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ollaimh
Sep-10-2014, 8:11pm
my local repair guy says he has seen a discussion that Gibson snakehead mandolins from the mid twenties have dropped in price to 1200-1300 bucks. just curious, are the prices dropping? I haven't seen any that cheap, and I own one so I think they are the cannon of cannons of the Gibson twenties mandos(sorry f5 fans--I really like my snakehead). just wondering.

mine was rode hard and hung up wet but played hard all it's life. it may just be better warmed up than many. it doesn't sound like any other Gibson I have ever heard, loud loud loud but sweeter than most as well, and the action is tight soft but different than any other I have played.

it also has a resonator back---yeah it's weird. it's clearly a top blank turned around and attached to the back by three posts and this leaves a space of three quarters of an inch. the original hard shell case is an inch deeper than others of the era so I thin k it's original. don't really ,though,care just love the sound.

but are snakeheads dropping in price?

Jeff Hildreth
Sep-10-2014, 8:20pm
I paid $400 for my Dec 22, 1922... in 1985.

LongBlackVeil
Sep-10-2014, 8:42pm
There's already been a discussion about this and I think most agreed that the prices have been pretty stagnant for awhile now. Not up or down.

It also depends which model your talking about, a snake head a junior model is probably the only snake head you could get for 1200-1300. Everything higher up than that (a, a1, a2, a2z, a3, and a4) your looking at close to 2 grand and much more than that for the upper level models like the a2z (is there such thing as a snakehead a3?) and a4.

Also if yours has a resonator, that would explain why yours sounds different than any you've ever heard. I would bet that is not original

BradKlein
Sep-10-2014, 8:54pm
it also has a resonator back---yeah it's weird. it's clearly a top blank turned around and attached to the back by three posts and this leaves a space of three quarters of an inch.

Come again?

Jim Garber
Sep-10-2014, 9:04pm
Post some photos of that mandolin. I have never heard of Gibson making one like that.

Capt. E
Sep-12-2014, 12:33pm
This is one currently up on Ebay without the OHSC. Priced pretty well (perhaps $300 too high?). http://www.ebay.com/itm/261556687573?_trksid=p2060778.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT#ht_196wt_684

Here's one owned by well known pedel steel player Greg Leisz. http://www.ebay.com/itm/171453440040?_trksid=p2060778.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT Considering its history and condition probably well priced.

The last snakehead A I saw sell on ebay went for $1950.

Then there was an A2Z that, if I remember, went for $4600.

LongBlackVeil
Sep-12-2014, 12:55pm
I would also like to see the gibson snakehead resonator a model.

bingoccc
Sep-12-2014, 2:33pm
Is the back a normal back with an additional plate off the back? It almost sound like some kind of added tone guard rather than a resonator?

pfox14
Sep-12-2014, 3:16pm
Never heard of or have seen a Gibson resonator mandolin from any era. Would really like to see some pix.

Ken Waltham
Sep-12-2014, 6:11pm
No such thing, I'm afraid.

Dobe
Sep-13-2014, 7:49am
.....it also has a resonator back---yeah it's weird. it's clearly a top blank turned around and attached to the back by three posts and this leaves a space of three quarters of an inch. the original hard shell case is an inch deeper than others of the era so I thin k it's original. don't really ....

The rare and elusive 'IZRIV' , opposite concept to the Virzi which interestingly enough was the predecessor to the modern 'Toneguard' ! ;0

Maybe a Dola case ?

Capt. E
Sep-16-2014, 9:35am
Five snakeheads on ebay at this time. Except for a Jr at $800, the four A-1's are priced at $2550 and up. Don't think they will ever be anywhere close to 1200-1300 bucks. You might get lucky and find one in that range, but it would be a fabulous grab from someone who doesn't know what they have. It does happen.

fatt-dad
Sep-16-2014, 2:14pm
a couple of months ago, I bought a '25 A-1 with a defaced serial number. Worm under tuners, "The Gibson" as an angled stencil, snakhead. Looks Loar era, but the FON says otherwise. Heck, as far as I know it may be a post-Loar-era body with a Loar-era neck replacement. No clue. I just know it's a great mandolin and I would not sell it for less than I got in it - about $2K. I love this mandolin!

