Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

372
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Aug 9, 2020 - 9:58:39 AM
893 posts since 2/21/2011

Still a thing?

Aug 9, 2020 - 10:03 AM

rcc56

USA

3091 posts since 2/20/2016

Long gone. Stan Jay passed several years ago, and his kids were not successful at running the business.

Aug 9, 2020 - 12:38:19 PM

1058 posts since 5/19/2018
Online Now

Exists only in the ghost world of the internet.

Aug 9, 2020 - 12:54:38 PM

rcc56

USA

3091 posts since 2/20/2016

Yeah, I wonder how much longer it's going to take for all their old listings to fall out of the internet. It seems to me the business closed at least 3 or 4 years ago, maybe more.

Old internet listings seem to be as persistent as a bad case of fleas . . .

Aug 9, 2020 - 1:15:34 PM
likes this

11067 posts since 6/2/2008
Online Now

It's going on six years since Stan Jay died. His kids took over the business, but from the get-go they stopped replenishing inventory, worked toward selling off everything they could and searched for a buyer to continue their father's legacy.

As reported on this Staten Island news site in February 2017, they had finally found a buyer: a California-based avid collector and seller of fine instruments who was "in the process of purchasing the Mandolin Brothers brand." The business was supposedly going to continue to exist online.

I can't find any evidence that this ever came to pass. The old Mandolin Brothers website is still live, but hasn't been updated since April 2016. The Mandolin Brothers Facebook page, however, had a post as recently as November 2019: a change of address to elsewhere in Staten Island. On the About page, Stan's daughter Allison is still listed as the contact. Makes me wonder if the new address is simply her home. 

No sign that any buying and selling is still going on.

So glad I visited there. Once back in the late 70's or early '80s. The second time around 8 or 9 years ago.

Aug 9, 2020 - 1:55:28 PM

rcc56

USA

3091 posts since 2/20/2016

The mystery buyer seems to have never materialized. He is more of a phantom than the elusive, long ago disappeared other brother of Mandolin Brothers' namesake.

Aug 9, 2020 - 3:52:27 PM

GMB

USA

338 posts since 5/29/2009

What a great place it was. I was fortunate to be able to take my son there. Great selection. Stan was the best.

Aug 9, 2020 - 5:23:31 PM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5259 posts since 10/12/2009

They sold a bunch of stuff on ebay.....i bought an old 1980's GoldStar Hearts and Flowers neck....which I'm about ready to post "For Sale" here on the 'Hangout......I'll never get around to using it.

Aug 9, 2020 - 6:02:14 PM
like this

4186 posts since 6/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

The mystery buyer seems to have never materialized. He is more of a phantom than the elusive, long ago disappeared other brother of Mandolin Brothers' namesake.


That would be Hap Kuffner, who was Stan Jay's partner at the outset. He left the business in the early '80s. I met him (and Stan) the first time I went to Mandolin Brothers, at their first location, on Bay Street in Staten Island, in early 1976.

Nice story about that visit. I wound up buying a 1914 Gibson F-2 mandolin, a beautiful instrument with a black finish and inlaid Handel tuner buttons. There were some minor finish cracks that needed repair, so I left a small deposit with the balance to be paid when I returned to pick up the mandolin after the work was done. A few days later I got a call from Stan. He told me that one of their collector customers had seen the mandolin in their shop and had offered Stan significantly more for it than the price I was to pay. Stan told me that he had declined the offer, telling the collector that the mandolin was already sold. He was calling me to let me know what had happened and said that if I wanted to take advantage of the collector's higher offer he would give me his contact information. I thought this was a really classy, honest act on his part, especially since he had only received a small deposit from me. He could easily have told me that there had been a mistake, that the collector had seen the mandolin first, and returned my deposit.

I did additional business with Mandolin Brothers over the years, from appraisals to buying a banjo and a guitar (toward which, nearly 20 years later, I traded in that F-2). I always appreciated the way they did business. 

Aug 9, 2020 - 7:38:12 PM

1322 posts since 11/15/2010

Arnie, I liked the way Stan did business, too. I seem to remember a rule that neither Stan nor any Mandolin Bros. employee ever got first crack at the vintage instruments that were brought in for sale. Their customers did. That always impressed me.  Honesty and customer service were his calling cards. 

The first time I was there, Stan invited me to play a guitar that was worth more than I made in a year.  I declined because I could just see myself dropping it.

Aug 9, 2020 - 9:07:54 PM
likes this

rcc56

USA

3091 posts since 2/20/2016

Well, I'm reluctant to say this, but my two experiences with Mandolin Brothers were less than ideal.

The first was when I shipped a guitar to them to consign for me. After they received the instrument, they called me and said they wanted to reset the neck [at my expense]. I asked them why? The action was reasonable on the instrument and there was room to adjust the saddle if necessary. They didn't give me an answer, but said ok, and listed the instrument. It sold in a reasonable amount of time [without the unnecessary neck set]. But I also remember that they weren't in a hurry to send my check. I finally had to call them and ask for it. They did send the check in a timely manner after my call, but it bothered me.

