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Thread: Question about late twenties Gibson A's

  1. #1
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Question about late twenties Gibson A's

    Hi all,

    I know people tend to prefer the Loar era A's of about 1924-25. I also know others have different opinions and that every mandolin has its own voice.

    What I'm wondering is what people think of later ones, say 1927-30 (I'm not sure how many were built in this period.) They are usually paddle heads with truss rods, yes? Any opinions? They seem generally cheaper than the ones from the mid-twenties.

    Thanks.
    Cary Fagan

  2. #2
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Question about late twenties Gibson A's

    I do not subscribe to the conventional wisdom that Loar period A models are better than those made from 1910 to early 1922, or those made from 1925 to their discontinuation in the 1930's.

    The only generalization that I can make about Gibsons from these different periods is that starting around 1920 or so, there is a tendency for the build to be a bit heavier than on earlier mandolins. But that is only a tendency.

    I had a very late A-4 paddlehead with truss rod go through my shop a couple of years ago. It was one of the last A-4's made, built around 1932 or so. It was a good sounding mandolin, and there was very little difference between it and many mandolins that were made 15 or 20 years earlier. Unfortunately, the frets were so poorly located that I had to replace the fingerboard to allow the instrument to play in tune. Once I took care of that, it turned out to be a fine instrument.

    I've handled many of the old oval hole Gibsons, and my experience is that each instrument does indeed have its own voice. Some were good, some were better, and some were not good at all. I have found no consistent correlation between quality of tone and projection and the date of manufacture, except that there may have been a few more duds built in the 20's than in the 'teens, probably because of the tendency towards bodies that were carved a bit thicker.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about late twenties Gibson A's

    Personally, I like the late '20's instruments. A 1927/29 A Jr was my first "good" instrument this time around. Love the sound of it. Some folks I respect consider it one of the better oval holes out there. Mine doesn't have a truss rod, but haven't missed it so far.

    They may be built a bit heavier. I've never noticed. The A Jr has more bass than an A from 1910. For some, it might be tubby. For the music I play, it's good. But again, that could just be two different instruments sounding different.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 1941 Strad-O-Lin, 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 1950's Californian
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