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View Full Version : Will I Notice A Difference? Gibson 1917 vs 1922-34



DCHammers
Apr-10-2021, 4:34pm
Gibson gurus, I decided late last winter to use the Great Pause to learn mandolin. I discovered Peghead Nation and after doing the basic course went to Marla Fibish's class. (Both classes excellent, by the way.) I just loved the sound of Ms. Fibish's Gibson A, that I believe is a '22 or '23. Couldn't find any of those at the time and ended up with a lovely 1917 A. I also found a used Collings MT. I love the sound from both of them and bounce back and forth. I have found the Collings neck to be much more playable and find that my muscle memory doesn't transfer from one mandolin to the other very well.

So, here are my questions. Is the neck of a Gibson A '22-'24 going to be more like a modern mandolin than the '17? Is the sound of a '22-'24 going to differ much from a '17? Is there much difference in sound between A, A2, A2Z and A4 of those years? From listening to YouTube the A2Zs seem much brighter, more modern and don't seem to have the "tubby" sound of the A and A2. A4 seems in between those two extremes. I understand there will be individual differences, but does my observation correspond to the ears of those with much more hands-on experience.

It would be one thing if I could go to one store and sit and play, but none of the on-line instruments are even remotely close for me. I also don't want to waste various sellers' time and money with willy-nilly trial orders.

Finally, any thoughts "for" or "against" this A2 and its price?

https://reverb.com/item/20079049-gibson-a-2-1923-sheriton-brown

Thanks for sharing group wisdom and experience!

pheffernan
Apr-10-2021, 9:57pm
So, here are my questions.

So, here are my answers:


Is the neck of a Gibson A '22-'24 going to be more like a modern mandolin than the '17?

The introduction of the truss rod in that era allowed for more narrow “modern” neck profiles.


Is the sound of a '22-'24 going to differ much from a '17?

I have read from luthiers I’d trust to know that graduations of that era differ from the earlier ovals, leading to voices that are more balanced and less bottom heavy.


Is there much difference in sound between A, A2, A2Z and A4 of those years?

Generally, the differences are going to be between the eras, or between individual instruments, rather than between models within an era.


From listening to YouTube the A2Zs seem much brighter, more modern and don't seem to have the "tubby" sound of the A and A2. A4 seems in between those two extremes. I understand there will be individual differences, but does my observation correspond to the ears of those with much more hands-on experience.

As the A2-z’s were only produced between 1923-1925, my guess is that you’re hearing the era there, and I’d wonder if the other videos differed by their vintage rather than their model.


Finally, any thoughts "for" or "against" this A2 and its price?

https://reverb.com/item/20079049-gibson-a-2-1923-sheriton-brown


Those sheraton brown 1923 A2’s are lifetime instruments — just ask JeffD — so my only concerns would be price for condition. I’m not entirely sure about the checking on the back and would wonder whether it had been refinished or oversprayed, which would lower its value.

rcc56
Apr-11-2021, 3:54am
I've always thought that on the average, the teens mandolins are a bit more responsive, as long as you find a good one. Others may not agree with me.

Generally speaking, snakeheads have smaller necks.

I wouldn't evaluate an instrument's tone from a youtube recording. Recordings can be very misleading, and most computer speakers and amplifiers don't have a very good frequency response.

The checking on the back of the Reverb A-2 is not characteristic of what I expect to see on a varnished Gibson from the early 1920's. Although it is not possible to judge a finish very accurately from pictures, I would say that it is quite likely that the back has been oversprayed with lacquer.

If I was going to pay $3750 for a brown snakehead A-2, I would want it to squeaky clean, with no doubt about the originality of the finish. If it were me, I would look for another one.
Also, bear in mind that for $3750, you can find a nice F-2. And often, teens F models will have a smaller neck than A's from the same period.

I've always thought that the best reasons for buying a snakehead are for those who simply prefer the look, and are more comfortable with smaller necks. I do not personally believe that they are better mandolins. Also, Gibsons from both periods can vary considerably in tone quality, power, and responsiveness.

