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Thread: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    I am the proud owner of an interesting and great sounding mandola, which you can see here. Thanks to cafe member and mandolin instructor Adam Tanner for finding this instrument, and arranging for a video of same which lead to the purchase. You can see this mandola here:

    https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/prod...dola-h0-50763-

    As you can see, it is an unusual critter--an A-5 style carved maple back mandola. its is in excellant condition, and appears hardly played. The neck is very comfortable, as it has a truss rod, and so is not overly beefy.

    The mandola has been worked on by Lynn Dudenbostal, who replaced the uneven frets and doctored the bridge and pickguard and tuners. Lynn was impressed with the tone of this instrument. I would say this dola has a characteristically sweet mandola resonance, but with more 'bite' and less of the guitarlike overtones of my 20's Gibson oval dola. The intonation and fret lay out is excellent and it plays evenly and uniformly up the neck. I am interested to hear how it develops over time, as it appears to have been played little.

    Lynn shared this with me from Joe Spann at Gruhn's:

    Joe Spann says that instrument isn't in the Gibson shipping ledgers, so that would indicate it was picked up at the factory. The serial number sequence is consistent with a 1936 purchase date, but the 795 is a known 1933 batch of Kalamazoo KHG-11 guitars. Possible it was numbered with that batch. With the handwritten -2, he would guess there are at least two of these.

    so, there may be another out there. If anyone has other information or thoughts, Id be interested to hear them. Thanks, JJ

  2. #2
    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    Lucky Dog. I almost bought this one but was short on cash. Not too many of these around! Yours could easily with some $$ have a 5 scale neck put on it and it would put the bridge exactly in the "sweet spot" the middle of the F-hole points! And with the longer scale it would have the power. Just like taking an F-7 and doing the same thing. Is the fretboard elevated off the top of the mandola or glued to the top?

    On youtube there is a video of someone playing one just like yours from the 30's.

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    One of these sold on eBay a few years ago. It was the first one I'd seen. Nice catch.

    It looks like the fingerboard is attached to the top when you blow up the image.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #4
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    Yep, I've seen photos of a handful of these over the years. There was an electric version with a pickup, too.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    Actually Martin, you were the one that told me about these.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    I had one of these f-hole Gibson H-0's "on loan" from Stutzman's about 30 years ago, when he was doing some repairs on my Washburn bowl-back mandola, and I needed an instrument for a gig. I'm sure he's sold it since. I had no idea Gibson had made an f-hole mandola, though it could have been a tenor lute body with a mandola neck. Since the tenor lute never really caught on, Gibson may have repurposed some of the TL's to H-0's.
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  8. #7
    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    That's likely the case Allen. Because of the bridge position with the short neck. Also looks like a tenor lute body-the size of the F-holes gives it away, they look smaller like the TL? Kool

  9. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Gibson "HO" Mandolin

    I had a mandocello from the same era, I think 1937. The neck was very thin, probably a guitar neck. Very few people were playing in mandolin ensembles then and fewer were playing the larger instruments. Mine was also black finished but oval hole.
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