mentions that she would like to purchase an inexpensive mandolin for her husband as a gift. His beloved mandolin (and acoustic guitar) were stolen in a home burglary about a year ago.
overhears this comment and tells Person A
that he has an old mandolin that he will sell for cheap. Person A
is not a musician. Person B
is a musician.
Both parties agree. The mandolin is exchanged a for cash a few days later.
I was not present for any of this.
A few days later Person B
asks me to borrow a string winder, to restring the mandolin as part of the deal, before he gives it to Person A
. I bring him my string winder the following day.
A few days later, Person A
brings the mandolin to me, and asks if I will restring it for her. I said sure. I didn't ask why Person B
didn't string it for her. I didn't want to get into that - none of my business.
She hands me a brand new chip-board case, with said mandolin in it. I open the case and see the mandolin for the first time. It appears to be a 20+ year old Hondo brand... in absolutely horrible condition. I asked Person A
if she wanted me to take it home and clean and polish it for her - no charge - before I put the strings on. She declines, saying that she wants to wrap it and put it under the tree tonight.
As I looked over the mandolin, the next thing I noticed is that the glued-in neck joint is separating, very badly. You can fit a coin in the gap/crack between the neck and the body. I pushed on it slightly and there was no "play" between the two pieces. I decided not to point it out to Person A
. I wasn't really sure what to do.
I took the first course of strings off... and took the new strings from the package. I looped the first one around the tail-piece, and guided it up to the nut. Then I noticed that the notch on the nut that separates the courses... was broken off. No way to separate the strings as traveled to the tuner. It was like this for 3 of the 4 courses. The nut was trashed.
This is when I stopped. And I pointed all of this out to Person A
. She looks dumbfounded. "Can you just string it up for my husband to play around the house? He'd not going to take it anywhere." I told her that her husband would not really be able to tune the mandolin, and it wouldn't really even play in tune.
She asked me what it would cost to repair everything. I told her that the mandolin was not really worth a repair. (I didn't tell her this, but it was probably a $49 Musician's Friend special 20 years ago. Sticker on the back of the headstock reads "Made in Indonesia".) I estimated $25 to install a pre-made plastic nut, and $75-$100 to fix the neck... at the minimum.
She said, "I only gave $80 for it."
She asked me what to do. I suggested that she speak with Person B
and talk about reversing the deal, and everyone would be happy. She said she had spent another $29 on the case, and would have to return that too. I told her that since I was friends with both of them, that I was going to step away from the issue.
About an hour later, Person B
comes to me... purposely wanting to make sure I heard the frustration in his voice... and says, "Where am I supposed to get a pre-made mandolin nut?"
I directed him to Stew-Mac, and told him that I was not part of the issue.
I like and respect both Person A
and Person B
. And I know Person A
's husband very well. No way he's going to be able to play this mandolin, even "around the house". He's a decent musician that likes to invite people over to sit on the porch and bang out some bluegrass tunes. This mandolin is not going to suit him.
I'm just trying to stay out of it.