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Thread: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

  1. #1
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Here's a vintage H1 I'm looking at. It's one of those situations where I'm trying to deal with people who don't know what they have and don't understand my concerns as a buyer.

    I've asked for a better side photo than this, but I am not sure I will get it. So, based on this shot, can we definitively say whether or not this mandola has top sink?

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Additional photos. Advice, anyone?

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Looks like the top's flattened, compensated by a tall bridge.

    However, I'm no expert; probably some more expert folks will weigh in.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    "Settled but not sunk" is how a luthier friend put it.
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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Yeh a bit but not bad like some I've seen, settled is a good way to put it! On real old Gibson's it can be a common issue on some models/ just like the usually back shrinkage from the sides I think we call that one "Gibsonitis" , it just happens over years of the top being under such tension from the strings. Or worse case a loose brace. a full front photo from above can tell a whole lot more.

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    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    I've had 3 in about the same shape. "settled but not sunk". Fitted a cumberland acoustic bridge on them and they were fine.After checking the traverse brace of course.
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    More of a flattening of the top arch than sinking, and it's not pronounced in any case.
    The bridge is the same style as the vintage of-the-period Gibson bridges, which were pretty tall, but it's impossible in these photos to tell whether it's original.
    Based on these photos, the action is certainly not too low, as would be the expected result of a loose brace or sinking top.
    If anything, it looks a bit high. Be sure that these pictures are being taken with the strings at normal, correct pitch. I would be asking about and looking at the neck relief, which seems pretty apparent in the top photo.
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    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    looks like the back may have been off before.

  9. #9
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Yes, I am confident the back was off. i did pull the trigger on it and we'll know more when it gets here.
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    Registered User Mando-Mauler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Without a doubt! Well - maybe more sort of "level playing field" type profile rather than an inny. Gibson didn't brace the H1s and H2s for the long haul. There wasn't any support under the bridge so that after lying under Grandpa's bed for for some decades the top sorta went negative. And they don't like being called upon to resume their duty and present a dome instead of a dish. Rebracing with a fan pattern and a solid transverse under the bridge works well, but causes small radial stress cracks around the perimeter, which axiomatically gotta be repaired...and disguised...like colouring the whole shooting match black. I'll post some photos shortly of the 'snatched from the dead' CPR on a really old H1 - (No. 11113) - that required a triple bypass; including the third set of bracing to 'pop' the top plate up. Real interesting story behind this, so wait for further installments.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    "Gibson didn't brace the H1s and H2s for the long haul . . ."

    Well, maybe yes and maybe no, but the most frequent causes of top sinkage on these old mandolas [and mandolins] is:
    1. The transverse brace is loose and needs to be reglued.
    2. They have been overstrung.

    In many cases, if the top deflection is not too bad, simply regluing the brace will push the top back to nearly its original shape.

    Some of the off the shelf mandola sets are much too heavy for an old Gibson, and perhaps for any mandola. I buy single strings and make up my own sets. I recommend 12-20w-32w-49w. If you use nickel strings, you might be able to get away with a slightly heavier bass string. If you want to buy a prepackaged set, the D'Addario J80 octave mandolin set is a good choice. The J72 so-called "light" mandola set will tear an old Gibson to pieces.

    Whoever selects the gauges for string sets for the string manufacturers would benefit from studying their own tension charts.

    To answer the original poster's question-- perhaps the top has flattened slightly, but not enough to lose sleep over. Check the brace for glue failure-- it's the first thing I check whenever someone shows me an old Gibson oval hole. About 1/3 of the time it is loose at one end. Glue if necessary, string with a modest set, enjoy the mandola, and be prepared to swear when you go to a jam session and your fingers automatically go to a mandolin G chord instead of a mandola G.
    Last edited by rcc56; Nov-18-2017 at 5:16pm.

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  13. #12
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    This mandola should be in my mitts before too much longer. I had to help the seller get his PayPal sorted out, but it should be shipping tomorrow.

