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Thread: Questions about old Gibson A4s

  1. #1
    Registered User davidb1's Avatar
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    Default Questions about old Gibson A4s

    Hello,
    I just purchased an old 1906 Gibson black A4 .Question..I just broke a string on it..How do I get the bridge cover off without damaging it ..It's very stiff and I feel uncomfortable about forcing it and perhaps damaging the bridge cover.
    I also own a 1917 A4 which I restrung a while ago with J74 strings and much to my horror I notice that on the bass string end of the bridge a small split in the top has appeared.I have slackened off the strings but I am wondering if it is the heavier gauge strings could have caused this..Any advice on string selection for these old instruments and how to deal with popping of the bridge cover graciously accepted.
    Best David Briggs

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about old Gibson A4s

    Quote Originally Posted by davidb1 View Post
    Hello,
    I just purchased an old 1906 Gibson black A4 .Question..I just broke a string on it..How do I get the bridge cover off without damaging it ..It's very stiff and I feel uncomfortable about forcing it and perhaps damaging the bridge cover.
    I also own a 1917 A4 which I restrung a while ago with J74 strings and much to my horror I notice that on the bass string end of the bridge a small split in the top has appeared.I have slackened off the strings but I am wondering if it is the heavier gauge strings could have caused this..Any advice on string selection for these old instruments and how to deal with popping of the bridge cover graciously accepted.
    Best David Briggs
    Place the mandolin on a flat surface so the neck is pointing away from you. Put a coin on the end of your finger (to protect your finger) and then use one finger on both hand to slide it backwards while pressing your thumbs against the mandolin to brace it. It will move easier than you think. You won't damage the cover doing it this way. Do not, as some folks here seem to think is correct, pry it off with a screwdriver.

    Have the bridge top replaced. Repairing it will probably simply put off the inevitable. As far as string gauges go, I personally have J-74's on a few old instruments with no problems. There are several folks on the cafe that should be able to replicate the top.

  3. #3
    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about old Gibson A4s

    Do you mean the bridge top has split or the mandolin top has a split at the foot of the bridge? Two different animals there..Any top crack can be cleated..I always replace those old one piece bridges with a nice cumberland acoustic bridge..More wood touching the top and spreading the stress and I always get a better sound, tone and volume..and..I use j-75's with no problems..
    Hughes F-5 #1
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  4. #4
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about old Gibson A4s

    Just to be absolutely clear, the tailpiece cover slides off. You don't pull it upwards.

  5. #5
    Registered User davidb1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about old Gibson A4s

    Thanks to all..Tailpiece cover off..no damage to the instrument..new strings put on..Now to take the 1917 A4 for appropriate repairs.

  6. #6
    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about old Gibson A4s

    Does the 1917 A have a 2 piece bridge with adjustment wheels or a one piece bridge? The 2 piece bridge was not available until about 1922, but a lot of previously made instruments were retro-fitted with them. A Cumberland Acoustic replacement is a good consideration.

  7. #7
    Marbhna Luimni Eddie Sheehy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about old Gibson A4s

    If you need to replace the bridge and you want a one-piece - like the original - contact Roger Siminoff website at Siminoff.net, he makes bridges and nuts (slotted/unslotted) that fit old Gibsons.

  8. #8
    Registered User davidb1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Questions about old Gibson A4s

    it has a one piece bridge.Thanks again for all advice

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