Lyon & Healy Style A Mandolin (1925)

GIBSON’S LEADING COMPETITOR IN THE MANDOLIN marketplace of the first quarter of this century was undoubtedly the Lyon & Healy Company of Chicago, world famous as a harp manufacturer. Although they had been making both bowl-back and flat-top and -back mandolins for some time under the name Lyon & Healy or Washburn, the 1917 catalog introduced a new line of their “Own-Make” mandolins, mandolas, and mando-cellos, with carved tops and backs, much like those made by their rivals from Kalamazoo. The top-of-the-line style-A featured two symmetical body points, bakelite pickguard, ornate tailpiece, and a unique violin-scroll-like peghead with enclosursed tuners. In the early ‘20s, the body points became asymmetical, as in this example, and a small knee rest, which one could pull in and out of the lower side, was added. The Lyon & Healy mandolins produced a harpsichord-like tone very similar to the traditional bowl-back mandolins, and are to this day preferred by classical players.

Track 3: Sam-bino
(from Tone Poems CD booklet , used by permission)

Photography by Eric Harger