8/17/2012

c.1917 Gibson Alrite Style D Mandolin


Update 9/22: Since last posting this, the mando has had a K&K twin spot pickup installed internally with only a small jack visible on the lower bout, treble side near the tailpiece area. In addition, there's a strap button on the treble side of the heel and one at the tailpiece. Updated pics of these areas will follow shortly.

What sound out of such a little box! It has good cut and warmth with that typical Gibson compressed tone. I don't know what does it, but the Gibs all have a signature tonality that's hard to ape.

Unlike an all-original Alrite I did work on in Spring last year, this Alrite is somewhat modified. For starters, the finish has been topcoated over the original varnish. The top and back are also entirely rebraced. Instead of the tone-bar style "V" bracing on stock Alrites, this has double ladder-bracing on both top and back which is much similar to modern pancake-design mandolins.

This modification is actually somewhat typical for Alrites which have had damaged tops, though this one appears to be pretty darn healthy -- only a tiny bit of deflection over the years, though there are a couple repaired top crack hairlines.



While this was in generally good health when I got it, I did a fret level and dress to kill some bad spots and also replaced the too-low ebony nut. It's now sporting 34w-10 light strings and barks with the authority typical of a Gibson A-model.


Original tuners work nicely. "Paddle" headstock shape.


Pearl dots on the dyed-maple? fretboard.


Jury's out on whether this is an original ebony bridge, but it certainly looks it to me!


The multicolored rosette and side purfling is so great on these Alrites. Nice and folksy but restrained, too. The celluloid pickguard is also in great shape.


Here you can see some of that purfling on the edge, too. Both soundhole and top edge are bound in white celluloid.







You can really see how nice and shallow the body is. These almost feel like playing an electric instrument and they're nice and flat so they don't roll around like some archtop/backs do.




The back was totally off and reglued -- with not entirely the best job -- but sturdy and stable. One can see a few short hairlines at the edges which are indicative of a top being pulled off minus a hot separator knife.





Tailpiece is missing its "cloud" cover. I've muted the extra string length with some foam padding to dampen overtones.


Speaking of electric... someone found a good electric-depth chip case to store this in!

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