1930s Vincent Jacobacci (France) Banjo-Mandolin

This instrument has a "VJ" (or what looks more like JV) stamp at the side of the heel that let me look down the rabbit hole of the net and find-out that, yet again, folks over on MandolinCafe are geniuses when it comes to deciphering makers.

When this first came in I thought it looked like a dead ringer for an Italian-made banjo-mandolin with its very-Italian headstock shape, Embergher-like narrow-nut neck, and tall/bulky frets. The French-made tuners and more mainstream zither-banjo-style rim construction threw me off, though. It turns-out that Jacobacci was from Catania (where they make a ton of mandolins) and then was later found in France. Mystery solved!

This creature uses the European-style "zither-banjo" rim construction meaning that the rim itself is really an overblown resonator and the head sits in a tension-hoop/tonering unit that rests inside the resonator. The advantage of this style is that it gives a zippy, poppy sort-of tone that leaps-out directionally and that the rim itself doesn't have hooks that dig into your leg. The disadvantage is that the head size needs to be smaller overall and so you don't have the depth to the lower notes that you might want.

Post-repairs (fret level/dress, side dots, cleaning, setup, new compensated bridge, and some added leveling-mounts for the zither-rim insert) this instrument plays quick and easy and, frankly, is really fun to play. Its owner is going to really enjoy having it back, methinks.


Marc Sabatier said…
Hello again Geoffrey, any idea about how the banjo-mandolin came to the USA? Thanks, best regards, Marc (Jacobacci website)