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Thread: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

  1. #1
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Ran into a guy at the "Crooktop" festival in Bradford PA a couple weekends ago, who had purchased from a jobber, a bunch of the plywood "Army-Navy" type mandolins that Gibson used to offer at its Opryland facility, pre-flood. The mandolins were unfinished, and in some cases only partially assembled, so he assembled and finished them, and had a couple for sale at his booth.

    He said that the instruments, though sold as "Gibsons," were Korean-made, and pretty dodgy as to quality. Some of them couldn't take being strung up to standard pitch, and others had neck curvatures, other flaws. I told him that what I'd read here on the Cafe, was that they were pretty much "souvenir" quality, not really intended to be serious instruments.

    The seller's name is Don Gardner, and he basically builds Appalachian dulcimers, some other instruments as well. He had some nice vintage guitars and banjos in his booth. Here's a link to Gardner's Dulcimer for anyone interested; NFI for me, of course.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
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    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    What an unusual provenance. I used to work A/V at Opryland. Reminded me of how Tammy Faye Bakker’s bathroom must’ve looked.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    I bought one of those dogs in my horse trading days. Nothing, absolutely nothing redeeming about them. They used to put part of a truss rod cover on them (there wasn't a truss rod) that was labeled Gibson and a label inside. They didn't have the lifetime guarantee and whatever they charged for them was too much. Joe Vest can probably chime in on these. Mine was custom. It was red. Initially I thought they might have been old stock from the Flatiron purchase. As soon as I had it in my hands I realized that wasn't true. Lesson learned. They were not pretty.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    I remember there being at least one thread about these, and Big Joe chimed in on them. Apparently, the tourists who came to the Bluegrass Showcase when it still existed wanted to be able to buy an instrument as a souvenir, but of course the regular stuff was way too pricey. Gibson thought it was a good idea, but to me selling an instrument thatís not meant to be actually played is just wrong. And I donít think a lot of people understood that they were just supposed to be wall hangers. I think itís actually hilarious that there was a truss rod cover, but no truss rod, and they came with a gig bag, even though you werenít supposed to actually gig with them. I wonder if you could make them playable with ultra light strings, like a bowlback would use?
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Don G said that he got some of them playable with XLight strings. The one he had for sale -- as I recall, for around $125 -- he had nicely stained and finished, but when I played it, for about 30 seconds, it was very quiet. I'm used to "pancake" mandolins jumping up in your face, but this one was quite reticent.

    He said he put quite a bit of work into getting maybe a half-dozen of them finished and playable. The one I saw didn't have a "Gibson" label.

    While he didn't confide the details, I'd guess he might have bought ten or twelve of them, in various stages of completion, for maybe $25-50 each. They were probably either dragged out of the remains of the Opryland store, or were on their way to Nashville when G closed the store down.

    Bit of a Gibson footnote.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Is this listing from the classifieds an iteration of the same?

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/128680#128680
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    I think not. Those Opryland pieces of @#$& were cheap plywood. They would have never used wood that nicely figured.
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Is this listing from the classifieds an iteration of the same?

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/128680#128680
    No, I believe that is a real mandolin.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    I owned one. It wasn't a real thing. Glad it sold (locally, full-disclosure, face-to-face transaction)!

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    I have a really nice Gibson "pancake," labeled "A/N Custom," and signed by Steve Carlson, dated Dec. 16, 1987. Highly figured maple, MOP rosette, gold hardware, "The Gibson" headstock inlay with the curlicue you find on A-3 mandolins.

    Bought it at Bernunzio's, and he said it was made for a Berlin NH Gibson dealer named Catello, who also signed the back, though the sound hole, with a Magic Marker. Apparently Catello & Son closed about five years ago. John B said at one point the store sold everything from fishing boats to chain saws, but was also an authorized Gibson dealership.

    The A/N Custom looks a lot like the one up for sale in the classifieds. If that one's the same quality as mine, it's a heckuva mandolin.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  17. #11
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    (just as an aside, I recently bought my '83 1N from Mr. Brown - refer to pheff's link - and it's a fine instrument.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  18. #12
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    No, I believe that is a real mandolin.
    I'm assuming that it's the same one from this craigslist ad:

    https://bham.craigslist.org/msg/d/gi...690023884.html

    There are two pictures from that ad that I'd like to question.

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    I ask only because a similar (possibly the same?) model sold through Picker's Supply:

    http://pickerssupply.com/new-and-use...style-mandolin

    That one featured the plaque seemingly mounted on the top:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Do we think that such a plaque was removed (not necessarily by the seller) from the top and relocated inside the tonehole on the one in the classifieds, and do we see a ghost of it in the image from Craigslist?
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Good catch, Patrick!

    In my opinion, after comparing the pattern on the back of both pictures, I think they match up. If that’s true then the plaque was indeed moved.
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Here's my former Operyland pancake.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    They were never sold by the factory as Gibson mandolins. They were cheap mandolins for tourists. It took me awhile, but I finally got that stopped. It was more of a pain for us than it was ever worth. It was a good idea, but too many expected them to work, play, and sound like a real Gibson. We even had people expect a lifetime warranty on them. Again, they were not sold or represented as a Gibson by us, but because they came out of the Gibson facility, a lot of people did not listen to that part. I was thrilled to see them go away.
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Big Joe, if they were not “sold or represented as a Gibson by us”, why did they have “Gibson” engraved on the faux truss rod covers?

    If I had been a tourist in Nashville during that period of time (I wasn’t) and plopped down $150 for one, I certainly wouldn’t have expected it to work, play, and sound like a high priced Gibson. But I would have expected it to function and play like a musical instrument of some sort. It was sold as being a mandolin, right? Not as wall art? If it was sold as wall art, why did it come with a gig bag? If an item is sold as a musical instrument, a buyer has a right to expect it will function as one. If it does not function as represented at the time of sale, that’s called fraud, I believe.

    You say the sale of those instruments was “a good idea”. I’m just not seeing it. If it was “a good idea”, why did you want it stopped? Why were you thrilled to see them go away, if it was a good idea?

    BTW, to my eyes they look like the old and now defunct Kentucky KM-100, plywood model. Same spray paint “sunburst”. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that’s what they were. I played one once. Not a fan. I love a good pancake, but not that one.
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    Weber Bitterroot A
    Fender Octave Mandolin

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Joe View Post
    They were never sold by the factory as Gibson mandolins. They were cheap mandolins for tourists. It took me awhile, but I finally got that stopped. It was more of a pain for us than it was ever worth. It was a good idea, but too many expected them to work, play, and sound like a real Gibson. We even had people expect a lifetime warranty on them. Again, they were not sold or represented as a Gibson by us, but because they came out of the Gibson facility, a lot of people did not listen to that part. I was thrilled to see them go away.
    Mine had Gibson on the fake truss rod cover.. I believe that cover started life as an Epiphone by Gibson cover and was cut down to just say Gibson.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  26. #18
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Opryland "Pancakes"

    Pheff's example has the clamshell tailpiece. Mine had the rectangular tailpiece. Mine, for sure, was an Opryland mandolin. Not sure about the other one?

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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