8/05/2017

1918 Gibson Style A Carved-Top Mandolin



A customer of mine picked this up on eBay really recently and I was pretty impressed when I opened the case. It had a light amount of other work done to it and a replacement tailpiece, but was otherwise pretty unmolested. Tone "right out of the box" was good and the setup was decent, too. This Gibson A is the usual carved-top and has a single brace just below the soundhole. The top is two-piece and has the unusual extra of an inlaid, thick celluloid ring in the rosette. Usually these "plain A" models have a double-ring, simpler rosette. This detail certainly dresses it up a lot and looks great!

Work included a fret level/dress, side dot install, adjustable bridge fitting/install, a good setup, and general tweaking. The tailpiece is a nicely-made replacement and this originally had its factory pickguard installed -- but the owner wanted it off. It's now singing beautifully and plays effortlessly. I adjusted the nut and bridge slots to take up to 34w-10 strings (which I consider the max suggested load for these), but the owner settled for 32w-9 strings which are period-appropriate and make the feel buttery-fast and easy. She's a Celtic player so she doesn't need a lot of bark and lower-mids punch. Clarity is the key, here. It's a Gibson so it's plenty-loud, anyway!


I love the pumpkin-colored top and the clean lines.


The headstock has a black face, the original nut is bone, and the board is flat ebony with the usual teeny-tiny Gibson fretwire.



I love that rosette!


I only had a rosewood adjustable bridge on hand, so I "ebonized" this one with India ink during fitting and adjusting of it.




While the top is solid spruce, the back and sides are solid birch -- as usual.


The neck is mahogany and has a medium, V-shape to it. The tuners are Waverlies and they work just dandy (especially after a lube).








The factory order number at the neckblock is a bit unreadable, but the serial in the soundhole suggests a 1918 sale/delivery.

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