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Thread: Vintage Gibson oval hole

  1. #26
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Canada View Post
    What type of strings do most players on your instruments old Gibson’s?
    2 purported '22 A's , the A-0 full contact bridge base, aluminum top, pre TR, I string lighter 10 -38,

    the later 22 A-4 with TR, has medium 11-41 strings on it.. I changed the bridge upper on the 2 foot bridge

    to a fossil walrus tusk , original ebony, had a split in one end..





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  2. #27
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    My 1920 A2 has been my favorite for quite a while. There is something about the woods used and the craftsmen who made the A2 beginning about 1919 through the early 20's. My other mandolin is a 2008 Weber Bighorn.
    Jammin' south of the river
    '20 Gibson A-2
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  3. #28
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    There is (was?) a wonderful white-face A3 at Fiddlers Green that I have lusted over as well. Big sound on that one.
    Jammin' south of the river
    '20 Gibson A-2
    Stromberg-Voisinet Tenor Guitar
    Penny Whistle
    My albums: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/album.php?u=7616

  4. #29
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    FWIW, Just read a mistake I made ...my 27/28 A jr has a 1 1/8 nut (not a 1 1/4) - Although this particular A jr has a deeper/thicker body (1 7/8ths) than my 20 F2 , the F2's (1 5/8ths) tone and volume sounds just as big but a little more "refined" (if you could accept that as a sonic description) or less 'tubby'.Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #30
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by frshwtrbob View Post
    FWIW, Just read a mistake I made ...my 27/28 A jr has a 1 1/8 nut (not a 1 1/4) - Although this particular A jr has a deeper/thicker body (1 7/8ths) than my 20 F2 , the F2's (1 5/8ths) tone and volume sounds just as big but a little more "refined" (if you could accept that as a sonic description) or less 'tubby'.Click image for larger version. 

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    You bring up an oft overlooked fact regarding the sound of certain models. I speak in terms of side height without the top and back. Oval hole A-models are 1-1/2" tall, whereas the F-models including F5, F4 and F2's are a shallower 1-3/8".

    So the oval hole A-models inherently sound different than the oval hole F2 and F4. On top of that, there is more airspace in the A-model than the F even if they were the same height. The lone Loar A-5 is 1-3/8 like the F-models. With that said, the Loar A-5 is completely unique with regard to air volume.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  8. #31
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by Darryl Wolfe View Post
    We all have our likes and dislikes and founded opinions. "To me", the slightly later snakeheads (worm over tuners, late '24, 1925, 1926) are consistently excellent. However, you need to want and expect a loud, bright, cutting and slightly raspy tone that is unlike any teens or early 20's oval hole.

    It is for this reason that many folk covet the A2Z. Most all of them fall in this period. There is nothing different about them other than this exact build timeframe.
    My early 25 Snake A-4 with Virzi falls into this-I'm on the fence about keeping it as its great but once you get used to the old F-5 power and cut its apples and oranges? Many dislike the Virzi's but I personally think they add much to the overall tone?

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  10. #32
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    I am pretty cut and dry about Virzi's. I dislike them in F5's and like them in oval hole mandolins. However, there is a real conundrum here. The only reason I like them in an oval hole is because it stiffens them up in the direction of an F5. The only reason I hate them in an F5 is because it stiffens them up past what I think an F5 should sound like .

    Now, I hate to sound quite so negative about them in F5's. But for every person that tells me about a great sounding F5 with a Virzi, I can only shake my head and ask under my breath, have you heard that mandolin without the Virzi. I have removed two Virzi's from Loars. I do know what the results are.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  12. #33
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    I've thought about ripping my Virzi out of my 5 but its in there and I personally like the tone and volume, and thinking of originality it should stay. I get why people take them out but I'm in the camp if its in there leave it be. Buy a Loar that doesn't have one, there are many to be had for a price? I also used to love converting F-7's to 5's but wouldn't do it anymore as original they are another interesting and rare piece of Gibson history and if all are converted they be gone? Maybe if one was about beat to death I'd convert like I did with a very beat 24 TLute to a Dola?

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  14. #34

    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Old vintage Gibsons are the best bargain in the mandolin world PROVIDED what they do is what you want. I would not want one as my only mandolin unless I was focusing on a particular style. They are very engaging and will pull into new musical directions if that's what you want.
    Silverangel A
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  16. #35
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Want to point out that a deeper body in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean more bass response. My '41 Strad-O-Lin (1 15/16") is deeper than either the '10 A 1 3/4") or '29 A-Jr (1 13/16"). However, the SOL has the least amount of bass output of all three instruments. The Jr has the most with the '10 somewhere in the middle.

