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Banjolin maker - Cuckoo

Tangledwood 13 Feb 10 - 10:56 PM
sciencegeek 14 Feb 10 - 09:57 AM
Tangledwood 15 Feb 10 - 12:04 AM
sciencegeek 15 Feb 10 - 07:35 AM
sciencegeek 15 Feb 10 - 07:46 AM
Tangledwood 15 Feb 10 - 06:02 PM
Geoff the Duck 16 Feb 10 - 01:42 PM
Tangledwood 16 Feb 10 - 04:50 PM
sciencegeek 16 Feb 10 - 06:30 PM
GUEST 09 Aug 10 - 05:02 AM
Tangledwood 09 Aug 10 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Songbob 09 Aug 10 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Beatriz 19 Oct 12 - 05:18 PM
EBarnacle 20 Oct 12 - 12:35 PM
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Subject: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: Tangledwood
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 10:56 PM

This morning I picked up an old banjolin at the local market. The maker is Cuckoo and on the tailpiece is engraved "English Make". There's no other visible writing. The head is 7 3/4" diameter, length from nut to bridge 13". It's believed to date from the 1920s.

Does anybody know any more about this maker and the instrument. I can't find many references to Cuckoo other than a recent ebay sale.

It would take a bit of work to get playable and I rather think that a restoration would cost more than it's worth. I just got it for the curiosity value really.

It provided a bit of a chuckle - the previous owner has written the notes all along the fretboard.


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: sciencegeek
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 09:57 AM

It is a banjo mandolin? We have a Bacon & Day from 1929 that didn't cost too much to restore. They were very popular on the vaudeville stage in the USA in the early 1900's... petered out once the '30s swing jazz became the rage & talkies replaced live stage shows like burlesque & vaudeville. The old theaters installed screens & sound equipment that took up space & made more profit than the live shows.


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: Tangledwood
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 12:04 AM

It is a banjo mandolin?

That's one of the names they seem to go under. From what I'm reading, no one standard name was ever adopted but there are ambiguities with differing instruments.

Here is the poor old thing. Cuckoo


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: sciencegeek
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 07:35 AM

we have two guys who play the banjo mandolin at our sessions. One guy actually built his. They play nice and work well with the group, so it's worth seeing if you can restore it.

a banolin has 4 strings, while the banjo mmandolin has 8. Our Bacon & Day has an impressive resonator to up the volume.

a site to check out:
http://www.banjolin.co.uk/siteindex.htm

good luck with your find


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: sciencegeek
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 07:46 AM

ooops, left off a site

http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?p=768493

Allen Hopkins - a Golden Link member ( Rochester, NY) and quite the collector of instruments gave some info. Probably an Australian made instrument.. anywhere close to you, tanglewood?


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: Tangledwood
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 06:02 PM

Thanks Sciencegeek, that is me. LOL


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 01:42 PM

Just had a look at the photo of the instrument. It doesn't look as if it is in bad condition.
Slight crack in the shell? doesn't usually stop a banjo being played. Not difficult to glue and clamp.
Vellum is showing signs of rust patches around the edge, from the fitting hoop. It needs a fresh vellum, but may well play acceptably without. Tap the vellum with a finger nail - does it ring like a tight drum?
Machine head looks fine.
Neck has full set of frets - Is fingerboard straight? If so, I would buy a new set of mandoline strings on, position the bridge so length from nut to 12th fret and 12th fret to bridge are same, then tune it up to mandoline pitch.
You should get an idea of what it would sound like with a new vellum, and if the restoration is likely to be worth doing.
Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: Tangledwood
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 04:50 PM

Thanks very much Geoff, that's reassuring.
The vellum does give a drum sound but I'm not sure how tight it should be. I waiting to visit a friend with a similar instrument and a banjo to make comparisons.
I haven't been able to get it in tune so far. With the flex in the vellum any tuned string goes out when the next one is tuned. I imagine this would eventually even out with repetition but don't want to risk splitting the vellum yet. Being a cheapskate, I'm using a used set of mandolin strings until I've finished pulling things apart.

The neck seems nice and straight but meets the body at a bit of an angle. The action is way too high to be playable, partly due to the neck but I suspect that the bridge height is also a problem. That would be easily fixed. The string slots in the saddle have erratic spacing making me suspect that the bridge section has been
inexpertly home-made.   Once again I wait to make a comparison with others.

The back has a few bubbles, I assume it's plywood, so would need replacing for a proper restoration I think. That shouldn't affect the playability while seeing if it's worth doing. If I replace too much it ends up being like grandpa's old axe though. :)


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: sciencegeek
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 06:30 PM

sounds like it was stored with tension on the strings...

had the same problem with ours, but we have a number of good luthiers in western New York State and got the neck reset without being charged too much.

good luck


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 05:02 AM

i hav a cuckoo. cost 130 to make playable


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: Tangledwood
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 05:23 AM

Eventually I did get mine playable but it has such a terrible sound I don't bother. Still, it was interesting doing it.
At the time I was working on it I found that a local repairer had an identical instrument hanging in his shop with a price tag of $A700. He explained to me that he gets a few come into the shop, he hates working on them, they take a lot of work and never sound good.
He keeps the example there as a demonstrator to, hopefully, discourage requests. The price tag reflects the amount of work required, not the quality of the end result.


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 01:49 PM

I have a banjo-mandolin I bought on my honeymoon (the desire to buy it should have been a clue to Jennifer of what she was getting herself into, but she urged me to get it). It's a Vega Tube-a-phone, and a dandy.

I've never heard that the four-string versions were "banjolins," and the eight-stringers "banjo-mandolins." I distrust that factoid.

And it's really hard to make a good-sounding one, I can tell you. I've played a number of 'em, owned a couple more than the keeper mentioned above, and in general find them hard to 'get right,' with action hard to set up and a sound that isn't always what you thought you'd get.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: GUEST,Beatriz
Date: 19 Oct 12 - 05:18 PM

Sorry, I know this isn't related to the initial question, but does anyone know where I might find an old style cuckoo wind instrument. The new ones are fine, they look like a one-holed penny whistle or occarina. But, the style I am referring to is much older and looks more box-like, like a hollow 4x4 with one finger hole.


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Subject: RE: Banjolin maker - Cuckoo
From: EBarnacle
Date: 20 Oct 12 - 12:35 PM

Lady Hillary has a Gretsch mandolin banjo from about 1921, signed by a previous owner with that date. It is currently out to get the action reset. We don't know what it will cost for the work.


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