View Full Version : 1938 Gibson H0 Mandola

Sep-15-2010, 9:31am
I am thinking about purchasing a 1938 Gibson H0 Mandola. I have had a Gibson A0 in the past. I was inquiring the difference between the width and length of the neck. I found the A0 a bit to chunky. Also is there a longer scale, more frets available before neck attaches to body. Can the mandola be tuned to standard mandolin tuning with the proper strings. Thanks, Bruce.

Sep-15-2010, 3:06pm
H scale is 400mm.. a mandola is the cousin of the Viola, so tuning is CGDA. .
the pitch of the GDA are the same as a mandolin, C lower , E is gone.

I have a Non--Gibson Mandola in H scale length the width is comfortably wider..
the C does need a bit more space, bigger diameter string..

I'm using GHS PF285 a P-bronze 12,22,32,44.. fairly light . longer scale makes the C ring nicely
use a much fatter string on my shorter mandolin scale 4 string electric conversion.

Bill Snyder
Sep-16-2010, 1:24pm
I don't think there is any way that you could ever get an E string (no matter the gauge) on that scale length. They would break long before you got them up to pitch.

Sep-16-2010, 1:40pm
Longer scale doesn't necessarily mean more frets to the body, either, since there is more space between the frets and the body is bigger. I just looked at the '38 H0 in the Classifieds ... there are only 10 frets to the body!

I would never recommend that anyone try to set up a vintage Gibson mandola as a mandolin. If you want a mandolin, buy a mandolin.

Red Henry
Sep-17-2010, 4:47pm
A friend of mine in Florida kept an H-1 strung and tuned as a mandolin for many years, without apparent adverse effects on the instrument. Might have been a bit more playable with a shorter scale, though!

(And is a late-30s H-0 as robustly built as a 'teens H-1?)


Sep-17-2010, 5:50pm
I don't think there is any way that you could ever get an E string (no matter the gauge) on that scale length. They would break long before you got them up to pitch.

A while back, Roger Landes had posted a comment on one of these forums about a long-scale mandolin that Keith Newell had built for him. The scale on that instrument was actually almost identical to the scale of the old GIbson mandolas. You'd need to use lighter guage strings, of course, but you could relativley easily figure out appropriate guages using one of the string tension calculators. It might be pretty interesting to hear what the mandola would sound like sturng and tuned that ways.

Sep-27-2010, 3:49pm
Hello guys
I am the owner of that 38 H0, and I see no problem with it taking Mandolin lite gauges
My Vega 307 is slightly less, more around 15" and its fine with Mando or Mandola strings

I just took the 4 string CGDA tuning off the Gibson and went back to 8... and added new pics to the webpage, and Im still looking to sell or trade it since I play the Vega Cylinderback more often

Dec-25-2017, 11:36am
Bruce, a late comment for this thread: I love my 1938 H-0 mandola. It was in unplayable condition when I bought it in 1987 ($350) and I had Marty Lanham restore it and Charlie Derrington fabricate a rosewood bridge top for it (ebony base retained.) It is not as loud as a teens or 20's oval hole, but it is very easy to play and with F-holes, the tone is warm and quite pleasing to the ears. I used this instrument in the Huntsville Mandolin Orchestra (only mandola in the band for a while) and was able to hold my own. As for mandolin tuning, The tension on the strings would be problematic, I would think.