1910s Lange-made Eko Banjo-Mandolin

While it says "Eko" on the headstock, this is not the '50s/'60s/'70s EKO brand from Italy most of you know. It's "Echo" misspelled. I've seen a few of this brand turn-up from the 1910s and '20s era and most of them seem to be Lange-made products (from New York) to my eyes.

This one's nice-quality, rugged, and reliable. The neck is tough and straight (with center-strip lamination) and has pretty flamed maple in it and is topped with an ebony board. The rim is thick ply-maple with maple veneer on the outside.

I worked on this for a local customer and while I wanted to replace the skin head with synthetic for ease-of-use, its hair-under-10" size proves problematic for that -- one would need to order a head custom from Remo and wait... wait... wait for it. Still, after glorified setup work and a new bridge, this thing was ready to go and has that classic horse-cloppy sound to it that sits so nicely in its own niche on recordings.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, side dots install, cleaning, new compensated rosewood mandolin-style bridge (to replace a teensy period banjo-style bridge -- the mando-style long foot means tuning stability is greatly-increased and it sounds fuller), and setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight, the frets are low/small per original spec, and it plays bang-on with 1/16" action at the 12th fret. Strings are GHS A240s -- 32w-9 in gauges -- and they're perfect for bowlbacks, vintage (fragile) mandolins, and banjo-mandolins. People often make the mistake of stringing these with 34w-10 or heavier gauges and they're a nightmare to play and keep in tune. Period strings are like the GHS A240s or even a tad lighter. Note also that I've put a damping-pad of foam behind the head near the fretboard extension and I've also muted the extra string length at the tailpiece-end.

Scale length: 13 5/8"
Nut width: 1 1/8"
String spacing at nut: 7/8"
String spacing at bridge: 1 1/2"
Head diameter: 10"
Rim depth: 2 3/4"
Rim material: maple multi-ply
Neck wood: maple
Fretboard wood: ebony
Bridge: new compensated rosewood
Neck feel: slim C-shape, flat board

Condition notes: it's in very good shape and all-original save the side dots and new bridge. It shows wear and tear to the finish but it's still nice and clean otherwise.


Unknown said…
It’s so nice to see this instrument restored and being used by a talented musician! I gifted it to your client through my partner, after I moved to Vermont from Connecticut. I had it for a dozen years, and when my partner saw it as I was packing to move, he said he had a friend who would appreciate it. It came from my stepmother’s aunt, Stella Kittle, who lived to 100+, and lived in Manchester, Connecticut. It was in her attic, unbeknownst to her, for many decades, and was only discovered when they were cleaning the space of generations of stuff. Aunt Stella, who had a robust memory, did not recognize it, and could only surmise it was among the collection of instruments her in law’s family used to make music back in the day.

What a treat to hear it, and I hope Andy gets many years of enjoyment out of it!