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danb
Sep-26-2005, 6:30am
Here's a 1902/1903 Gibson Ad.. the instrument pictured is consistent with the very earliest F-models produced. You can see from the shape of the top/neck join that this is a "hollow neck", not dissimilar to #2806 (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_image.pl?5437) discussed here recently

danb
Sep-26-2005, 6:31am
Here's a blow-up of that mandolin from the ad (original size in print is about 3")

danb
Sep-26-2005, 6:33am
Interestingly, the larger peghead scroll appears to have a hole drilled in it in this picture.. Compare also to this one described by George Gruhn (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/articles/orville_f.shtml)

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/articles/orville_f_images/1906_orville_f.jpg

danb
Sep-26-2005, 6:36am
#3196 (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?2952) isn't dissimilar..

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/3196_front.jpg

fatt-dad
Sep-26-2005, 7:19am
It's almost like the "Lumpy" mandolin - ha. (I love the hyperbole of these early ads.)

f-d

JEStanek
Sep-26-2005, 8:08am
"Write for the Argumentative booklet of sound intelligent reasoning chuck full of the reasons WHY..." That's great.

Hey who makes an ad saying "well, we do tolerably good work that you'll like for a bit and then move to another brand." I actually love this kind of barkerism. Step right up!

Reminiscent of Dan Akroyds bit for the Bassomatic or Bag -o- Broken Glass pitch. I think the tone of the ad is representative of Ads from the era.
Jamie

danb
Sep-26-2005, 8:47am
I like how they slip a couple of faux platitudes at the end:

"Low price is soon forgotten, but poor quality, never"

"The careles manufacturer makes the conscientious performer practice overtime"

It's like a little William Blake book, or Poor Richard's Almanac !

markishandsome
Sep-26-2005, 10:33am
From Gruhn's description:
"I know of no performers currently using an instrument handmade by Orville Gibson"

Anyone here own an Orville?

acousticphd
Sep-26-2005, 10:56am
Like seeing reruns of old TV commercials, looking at vintage advertising/propanda is one of the most interesting and entertaining thing about Americana. Parts of it you would need elocution lessons just to read aloud:
"We make mandolins and guitars for the Artist whose high ideal constantly spurs him on in search of the Instrument of resources never before attained".

Imagine the fictitious Gibson shaving cream Ad from 1904: "We make shaving creams and lotions for the discerning gentleman whose high ideal, pride in personal hygiene, and premium on a close, comfortable shaving experience constantly spurs him on in search of the foam of perfection never before attained"

I'm also reminded of another passage from the Gruhn book, which paraphrased says something like, "One might expect the sound of these instruments to represent the standard/pinnacle of mandolin tone. One would likely be disappointed."

PaulD
Sep-26-2005, 11:13am
These ads are great to read... I wonder if folks were really gullible enough to make the ads effective. I guess it's no worse than the gawdawful "Like a rock" or "Quality is job 1" campaigns foisted on us by modern auto manufacturers (typically the ones making substandard products).
Quotes from Gruhn's above:

I'm also reminded of another passage from the Gruhn book, which paraphrased says something like, "One might expect the sound of these instruments to represent the standard/pinnacle of mandolin tone. One would likely be disappointed."

"I know of no performers currently using an instrument handmade by Orville Gibson"
I'm curious about these statements: I'm assuming Gruhn is comparing Orville made instruments to post teens instruments, but does anybody know how these early Gibsons compared to other instruments available at the turn of the last century?

pd

Jim Hilburn
Sep-26-2005, 11:48am
I'm just glad they got over that checkerboard binding thing.

danb
Sep-26-2005, 1:00pm
I'm curious about these statements: I'm assuming Gruhn is comparing Orville made instruments to post teens instruments, but does anybody know how these early Gibsons compared to other instruments available at the turn of the last century?

I believe George is referring to the handful of them that were made by Orville personally.. the ones with Orville on the label are early Gibson factory-produced, the ones with "GUARANTEED" are 1910-1940s..

Orville's personal ones don't have a factory label, but then again I've never seen one in the flesh.. or wood..

BigJoe
Sep-26-2005, 1:59pm
Contrary to what many might believe, I did NOT write that add! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif . It does sound a bit like what I might say though!~

mandoJeremy
Sep-26-2005, 2:02pm
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

danb
Sep-26-2005, 2:05pm
Contrary to what many might believe, I did NOT write that add! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif . It does sound a bit like what I might say though!~
Nobody was fooled Joe, too many multi-syllable words!

* Dan Ducks

Bob Sayers
Sep-26-2005, 8:11pm
"Synonymous with culture, refinement and genius" - that sounds like Big Joe

JEStanek
Sep-26-2005, 9:31pm
See Joe, you've just been following in line with Gibson's philospohy all along. I like that you love your job and your product. If only all of us felt that way about our day jobs! Let me know when you seel the bag of sharp fret ends for Christmas. My kids love those! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
Jamie

Tom Smart
Sep-27-2005, 1:18pm
"Write for the Argumentative booklet of sound intelligent reasoning chuck full of the reasons WHY..." That's great.
Check the attached file for some excerpts transcribed from Gibson's "Argumentative Booklet" (i.e. their catalog) circa mid 'teens. Warning: hip waders aren't enough; you'll want a full diving suit.

JEStanek
Sep-27-2005, 1:35pm
Tom, Thanks! #W O W! #Even after I reduced the font to 10 Point it was still 11 Pages. #E L E V E N. #Not Ten, but that much more! Eleven.

I'm just scanning through and can't get the smile off my face. #This is the best, most funny stuff. #I keep imagining different voices in my head reading these passages, old preacher, barker, ridiculous outrageous accented voices.

