12/12/2014

1913 Gibson A-4 Carved-top Mandolin


This pretty old A-4 was in for some "while you wait" work today which included a K&K Twin Spot pickup install (which replaced a nasty-sounding old pup) and a fret level/dress and setup. The pickup went in within 10 minutes but the rest was done while chatting and hanging out in the workshop. This is owned by a fiery Celtic/folky mandolin player and it suits her style just fine.

I have to admit that this instrument has held up very well over its years and I'm guessing this is in most-part due to the fact that whoever carved it didn't cut too thin in the middle bit of the top. I've seen so many sunken and/or failing-topped Gibsons that it was a breath of fresh air to have this one come in without any top deformation problems.



A-4s were the fancier "pear-shaped" Gibson mandolins and had back/front binding, a nice soundhole rosette, fleur-de-lis (in this era, anyhow) in the headstock veneer, and bound ebony boards with just enough extra frets to make you nutty.

The owner treats it well with a set of Thomastiks strung up.


Yeah, the inlaid tuners... don't you love that? The nut looks like a replacement but those tuners sure aren't!


The frets are replacements from some point but the owner sure put plenty of wear and tear into them. They're now all about the height that the original Gibson small frets would've started out at!





Mahogany neck and birch back and sides in that lovely Gibson red-brown.






If I can, I usually turn the "jack cover" the other way around as it holds straps better than the factory-style install.


Traditionally this serial would date it to 1914 but since Spann's Guide that makes this probably a 1913.

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