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Thread: Old Gibson

  1. #1
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    Default Old Gibson

    1. Can anybody tell me anything about this Mandolin? Age? Worth?
    2. Can any music shop get this thing in working condition or do I need to find somebody that specializes in instruments like this. The local shop says they can make any needed repairs to it.
    This is a family hand me down so I want to make sure I am making the right decisions with this piece as far as who I let work on it.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Also, I want to play it or should I keep it locked up?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    That is a Gibson A-4, most likely built sometime between 1918 and 1922.

    It is missing some parts: the bridge, the pickguard, and the tailpiece cover. Original replacement parts are expensive and a bit hard to find; but replica parts are available.

    It is best that whoever works on it have some experience with older, collectable instruments.

    Its value depends largely on its condition and the originality of the finish. We would need to see a picture of the back of the instrument to make a reasonable assessment. If the finish on the back is original and not heavily worn, the instrument might bring somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 at an established "vintage" instrument shop. If sold privately, it would probably bring somewhat less.

    By all means, play it! These are good mandolins.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Is there somebody in the KY/TN area that specializes in repairing old instruments? Or will Gibson factory make repairs? I am in West KY.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Now that you've posted your location, I'm sure that folks will advise on instrument shops qualified to fixer up! No reason to fear putting it shape, cleaning it up a bit and playing it. But probably best not to send to Gibson or to a Guitar Center. You want to find someone who works on vintage acoustic instruments.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Let's see. Kentucky and Tennesee.....nope, no mandolin expertise there....

    Seriously, ground zero of mandolin expertise, it's just I can't help you as I live in CA. I imagine locals will give you a dozen suggestions soon.

    You have a great year and model for old Gibsons, and they were meant to be played. You could just get any performance issues fixed and leave it like that, or seek out original parts. Choice is yours. Nice piece to have.
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  8. #7
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    If it was in playable shape it would be worth a couple of thousand dollars. In this shape it's worth hundreds of dollars. In great shape it would still be only worth a few thousand dollars. No need to lock it up, you'll never retire on the value. Get it fixed with reproduction parts and play it. It's worth more as a family heirloom than it will be as an instrument. Send a PM to the cafe member in post 3 of this thread (rcc56) and see what he would charge to bring it back for you.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  10. #8
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    The mandolin definitely looks repairable to me. If you can find the original bridge [a piece of black wood about 3 1/2" long], it will reduce the cost of the repair.

  11. #9
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Fix it, string it, and play it.
    It is a very cool mandolin, but not a museum piece.
    It wants to be played.

    If you plan to sell it, get it to a good luthier, who can get it in playing condition.
    It will be worth the most when it is working.
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  12. #10

    Default Re: Old Gibson

    It appears to me that there is a crack in the top on the treble side of the oval hole heading towards the bridge. If his has not been professionally repaired you will want to get it fixed before string it up. also have in looked at by someone experienced with mandolins and make sure the braces are there and in good condition. Some old Gibson's are subject to sinking tops, usually due to a brace coming loose. A good cleaning and proper setup and it should be a great mandolin to play. Play the heck out of it and don't let it sit in a closet.

  13. #11
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest Steve View Post
    It appears to me that there is a crack in the top on the treble side of the oval hole heading towards the bridge.

    Also have in looked at by someone experienced with mandolins and make sure the braces are there and in good condition. Some old Gibson's are subject to sinking tops, usually due to a brace coming loose. A good cleaning and proper setup and it should be a great mandolin to play. Play the heck out of it and don't let it sit in a closet.
    Steve, I believe that what you are seeing is an old string lying on the top, not a crack.

    The fingerboard binding on the treble side may be missing, but I can't tell for sure because of the angle of the picture.

    With a little luck, the neck will be straight and the frets will be in good shape. If so, it will only need a bridge, a set up, any missing binding replaced, and probably the brace reglued [there is only one]. Installing a tailpiece cover and pickguard can be considered optional.

    The cost of the repairs on this instrument will probably be pretty moderate. If the original bridge can be found, it would reduce the cost by ~$100.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-12-2019 at 6:18pm.

  14. #12
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    You should definitely play it. These old Gibsons are neat instruments, with a lot of charm and character. Particularly since it's a family heirloom, find a repair person who knows mandolins, get it tended to, and then play the heck out of it. A really great thing to have i the family.
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  15. #13
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Thanks for all the replies! Rcc56, if I have time tomorrow I will try to contact you.

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  17. #14
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    That is a Gibson A-4, most likely built sometime between 1918 and 1922.
    Mark1j:
    Look inside the soundhole toward the neck block and you should see a stamped number. That is the Factory Order Number (FON). If you tell us what it is we can more accurately tell you the date this was made.
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  18. #15
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

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  19. #16
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Spann's Guide to Gibson assigns that number to a batch of A-4's made in 1921.

  20. #17
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Looks like a decent A4 with good hopes of being revived.

  21. #18

    Default Re: Old Gibson

    1921 is a good year, next best to 1922 -25. definitely worth restoring. that's a minor gem. the A 4s are very pretty nd it should come out sounding great from that year. once refurbished it would probably sell fast here on the classifieds if you don't play it.

  22. #19
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old Gibson

    Is there a case with it? With any luck, missing parts like bridge, tailpiece cover, maybe even a pickguard clamp, will be stored in the case pocket.

    Nashville, Louisville, Knoxville are just some of the places that have repair shops.
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  23. #20

    Default Re: Old Gibson

    I would recommend Custom Fretted Instruments near Sparta, Tennessee. They have repaired many great things for me. http://www.customfret.com/

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