That's all I got.

f-d

Randi Gormley
Sep-16-2014, 9:15pm
I wonder if it's one of those "wish it were true" comments that take on the feeling of certainty, like 'gas will go below $3 a gallon' or such like. My snakehead has been hard-used, is missing its pickguard, has a repaired crack and a replacement bridge and I still feel like I got a deal on it (it's a wonderful sounding instrument) for what appears to be slightly below the going rate (no doubt due to its flaws) but certainly way higher than the $1200 dream price.

pfox14
Sep-17-2014, 9:20am
...and still no pictures of this supposed Gibson resonator mandolin....hmmmmmm

Timbofood
Sep-17-2014, 10:16am
Yeah, I have never heard of a reso. Gibson either. Would love to see pics!
I love the concept of the "IZRIV"! Now that's genius!

pheffernan
Sep-17-2014, 2:54pm
...and still no pictures of this supposed Gibson resonator mandolin....hmmmmmm

In his defense, he hasn't been active since September 10.

Capt. E
Jan-20-2015, 2:49pm
An update: Just saw a blackface snakehead A for sale in a local vintage guitar shop: ser 813xx. Beautiful original finish with only light wear and OHSC. These guys want $3950 for it. Got to play it some and it sounds very very nice. It could sell for that much if somebody just falls in love after trying it out, but I wouldn't begin to think about it above $3000.

LongBlackVeil
Jan-20-2015, 2:57pm
I wonder if it's one of those "wish it were true" comments that take on the feeling of certainty, like 'gas will go below $3 a gallon' or such like

haha this made me chuckle. and it was only 4 months ago!

Gas is below $2 now in my area!

MikeEdgerton
Jan-20-2015, 4:15pm
I'm going to guess that snakehead mandolin with the weird resonator back was a mandolin banjo.

ollaimh
Jan-23-2015, 10:43pm
ohh people want pictures, well soon. I sounds great. part of the attaching of the resonator is replacement. years ago I talked to George gruhn about it. he said he had a catalog with no pictures from Gibson for that year which listed a resonator mandolin foe sale. then he found that 19 were made but no further mention . as I said it is a top blank. and it's as old as the mandolin. which some one turned around and attached with three posts. again years ago I took poloroid pictures and sent them to some expert--can't remember who-but got no reply.

the age of the blank and its obviously being a Gibson top blank makes me think it's original, but I could not likely prove it. besides who gives a sweet flying (opps) it's my favourite player and long time gigging and busking mandolin. louder than any other A I have ever heard but still sweet. I used to use it a lot at small gigs, with only one or two mikes or plug ins, the mandolin could be played acoustically and be heard easily next to an amped guitar and singer.

she's been rode hard. the guy before me was in a boat with it when the boat sank!!! but it's a great player.

the resonator works partially because it holds the back away from your body.

so pictures soon--I ma low tech and bad at pictures.

ollaimh
Jan-23-2015, 10:53pm
ps, no , not a banjo mandolin. a regular A-0 from 1924--according to gruhn, and made in December according to him. it has A 4 and A 2 binding, which he said was common back then to use up everything in the shop at the end of the year. black face and screen printed "the Gibson" diagonal logo on the head stock. I can't read the serial number very well any more, I should get a magnifying glass. it has faded as have my eyes. I had to have a brace re done about a year ago--top crack and drop. it has recovered it's loudness but lost some sweetness, but its'; getting better. I had bone inserts put in the bridge for the a and e strings to get sweetness. my repair guy said the back(resonator) was from the same era and was the same as Gibson top blanks from the era--which I had already been told by others. big mystery!!!!

I got it in 1989 at the sound hole in Spokane Washington, for 500 bucks. best deal I every made. with original case , but the case is falling apart now.

pheffernan
Jan-23-2015, 11:35pm
ps, no , not a banjo mandolin. a regular A-0 from 1924

I was under the impression that a regular A-0 didn't debut until 1927.

ollaimh
Jan-24-2015, 4:15am
129428129429129429129430129431129432

ok here are some quick pictures before I go out to busk the market.(with my Korean made aspen not the Gibson)

the original Gibson case I s an inch or so deeper than the standard ones to fit the extra width of the body, as to an A 0--I dunno, the label says A and then seriel number, I thought that was an A 0, maybe that's just an A.

ollaimh
Jan-24-2015, 4:27am
hope this works, the pictures seem to be attachements and not just displaying. I don't know why. i'll check later to see if anybody but me can open the pictures. in any case, as I said , George gruhn told me over the phone(and he was very helpful and kind--but I was a passionate player and not a collector) that Gibson catalog he has showed 19 "resonator back" A mandolins for sale in 1924, then the line was discontinued as they did not sell. he said he had never seen one and had wondered about the catalog item for years. this was before I had e mail. remember gruhn's mail out list? back then. no pictures.

