finish is in excellent condition. Not bad for an 86 year old instrument. It should be here by Tuesday, I’ll let you know about the playability then.

By the way, do you own one of these rosewood Martin mandolins?

Cool - then you will most likely like the sound of the Martin.

I have a hand made mandolin made by a violin maker named Michael Piasecki who used to live in Surry, Maine. Here’s a pic. You can’t see the Brazilian but the back & sides are made of it.

Quote (John @ Jan. 26 2006,21:17)
That's a beauty! Congrats on winning the auction.

How do you play those things anyway? My fingers always seemed waayyy too big...


Actually, they are pretty easy to play moderately well. If you are a guitar player, you just have to think upside down and backward. The strings on the mandolin are tuned (low to high) G D A E . The bottom 4 strings on a guitar are E A D G . Hence, if you think upside down and backward, you can play most any chord easily. The scales are a slightly different matter since the fingerings are worked around a perfect 5th skip from string to string instead of perfect 4th. But even so, the scale patterns are pretty simple. And it is very easy to learn to play fast since the frets are so close together.

As far as spacing of the frets goes, think 12th fret and higher on the guitar. It's really not that bad.

Mike, is the back also arched the same way as the top? That design reminds me of another mandolin I have seen. I believe it was called a barrel back mandolin made by Vega. The barrel back had a top design similiar to the Martin bent top, but the back looked similiar to the top on your mandolin.


Mike, is the back also arched the same way as the top?

Yes. Remember it was made by a violin maker.

It’s basically that same size as a Gibson A (teardrop) mandolin, but with the guy’s special design.

Because of the rosewood, it has a very rich, deep tone & it sounds very nice by itself but it doesn’t cut through like a maple mandolin would.

Hey Doc! Nice score! THAT is a thing of beauty man… enjoy.

D - G - ???

Do you take request? ???

If yes, when you get that, I would like to hear your best rendition of Violent Fems, “Push the little dassies” .


What a great instrument you have… Looks like this guy is a Re-Seller… ?? Where in Maine do you think it’s home was? This might have seen lots of Kitchen Parties… Mabey, some stage work… I’m wondering if this guy knows any History on this … one… To some people, this is not important… But…


Hey Bill,

It is in too good shape to have seen much action. I got it yesterday and it needed some cleaning up (86 years of dirt). I then fret leveled and dressed it and oiled the fingerboard. Then took the old waverly tuners apart and cleaned and lubricated those. Put it all back together and strung it up. After a little bridge shaving, it plays and sounds like a winner. The wood is a little dry, so I am keeping a humidifier in the case with it. Not a crack or scratch/nick on it. Really quite remarkable for a mandolin built in 1920. The tone is very powerful (much, much louder than my other two carved top mandolins) and round. It is also smaller in size than my A/F or my F mandolins.

Quite an amazing instrument.


Cool - record a jig for us & put it on the net!

I remember some of the guys I was around… years ago… They used an oil they called “Tounge Oil”. I don’t know what it is derived from… It was used on RoseWood fretboards. It’wouldn’t dry or evaporate but the rosewood would soak it up and other properties like… it wouldn’t stain or your fingers wouldn’t attract it… and make you fingers “wet”… If I remember, they only used it on rosewood … :O ???

They spent a lot of time applying this stuff… with as many coats as time would allow… With-in reason…


I generally just use lemon oil for the fingerboard. Sometimes I will use “Old English” scratch cover for dark wood on the fingerboard to bring out the beauty of the wood. The scratch cover is essentially just a wood oil with a little pigment included. Wipe it on evenly, give it a minute to sit and then wipe it dry. The wood will soak up a little of the oil which helps it avoid over drying and possibly cracking.

Quote (Mr Soul @ Feb. 01 2006,10:47)
Cool - record a jig for us & put it on the net!

You know, it is a funny thing guys. I practically never record myself playing… never. It just is not part of my job description nor do I have any reason to ever want to hear myself. But since you asked for a clip of the mandolin, I thought I would oblige. Here is a short clip of a march I wrote for my late mother-in-law called Julia. She was a formidable Quaker and a wonderful person. The recording is done on the home machine with just an ATM61HE (Audio Technica dynamic mic) plugged directly into a live drive in the front of my son’s computer. There are no effects of any kind. The lead mandolin and the rhythm mandolin are both the 1920 Martin. THe weird sounding bass is an Ashbory bass plugged directly into the live drive. Anyone not familiar with the Ashbory should know that it has about a 16" long fretless neck with silicone strings. Fun to play live but tough to keep in tune while recording.



If that don’t get your toe tappin’ ya might wanna check it for gang green…ya just might already be dead! :laugh:


I practically never record myself playing… never. It just is not part of my job description nor do I have any reason to ever want to hear myself.

That seems a rather selfish stance to take as a musician. I understand not wanting to hear yourself…but there are the other 4 billion people on this planet to consider! :cool:

Not to mention the slew of lonley hearts band musicians that could use a helpin’ hand…


keep shinin’



Awsum sound and find. Loved the tune! :D

Thanks guys. I wrote that tune sitting one evening next to a lake in the Pocono Mountains (not much of a mountain, sort of “training bra sized”. I was thinking about my wife’s mom who had recently passed away and how much of a Quaker bull dog she could be. A sort of “happy march” came to mind; persistant…full of “gentle persuasion”.

I’m not much of a mandolin player; I enjoy playing it cause I don’t have to be good. :) But I think the recording does show the tone of the old Martin pretty well (as good as you can get with a cheap mic, crappy preamp, lousy/small room and marginal player).

I was curious how the tone stacked up with Mr. Soul’s (Mike’s) mandolin. He seemed worried that the tone would be too dark/thick. I have to admit that it has a big ringing “G” on the bottom, but with a little playing, that is pretty easy to control. It certainly has a much bigger voice than I expected. This thing is near as loud as my M-38 and cuts through even better.

When I first got it, I wasn’t so sure about the tone. I guess I was used to the thinner “chop” of the “bluegrass” type mandolins. So the bigger tone freaked me out at first. Now that I have played it a few days, I love it.

Again, thanks for the feedback guys :)