The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson A-Style Mandolin Brown Top, 1918

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Orville Gibson’s A-style mandolins, and F-style mandolins, and larger instruments, were ground-breaking. No-one had seen the way to combine violin and mandolin construction concepts. This revolutionised the mandolin and guitar world, dramatically improving tone, volume, and projection.

Using well established violin techniques had other benefits, too. First, the European bowl back design is complex to build compared to the violin, which has many fewer parts to fit together. As well, the carved top and back plates develop and maintain tone for much longer periods; this is seen in very old violins, and today’s pair of Gibson A style mandolins, each at least a century old.

Seen here is a Gibson A-Style mandolin dating to 1918. The carved, oval sound hole top is Sitka Spruce, the sides are Maple as is the carved back. The fingerboard and bridge are Ebony. A single layer of binding was applied to the top, only – not the back, fingerboard, or head. The headstock does not have, or has lost, a Gibson logo. The original pick guard, which would have been celluloid, is long gone. The tuners and tailpiece are original. Typical of many instruments of this age, the top has sunk slightly but is stable, and the action is quite acceptable.

The Gibson A-Style mandolin back has a repaired crack, and it looks like this work was done a long time ago. The finish on the top is original, but the sides, back neck and headstock look as if they have had a quality varnish finish applied.  During that process the Gibson logo may have been lost. The back appears to have been removed, probably for the crack repair. Removing top or back plates is one of the standard approaches of violin repair, indicating that the repair work was done by a skilled technician.

Fretwear is moderate to heavy, particularly for the lowest positions, where there’s well defined wear from the strings. However, the instrument plays cleanly, and has the bright, sparkling clear tone that these mandolins are known for. This fine, century old mandolin still has many years left to offer.

A non-original hard shell case is included.


 

Price: $1300 CAD
  • Model: A Style
  • Year: 1918
  • Finish Brown
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 46138
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Fair
  • Date Posted: 21/08/2018

  • Consignment Item

  • Required CITIES documentation
  • Including Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 1.9lbs .86kg
  • Scale Length: 358mm 14.125in
  • Nut Width: 31mm 1.22in
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