the seriel number matched 1924 , he said December. we never discussed money as I was then in love with the mandolin--as I am now. best buy ever!!

when I walked around Spokane that day with the mandolin, looking at other stores, three guys at stores told me they had offered less(400, 450 etc) and they kicked themselves for not taking it at 500. I also learned the lesson. if you've got the deal you want on the instrument you want, pay yer money down. you'll never regret having an instrument you love, but you will regret passing on it for decades.

dicker over secondary instruments, but buy main players when they are right in front of you. I have done this for my dream instruments several times and never had a regret. money disappears, but great instruments keep you happy till you kick the resonator!!!

I bought a hand made ted Thompson guitar, several zouks,and several harps just this way and they have been my joy. money--pfft. sometimes ya got it and some times ya don't/ . remember instruments can get you through times of no money, but money can't get you through times of no instruments

MikeEdgerton
Jan-24-2015, 6:11am
Is that "resonator" inside the mandolin? Does it look like this?

Timbofood
Jan-24-2015, 8:41am
Good idea Mike, the elusive IZRIV from the earlier post

LongBlackVeil
Jan-24-2015, 9:23am
Is that "resonator" inside the mandolin? Does it look like this?

He said it keeps the back off of your body, so I'm guessing it's more like the blue comets with their double backs. I wonder if it's really a gibson though, gotta see pictures here

ollaimh
Jan-25-2015, 11:44am
well finally postd pictures youse guys and no one cvomments, I work and slave my fingers to the bone sigh

woodwizard
Jan-25-2015, 11:57am
Not able to see pics dude invalid link me thinks

ollaimh
Jan-25-2015, 11:59am
129508129510129511129501129503129506129507ok, my pictures didn't work, i'll try again.

as I said the recent luthier who worked on it said the back is a Gibson twenties top blank--he's seen them before. the previous lutheir said the same thing but he hadn't seem them except in pictures. there is a dendrichronology lab near here, one of three in the world, building a data base for dating wood --world wide, I suppose I should take it there to see if they can date the back wood. a friend got a date for the cutting of his fiddle wood from them. they can often date the exact year for instrument spruce. instrument spruce is one wood they have a huge world wide data base on. they can tell the year the spruce was cut. not necessarily the year it was made into an instrument--usually twenty to forty years before the instrument was made--before the modern kilns.

ollaimh
Jan-25-2015, 12:03pm
ps, the top; had dropped over the year--on the side with the crack. it was stable for a decade then, after I had the brace reglued, but the crack re opened roughly a year ago. had a new brace put in and it seems stable now.

the tuners are pretty inaccurate--it takes longer to tune than most instruments, but they hold. the new brace affected the sweetness--made it harsher, but the loudness stayed. now the sweetness is coming back. I life in hope it will be it's old self soon.

I played he heck out of this for twenty years.

jmp
Jan-25-2015, 12:15pm
Looks some kind of "tone guard" is mounted on the back. I've never heard of them coming out of the factory with a contraption like that on the back.

Looks like a legit factory mod as the OP has indicated.

Very interesting, learn something new every day.

JeffD
Jan-25-2015, 12:31pm
I have not seen anything like that. Wow.

fatt-dad
Jan-25-2015, 2:18pm
I sort of want that! How cool!!

f-d

David L
Jan-26-2015, 12:41pm
I have a banjolele with the same type of resonator.

pheffernan
Jan-26-2015, 12:58pm
129503

That peghead script is different than the one on my 1924 Gibson A snakehead.

129547

fatt-dad
Jan-26-2015, 2:22pm
that script began somewhere in 1925.

f-d

ollaimh
Jan-26-2015, 11:09pm
yeah they used the same back on a few banjo/mandolins, I was told . I think this is one of the 19 in the records that gruhn had read. gibosn wasn;t very carefull with records back then.. he also said there was a note of no sales so they did not make more. it nwas probably an experiment that no one liked the look of. mandolin players were conservative then, many are now. but it really increases the volume. it's too bad it has had a hard life, but so have I. I always say it is old and pretty beaten up, but it still sounds great--kinda like me.

