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Thread: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

  1. #1
    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    http://www.billcampbanjos.com/BG_67_...ndocelloK4.htm

    The price is ridiculous, but I am guessing that because this K-4 has engraved tuners that is dates to pre-WWI and definitely not the Loar era as it is listed. What do you guys think?
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    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    The Serial # is 75542, so I stand corrected - this dates the K-4 to 1924
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    Registered User MandoSquirrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    As a "4", it has maximum bling,and 1922-1924 is the most pricey era for Gibson mandolin family instruments, in general, but that does seem ridiculously high. However, the A4 and Dwyer mandos on the site seem reasonably priced, so maybe they just don't really want to sell the 'cello.
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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Hmm, I'm thinking it's nowhere near as expensive as some I've seen over the past few years. A steal? hard to say, but not unfair.

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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Could the Handel tuners be original on an instrument from that period? Or were they most likely taken from an earlier instrument.
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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlieshafer View Post
    Hmm, I'm thinking it's nowhere near as expensive as some I've seen over the past few years. A steal? hard to say, but not unfair.
    Where have you seen a K4 selling for $29k?? That's easily double what it's worth.

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    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    I don't know nuthin, but I'm guessing that the Handels are original to the instrument. It was made years after the Handels were being used on mandolins, but at the rate that mando-cellos were being cranked out, a bin full of Handel styled mando-cello tuners would last a long, long time.
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    I saw this being talked about on UMGF. I made the following post

    This is actually a post-Loar completion of a Loar period instrument. The serial number indicates a February or March '24 instrument, but the finish and some of the parts are 1925 / 1926. If you look closely you can detect the soft lacquer finish that they used in 1925/1926. The pickguard bracket was not introduced until 1925 and the handwriting in which the serial number is written is well post Loar period. The tuners are indeed an enigma.
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    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Only Darryl would be able to tell if the finish dates to the same year, let alone the hand-writing on the label. That blows my mind dude.
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Quote Originally Posted by pfox14 View Post
    Only Darryl would be able to tell if the finish dates to the same year, let alone the hand-writing on the label. That blows my mind dude.


    HeHe...you can see the crosshatch lacquer checking in several pictures. The serial number is written in like a Fern would be (wide, squatty numbers) The Loars and all mandos from that period have tall narrow numbers with tails that go below the horizontal line for the serial number
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Quote Originally Posted by F-2 Dave View Post
    I don't know nuthin, but I'm guessing that the Handels are original to the instrument. It was made years after the Handels were being used on mandolins, but at the rate that mando-cellos were being cranked out, a bin full of Handel styled mando-cello tuners would last a long, long time.
    Didn't they use the same tuners on the mandocellos as the mandolins and mandolas? In any case given that this thing was hanging around the factory for a bunch of years, I would not be surprised of they just had an extra set lying around and decided to use them. Or this was originally started in the teens and the order was cancelled but the tuners were fitted etc. Lots of possibilities.

    The pickguard is also kind of odd with a slight cutout on the string side.

    Hey, I have a 1937 K1 that, I swear, has a guitar neck on it. I am pretty sure that someone ordered one and they put it together from parts lying around.
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Compare this with the serial number in the link
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Yes, the pickguard and the tuners are teens, but the pickguard clamp is post-Loar, the bridge is Loar period or post-Loar
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    So what do they say? "a camel is a horse designed by a committee"?
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Well, it could be that someone slapped Handels on it later in its life. Ken Culver has a Loar with Handels on it, y'know. There's some discoloration around the tuner plates.

    Pickguard is mysterious. Perhaps there was a pickup at one point?

    $12-14K was the going rate for a K4 a while ago. $29.5K is way out of whack.
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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    I thought Lawrence Wexer had a Loar-era one for close to 45k. Maybe I remember wrong.

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    He had a 1925 K5 for awhile at that price. Think L5 guitar with 8 strings. There's a few Loar signed K5s as well, definitely worth more than $29k.

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    Registered User MandoSquirrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    For a K5, sure, but, if it ain't got a five, noway hosay.
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Here is the pickguard on my K-4. Pretty similar cut out in it. I don't know what it was cut out for though.

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    He had a 1925 K5 for awhile at that price. Think L5 guitar with 8 strings. There's a few Loar signed K5s as well, definitely worth more than $29k.
    Gotcha.

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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    ...Hey, I have a 1937 K1 that, I swear, has a guitar neck on it. I am pretty sure that someone ordered one and they put it together from parts lying around.
    Interesting -- and not to steal the thread but how wide is the nut on your mandocello? I have a 1936 K-1 it has a truss rod and a slim guitar-like neck but definately was intended to be a mandocello neck --i.e., 1.5" at the nut and about 1.95" at the 12th fret including the binding.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Bernie: I will measure it when I get a chance.
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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Thanks! The mandocellos were more of less discontinued at Gibson around 1940 (start of WWII) and so I expect those dating to the late '30's like yours and mine were put togather to meet custom orders and may have been made with existing parts where possible?

    Yours have a truss rod? And is there a fret marker dot at 9 or 10?
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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson K-4 mando-cello date?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darryl Wolfe View Post
    HeHe...you can see the crosshatch lacquer checking in several pictures. The serial number is written in like a Fern would be (wide, squatty numbers) The Loars and all mandos from that period have tall narrow numbers with tails that go below the horizontal line for the serial number
    Seems to show best in the pickguard photo. You can sort of see lacquer too when it looks like a slight ghosting/diffraction effect on the finish, like a slight haze. Lacquer is usually shinier, and seems to scatter light a bit more if you view at an angle.

    Yep- the pickguard bracket is the screw-in type vs the 1911 patent clamp, so that part says "1925 or later".

    Interesting to see two with similar re-shaped guards. I wonder if a particular teacher-dealer was doing that? One at a time is always easy enough to explain, but the second and third ones that pop up start the fun!

    So interesting to think about is that adding the serial is considered the "warranty event" you'd associate with shipping. Joe Spann's book points in this direction, with the FON being more of an indicator of when it was made. I'd have thought we'd see a later serial on earlier parts, though usually not the other way around.

    This makes me wonder if perhaps it came back in to the factory for some reason- not uncommon to get a buff coat & new hardware (the PG clamp). It'd be interesting to see if there are slight indentations possibly from a 1911 patent clamp on there. There are a lot of possibilities- could also have been unsold & returned stock re-furbished.

    I sure like the look of those K4s.
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