The second was when I ordered a mandolin from them. When the instrument arrived, the action was indeed very high, and there were signs that the peghead veneer had been broken and sloppily repaired. Neither of these things had been mentioned in the listing, nor could they be seen in the photos.  When I called them to authorize a return, they said no problem, but they did not even bother to ask me why I wanted to return the instrument. I thought that rather strange. Shipping was still cheap back then, so it was no big deal.

But I never tried to do business with them again. They didn't do anything that was out-and-out illegal, but they were a little bit too shady for me.

Edited by - rcc56 on 08/09/2020 21:16:09

Aug 10, 2020 - 2:00:14 AM

2835 posts since 4/29/2012

Great shop. I spent most of a day there about 10 years ago. Playing all of the expensive old Vegas and Bacons hanging on the wall. No hassle. They were a bit suspicious of a strange Englishman who wanted to look at their most expensive old time banjos. But once I proved I could play a bit they kept finding new banjos for me to try even though they knew by then that I was there to buy a Goodtime as a travel banjo.

Aug 10, 2020 - 3:13:21 AM
likes this
Players Union Member

Ryk

USA

241 posts since 11/20/2011

I'm a bit surprised that nobody has brought up Stan's written descriptions of available instruments. They were worth a read.
Ryk

Aug 10, 2020 - 11:35:24 AM

893 posts since 2/21/2011

I bought a heavily, deep hand engraved, Walnut, gold plated Top Tension copy from Stan about ten years ago. It is one of the most beautiful banjos I have seen BUT there was something wrong with the layout of the frets, i.e. it never sounded quite right so I had to return it. Stan was very understanding and promptly sent me a full refund when he received it back.

Aug 12, 2020 - 12:57:30 PM
Players Union Member

gDGBD

USA

507 posts since 2/7/2005

About 20 years ago I took one of my guitars to Mandolin Brothers for an appraisal. After I had a nice chat with Stan he told me that I could play anything in the showroom while he prepared the appraisal. I had brought a flatpick and some fingerpicks with me, so I spent the time playing a beautiful 1938 Martin D-28 ($25,000 price tag; 3% discount for cash) and several modern banjos (sadly, no prewar Gibsons were available). Very nice visit.

Aug 12, 2020 - 2:00:26 PM

Jbo1

USA

949 posts since 5/19/2007

Ryk, I never had a chance to visit the store, but I too enjoyed Stan's descriptions of their instruments. The nearest I can currently find are the descriptions on Bob Smakula's website (which he said are written by his son). And Stan was very friendly via emails. I would sometimes send him (what I thought were) witty comments and he would always respond. I never met him, but was truly saddened to hear of his passing.

Aug 14, 2020 - 8:33:59 PM

4 posts since 7/5/2015

Other than Elderly Instruments, and an occasional listing on Ebay or Reverb, where do people buy and sell vintage banjos? Sad about Mandolin Bros. closing shop.

Aug 14, 2020 - 8:51:45 PM

rcc56

USA

3091 posts since 2/20/2016

Smakula Fretted Instruments. Bernunzio Uptown Music. Gruhn Guitars. All of them will consign used instruments, and have considerable knowledge and experience with vintage banjos. Add Gryphon Stringed Instruments to the list, but they don't handle quite as many banjos as the others. Also, Intermountain Guitar and Banjo, but I believe they might be moving towards retirement and I do not know if they currently handle consignments.

Aug 14, 2020 - 11:23:18 PM

496 posts since 1/30/2006
Online Now

The first time I went there (1970's) it was just Hap and Stan. I sat on a sofa and listened while they played some mandolin duets. Truly the Mandolin Bothers! All pre-war instruments - nothing new. I was encouraged to play everything!
Things changed after Hap left.
There was actual "staff" as the enterprise had gotten larger. Not the same - not bad - just a completely different experience. More of a store and less of a living room as it was before.
I have dealt with Mandolin brothers over the years and have had only good experiences. I still have always missed the original "Mandolin Brothers". It was less of a "store" and more of a "visit" with fellow pickers.

Take it Easy ...MarK

Aug 15, 2020 - 12:06:14 AM
likes this

HSmith

UK

390 posts since 12/30/2005

Way back in the early 1970s, I was a keen young banjo player, desperate to find a banjo to help me get the sounds I heard on (vinyl) recordings of my heroes. Because I live in the UK, and at that time bluegrass here was very much a minority interest, the chance of finding a quality banjo was almost non-existent. Copies of 'Bluegrass Unlimited' could be bought at Collett's record shop in London, and I'd buy a few whenever I went to town. In those magazines I read advertisements for banjos for sale, and discovered Mandolin Brothers. I wrote to Stan explaining what I thought I wanted and what I could afford. I received a very helpful reply in which he gently explained that what I wanted was way out of my budget, but suggesting some less expensive alternatives.
I could never quite allow myself to buy a banjo without playing it, and a Transatlantic flight was out of the question then, so I never did meet Stan in person. However, I'll always be grateful for his help and encouragement.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.21875