    Of course the SOL is also an F hole instrument, with laminate back and sides. So in many ways it's apples and oranges. Just pointing out that one specific measurement doesn't over-ride all others.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1989 Flatiron Performer A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 2018 Eastman MDO-305
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  17. #36
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Eric-some of those Stradolin mandolins I've played have such a great tone/volume to them, I've only played a handful of laminate ones from the 30's, I've never played any of the fancy solid wood models! I remember seeing a fancy all solid wood Strad-O for sale in the classifieds from a member awhile back that looked fantastic with very nice wood on the back! I've really never paid much attention to the deeper bodies of the Gibson A's as Darryl pointed out compared to the F models-Darryl is great as he has a wealth of knowledge to share and point out as he's been studying the old Gibson's since he was a kid! Darryl knows his stuff and one can always learn something from his posts! I find any and all pre-war and wartime mandolins interesting, even the "budget" brands by Harmony and the like are great!

    I gave my Dad an old Harmony from late 30's-40's and it was all solid wood I believe, he had to take the back off as when I got it at like 100 bucks one of the 2x4 tone bars was off and flopping around in the body, so he put in some very light tone bars and the result was surprisingly very good! The neck was fine and had an elevated board, also had the original pick guard, missing the tailpiece cover but I had a Waverly or Kluson clam/scalloped one and it needed tuning machines and bridge, when done the tone and volume was really sweet! I think but don't know for sure but it had a deeper body-not as deep as those Strad-o's.

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  19. #37

    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    You guys with A 2Zs are very lucky fellows. I've had the pleasure of playing two. Both were outstanding. When I first pick up my 1913 A1, it sounds tubby, especially right after my other mandolins, but the ears settle in and the tubbiness goes away. I know it's all aural illusion, but that is what I experience. Probably me using a different attack, holding the pick differently, or who knows what else. After a while I start thinking bluegrass, LOL.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  20. #38

    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    I need to get off my Duff and get my teens A4 blackie,and pumpkin top A1 in playing condition.
    But have a hard time with the big V necks.

    Not sure of exact year of my A4,will look it up. The pick guard is not oxidizing,looks good. It has
    a nice tone for a lot of tunes. Fretboard needs planed maybe and basic TLC.

    I don't really have a Duff.

  21. #39
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    You guys that love the round hole sound would love my late 24-early 25 A-4 snake with Virzi, I like her but once you get the power of an F-5 or a great F-hole elevated board A-50 one don't turn back, I know your not supposed to advertise here but its a really sweet mandolin but the F-hole sound IMHO is better, I just got rid of a 35 elevated board F-hole A-50 "export model with the stamp and inside label" to a member above that IMHO was a killer and I've owned 100's of mandolins but the Virzi in a snake is something way different! I'd love to experiment with a Virzi in a 35 Elevated board A-50 with F-holes, I would love to hear that tone!

    And thanks to Eric Platt, above who pointed out a 34 A-50 with F-holes and elevated board with an FON# that matches an A-50 he picked up but had to send back as it needed serious work and didn't cut the sound he was after!, As he also shown me an old catalog description of a 34 A-50 with elevated board in the catalog it showed a round hole A-50 with elevated board so with the one he shown me with F-holes from 34 I suspect it was a very late 34 F-hole elevated board A-50 based on the FON#, a very early elevated board F-hole A-50, I always figured they only did this in 35 "as I've had a load and always been 1935!" but I stand corrected! Now if anyone can show me an elevated board A-50 from 1936 I'd be surprised as well but I bet if they do exist it would have to be very early 36-a transitional model/left over stock from 1935 just like the change in late 34 from round hole to F-hole-elevated board!

    I find this all fascinating as a mandolin GEEK-for sure with old Gibson stuff, sorta like all the ole Wide bodied A-50's with different peg head inlays "I had one, 1937 with a flowerpot-like a 5" also the late 30's-early 40's F-4's I've seen with elevated boards, Ferns, fluer-di-lis, flowerpots, and some with F-7 fret board inlays- I wonder if they were ordered like that or Gibson was using leftover stock?

    We know Gibson was using during the Great Depression old neck blank left over stock from F-2's/4's for their budget brands-but still expensive for the timeframe but cheaper than the 5 series, F-7's-10's and F-12's! To come up with a serious budget brand MM! Again fascinating tome anyway!

