12/13/2011

c.1919 Gibson F-2 Carved Top Mandolin





This is a nice 1919 Gibson F-2 archtop mandolin (carved top and back) that I picked up for myself recently. In addition to various repairs done since it came out of the shipping box (hairline crack repairs to the top, regluing the brace below the soundhole, hairline crack repair to the bass-to-endpin side, fret dress, cleaning, and setup, I also installed a K&K Mandolin Twin pickup with a "Tapastring" endpin sized jack that simply replaces the original endpin so no alteration is needed for installation of the pup.

I've played this mandolin every day since getting it (early December 2011) during jams, events, shows, and for my own pleasure. It has a gorgeous, mellow, sweet, choppy, and pretty loud tonality. It really gets quite warm and sweet and delicious with Thomastik flatwounds and has a good chop and zing with great sustain with regular roundwound strings.

The playability is spot on and true to the Gibson heritage -- it feels fantastic in the hands.

This mando originally had an intact Virzi disc mounted (with label), but during a show literally half of it dropped into the body of my mandolin and began rattling around. I extracted that, carefully and patiently wiggled the remaining bit out and through the soundhole, and then wrapped it and stowed it away, tuned up, and went back to playing. The volume increased nicely and so did the mandolin's cutting power, along with some of the woof in the bass register of the instrument. At any rate, the stowed-away Virzi was crushed a bit more on the way home (I know, it's like the friggin Oddysey...!) so it seems the mandolin made the choice for me on that front.



At some point the peghead tuner holes were filled in and new ones were drilled to mount these c.1930s F-style tuners. Original bone nut. Note the old repairs to the headstock scrolls.


Frets are leveled, dressed, and in good order. Board is ebony and bound.


Original ebony compensated bridge. At the moment I have an extremely thin shim under it, but I imagine in springtime when there's more moisture in the air that can be removed since the wood will swell up a bit. I always have to heighten adjustable bridges on my archtop instruments in winter and lower them in spring/summer.


Soundhole rosette looks purty -- note that it's discolored from the (missing) pickguard's "outgassing" on the treble side.


Note the two short, repaired hairlines at the "shoulder."


...and another short one here, repaired.


...and a longer one here, which is cleated in the middle and repaired.


Nice original tailpiece with cover! This has all its string-mount tabs intact.


Such a gorgeous mando!


The color of the sunburst is so pretty on this -- a deep warm red to crimson color.


...and a nice scroll, too! Note the bit of pickwear near the soundhole (and also some on the other side, too, of course, but not as visible).



The pearl dots really jump out.



This hairline crack opened up one night (I woke up to it) from the tailpiece area (where there was a small hairline that started it, that had been repaired previously) to the "waist" of the instrument about a month after having the mando. I glued it all up and its stable but certainly was unexpected. I'm chocking some of this up to acclimatization.



Here's that Tapastring jack. Note that the original endpin is in the case.




I think the back (and possibly the top) may have gotten an overspray at one point, as there's a drip at the back of the scroll. Doesn't detract -- in fact with the crackle and "mojo" to the finish the instrument is really seductive in that worn-in way (that I like, personally).


Birch back and sides, with a small amount of figure.




A little bit of missing binding on this point.


Label.


And case!



Note the cool shipping label!


Endpin and case key.


This very cool period Gibson pick came with the case as well.


And last but not least... there's a rushed seam repair that I did while on the road with the instrument. This seam (back side, bass lower bout) gave out over about 3" and started pulling away from the kerfing on either side. I quickly sanded the seam area, shot some Titebond into it, and clamped it up. It's perfectly stable as-is, and thankfully is on the back, but I've been meaning to get around to taking the back off and repairing this seam join (and removing any excess glue from the "emergency surgery") correctly.

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