Lyon & Healy
Lyon & Healy Style B #1475, ca. 1924–5. $3,500.
Here's a vintage midline Style B carved-top acoustic mandolin from Lyon & Healy of Chicago, among the finest carved mandolins ever produced.
     The pickguard bears the 11-12-18 patent date and a cutout for the soundhole, while the tailpiece base has the 4-15-19 patent date. It has the "art deco" headstock and the later "classical" 13-inch scale length. It has the mid-1920s Lyon/Washburn label; the serial number is written there and also stamped inside on the rim. It was played regularly in a mandolin orchestra in recent times, but the owner has moved on to a different mandolin.
     This instrument has seen a lot of playing time and has significant player wear. There are small nicks, scratches and finish imperfections on the body and headstock, and the neck has finish wear along both sides from thumbs and fingers. The frets are actually in quite good shape, although if I'm not mistaken this mandolin was partially refretted by luthier Cat Fox when it first came to Seattle. The good news is that there are no cracks, open seams or evident repairs to the wood. The elaborate tailpiece is fully intact and functional.
     This Style B has the typical dry yet sweet Lyon & Healy tone prized by players of classical and Italian popular music, and is ideal for classical or folk music. It currently has phosphor bronze strings, although I would recommend setting it up with flatwounds. (I can do that before it ships, or include a set of Thomastiks with it.) The neck is absolutely straight, and it plays easily, with comfortable action.
     Spruce top; 2-piece birdseye maple back and sides; mahogany neck; ebony bridge; vulcanized fiber pickguard and neck center strip. Single-ply white binding on back; double-ply white/black binding on top and soundhole, with additional triple-ply black/white/black soundhole ring. 13-inch scale extended fretboard with 24 frets. Original case is missing; it currently lives in a thermoplastic Gator F-style case.
     See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $3,500 plus shipping. 48-hour approval period.