    It had been misidentified as a mandolin ... so it may have a mandolin set on it (good) but also may have been tuned up to mandolin pitch (bad). First thing I'll do is remove the strings, check the brace and have one of my luthier buddies look it over. We'll see about neck relief as well. I did grab a couple of D'Addario sets, but could also put together a lighter set out of my personal stock of singles.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Well ... it arrived today, and here's what some people apparently think is an appropriate way to ship a vintage Gibson.
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    Unbelievably, it doesn't seem to have suffered any shipping damage.

    Whoever took the back off of this before installed an extra long transverse brace — and a soundpost.

    There is a bit of a hump in the neck, but that's the least of my worries. It could be planed out.

    Getting this fixed up and selling it will probably be a break-even proposition at best. We'll see.
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Well ... it arrived today, and here's what some people apparently think is an appropriate way to ship a vintage Gibson.
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    Yikes. Some people. You'd think since they're already spending $47.05 on shipping, they could afford an extra few bucks to buy a box to put the thing in. Just hard to imagine what goes through people's minds when they ship stuff.

    Glad it wasn't damaged - must be some sort of minor miracle.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Whoever took the back off of this before installed an extra long transverse brace and a soundpost.
    Soundpost, eh... guess that kinda goes along with the top sink idea?

  16. #15
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Yeah, I think it's meant to keep the top from sinking further, rather than serving as an actual soundpost ... but either way, I'd expect such a thing to just kill the tone.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Well ... it arrived today, and here's what some people apparently think is an appropriate way to ship a vintage Gibson.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    At least there's a case. When my Fylde OM arrived from Hobgoblin UK (and they should know their business) it was in two layers of bubble wrap, that was all.

    ...and a soundpost.
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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Wow I never seen a mando come through the mail like that! I would've been traumatized man.

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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    wow, that packing. I recently sold a squire electric with hardcase and I packed it better than that. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that pic.

  20. #19

    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    At least you don't have get any new case stickers.
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Good thing it wasn't a valuable vintage case. All that tape would have ruined it. Probably ruined it anyway. One of my least favorite things to do is removing sticky tape/stickers......

  22. #21
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    The case has two significant dings from getting bumped around in shipping. I'm weighing my options here; I sent specific packing instructions.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    What a long, strange trip it’s been. I’m sure the following tale will be instructive, but I’m not sure how and for whom.

    Lesson 1: Use PayPal if the transaction seems even the slightest bit skeevy. The seller insisted on my sending him an email stating that I would buy the instrument as is, with no returns. (I eventually did that, but I sent my shipping instructions in the same email.) Since he was harping on this particular point, I was glad that he was also willing to use PayPal. I had a gut feeling that sending a check or money order, leaving myself with no practical recourse if things went south, might be a bad idea.

    I emailed the seller after I got the mandola, explaining that he breached our contract by not following my shipping instructions, and asked him for a refund. He got very snippy and uncooperative very fast, and clammed up after the second email. I guess that the corollary to this lesson is that if you’re a seller who plans to be dishonest and rip off your customers, you’re better off not using PayPal. But we’ll get to that.

    Lesson 2: PayPal will work with you even if it’s not an eBay purchase. But keep your account up to date. I filed a claim with PayPal, although first I had to resolve an issue with my PayPal account by updating my IRS paperwork. This was something I had ignored for a few years, but PayPal will eventually put limits on your account if you don’t keep it updated. Once I had my account status sorted, I asked for either a full refund of $850 or a partial refund of $500 to fix some of the mandola’s issues.

    Lesson 3: Call PayPal rather than sitting around waiting for them to do stuff. When I bought the mandola, the seller waited about 10 days for the money to get from his PayPal account to his bank account. I finally had to email him the phone number for PayPal customer service so he could get the issue resolved and ship (obviously, this was back when he would still return my emails). But at several points during my claims process, too, things would just sit until I called customer service to figure out what was holding them up. PayPal service reps aren’t perfect, but they’re above average in terms of being trained and empowered to solve problems once you bring those problems to their attention.