I really should get the dendrochronology lab to establish the date of the wood, if the top and back are from clolse dates that should be strong evidence that it is factory..

gruhn told me he was quite surprised to find, the catalog with the offering of resonator back mandolins, he hadn't noticed it. too bad no picture--that might solve it.

however the main thing is it is a great player.

ollaimh
Jan-26-2015, 11:15pm
and yeah the logo is different from the other one here. again gruhn said the plain A(like mine) was screen printed on . the serial number was dec 1924, according to gruhn, but I have to get a magnifying glass. I can't read it anymore. my recent repair man could with a magnifying glass and a strong light. it doesn't help that my eyesight is getting a lot worse. I need glasses for even this page now and can't read fine print at all.

because this one is soo loud I have thought of looking for a better condition snakehead from time to time and putting a back on it!!

woodwizard
Jan-28-2015, 8:50pm
That is the strangest thing I've ever seen

ollaimh
Jan-30-2015, 10:01pm
yes it's odd and strange but it works like a damn. I have thought of getting a luthier to attach one to another of my mandolins, just to see if it works in all designs. it holds the back away from your body--which a lot of us do naturally to reduce dampening of the sound, so that may be most of it. but it may reflect some sound as well, I can say it is the loudest acoustic mandolin I have ever heard, but still has a good woody tone.


it carries amazingly well as well. I used to busk subways in Toronto and people would tell me they could hear me at the opposite entrance, a mile or a mile and a half away. they would hear it all the way walking and really want to see what that is. a real money maker. and as I said a must for small gigs, where the singer and guitarist have the mikes.

Tom Tindel
Feb-07-2015, 8:09pm
I have a question. I have a 24 or 25 snakehead A , all black. The body is in excellent shape. No cracks or repairs that I can see. The pick guard is missing and there is serious pick rash above the strings. Down to bare wood. Is there any way this can be touched up without destroying the value of the instrument? Or am I better off leaving it alone?

LongBlackVeil
Feb-07-2015, 8:36pm
I have a question. I have a 24 or 25 snakehead A , all black. The body is in excellent shape. No cracks or repairs that I can see. The pick guard is missing and there is serious pick rash above the strings. Down to bare wood. Is there any way this can be touched up without destroying the value of the instrument? Or am I better off leaving it alone?

Leave it alone!

A worn mandolin is a beautiful thing and any finish touch up will devalue it

Tom Tindel
Feb-07-2015, 9:15pm
That's what I thought. Thanks.

barney 59
Feb-07-2015, 10:11pm
Leave it alone!

A worn mandolin is a beautiful thing and any finish touch up will devalue it

To a certain extent it is already devalued. Is there anything in the way you play that caused that or contributes to it? I say that because I do that to mandolins myself. I hit the board with my loose fingers(nails), not the pick, and not all that often but over years it must be thousands of times. I wear through the finish and eventually into the wood. I guess at some point I'll end up with something that Willie Nelson would play and then it'll really be devalued! If the rash is continuing I wouldn't think that a light clear finish to be a bad thing at all and would protect the top and slow down the damage. I have in fact done that to my old "A". I don't think old A models have THAT much value anyway,there's 10's of thousands of them-- only a small percentage are "collectible"! I wouldn't do that to a Loar! I played maybe 10 different old Gibson A models today and not one of them had damage like that to the top! As a woodworker and not an antique collector I have to say that wood very much likes to have a finish on it! Also if done carefully it'd take a blacklight inspection to know that it was done.

LongBlackVeil
Feb-07-2015, 10:44pm
Maybe I'm biased. I love the look of worn instruments, it's beauty imo. I've had an old worn Gibson guitar with plenty of barewood showing for over ten years now. The wood will be fine as long as I don't leave it outside or something. What about all the speed necks and violin necks? All unfinished, nothing bad is happening to them of course they're protected a bit by the oil of your hands but there's plenty of these old Gibson mandolins that have not been touched up when this happens, they're also fine for the most part.

