The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson Style A Snakehead Mandolin Blacktop, 1927


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Here we’re looking at a Gibson Style A ‘Snakehead’ Black-top mandolin in A-1 trim from 1927 in overall good and largely original condition. The ‘Snakehead’ term refers to the tapered headstock, an innovation by Lloyd Loar that reduced string friction at the nut. ‘Snakehead’ models were built from 1923 to 1927.

The ‘Style A’ or ‘Teardrop’ body is built with a hand-carved, arched Red Spruce (Adirondack) top with an opaque black lacquer finish. The A-1 Trim includes top binding and an ivoroid ring around the oval soundhole surrounded by white/black/white rings – the ‘white’ is now yellowed with age. The lower part of the oval paper label is torn.

This top is paired with a carved, arched Maple back and Maple sides. Until 1926, these mandolins used Mahogany for the sides and back. The neck is Mahogany, with Ebony for the fingerboard and bridge and Mother of Pearl dots for position markers. The pickguard is faux-tortoise celluloid, and the pickguard bracket is a newer replacement.

The Ebony bridge is original. The pickguard is the original faux-tortoise celluloid, and the original tailpiece, its cover, and the tuners are nickel plated. The tuners have original aged white plastic buttons. The tapered ‘Snakehead’ headstock logo is a white script ‘The Gibson’.

Over the years this Gibson Style A ‘Snakehead’ has had some work. The sides have had some repairs near the tail block and it appears that the back may have been removed and reglued, and the area oversprayed. It is solid.

Fret wear is light to moderate, and the finish has wear to be expected from an instrument of this age that’s been used as intended.

This Gibson Style A ‘Snakehead’ is currently about 97 years old and has a fantastic, full and rich sound with a surprising amount of volume and excellent projection.

The original hard shell case is included, with intact and functioning latches and hinges.

Orville Gibson’s Style A mandolin, often referred to as ‘A Style’, was part of a breakthrough in instrument design, merging violin and mandolin construction methods. Until Gibson’s introduction of the A and F styles around 1900, most mandolins were built using an Italian style with a lute-style bowl back and a and a flat top with a bend behind the bridge.

The new Gibson violin-influenced models were dramatically better, producing superior volume and tone. They were also easier to build and maintain, and many have withstood the passage of decades or a full century.

Price: $2,499.99 CAD
  • Model: Style A Snakehead
  • Year: 1927
  • Finish Black Top
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 87715, built during 1927 at Kalamazoo Michigan
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 25/03/2024

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 2.112lbs .96kg
  • Scale Length: 13.5in 343mm
  • Nut Width: 1.212in 30.79mm
Gibson Website

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