JeffD
Apr-11-2021, 10:11am
Is there much difference in sound between A, A2, A2Z and A4 of those years? From listening to YouTube the A2Zs seem much brighter, more modern and don't seem to have the "tubby" sound of the A and A2. A4 seems in between those two extremes.

My observation is that how the instrument has been kept for the last 98 years seems to have as great if not greater impact on the sound than the differences the models had 98 years ago. Has it been in a case under a bed away from extremes of temperature and humidity for 98 years, or an open attic of a third floor house, on a music stand? Have the strings been with some tension all that time, or floppy or off, so the wood spent 98 years without any tension. What repairs has it undergone. What trauma has it endured. Were the mice that moved into the case gentle with the instrument. Has it been well played for most of those 98 years, with strings up to tension? Did a parrot pick at the sound holes? All this stuff matters I think.

Others may disagree, but I would think that the specific model is less important than the specific instrument.

mandroid
Apr-11-2021, 12:47pm
I think '22 saw the introduction of the truss rod .. starting at the top A/F4 ..

My A4 has but the brown A 0 does not.

rcc56
Apr-11-2021, 2:11pm
As for how much the model number influences the tone, from my experience the answer is "not much, if at all."
I've had my hands on a lot of 'teens models, but fewer from the '20's. I've played great and poor mandolins of every model from the 'teens. My personal experience with snakeheads is that the two mandolins which impressed me the most were an A-4 and a black plain A.

pops1
Apr-11-2021, 2:27pm
I think '22 saw the introduction of the truss rod .. starting at the top A/F4 ..

My A4 has but the brown A 0 does not.

Late '21 and '22 had all the Loar era improvements except the thinner necks and snakehead headstock. My '22 A2 has a paddle head, truss rod, adjustable bridge, and sounds great. I had an earlier A that had the tubby sound and I was not a fan of that. This is not tubby, simply deep, warm, and loud enough to be heard in a fairly big jam.

j. condino
Apr-15-2021, 3:55pm
Snakehead A-jrs :
- small necks, Loar era dimensions, & adjustable truss rods, no binding, no fluff, no BS....pound for pound and dollar for dollar my favorite mandolin on the vintage market!

MandoMan1
Apr-15-2021, 7:31pm
Snakehead A-jrs :
- small necks, Loar era dimensions, & adjustable truss rods, no binding, no fluff, no BS....pound for pound and dollar for dollar my favorite mandolin on the vintage market!

I agree. I just bought a 1924 Snakehead A-Jr a couple weeks ago for a great price. It plays and sounds great.

pheffernan
Apr-15-2021, 8:47pm
Snakehead A-jrs :
- small necks, Loar era dimensions, & adjustable truss rods, no binding, no fluff, no BS....pound for pound and dollar for dollar my favorite mandolin on the vintage market!

Did the Juniors ever have adjustable truss rods? I was under the impression that they didn’t, even in the Loar era.

MandoMan1
Apr-15-2021, 9:47pm
Snakehead A-jrs :
- small necks, Loar era dimensions, & adjustable truss rods, no binding, no fluff, no BS....pound for pound and dollar for dollar my favorite mandolin on the vintage market!


Did the Juniors ever have adjustable truss rods? I was under the impression that they didn’t, even in the Loar era.

No truss rod.

mandroid
Apr-18-2021, 12:19pm
I think '22 saw the introduction of the truss rod .. starting at the top A/F4 ..

My A4 has but the brown A 0, also from '22, does not.



And the neck profile is unchanged .. the truss rod cover on the A4 is nickel plated
like the tail piece ,

so they were featuring it's addition .. later, it seems the TRC was black
to be less obvious..

I'll take your word for later their changing the neck profile , later ..

:popcorn:

pops1
Apr-18-2021, 4:48pm
My A2 '22 has the nickel truss rod cover also,I think it was more the year than the model #.