I'm not really saying you shouldn't do it, I wouldn't though. There's really no reason to. I agree, the devaluing aspect is not a big deal, so if it really bothers you that much go ahead and do it but you certainly don't have to

Personally I cry a little on the inside when someone does this to an old instrument. It took that mandolin close to 100 years to acquire that wear and your going to take that away? :) But it's not mine so not my choice

ollaimh
Feb-07-2015, 10:54pm
yeah, my mando is old beat up but sounds great--kinda like me!!!

barney 59
Feb-08-2015, 12:07am
Actually the oil from your hands on the neck is kind of a lot of oil and continuously replenishing and who's to say how long it took to wear the finish off the top. Jody Stecher managed to wear a hole all the way through that Miller of his in only a few years.He had Stan Miller devise a very interesting looking patch. In my case the problem is on going and only going to get worse and that damage did not exist when I got it--I did it! A very thin coat of clear finish doesn't really look like anything happened at all. I'm not trying to hide the damage--no pigments are involved- I just want to slow it down. I just gave it a bit of a harder surface and maybe a little bit of absorption into the softer grain of the spruce. I used a very flat lacquer and since it drys almost immediately it doesn't absorb very deeply ---those white lines between the dark lines on those wide grained Gibson mandolin tops tend to lose material faster than the dark parts. Like I said before, it looked after I did it pretty much exactly as it did before I did it. Short of a blacklight test you would never know. If Tom Tindel is no way responsible for what has happened to the top of his-- Yah, why do it?

Tom Tindel
Feb-08-2015, 12:14am
Actually I'm a guitar picker, not a mandolin picker. I got this from a friend about ten years ago. He wasn't playing it (he has an F5) and needed some money so I helped him out. Just recently got it out and did some research. The serial number is 77936 which I think makes it a late 1924 or early 1925. The tuners were missing so I bought a set of Golden Age tuners from Stew-Mac that fits the hole spacing. I've strung it and tuned it and it sounds great. When I decide what it's worth I'll probably sell it. Who ever ends up with it can decide if they want to fix it or not. I agree with you. I think it gives it character.

pheffernan
Feb-08-2015, 7:28am
The serial number is 77936 which I think makes it a late 1924 or early 1925.

Can you by any chance see a FON stamped on the inside of the neckblock? From what I understand, Gibson built mandolins in batches of forty around this time, and it's conceivable that our instruments could have come from the same litter. Please post some pictures!

Dobe
Feb-08-2015, 12:13pm
Just goes to show ya, most every idea's already been tried. Looks like the shop played around with it long before tone guard.

Tom Tindel
Feb-08-2015, 1:51pm
On the inside of the neck block it says 11222A.130365130366130367130368130369

pheffernan
Feb-08-2015, 2:33pm
On the inside of the neck block it says 11222A.

Mine is 11221! :)

Tom Tindel
Feb-08-2015, 2:47pm
Does that mean they were built one apart? What do you value yours at?

LongBlackVeil
Feb-08-2015, 4:01pm
That's some odd wear.

If your going to sell it I would definitely leave it alone. It won't add to the value to touch it up, better to leave the decision up to the next owner imp

pheffernan
Feb-08-2015, 4:11pm
That's some odd wear.

If your going to sell it I would definitely leave it alone. It won't add to the value to touch it up, better to leave the decision up to the next owner imp

Possibly pinkie planters played particularly powerfully plus pointedly?

danb
Feb-10-2015, 10:56am
That's interesting. Most FONs with an "A" at the end tended to be something unusual or special-ordered.. virzis are one example. Another school of thought was that those were shipped post '24

fatt-dad
Feb-10-2015, 11:52am
My black-face snakhead A-model mandolin also has FON 11222A. Folks tell me it's 1925.

130480

f-d

woodwizard
Feb-21-2015, 3:41pm
That wear on the top side looks really clean and even wearing like it has been sanded off rather than play wear.

lenf12
Feb-22-2015, 10:39am
That wear on the top side looks really clean and even wearing like it has been sanded off rather than play wear.

Agreed, it sure does look intentionally sanded rather than haphazardly "picked" off.

Len B.
Clearwater, FL

ollaimh
Feb-24-2015, 2:57am
i had it cleaned up and polished recently, when I had the top brace fixed. he did light refinish on the back. the inside back. the top is untouched. I think. have to pull it out--it's dry as a bone here so all the mandolins and other instruments are in my humidy room unless I am actually playing them. the top has had shrinkage since I bought it. I think it will be stable now for quite a while

ollaimh
Feb-24-2015, 2:58am
and I am not selling--from my cold dead hands.

BradKlein
Feb-24-2015, 8:37am
and I am not selling--from my cold dead hands.

I don't think it will come to that!

This long, long thread has been interesting - but I don't think that there is any reason to doubt that this typical snakehead had an owner who created a home made 'tone guard', for exactly the reason that the metal ones introduced in the last decade have become so popular. No reason to believe that the Gibson factory or anyone associated with it had anything to do with it. But a fun piece of mandolin folk-luthiery.