View Full Version : 1924 Snakehead Ajr question

Jul-10-2006, 4:45pm
I recently acquired a an AJr which had been stripped, and without hardware. Structurally, it is in excellent shape, and is being restoed as I write this, but I have one question for the experts. The neck of this mandolin, when viewed from the front/top is off center! Probably about an 1/8th of an inch more on the treble side of the upper bout. It appears to be intact, and more than likely has been like this since its creation at Gibson. Was this common? And has anyone come across this?

Jul-12-2006, 6:16am
Ive seemed to have answered my own question. Found this response from Charlie Derrington on the Mandozine website:
Q - In his Loar F-5 notes, Darryl Wolfe points out .....

"Most builders do not recognize that the neck is not square to the centerline of the instrument, nor is it square to the plane of the rim set. The neck is installed left of center toward the scroll. It is then cocked at an angle toward the tailpiece that causes the centerline of the neck to cross the bridge area mid-way between the f-holes. This angularity also has a bearing on placement of the f-holes. In order for the bridge/f-hole relationship to look right, one f-hole must be placed slightly lower on the body. Additionally, the neck is installed in a "twisted" manner that results in the fingerboard being lower on the treble side. This is why Loar bridges are thinner on the treble side."

I wonder if you could shed some light on the degree to which you embraced this off-center / tilted feature on the present Master Models and also your feelings on it being an intentional design feature of the Original Loars. I've heard a few folks comment on the off center neck of the present Master Models thinking it was fudged at the factory rather than being intentional replication of the originals.

A - This off-center design aspect of the Loars was intentional. (it is actually not very much off-center it just appears that way because of the scroll design) and the necks do tilt towards the tailpiece to help allay this feature. They are also higher on the bass side as Darryl says. In other words, he is exactly correct. I'll disagree with him on the bass f-hole being lower. I say the treble f-hole is higher and believe it was to alleviate the tilting, visual aspect of the bridge to compensate for correct intonation.

Yes, we do the same on the Master Models, and it is deliberate.

This seems to be about F mandolins, does anyone know if this build feature was also done on the lower end of the line? thanks

Paul Hostetter
Jul-23-2006, 7:16pm
Not intentionally. Gibson was slamming mandolins together and hustling them out the door as fast as they could back then, and all sorts of anomalies show up. It was a robust design which is why so many are still in action today.

The off-center neck (it was on 3-point F's way before Lloyd Loar) were one thing, and the A's were another.


One of the best Gibson A's I have ever played is an A-Jr. Birdseye back, blah birch sides, fierce bearclaw top. Unfortunately its owner won't let me tart it up to look as good as it sounds.

Jul-24-2006, 12:24pm
I've read something about this feature before but don't recall ever hearing a reason WHY gibson would do this. If it were truly a carefully thought out design feature that was supposed to sound better or be structurally better, I think the old literature from Gibson would advertise it more. That stuff proclaims the 12-hook tailpiece to be an innovation, so why not this?

Jul-24-2006, 1:48pm
Thanks for the information. I had hoped that it was a design feature rather than a "mistake", and now for the follow up questions. Does this "flaw" affect playability? And, what is the best course of action to compensate for "it"? ie. shim tailpiece, off-set tailpiece, etc.

Darryl Wolfe
Jul-24-2006, 2:22pm
1924 F-4

Paul Hostetter
Jul-24-2006, 4:33pm
So Darryl, what is dis? An A or F neck? What vintage? It's off center but not *that* off center. I have a salvage Selmer tenor neck that's really no better. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Darryl Wolfe
Jul-25-2006, 11:10am
1924 F-4

Sep-17-2006, 6:50am
I just received my 1924 Snakehead AJr, it is completed, and I must say, absolutely incredible. This thing has great sustain to it, and also has that "thunky", "woody" Gibson "A" sound. Bill Bonanzinga did an incredible job on this thing. The finish is semi-gloss, with a slight amber burst on front/back. He did this to even out the blotchiness of the old AJrs wood. Even added a nice "the gibson" to the headstock. Radiused fretboard, large frets, allen tailpiece, Brekke bridge and bone nut (cut wider to give more room) all even out the package. Id post pics if I could but Im not sure quite how, any guidance?

Sep-30-2006, 8:15pm
Just posted pics in the Picture section if anyones interested