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Thread: Orville Gibson A-Style

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    Default Orville Gibson A-Style

    In the past years my main focus has turned to the original instruments of Orville Gibson as well as those built at the start of the company still in his style of build. I posted this on Facebook in the Vintage GIbson Flattop Guitar group but figure I should also post here for those that would not get a chance to check it out there. I’m not going to do a huge detailed post right now, perhaps later. Here is the small description I included on that FB post. Feel free to add any questions or comments either here or within that post.

    Phil


    Pre-1898 Orville Gibson made "A-style" mandolin. Iconic in it's simplicity. The birth of an instrument form now synonymous with the word mandolin (along with the "F-style"...also an original Orville design)

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Not sure why the pics came out sideways in this post.

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    ForestF5 Gene Summers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    They will do that, Scott will fix them if you PM him. An historic Mandolin there! I can see the "furniture" element of the carving. Beautiful.
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Now do those early ones have the hollow neck?

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    Now do those early ones have the hollow neck?
    Yes they do though I have not had the fingerboard off this one. I have a guitar and harp guitar in this style that have had the fingerboard off to confirm.

    Phil

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Very cool, interesting inlay, it looks like the “lyre” is inlaid into a disc, is it or, just lighting?
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Very cool, interesting inlay, it looks like the “lyre” is inlaid into a disc, is it or, just lighting?
    Yes, the lyre inlay has a black circle disc around it. It is an inlay of the period that I have seen on other instruments, both guitar and mandolin, however I don't recall now if any of the others had that black disc as well. It is also incredibly well inlaid into the headstock of the Orville piece. Very precise.

    Phil

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Where did you find it?
    Timothy F. Lewis
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Does anyone know why the necks had a hollow part through them? Could it be a bit more sustain by chance?

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Orville just had to be different! The story I was told years ago was it was to increase air volume and reduce some mass.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Yes, I think the original idea behind the hollow neck was to increase the resonant chamber and create an instrument that rung through out like a bell.


    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Where did you find it?
    So, I constantly search for these pieces. There are about 20 or so known Orville instruments around. Believe it or not I have had the opportunity to purchase about half of them. Because of not having an endless supply of funds I "only" own two (a guitar and now the A style). A fact that still amazes me. I also have three instruments built in Orville's style from the very begginings of the Gibson Co. For the most part these are pretty much the only instruments I go after these days. So saying that, how I search near and far for these, this one came from a guy who lives 20 minutes from me. He is a private collector/dealer of instruments and other Americana. Nothing really advertised anywhere...just he has a lot of cool stuff. I believe he got it from a guy that was about to sell it to a pawn shop many years ago. He's been hanging onto it since.

    Phil

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    I worked with a guy who had one of Orville’s giant guitars! It was really unusual, to say the least. It ended up in 9ne of Elderly’s show cases after some hard times. I don’t know if Stan still has it or not but, it was nifty to have been around and gotten to see when I was just a kid!
    Timothy F. Lewis
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    This is great stuff! I absolutely love the shape of the headstock, perfect simplicity.

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    I worked with a guy who had one of Orville’s giant guitars! It was really unusual, to say the least. It ended up in 9ne of Elderly’s show cases after some hard times. I don’t know if Stan still has it or not but, it was nifty to have been around and gotten to see when I was just a kid!
    Was it this one?

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    That’s it! Has it found a home with you?
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    No, it’s not mine. Last I heard, some years ago, it was still at Elderly and not for sale. While super cool, built in the Orville style, and sporting a huge 18” lower bout this instrument is technically not an “Orville”. This is a 1903 Gibson Co. instrument serial #2656. While it very well could have been built by Orville it was made (or at least labeled) after the company started. The mandolin above is pre-company when Orville was a one man shop.

    Phil

  18. #17

    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Maybe you've seen this 1903 Orville-style (though likewise factory) guitar that's been listed on reverb for a year or so? Not being able to spare the $22,000, I haven't picked it up, but I certainly enjoyed the sound sample and the eye candy! https://reverb.com/item/3146201-gibs...ic-guitar-1903

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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Sorry, I misspoke, it was a “production” piece.
    It is amazing to me how much “fuzz” grows after 43 years, memory is a terrible thing to get moldy.
    Timothy F. Lewis
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Wow. I am surprised by the excellent sound quality of the guitar in the Reverb ad although I would have liked the guy to play up and down the neck a bit. I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that these earliest instruments would be a little overbuilt (maybe because the later scroll Style 0s I have played typically seem a bit quiet). I guess I had never heard one of these instruments with the carved sides. I would love to hear how that cool Orville A style mandolin sounds. I don't suppose you have a sound sample?


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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    If the memory of the aforementioned guitar serves, it was “different” to say the least. Very “fat” sound to be sure, I have a recording of that somewhere around here...don’t ask, I have no idea where it might be but, it’s in 1/4” tape format and might take me months to transfer the thing.
    Timothy F. Lewis
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Yes, most people say that these early Gibson’s don’t sound good but I think that most who say that have never really heard one. Here’s another example of one https://www.facebook.com/17645440242...9465890791334/. I’m not sure if you have to be logged into Facebook to hear it though. In the description it is listed as a 1905 but it is a 1903 18” similar to the one at Elderly. I have seen this one in person.

    I don’t have a sound sample of this A yet. Perhaps down the line. However here is a video of Chris Thile playing an Orville A when it was at Carter Vintage https://youtu.be/85a7BaTbU9s. That mandolin now belongs to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY.

    Timbo- if you find that tape I would love to hear it. Perhaps Elderly would as well.


    Phil

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Am I right in assuming that the mandolin's back and sides are carved from a single piece of wood, rather than glued together? I'm no sure from the photo.
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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    I believe so, like the Rigel, sort of.
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    For this mandolin I believe it is a one piece back and a one piece top. Although Orville's design stated that the rim should be made from one piece extending into the neck most often they are not. This one looks like three pieces though the top piece comes half way down the body and extends to form the neck.

    Phil

  27. #25
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Orville Gibson A-Style

    Nice- very cool piece. I'm a sucker for the "first renaisance" or the last 3-pointers that have raised guards. Surprisingly many F2 blackface ones come up for sale, nice combination of precise carving, good tone, functionality, and older-world mojo

    Do you keep a list of them? I only have 4..

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