View Full Version : Gibson a4

Brad Weiss
Apr-03-2008, 10:03pm
MAS, the cruel mistress, strikes again. #I think I got a really good deal on this A4 that (if I'm reading the very faint serial number correctly) dates to 1920. All original, from what I can tell (but what do I know), with tuning machines that are holding well, no cracks, no dings, some surface scratches, that's it. #Even an original case in fine shape. The pickguard clamp has degraded a hair, but it still holds, and there's no buzzing or rattling whatsoever, #Beautiful headstock and inlay. #The neck is ever so slightly less than dead straight, so the action is a tad high (5/64" at the 12th fret), but it's quite playable. #Takes a bit of getting used to a wider neck, but nothing impossible, or even challenging. #Very, very nice, complex tone- and loud! I'm going to put some slightly lighter strings on it (jazzmando's at first, maybe TI mittels eventually), and the action will be a breeze. #A youtube clip will follow soon.

Whaddya think? (Forgive the lousy pics...)

Brad Weiss
Apr-03-2008, 10:05pm
Better headstock shot, and the whole family. No scroll envy here (we don't need no stinkin' straphangers!)

Dan Voight
Apr-03-2008, 11:45pm
Nice Brad. It never hurts to have a classic around.

Martin Jonas
Apr-04-2008, 5:52am
Very nice! Regarding strings, I find the newish J73 set by d'Addario a great way to go for old Gibsons if you want a lighter gauge than J74. I'm not too fond of flatwounds, but of course there are many many people who really like them on their old Gibson A.


Apr-04-2008, 9:55am
Very nice. I look forward to hearing a clip.

Mark Walker
Apr-04-2008, 10:04am
Not too shabby! I don't think many of us would mind stumbling on a vintage Gibson! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Brad Weiss
Apr-04-2008, 11:22am
Here you go. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R-LqUJdhOQ)
A video comparing the A4 to my Phoenix and Mowry. Comments welcome (the A4 is out of tune, my bad, but not unlistenable...)

David Horovitz
Apr-04-2008, 11:38am
Nice Brad. I think the Mowry and Phoenix sound very similar, both with dry, clean tone. The Gibson has a fatter, tubbier sound. It seems to have more character, which is what I would expect from a nearly 90 year old classic Gibson. I think the A4 will definitely suit your classic jazz and choro playing. How about some jug-band blues too!?!?

Thanks for the A-B-C comparison.

first string
Apr-04-2008, 11:49am
Thanks for the video. I'm always looking for a good oval vs f hole comparison. A very good demonstration of the differences if you ask me. I've got to say I liked the tone of the A4 the best (I'm tending towards ovals in general these days) except on the E string where it doesn't seem to have quite as much depth as the Mowry and the Phoenix. Hard to beat that lovely sustain though... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Michael Wolf
Apr-04-2008, 1:38pm
Hello Brad,

thanks very much for this. I thinking about the Phoenix Neoclassical from time to time. That's one Mando I'd like to try one day, but the chance to do so is zero here in Germany. The video is especially interesting for me, since I'm also playing such an A4. I have to say that all in all I like the A4 best in your video. To my ear the Mowry seems to be drier in Tone and the Phoenix somewhat rounder and warmer. But still much drier than the Gibson. I'm biased, because I love my A4 these days and prefer it to my Flatirons. For Choro and Irish, what I do most, it's so lovely.
Even our Clarinett player tries to play calmer to hear that finer Mandolin sound better, since I changed from the f-hole to the A4. And he's someone who has nothing to do with Mandolins, so he's not biased.
I remember that you couldn't really warm up to Oval holes a while ago, Brad. Did the A4 change your mind?

Brad Weiss
Apr-04-2008, 2:09pm
I remember that you couldn't really warm up to Oval holes a while ago, Brad. Did the A4 change your mind?
Hmm, I don't remember feeling I couldn't warm up to an oval hole sound - I do think that I'm looking for a clean, but warm sound for most of my jazz stuff. #The Phoenix is a really complex tone, and the Mowry has really evolved into a beautiful tone, with a good deal of crispness -spank! #The Gibson is it's own thing, nothing at all like the others. I have yet to play it with other musicians (I got it about 10 hours ago!!!), but I'm looking forward to it! I think I went for the Gibson out of sheer indulgence; I have f-holed mandolins I love (the Phoenix is still the sound I am usually drawn to), and I'm a mando enthusiast, so I SHOULD have a vintage piece, right? #I think the aesthetics of the A4 are wonderful (and the Mowry is the most beautiful mandolin I've ever seen! No bias there- I designed it and Andrew built it!!). It's nice to have choices....

Thanks for the nice thoughts! I love your choro!

Michael Wolf
Apr-04-2008, 4:37pm
[quote=BradW,April 04 2008, 15:09]Hmm, I don't remember feeling I couldn't warm up to an oval hole sound

Oh sorry, I remembered a report from you, when you visited a store that had old Gibsons and your conclusion sounded a bit like this. This was my misinterpretation.

I'm glad you like our Choro. It's quite old now. Time for something new.

I'm looking forward some Choros from you recorded with the A4.
I bought my A4, because it came along (got it from a friend) and because its nice to have such a nice old thing. I wasn't extremely impressed with the sound first. But later I put some heavier strings on and then it took over somehow.

david blair
Apr-05-2008, 4:35am
My first mandolin was an A4. It was beautiful but needed lots of work. Congratulations to you!
Mine was the same reddish color, it had inlaid Handel tuners, and a different pick guard made to look like shell but likely plastic. The guard was broken and removed. I may have that bracket somewhere.

Also, as a side note, check out "Patrick Will". He has recorded several discs of original tunes with flute on some tracks. String Theory, his CD, sounds very much like Django and Stephan. He still plays the same A4 which cost $300. once upon a time. THE SOUND is incredible!

Apr-05-2008, 5:52am
Very nice Brad. #It really showed the differences in sound between them and they're all unique and beautiful instruments. #The A4 is similar in sound to my A1. #I also love the sound and looks of the Mowry. #You have a great collection and you do it justice.:)

Michael Wolf
Apr-05-2008, 6:56am
Hello David,

do you possibly mean Will Patton?

Michael Cameron
May-01-2008, 11:32am
I liked the sound of the Phoenix over the other two mandos. Tone being a very subjective sorta thing... I would have thought the NeoClassical would have a quieter sound(whutdoIknow?) I've been interested in a Phoenix for a good long while;thanks for the viddy. I can't get used to the necks on the old Gibson ovals.
My 2 cents.

Lane Pryce
May-02-2008, 8:02am
Brad thanks for the video comparison. Was the Gibson a regular player with the previous owner? I really enjoy a good oval hole tone ------ very nice. Lp

Brad Weiss
May-02-2008, 8:13am
Brad thanks for the video comparison. Was the Gibson a regular player with the previous owner? Lp
That's my impression #- it's in fine shape, but has clearly not be kept in a closet. #I don't know the prior owner(s), as I acquired the A4 from that well-know auction site.