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Thread: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

  1. #1

    Default Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    I have a Gibson Mandolin-Guitar that I need a little help identifying. I believe it dates back prior to 1920 but any additional information on it or how I can specifically identify it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    That really does not look like a Gibson. Closer to a Harmony.

    Also what is a mandolin-guitar?

    Larry

  3. #3
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    That's not a "mandolin guitar" it is a Parlor guitar with a slotted headstock.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    It does have an early Orville type label in it? It may be a redone Gibson? What does the label say? Any #'s or model? Body does look like an L but everything about it is wrong/later dates.

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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    I suspect that the label actually says ďThe Gibson Mandolin Guitar Manufacturing CoĒ which might explain some of the o/pís confusion.

    Itís a guitar but Iím not sure of the model or date. When looking for serial numbers also look inside - up where the neck joins the body - for a stamped number (itís known as the ďFactory Order NumberĒ) and is useful for dating purposes.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    I suspect that the body may be a teens Gibson L but the neck is later as I'm not aware of a slot-head Gibson, also the bridge would've been a floater with trapeze type? Sorry I'm not up on my guitar lingo like I know my old Gibson mandolin stuff.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    That is a very unusual instrument.
    I believe it to be a very early model, made between 1902 and 1907.

    Is there a serial number visible on the label or an ink-stamped number visible on the inside of the guitar where the neck meets the body?

    If you could measure the width of the body at its widest point, it would help to confirm its date of manufacture. By 1908, Gibson only offered 13 1/2" and 16" guitars. From looking at the picture, my guess is that this one is 12 1/2" wide, a size that was only listed in their 1902 catalog, and was discontinued sometime before 1908.

    If you can distinguish whether the back and sides were made of walnut or birch, that would also be useful. Most of the very early Gibsons were built out of walnut.

    Some of the earliest Gibson guitars were made with pin bridges and slotted peg heads. Not many guitars from that period survive. However, I cannot judge from the one picture whether the neck or the bridge are original to this instrument.

    I have not heard of a Gibson from this period with a sunburst finish. My guess is that the guitar went back to the factory for service in the mid 1910's or later, and was refinished at that time. The bridge looks like it might be a replacement, but I am not at all sure about that. I am reluctant to say anything more about this instrument without an in-hand inspection.

    I recommend that this instrument be inspected by George Gruhn [Gruhn Guitars] or Frank Ford [Gryphon Strings] to determine its date of manufacture and state of originality. They have seen more of these early Gibsons than anyone else.
    Last edited by rcc56; Dec-28-2018 at 8:20pm.

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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    The label and peg-head would suggest somewhere between 1903 and 1908 but I'm not sure whether Gibson had yet introduced the FoN system back then. The glued on bridge (assuming it's original) and lack of a Gibson logo might suggest even earlier.

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    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by cmuller View Post
    I have a Gibson Mandolin-Guitar that I need a little help identifying. I believe it dates back prior to 1920 but any additional information on it or how I can specifically identify it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Click image for larger version. 

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    Thats a cool piece...

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    The headstock, the bridge and the saddle should be raising flags for the experts here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The headstock, the bridge and the saddle should be raising flags for the experts here.
    Ive seen that headstock before.. Red Bowers out of Mid Idaho had one in his Collection.. all Black with the slotted peg head.. he also had very early harp Guitars.. the Style Rs Pearl Bordered as well as the very early F mandolins that were the same.. pearl and black for binding as well as Vine inlays.... as for the bridge and saddle they have been changed as well as the finish..

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    Quote Originally Posted by cmuller View Post
    I have a Gibson Mandolin-Guitar that I need a little help identifying. I believe it dates back prior to 1920 but any additional information on it or how I can specifically identify it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Click image for larger version. 

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    you have a picture of the Back?

  14. #12
    Registered User Steve Davis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    How does it play?
    Steve Davis

    I should really be practicing instead of sitting in front of the computer.

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    Mandolin tragic Graham McDonald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    I don't think Gibson made any flat-top guitars before the late 1920s. Their whole sales pitch was the carved soundboards. Other than the label (and of course no-one has ever faked one of those) there is nothing about this instrument which suggests any Gibson involvement.

    Cheers

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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham McDonald View Post
    ... (and of course no-one has ever faked one of those) ...
    While I'm far from expert on such stuff, I was thinking that the label looks more like Xerox gray than like old-paper sepia.
    - Ed

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  19. #15
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Click image for larger version. 

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    heres a L1 1905 wider body ..arched like the picture above, and glued bridge with a slotted peghead.

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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham McDonald View Post
    I don't think Gibson made any flat-top guitars before the late 1920s. Their whole sales pitch was the carved soundboards. Other than the label (and of course no-one has ever faked one of those) there is nothing about this instrument which suggests any Gibson involvement.

    Cheers
    Gibson did make a few flat-tops prior to the 1920's, but they are exceedingly rare. Greg Boyd had one in his shop last year, dated to the mid teens. I mentioned that instrument to George Gruhn, and he said he had also seen a couple of others over the years.

    Anyway, Mr. Muller's instrument looks to me like it is probably carved. A couple more pictures would be helpful, though. I would especially like to see a side view, and the back of the neck. The top looks very much like early Gibson workmanship to me.

    I am comfortable with my earlier assessment-- first decade of the 1900's, finish re-done by Gibson after 1916 or so. I won't say anything for sure about the neck without more pictures, and I won't say anything about the fingerboard inlays or bridge without the instrument in hand.

    Gibsons made before 1910 often have a bit of a different look to them than later instruments.

  21. #17

    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    It does have No. 3648 on the label in the sound hole.

  22. #18

    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Yes. It is also identified in the sound hole label as No. 3648

  23. #19

    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here are a few more pictures. Thank you.

  24. #20

    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Yes just posted it. Thank you!

  26. #22
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    3648 is a 1905 serial number.

    From Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars: "By 1902 demand for "The Gibson" exceeded Orville's [Gibson] production capacity, and he sold the rights to his name and patent to five Kalamazoo businessmen who formed The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co., Ltd., on October 10, 1902. Orville owned stock and trained workers for a brief time, but by the end of 1903 he was no longer involved with the Gibson company."

    This is indeed a very early Gibson, and model designs varied considerably during this period. I would be comfortable calling it a 1905 Gibson L series model in "standard size" [their designation for a 12 1/2" body]. This body size was discontinued by 1908, when designs became more standardized.

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  28. #23
    Registered User Roger Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    I know naught about vintage Gibsons, but that is a beautiful instrument!
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

  29. #24

    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Thank you very much for the information!! Very helpful

    Best wishes

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    Default Re: Identification of Gibson Mandolin-Guitar

    Yes it’s a 1905 Gibson. They had slotted headstocks for about a year in between the initial paddle heads and the later solid headstocks. Here is my 1905 Style 0-2. Yours has been refinished, has a new bridge, and possibly some replaced/altered inlay.

    Phil

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