    I have no way of knowing if the seller ever responded to any of PayPal’s emails regarding my claim. I suspect he didn’t. Pretty soon I got an email saying I was due a full refund, but I had to ship the mandola back at my expense. That wasn’t my first choice — at that point I would have preferred the $500 to fix it, especially since Gary the Luthier had already removed the offending soundpost by popping it out with his finger during his initial inspection (I had thought removing it would be more of a job, but I guess not). I sighed, packed the mandola up in a box, and bought a UPS return label for $70.76. I was a little perturbed at having to pay $70.76 to get back my $850, but that was the best option offered to me at the time.

    Lesson 4: Once you’ve agreed to use PayPal, it’s best to play along. When the mandola got back to the seller, he refused to sign for the package! UPS returned the box to me. Now, I really have to remind myself not to go with my instinct to pity the seller, who was a new PayPal user and evidently didn’t understand what he signed up for. I have to bear in mind that he’s a miserable jerk who didn’t keep his word, didn’t follow the rules, was given at least two opportunities to clean up the mess, and chose not to play along. Still, I was surprised to learn that in this case, I would get the full refund and custody of one somewhat battered vintage Gibson H1 mandola, in need of some repair but still worth more than the $70.76 it effectively cost me.

    So I’m officially a happy camper, although a journey like this one is decidedly not for the faint of heart.
    Last edited by mrmando; Jan-10-2018 at 7:08pm.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Wow.

    So, what's next for the H-1?
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  25. #24
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Next it's off to Gary for repair/restoration. I have an H1 pickguard but not a clamp ... was thinking of buying some big viola chinrest clamps and seeing if we can modify one.

    I do question whether the $850 comes directly from the seller's bank account via his PayPal account (and if so, do people realize that by signing up they've given PayPal permission to reach into their bank accounts if they don't follow its procedures?), or whether PayPal has a slush fund to reimburse hapless victims (like me) of uncooperative sellers (like him). It does remind me that it's a good idea to play ball with anyone who paid through PayPal and wants a refund, no matter how unreasonable the request might seem. I also wonder if the seller will break his email silence when he realizes what's happened.

    To the interlocutor in my head who tells me I'm using my knowledge of PayPal rules to take advantage of someone with less knowledge, I'm replying that it's his avarice, not his lack of knowledge, that gives me the advantage.
    Last edited by mrmando; Jan-10-2018 at 7:05pm.
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  26. #25

    Default Re: Do you think this mandola has top sink?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    ..........to reimburse hapless victims (like me) of uncooperative sellers (like him)
    Hmm...

    Like others here, I've been following your journey. I'm a little confused, actually. Seems you had concerns from the start about the top sink, but decided to gamble anyway, probably in hopes that it might be better than actually described. Turns out it was worse than you thought. You win some, you lose some. That's why it is a gamble -- you take a chance.

    I don't really think it was avarice on the part of the seller, in this case. It's not like he was asking $3K for it.....it was priced according to condition. Also, he made it clear to you that he was selling as is and with no return privilege. And he provided extra photos before you decided to buy. He probably just didn't want to deal with shipping and returns. And, you agreed to this. The fact that he didn't pack it properly is unfortunate, but does not void your agreement with him, IMHO.

    I'm not the "morality police" by any means, but fair is fair. I gamble on instruments all the time, mostly I come out OK, due to my experience, but sometimes I don't. That's the price of playing the game, especially if you are buying to resell.

    Getting the mandola for $70, effectively, is a great deal. I'm sure most of us would like a vintage Gibson at that price. And you are correct, I'm sure it is all spelled out somewhere in the Paypal agreement we all sign in order to be a Paypal member. You could even look at it as compensation for your inconvenience, but I'm guessing the seller has a different take on this story. Not sure what is fair, but this is a "Judge Judy" moment and his unresponsiveness cost him $850.
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Jan-11-2018 at 10:10am.

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