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  23. #40
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    In term of strings for a vintage Gibson oval, I can thoroughly recommend d'Addario monels which are designed to sound more like the strings available at the time. They have some extra 'thump' in the bass that transformed my 1920 F4!

    https://www.stringsdirect.co.uk/strings-c1/string-sets-c865/mandolin-c41/daddario-ejm75c-mandolin-strings-monel-medium-plus-11-41-p14159

  24. #41
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by mreidsma View Post
    My favorite was this A2: https://www.elderly.com/collections/...gibson-a4-1922 It was not only lovely but had a warm, deep tone that is still haunting me, hours later. I just hope I can tolerate my instruments now, at least until I save up a few quid!
    That is a '22 A-4, not an A-2. Lovely looking. In the photographs, it almost looks less red than most A-4s. I wonder if it were one of the very rare Cremona brown finishes or else was Gibson experimenting. Or it could jut be the lighting that the photographer used.

    For historical purposes:
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    Jim

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  26. #42

    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by Capt. E View Post
    There is (was?) a wonderful white-face A3 at Fiddlers Green that I have lusted over as well. Big sound on that one.
    those white faced As are so cool. never owned on and i may be mandolined up, but they are so cool

  27. #43

    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by ollaimh View Post
    those white faced As are so cool. never owned on and i may be mandolined up, but they are so cool
    i have played A 2s and 1s that sounded as good as A 4s but those A 4s just look so beautiful. if only they had made a two point version and i'd be in heaven

  28. #44
    Howling at the moon Wolfboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    They vary, but the good ones really are amazing sounding. I own five (yeah, I know), and my favorites are a 1921 A and a 1920 A, followed closely by a 1909 A. The 1909 has a narrower fingerboard than I'd like, otherwise itíd be right up there with the other two. Being that I have pretty big hands and am as much a guitar player as a mandolin player, I prefer the bigger, meatier necks of the pre-truss rod era, but of course thatís a matter of personal preference. And since the music Iím involved with these days is mostly a mix of Celtic, old-time Appalachian and Baroque, often playing solo, I find the warmth and depth and sustain of the old Gibson Aís works better for me than the crispness and bark of F5s Ė although my main Aís hold their own just fine in bluegrass jams too.

    (Shameless plug, I guess: if youíd like to hear them, I used all three on my solo Bach CD, https://robinbullock.com/product/rob...olin-volume-o/ ÖSuite 1 is the 1920, Suite 2 is the 1921 and Suite 3 is the 1909.)

  29. #45
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Shameless compliment, Wolfboy: your playing is very nice on the sampled cuts. I, too, lean to that warm and depth of tone and sustain of the old Gibsons and modern instruments built and voiced in that same way.

    BTW is your CD available as a download?
    Jim

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  30. #46

    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    I listened to the three tracks, and I much preferred the sound of the 1909. It seemed much more resonant and deeper in tone. All three tracks and instruments are lovely. Thanks for including the link.

  31. #47
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by Rdeane View Post
    I listened to the three tracks, and I much preferred the sound of the 1909. It seemed much more resonant and deeper in tone. All three tracks and instruments are lovely. Thanks for including the link.
    Whoops, I missed the notation about the different instruments. Now I want to listen again.
    Jim

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  32. #48
    Registered User mreidsma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    That is a '22 A-4, not an A-2.
    Yes! I put the wrong link in, actually. Looking back on my notes (yes, I took notes while I was playing!) I much preferred the A2 to the A4. I played them both. It looks like the A2 is gone, now. I only see one on the website and it's not the one I played. Someone got an incredible instrument.

    Shortly after playing the Gibson, I stumbled into a Mid-Missouri M2 for about $50, which has kept me busy, but I still think about that Gibson A2 every day.

  33. #49
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    I've owned my 1920 A3 for 35 years. Bought it from the original owner when I was living in Blacksburg, Virginia. During the time I've owned my A3, I've also owned a black snake and an a2z - both worm under. They were great mandolins! Sold them though! Just can't see that either trumped my A3. Plus, I like the wider neck.

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  34. #50
    Howling at the moon Wolfboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage Gibson oval hole

    Quote Originally Posted by Rdeane View Post
    I listened to the three tracks, and I much preferred the sound of the 1909. It seemed much more resonant and deeper in tone. All three tracks and instruments are lovely.
    Thanks! The 1909 seemed best suited to Suite No. 3, since it's got the strongest bass of the three mandos - I think the other two might be sweeter overall but the low G string on that '09 just roars, and Suite No. 3 is in G major when it's transposed to mandolin, so plenty of opportunity to swat that open low string and set it roaring.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Shameless compliment, Wolfboy: your playing is very nice on the sampled cuts. I, too, lean to that warm and depth of tone and sustain of the old Gibsons and modern instruments built and voiced in that same way.

    BTW is your CD available as a download?
    Thank you too, Jim! Yep, it's available as a download from CDBaby (https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/robinbullock7) and it should be on iTunes as well.

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