1930s Orpheum-branded Strad-O-Lin Archtop Mandolin




This archtop, press-arched, A-style mandolin bears the Orpheum brand at the headstock but it's clearly a Strad-O-Lin (or, rather, Stradolin) instrument with different badging. I'm of the opinion that these great little mandolins were built by United in New Jersey, but regardless of where they came from, mando players into vintage kit are well-known for adoring these unlikely, low-budget warriors.


Anyhow, this instrument has the qualities that make a nice "sleeper" mandolin -- unassuming looks but a solid-spruce top, ply-maple back and sides for durability, and a nice, tough neck with a rosewood fretboard. It's also entirely original save the adjustable, painted-black rosewood bridge which seems to be a '60s Japanese-import type. Often the original bridges on these were non-adjustable rosewood bits and I can understand someone getting frustrated by that.

My work included leveling and dressing the frets, regluing one small section of loose seam, fitting and compensating the bridge (as well as replacing its adjuster posts for longer ones), side dot install, cleaning, and a good setup with 34w-10 "light" strings. It plays perfectly (hair-under 1/16" at the 12th fret) and the neck is good and straight. These handle roughly like a Gibson A-50 and have a nice, poppy, bluegrassy tone to them.


I like the simple faded-brownburst on the top.


The nut is original and 1 3/16" in width. The board is flat and the neck has a medium, D-shaped profile.


The dots seem to be pearl. This has a Gibson-style 13 7/8" scale length so it feels like "home base" for most players.




The "cloud" cover is still extant and makes a good place to shove muting-foam to dampen the string-afterlength overtones.



The back, sides, and neck were originally painted black but the finish has aged it and it looks greeny-black or yellowy-black here and there.


I lubed the tuners and they're working well (for 1930s equipment).


I forgot to mention that I added strap buttons here at the heel's back and also at the tailpiece. I can't enjoy playing mandolin, really, minus a strap.




Strad-O-Lins often feature neat details. This "line" below the black-painted faux-binding is simply a routered first layer of the ply on the sides. It gives a "violin" sort of look to the instrument's detailing.



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