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5/15/2009

Very cool 1960s Gibson tenor guitar/ mandolin double neck

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: MandoBlog, TweedBlog. Tags:
12 strings spread between 2 necks.

12 strings spread between 2 necks.

2 necks, 12 strings. This 1960s-era mandolin/ tenor guitar is one of the cooler things I’ve seen for a while. I’ve been switching between mandolin and tenor guitar for some of Tangleweed’s stuff, so a 2-header monster like this has some appeal. I’m wagering that an SG-style electric wouldn’t fly at bluegrass festivals, though.

At $13.5K, it’s hardly an impulse buy, but it sure is neat looking.

It’s using regular Gibson-style humbucking pickups for both instruments, with the space for the extra two pole pieces filled up with mother of pearl inserts.

There are way more pictures on Elderly’s web site.

3/22/2009

My Fender FM-60E electric mandolin for sale on eBay

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin and case

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin and case

I’m in the early stages on an equipment purge (or, to use the terminology of the day, “equipment right-sizing”). One of the early casualties is this Fender FM-60E 5-string electric mandolin. It’s up for sale now on eBay. Fender no longer makes `em, so if you want one, this is your chance.

I bought this mandolin back in 2000, and used it live and in the studio with the Kennett Brothers. I also used it on some recordings with Consortium.

It’s a 5-string instrument, tuned C-G-D-A-E, like having a mandolin and mandola all in one. Like a Stratocaster, it has individually compensated saddles in on the bridge, and it uses ball-end electric guitar strings.

It plays well, and, equally important, the intonation is solid up and down the neck.

It’s all original except for the toggle switch. The one that came with it was crap, so I replaced it with a higher-quality switch. If you prefer crap, the original is in the case.

The auction runs through Apr-01-09 16:34:38 PDT.

Sound samples:

This mandolin performs well in a variety of different live performance and recording contexts. With the pickup in the bridge position, it’s bright and cuts well. Here it is with the Kennett brothers:

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And here it is with the Kennett Brothers again, using the out-of-phase toggle and the lower register:

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And here it is with a wee bit of distortion, in an excerpt from the Consortium record:

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Images

Click on any of the images below for a larger-scale version. The instrument is in excellent condition. There are the usual belt buckle scratches one would expect on the back. These are detailed in one of the images below.

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin and case

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin and case

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin headstock

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin headstock

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin, back

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin, back

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin, detail of scratches on back of the instrument.

Fender FM-60E electric mandolin, detail of scratches on back of the instrument.

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8/13/2008

The Takeup Medley live at the Abbey Pub

We played a show at the Abbey Pub a few months back, opening for Hot Buttered Rum (nice folks, they). Our friend Brian taped both band’s sets, and they’re available for download at Archive.org. Here’s a tune from midway through our set: a fiddle tune medley of The Takeup Reel, Cold Frosty Morning, and Grey Eagle.

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The clip should play in the flash player dealie above, or you can download the show at Archive.org.

A studio recording of this medley will be on our forthcoming 3rd CD, Most Folk Heroes Started Out As Criminals, due out soon. The first tune in the medley is a fiddle tune that I wrote for the band about a year ago. I included sheet music for it in an earlier post, should you feel motivated.

7/11/2008

Bo Carter singing Corrine Corrina

This is, as far as I know, the first recording of this tune, which would become a standard. It’s been recorded by Milton Brown, Bob Wills, Tampa Red, Cab Calloway, Bob Dyan, ad nauseum, ad infinitum. There’s some nice mandolin on this track, I’m guessing it was played by Charlie McCoy. The fiddle sure sounds like it was played by Bo’s brother, Lonnie Chatmon. Anyone with access to a decent blues discography can feel free to correct me.

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Courtesy of Archive.org

Previous posts:
Bo Carter singing Please Warm my Weiner

5/17/2008

Picture of me with Howard Armstrong

Kenneth Rainey with Howard Armstrong, August, 1997I came across this photo, circa August 1997, when I was cleaning out some old files. Howard (‘Louie Bluie’) Armstrong was a mandolinist I admired enormously, from his early recordings with the unfortunately named Tennessee Chocolate Drops to his later work with Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong, and as a solo artist. His recording of State Street Rag should be required listening for every mandolinist.

Terry Zwigoff (of Crumb, Ghost World, and Bad Santa fame) made his first foray into film making with a documentary of Armstrong called ‘Louie Bluie’. Sadly, it’s not in print on DVD in the US, and VHS copies can be hard to come by.

5/11/2008

The Stradivarius of mandolins

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: MandoBlog, TweedBlog. Tags:

The Stradivarius of mandolinsThe Stradivarius of mandolins is this Stradivarius mandolin, one of two known examples. It’s in the collections of the University of South Dakota. With ten gut strings and what appear to be oud-like frets, it’s a markedly different instrument from the contemporary mandolin, which is largely based on the work of Orville Gibson.

It’s signed and dated Antonio Stradivario in Cremona 1680, which would place it twenty years into his career as an instrument maker, but still almost another two decades before his ‘golden age’ of 1698-1720.

In addition to mandolins, he apparently made some fiddles.

3/14/2008

Dance with the Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog. Tags: ,

The Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance BandI’ll be playing mandolin with the Golden Horse Ranch Square Dance Band for their annual square dance blowout. The dance is at 9pm at 2000 W. Fulton in Chicago. The GHRSDB are good folks. We shared a flatbed truck at the Hideout’s Day in the Country this past summer.

Annie Coleman from the GHRSDB is a third-generation square dance caller, and she’ll be calling the dances all night.

I believe there’ll be copies of this beautiful show poster available for purchase at the show.

11/18/2007

The Takeup Reel

I’m listening to the roughs from our session with Mike Hagler on the 20th of October, and liking what I hear. One of the songs we tracked was a little fiddle tune I wrote a few months ago called The Takeup Reel. We weren’t especially happy with any of the takes we got of the tune that day (I think we were all somewhat weary from our gigs the night before), but we like the tune enough to take another crack at it next session.

It’s a simple little two-strain fiddle tune in A. The first strain uses a flat III chord to stretch the tonality a wee bit, while the second strain uses a more typical borrowed flat VII chord. I used my newly acquired copy of Finale to spit out a lead sheet for it. Sorry, no tab. Learn to read music already.

The Takeup Reel sheet music (PDF)

Here’s an excerpt (a rough mix) of one of the rejected takes. It’s not bad, really, just a little sloppier than we’d like. This is one of the first times I’ve used my resonator mandolin in a recording session. It sounds pretty decent, though I suspect that I’ll wind up leaning on my old F-2 when it comes time to cut this tune again. This was cut live with Mike at King Size, with the band gathered in a circle in the live room.

The Takeup Reel (MP3)