I thought I was verbose! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

Jamie

danb
Sep-27-2005, 1:47pm
Tom, which catalog is that from? Great text! Big Joe, was this your Grandpa? (the text credits "Large Joseph")

Arto
Sep-27-2005, 2:21pm
"I'm curious about these statements: I'm assuming Gruhn is comparing Orville made instruments to post teens instruments, but does anybody know how these early Gibsons compared to other instruments available at the turn of the last century?"

I suppose itīs not possible to compare Orville Gibsonīs works to other carved-top mandolins, as there were not any other at that time? (flat top - flat back mandolins had been around for a long time, in addition to bowlbacks).

As to bowlbacks, the main "enemy" of Gibsonīs advertisement campaign: high level bowlbacks (like Vinaccia, Calace, and early Emberghers) are still sought out as much as anything on the bowlback market, with a possible exception of a bit later Emberghers. I would at any time prefer to own a high-class bowback of that era to an Orville Gibson, that has a collectorīs, but not so much musicianīs value. Listen to an Orville on Grismanīs Tone Poems I album to understand why. The man made great achievement in opening the road with his concept, but the real hights were reached during next "generation".

Arto

danb
Sep-27-2005, 2:49pm
Actually George is talking specifically about Orville's hand-made creations, not the ones whose labels bear his face..

Here's my understanding of the very early history of Orville & the Gibson company:

From 1894 (patent date) to around 1902, Orville built several instruments by hand, himself. Orville's design was to attach tops & backs together first like two halves of a clamshell, refined in his patent to have sides carved from a single block. Many spaces (including the neck/body join) were left hollow. Orville felt that leaving the wood in its natural shape & position would most assist the resonance of the instrument (curious side-note: Rigel now has carved sides that are more akin to Orville's first mandolins than any of their contemporaries!). Now George is quite rightly pointing out that he knows of no professional players who would take a Hand-made Orville instrument as a primary player.. they are quite interesting, but unrefined. I've never played an instrument made by Orville himself, they are rare as rocking horse droppings!

Late in 1902 Orville's patent was sold to some investors who formed the company that bore his name. They made roughly 500 instruments (mandolins, guitars, mandolas, etc) using the design of 3-piece bodies.. one for the back, one for the top (like 2 bits of a clamshell) and one carved piece (like a toilet seat cover) for the sides (including the neck heel!). These instruments feel *very* fragile. I've only tried 4 from this period.. 2 a-style mandolins, an F, and a mandola..

I assume this design wasn't that great for production (and few survive intact to this day). A friend has a mandola of this design, it's the only one I've ever seen. The few other hollow-neck models I have played sounded very "Brittle" in tone, and felt eggshell delicate.

Right around serial 3200 (we assume the first serial number on a Gibson instrument was 2500!), they started bending the sides, using a recurve carving design for the tops. My 3pt f2 #3263 is currently the earliest known serial of a Gibson mandolin constructed with blocks & having a recurved top. A friend has 3264, an A4 with the same layout (and also curiously omitting the inlaid pickguard!). The "blocks" are found at the neck/body joint (dovetailing the neck), one at the tailpiece, and one at each point and the scroll for F models. The shape of the top changes slightly too- the one pictured in the ad here slopes downward and flattens at the sides, the new design has that flattened "U"-shaped recurve visible there in profile.

From this point, the changes were evolutionary.. remove one of the body points, modify the arching, but retain the bent sides, carved top & back, and blocks at neck joint and tailpiece for stability. The A & F models from roughly 1903-1921 follow this deisign quite closely with refinements in the execution (the peghead scrolls on my mandolin are comparatively crude, the scroll carving not as nice as later 3-pointers or teens 2-point Fs!).

Round about late 1921, the market was dropping a bit.. the peak late teens years for mandolin sales were behind. Adjustible bridges, brown sunburst finishes, truss rods, virzis, f-holes, snakeheads.. all these came with the arrival of Lloyd Loar as the chief "Acoustical Engineer". Hard to say exactly where Lloyd's talents were.. i'm hoping to ask Roger a lot of these questions at Loar fest.. but he signed some nice stuff, and under his time at Gibson many fantastic refinements arrived.

Around 1925, lacquer replaced the time-consuming hand-rubbed varnish finishes on all instruments. Shapes, colors, and some layouts changed. Mysteriously snakeheads vanished, replaced by the previous paddle-shaped pegheads.

Very few mandolins were made 1925-1945 compared with the previous years. The real boom for Gibson was around 1916-1918, when HUGE volumes of instruments were made. Some instruments from this range suffer from weaker tops, though surprisingly they sound fantastic as a rule compared with other time ranges.

The 1922 snakeheads & truss rod F4s are the peak of perfection of the oval-holed instruments in my opinion. The Loars need no introduction, they are also amazing. Post-Loar instruments (1925-1945) vary considerably, but as a rule are safer bets than ones from the early 00s or teens.

Personally, I'm quite fond of the 3-point F sound.. it's more trebly and attack-ish, but has quite a bit of subtlety to it. Mine is a bit quirky compared to others, mahogany-backed (we think) as well.

Anyway, there's a vague overview. Corrections welcomed..

Tom Smart
Sep-27-2005, 3:22pm
Tom, which catalog is that from?
Dan, the catalog is dated 1917. It belongs to a friend, and I don't have access to it anymore.

I only transcribed the wackiest parts of the text (I had my reasons, and maybe a little too much time on my hands). There's a lot more, including descriptions and illustrations of all their mandolin, guitar and harp-guitar models, information about how to start a mandolin club and become a distributor, many great photos of mandolin orchestras, endorsements from professional players, etc., etc.

TS