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View Full Version : Gibson 'O' mandocello? Really?



Kerry Krishna
Mar-05-2011, 2:50pm
Just wondering if someone can give me some info on these rarities. How many were made, price now for one in good shape...

hank
Mar-05-2011, 3:10pm
Would it look like this 1913 Gibson Style O Guitar at Mass Street Music? I wonder if Orville was also the designer of the first cutout guitar body style.
69268

MandoSquirrel
Mar-05-2011, 6:39pm
O's were guitars. Cellos were K's.

Kerry Krishna
Mar-06-2011, 1:08am
I have a friend who has an 1917 or 1916 'O' body mandocello Squirrel, that's why I was asking.

allenhopkins
Mar-06-2011, 1:38am
I have a friend who has an 1917 or 1916 'O' body mandocello Squirrel, that's why I was asking.

Never seen one. Custom order, or a retrofit? There were eight-string guitars made (Martin's 1930 "Octa-Chorda" was a one-of example), but as far as I know, the "K" series was Gibson mandocello line. The K-4 did have a scrolled body, but not the same proportions as the O guitar.

Puzzle, how to price what may be a unique instrument.

mrmando
Mar-06-2011, 1:43am
Would love to see a photo of it. AFAIK there is no such thing as a production-model O cello, so if your friend has one, it was either a custom job or a modification. Or it could be a K4 ... I've known people to confuse K4s with O guitars.

Collectors won't want it unless there is ironclad proof that it is a shop custom job that left the building in Kalamazoo as a mandocello. (In the absence of proof, a statement to that effect by George Gruhn would probably suffice.) In that case, it would be a rarity, like "Li'l Pup" or the only known early Gibson octave mandolin, and potentially worth significant coin, and ought best to be consigned to someone like the aforementioned Mr. Gruhn. In the more likely event that it's a Frankencello--even if Gibson did the work at some later date--then it would be worth less than either a Style O or a K1 in original condition, and the exact value would depend on the tone, playability, and quality of the retrofit work. I'm not sure what the vintage guides are saying about the Style O these days; here is one (http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/103571) that sold for $3,850 last year, but the one at Mass Street Music (http://www.massstreetmusic.com/store/show_item/2505-Gibson-1913-Style-O) is $7,850. A K1 can be as much as $2.5–3K. I dunno ... you do the math.

Somewhere in Montana there's a Loar-period snakehead mandolin that was retopped and decked out as an EM150 at the Gibson factory back in the '50s. It has taken a few turns on eBay, and we've discussed it now and then. The consensus seems to be that it's not even worth as much as an original EM150, let alone an original snakehead. This despite the fact that it's the only snakehead EM150 anyone seems to know about.

Then again, if this cello is actually a K4, that's another ball of wax entirely.

Kerry Krishna
Mar-08-2011, 3:30am
I was just in contact with the guy who owns, he says it is not now, and never will be for sale. I played it years ago, and could not really make heads or tails of it. Totally weird axe. What is the scale length of a 'K' mandocello, and nut width? I 'll ask him for measurements. It's possible that it was a guitar before? He insists not..

mrmando
Mar-08-2011, 5:19am
Well, if it's not for sale I guess we needn't worry about the price. Do you think he'd send you a photo or two along with the measurements?

The greatest likelihood (9 in 10) is that it's some variety of K mandocello and there's just some confusion about its being an O at all.

The next likeliest scenario (9 in 100) is that it's a converted Style O guitar.

The least likely possibility (1 in 100) is that is a factory original, custom-made mandocello with a Style O body.

Gibson cello scale length is 24.75" and nut width is 1.5" per this thread (http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?58477-Mandocello-Measurements).

RichM
Mar-08-2011, 7:24am
Seemed like a good time to insert a photo of Joni Mitchell going to Staten Island to try a mandocello...

http://jonimitchell.com/music/images/mandocello.jpg

mrmando
Mar-09-2011, 8:16pm
P.S. Based on the looks of the Style O I'd be all in favor of a mandocello conversion, but I don't know if it would sound any good.

Bernie Daniel
Mar-11-2011, 9:39am
P.S. Based on the looks of the Style O I'd be all in favor of a mandocello conversion, but I don't know if it would sound any good.

I have seen one O-style guitar, behind glass in a case next to a harp guitar.

However, I recall a discussion with one of the co-owners of the Columbus Folk Music Center (that went out of business in the early 1980's) who had once repaired one, that these were pretty unremarkable guitars as far as the tone and projection goes -- much inferior to the L-5 or even the lesser Gibson arch top guitars that came later.

Personally, I've always thought they looked kind of awkward? Something just seems out of balance between those two scrolls with that flat piece in between.

mrmando
Mar-12-2011, 5:11am
However, I recall a discussion with one of the co-owners of the Columbus Folk Music Center (that went out of business in the early 1980's) who had once repaired one, that these were pretty unremarkable guitars as far as the tone and projection goes -- much inferior to the L-5 or even the lesser Gibson arch top guitars that came later.
So have I heard and do in part believe.

mrmando
Mar-24-2011, 4:04pm
So, ah. Um. Ahem. Well ...

An interesting opportunity has come up. What do the luthiers among us thing about the feasibility of converting a Style O to a mandocello?

The Style O that I am looking at will need some work anyhow: fix top crack, fix warped neck. Any chance of it sounding good as a cello conversion?

Also, is there any type of sealant that can be applied to celluloid pickguards to arrest the outgassing process?