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Wolfbane Stevens
Aug-06-2008, 10:57am
Pretty cool! Didn't know if this should go in the vintage section (NFI);

<a href="http://cgi.ebay.com/1916-Gibson-A4-custom-12-string-mandolin_W0QQitemZ320283586667QQihZ011QQcategoryZ1 0179QQss
PageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem" target="_blank">http://cgi.ebay.com/1916-Gi....iewItem</a>

MikeEdgerton
Aug-06-2008, 11:08am
That's pretty unusual.

Tom C
Aug-06-2008, 12:35pm
Wow. Look at all those Handels.

sgarrity
Aug-06-2008, 1:23pm
Just when you think you've seen them all.....

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2008, 1:27pm
That must have been the same one I saw many years ago at We Buy Guitars in New York. Very odd and rare and frankly, very silly. I can never figure out why some one wants to play a 12 string mandolin unless you play chords and even then i am sure that it is difficult. Lots of them out there tho.

Come to think of it, I may have seen another similar to this or it could have been this one.

thunderfingers
Aug-06-2008, 1:38pm
I wonder why this mando has the truss rod instaled. Must have been done after 1921. The handel tuners dates it pre 1918. Thats a lot of strings to keep in tune. Looks great!!!!!!!!!!!

Darryl Wolfe
Aug-06-2008, 2:42pm
That's a good question and it may negate what I posted in the vintage section about the logo script on this. I have only seen that particular logo style on 1925 model mandos. Everything else about the mando appear period correct though

MikeEdgerton
Aug-06-2008, 3:03pm
That's asuming there's a truss rod under that cover. This is a curious instrument.

thunderfingers
Aug-06-2008, 3:05pm
The ser number puts it around 1916-17, I wonder if it was sent back to gibson for the truss rod in the 20s. Thats a lot of strings pulling on this mandos neck

Jim Garber
Aug-06-2008, 4:13pm
Late breaking news: looks like Harry West knew this guy Al Bluhm:


Answer from Harry West - Harry & Jeanie West - Fine Stringed Musical Instruments:
Back in the 1940s and playing a 1910 Gibson F-4 mandolin, I got to meet an ex-vaudeville performer by the name of Al Bluhm. We started performing together as a team. Al told me about his brother Fred nicknamed "Fritz" who had purchased a moderately priced fiddle and after having Mr. Virzi install his "tone producer" found the instrument sounded so fabulous that he sold it for several times the price he had originally paid for it.

From Vintage Dealer's Round Table on Mandozine (http://www.mandozine.com/resources/VDRT/index.php)

markishandsome
Aug-06-2008, 7:00pm
That's awesome! Love those oddballs!

allenhopkins
Aug-06-2008, 11:44pm
I speculated in the Vintage forum that this is a mid-'20's conversion of a 'teens A-4, from eight to twelve strings, which might account for a retrofitted truss rod and the '20's logo on the extended headstock. #Where Gibson dug up the four extra Handels is another question; you can see that the four tuners closest to the nut, are "half strips" of the pre-WWI tuners. #Perhaps cannibalized from an unrepairable instrument, or maybe there were a few sets still lurking at the G factory. #In any case, a true rara avis.

John Rosett
Aug-07-2008, 9:48am
I once saw and played a 12-string Givens mandolin that was strung up like that A4. It was fun to tune the middle string of each course to a major 3rd ala Jimmy Bryant.

Jim Garber
Aug-07-2008, 12:41pm
I just heard from Harry West and he gave me permission to post this:

I knew Al Bluhm back in the 1940's and I recall his custom-made Gibson A-4 twelve string mandolin. Al was active before amplification was available and utilized a custom made mandolin back then, featuring 12 strings in order to obtain more volume when playing in public. I recall he also had a triple strung 18 string guitar he had custom built for the same reason and purpose. It has been sixty years or more since I saw and handled these instruments and since they were in excellent condition back then, I cannot say how playable they would be at this time .

wannabethile
Aug-07-2008, 1:04pm
thats really amazing... i had no idea that something like that existed!! not from gibson, anyways...

Darryl Wolfe
Aug-07-2008, 1:16pm
I think I like allenhopkins explanation of things. #The peghead pictures have the appearance of mid 20's soft lacquer finish (but we can't be sure)

Edit/update--yep, lacquer checks below the tuners

Edit update again, the added 4 tuners don't match the upper 8, note the ends of the button shaft where they exit the little saddle blocks

Edit again, the string posts are flat on top for the added 4 and round on top for the other 8

Martin Jonas
Aug-08-2008, 3:50am
If it's a conversion, I wonder whether they rebraced it at the same time. Considering that top sinkage is a common problem in 8-string Gibson A models, I would have thought increasing the string tension by 50% is a bad idea. I don't see any top sinkage on this one, but there seems to be a shim under the bridge.

Martin

clem
Aug-08-2008, 11:20am
Remarkably beautiful and unusual. I bet it sounds amazing. brings new meaning to "double stops."

Probably will get a bit crazy bid wise (if early activity is any indicator)...but its tempting to me. There will most likely never be another at ANY jam you go to.

mrmando
Aug-08-2008, 11:40am
If it's a conversion, I wonder whether they rebraced it at the same time. Considering that top sinkage is a common problem in 8-string Gibson A models, I would have thought increasing the string tension by 50% is a bad idea.
Description does say that the top has been worked on.

Zigeuner
Aug-08-2008, 12:28pm
I just heard from Harry West and he gave me permission to post this:

I knew Al Bluhm back in the 1940's and I recall his custom-made Gibson A-4 twelve string mandolin. # Al was active before amplification was available and utilized a custom made mandolin back then, featuring 12 strings in order to obtain more volume when playing in public. # I recall he also had a triple strung 18 string guitar he had custom built for the same reason and purpose. # It has been sixty years or more since I saw and handled these instruments and since they were in excellent condition back then, I cannot say how playable they would be at this time . #
For a time,. John Denver played on a 18 String Guitar. I saw him do so at a Folk Music Showplace called Ledbatters' in Los Angeles around 1964. The place was owned by Randy Sparks who promoted Denver in the early 60's and also the New Christy Minstrels.

The guitar was a Gibson B-45-12 with a custom steel neck and, of course, a tailpiece to hold the tension. It was tuned very low, probably around C. Sparks still has the guitar.

The 12 string mandolin is rather close in concept to the 10-string Martin Tiples that used to be available. I'd bet that there weren't very many of them and that they were no doubt a customer-requested custom instrument. They're not everybody's cup of tea, for sure.

mjp179
Aug-10-2008, 9:59am
Beside this 12 string and the 10 string (in the Mandolin Archive),
what other highly usual Gibson Mandolins are out there?

1912 Gibson F4-custom 10 string Mandolin #11606
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?3693

markishandsome
Aug-10-2008, 1:03pm
Lil Pup (http://www.vintageinstruments.com/museum/lilpupfulpage.html)
Loar's personal Mando-Viola (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?65)
Loar also had a 10-string H2

Then there's all the prototypes of instruments we wouldn't consider unusual today but were unique at the time like the Loar A5, Jethro's two-point, etc.

Then there's Orville Gibson's instruments which are all pretty much one-of-a-kind and some pretty odd, like
this lyre. (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?2580)