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Charles Johnson
Dec-06-2009, 11:24pm
Anyone ever seen a factory blonde top A4? I've seen F4s but not an A4. I'm trying to decide if this is a refin.

http://www.vintagemandolin.com/images/mandolin_blonde_a4small.JPG

sunburst
Dec-06-2009, 11:36pm
Is that a pick guard from an electric?
Do you have it in hand, is there evidence of a refin?

(BTW, I have no idea if Gibson made blonde A4s, You're the expert on those things!)

mrmando
Dec-06-2009, 11:53pm
Looks like a late '13 or early '14. There can't be many A4s with both a fretboard extension and a chinrest-style pickguard clamp. (Looks like an original PG that someone took a bite out of for a pickup.)
I dunno ... if it's a refin it would have to be pretty soon after the thing was originally built, don't you think? Since several other features on the A4 were in transition around this time, maybe this is an experiment in the move from black to red?

Gail Hester
Dec-07-2009, 12:08am
I've never seen a factory blonde top A4 but it seems there are exeptions to just about every Gibson model.

One way to check is to examine with a light and mirror all around inside and the underside of the top for evidence of original darker stain. It seems like there is always some evidence of what the original color was. Another thing is that it is nearly impossible to go from a dark stain to natural without leaving some evedence on the top or around the rosette. Getting rid of the dirty appearence would usually/often require sanding way too thin or sanding away part of the rosette. I have pulled it off but I have to use a hacklinger gauge and there must be enough material and I have to know exactly how much material I can remove.

atetone
Dec-07-2009, 12:35am
The thing that makes me suspicious is the fact that the riser blocks are the same colour as the top rather than being the same as the sides which is the norm.
I have noticed in the past that usually when people refinish these mandolins they usually do it that way to avoid having to stain the top two different colours.
Also it looks like the finish is a little too shiny around the oval hole maybe?

Gail Hester
Dec-07-2009, 1:40am
Good point Tony. The last A4 I re-topped the customer wanted Blonde and it looked like this.

atetone
Dec-07-2009, 1:55am
Wow Gail,,, that new top looks great.
Very nice blonde and the rosette really pops.
Very A2Z -ish.
You have me lusting again!
Everytime you post a picture of your work it happens.
I think I want a Hester A2Z. Aw geez,,,, here I go again!

Darryl Wolfe
Dec-07-2009, 9:50am
Someone sent me some pictures of this instrument and I believe it to be a refin. The sides and back are not dark, they are nearly natural (like the riser blocks mentioned) The peghead also appears to have too much finish on it

Chunky But Funky
Dec-07-2009, 10:03am
Looks like a late '13 or early '14. There can't be many A4s with both a fretboard extension and a chinrest-style pickguard clamp.

I have never really researched mine a whole lot, but why would the fretboard extension and chinrest style clamp be rare? I believe that is the set-up of my 1918 A4. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the "chinrest-style" clamp. The pickguard was cracked when I received it, but I still have the guard and clamp. I can post some pics when I get home.

Doug

mrmando
Dec-07-2009, 11:58am
I have never really researched mine a whole lot, but why would the fretboard extension and chinrest style clamp be rare?
Because Gibson stopped using the chinrest clamps right around the time they introduced the A4 fretboard extension.

danb
Dec-07-2009, 12:02pm
Because Gibson stopped using the chinrest clamps right around the time they introduced the A4 fretboard extension.

The chinrest clamps show up around serial 8000, a4 extensions around 20000

atetone
Dec-07-2009, 12:52pm
I have a 1909 A4 with the chin rest style clamp.
It is serial #9767. Blackface.
No fingerboard extension.

mrmando
Dec-07-2009, 1:11pm
The chinrest clamps show up around serial 8000, a4 extensions around 20000
Right, but when do the bracket clamps start?

Rob Gerety
Dec-07-2009, 4:01pm
I have a 1916 A4 (by serial number) with extension and chinrest pickguard clamp.

mrmando
Dec-07-2009, 4:29pm
Really? Here's a '14 A4, 17513, with no extension but an early bracket clamp:
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/17513_face.jpg

And here's a '12 A4, 12320, with no extension and a chinrest clamp:
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/elderly/90U-3605_detail.jpg

Maybe my problem is that I'm assuming the instrument in Charles' photo has a chinrest clamp when it actually doesn't. From that angle it's hard to tell ... could be a bracket clamp like the above photo. Actually, on Charles' mandolin the top of the pickguard is flush with the 14th fret, which is consistent with this '15 A4 (21384) but not with the earlier two:
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/21384_face.jpg


Anyway, if this instrument was originally black or red, it seems improbable that it could be refinished blonde without some telltale traces somewhere.

Rob Gerety
Dec-07-2009, 9:05pm
Excuse me, I mis-spoke. My 16 A4 has a bracket clamp.

danb
Dec-08-2009, 6:06am
Right, but when do the bracket clamps start?

The first raised guard on any instrument is cello 7287:
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/7287_face.jpg

The first raised guard on an F that I have in the archive is this one, 8827 (note the unusual shape!)
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/8827_top.jpg

The patent date on the clamp is July 4, 1911.. and there are a few "pat applied for" ones as in this example (13902)"

http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/13092_side_clamps.jpg

I've also seen 2 different 3-point F pickguards on ebay with one chin rest clamp (upper!), one patent/teens style clamp (body)

danb
Dec-08-2009, 6:09am
Also interesting- 7850 has an inlaid guard, 7851 has a raised one. Both are A4 models

7850:
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/7850_face.jpg


7851:
http://www.mandolinarchive.com/images/7851_face.jpg

Charles Johnson
Dec-11-2009, 11:21pm
Thanks for all the replies. I should have mentioned I only had a picture, not the instrument in hand. The riser blocks are the giveaway for me - I now am convinced its a refin. I have looked at blonde A, A1, A2Z, A3 and F4 models and all have dark riser blocks.

Its not unheard of for a non-standard color to exist. I own an original black top A3, and Frank Fords site had a white top F2 posted at one time. There was also a white top L3 guitar (these are usually sunburst) on eBay a while back.

Thanks again for the help!
Charles