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Thread: gibson a50 newbie question

  1. #1

    Default gibson a50 newbie question

    New to the forum and thinking about a mandolin purchase. Longtime guitar player, lap and pedal steel. So I am looking at a Gibson a50 Seller says serial number is stamped inside and is 8157 7. My internet search has turned up nothing. Thought someone here might help. Thanks

  2. #2
    Registered User tbown's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    According to Spann's Guide to Gibson, a serial number of 81577 would have a shipping year of 1927. And according to the Mandolin Archive website (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/...l?post-loar:2:) that would put the manufacture date in 1925.

    I don't know if A50's were made that early, (not an authority by any means) but I have never seen an A50 made before the 30's.

    If you can post pictures, it would help.
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    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    Quote Originally Posted by 59slab View Post
    ... Seller says serial number is stamped inside ...
    Does the seller know the difference between serial #, usually hand-written on the label, and factory order number (FON) usually ink-stamped on the end block? Not that I would have a clue, but you probably should...

    Extensive research of old Cafe forum posts is one way to get yourself educated, but Spann's guide to Gibson would be a lot faster. Do note that Gibson is notorious for inconsistencies in their ever-changing numbering schemes.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    Seller says theres no label he can see. After looking through Gruhns guide the info I gathered points to 1947- early 60's. After looking at pictures the headstock is Gibson silkscreened, tuners are definitely not original. clamshell tailpiece. The number the seller gave me just does not make sense. Mandolin is currently on ebay

  5. #5

    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    My two cents.........as a longtime guitar player....

    There is a learning curve as far as the "thinking" toward what constitutes a vintage mandolin vs. the same in the electric guitar world. Specifically, the golden age of electric guitars is the 50's, whereas nobody in the mandolin world gets too excited about a 50's Gibson mandolin. The golden era for mandolins, as such, is the 'teens & 20's -- at least to most people's thinking. A 50's or 60's A50 is not a bad instrument and does have some quality that guitar players will find familiar. A better choice, might be to look for an A model from the 'teens or 20's, IMHO.

  6. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    This Vintage Guitars reference page says the silkscreened logo was introduced in the mid-1940's. The A-50 was made until 1971.

    The page also puts hyphenated factory order numbers as features of the mid-'40's to early '50's:

    1942-1947: Factory Order Numbers with 3 or 4 digits, followed by a hyphen, followed by 1 or 2 more digits, ink stamped on neck block (flattops) or on the inside back,
    1947-1952: Factory Order Numbers of 3 or 4 digits, followed by a hyphen, followed by by 1 or 2 more digits, ink stamped on the inside back.


    So it helps to know if the FON is stamped on the inside back or the neck block.

    A-50's can be decent, reasonably priced mandolins; they usually have very slim necks, which some may prefer, others not. If the price is right, could be a good purchase.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    Posting a picture of the instrument in question will allow folks to provide some better answers.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Gibson-mand...0AAOSwgvFbP7IB

    The tuners are original on this by the way. It was built closer to the end of the model run than the beginning. I don't have my books here with me but I'd peg that thing for circa 1960's, maybe a little earlier, maybe a little later. No way it's from the 30's or 40's.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  8. #8

    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    Never seen tuners on a Gibson from that era with no kluson markings

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    To be honest reproduction tuners or original doesn't affect the value of that mandolin. It's not a collectible instrument. Those weren't the golden years for Gibson mandolins.

    Offer them less. That's a pretty high price for that instrument.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #10
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    FWIW Gibson's EM 150 is a factory made A 50 built with with a magnetic pickup. ...
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  11. #11

    Default Re: gibson a50 newbie question

    Also new to A-50, which I purchased and awaiting my daughter's return to the US. I pulled the trigger on a 60s A-50 for the following reasons:
    1. Electric Pickup: My son is interested in tech and is getting into electric guitar. I know he will help his sister with the instrument selected because it is electric. He is having her play music for his YouTube page and video games, etc. Family bonding is priceless.
    2. Gibson resell. I don't think it will go down in price at this stage. My wife has a golden Gibson era banjolele and it is that good! The A-50 will at least feel at home, if not keep up.

    3. History: Plenty of great players used A-50s, even from the 50s and 60s era. The instrument I got had that history with it, so appealed to my daughters love of vintage.
    4. Half the price of a 20s Gibson, or late model craft builder with similar setup. There are great builders and instruments out there, but all told the price of the A-50 holds up well given my earlier points.

    Hope you are happy with an A50, I am certain my daughter will enjoy hers (often about mindset). May not be Gibson ' golden era, but with a great set-up it should hold its own.

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