Results 1 to 24 of 24

Thread: What's up with this A4?

  1. #1
    Traditional Bluegrasser Matteo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Forli, Italy
    Posts
    88

    Question What's up with this A4?

    Hi folks - long time no talk! Hope everyone is well!
    I've been eyeing this one for some weeks...price dropped considerable and now seems very reasonable...

    https://reverb.com/ch/item/29360388-...-mandolin-1923

    Apart from the very odd neck end (a repair?) and replacement pickguard (and bracket perhaps?), I don't see any problems. Why would this not have sold already?
    Ok, it's likely one or two years earlier than 1923...but still...

    What do y'all think?
    Matt.
    Matt Ringressi
    Old-school Blue Grass

  2. #2
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    1,717

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    The fretboard (extention) is not right for a mandolin. That kind of fretboard indicates a mandola. So... is the instrument a mandolin or a mandola?
    Olaf

  3. #3
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,112

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Sure looks like a truss-rodded sunburst H2 mandola, which is approximately as rare as a hen's tooth. Yes, the pickguard support arm looks funky, but even that might be original, just bent.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  4. #4
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Wheeling, WV
    Posts
    5,061

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    prices currently are all over the place, there are bargains to be had if careful.

    For comparison is this listing from Guitar Center:
    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Gi...BoCiYUQAvD_BwE
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

  5. #5
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,402

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    The saddle's compensation offsets also indicate "mandola" (allowing for 3 wound and 1 plain course) ... even if it IS mounted backwards. The 1st & 4th courses s/b the longest, while the 2nd, the highest wound course, s/b the shortest.
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the kowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  6. #6
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,057

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Sure looks like a truss-rodded sunburst H2 mandola, which is approximately as rare as a hen's tooth. Yes, the pickguard support arm looks funky, but even that might be original, just bent.
    Did you? It’s gone.
    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
    2018 Vessel TM5

  7. #7
    Traditional Bluegrasser Matteo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Forli, Italy
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Did you? It’s gone.
    Wow...well there you go anyone on here got it? If it was a mandola indeed, it was nothing for me.
    Matt.
    Matt Ringressi
    Old-school Blue Grass

  8. #8
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    1,717

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Not me... Interesting instrument though. Now if I were a mandola guy...

  9. #9
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,112

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Bought it, and hoo boy, what an adventure.

    The seller was inexperienced with (a) instruments; (b) Reverb, PayPal and online buying/selling in general. He didn't want to ship until his funds were released; PayPal didn't want to release his funds until he shipped. You can imagine how much fun that was for me. I have to say that he did pack it very well and tried to follow my packing instructions, but things get a little dicey when you're trying to explain what you want done with the bridge and tailpiece cover and the seller doesn't know what those terms mean.

    International shipping during a worldwide pandemic is not for the faint of heart. The box left Melbourne on April 7 and was off the radar for two solid weeks until it finally showed up in U.S. customs. All in all, over a month passed between the time I paid for it and the time it arrived.

    It's here now and doesn't seem to have sustained any shipping damage. One thing that rankles, however, is that the bridge base has been glued to the top, possibly with cyanoacrylate. There's a bit of fretwear, the nut seems low and there might be a touch of top sink but it's not too bad.

    I know a couple of luthiers with home workshops who may be able to do something about the bridge *and* might be accepting projects during stay-at-home time. I will have to look into it. I don't suppose there is any such thing as a solvent for cyanocrylate that will not also dissolve the finish, is there?
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  10. The following members say thank you to mrmando for this post:


  11. #10
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,682

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    "bridge base . . . glued to the top, possibly with cyanoacrylate."

    That's one I sure don't have an answer for.

    Acetone, which is a common solvent for CA, also dissolves shellac, and other spirit varnishes. It dissolves lacquer very quickly. It's no good here. Neither is alcohol. Nor lacquer thinner. Any solvent that I know of that might dissolve CA will damage the finish.

    The only thing I can think of is a big maybe, and that's Xylene. It's risky at best. You would have to test it underneath the tailpiece, and I don't know if it will soften CA.

    That leaves the following alternatives:

    1. Leave it alone and hope the intonation will be tolerable.
    2. Hope that it's white glue, not CA, apply a drop or two of water, wiggle it, wait an hour, and see if it starts to loosen up.
    3. Sacrifice the bridge base by removing it by mechanical means almost to the surface of the top, then scrape it level with a masked scraper or masked sanding block.

    Everything else is risky:

    4. A tap with block and hammer will probably knock it loose, but it will take the finish and possibly some spruce with it.
    5. Enough heat will break it loose, if you can find a way to apply it through a bridge base to such a small area. But you risk heat damage to the finish.
    6. Perhaps very hot water in a syringe will loosen it up, but hot water is an enemy of spirit varnish.

    How badly do you want to save the bridge? If it is CA, 1 and 3 are the safest alternatives. I'd be prepared to save the instrument and sacrifice the bridge. Another bridge can be installed easily enough.

    As far as the other problems, there's nothing to worry about as long as your repairman is competent. Worn frets can be replaced. And often, top sinkage is due to a loose brace. Sometimes when the brace is re-glued, the sinkage will go away completely.
    Last edited by rcc56; Apr-26-2020 at 5:13pm.

  12. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:

    mrmandoNevin 

  13. #11
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,682

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    After a few moments away from the computer, I am now sure the only options are to leave it alone or sacrifice the bridge.

    If it's an adjustable bridge, a replacement base from Axiom costs $26.50 if it's a mandolin, $33 if it's a mandola.

    If it's a solid bridge, I can make and fit a replacement in a couple of hours. If the repairman can save the compensated upper section, it can be laminated to a new solid base. It will cut down on the labor time and be virtually undetectable from the original, except for the lack of a patent stamp. That's actually the way Gibson built their solid bridges after 1914 anyway.

  14. #12
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,112

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Thanks very much for the advice! I will be in touch with Paul the luthier and see if (a) he's even taking in work right now; (b) he wants to have a go at this. We'll review your suggestions and come up with an approach. I am not sure it's CA; there are a couple of shiny spots where the glue has leaked out from underneath the bridge, but I'm not an expert.

    If there is top sink at all it's minor. I pushed gingerly on the brace, since I don't know what I'm doing. Paul, I'm sure, will check it out more thoroughly.

    If it comes down to sacrificing the bridge to save the finish, I'll see what Paul thinks. He made the bridge for my Lyon & Healy mandola. He might be able to cut off most of this bridge, make a new bottom layer for it and glue them together ... or make a whole new base and reuse the existing posts and saddle ... or fit an entirely new bridge.

    My first Gibson mandocello, when I got it, had obviously been the victim of a glued bridge that someone had later removed, taking a good bit of spruce with it. I will want to avoid doing that to this mandola, so if it becomes necessary to destroy the bridge in order to save the mandola, I'm all for it.

    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  15. #13
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,112

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    It's an adjustable bridge; the original saddle could be reused if the base has to go. I'll check out Axiom; a replacement base will be cheaper than having Paul cut a new one or Frankenstein the old one.

    But perhaps it is worth stringing it up and seeing how it intonates before doing anything to the bridge.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  16. #14
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,682

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Certainly, string it up first. With a little luck, the intonation will be fine.

    If not, measure the post spacing before you order. If there's a large difference, a mandolin base may work. If the difference is small, the post holes in the saddle can be adjusted slightly or the post holes in the base plugged and re-drilled. Or if necessary, you can just buy a complete bridge.

    The URL for Axiom is www.axinc.net. I believe their bridges and bridge parts are made by Cumberland.

    If Paul is not available, you are welcome to PM me.

  17. #15
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,112

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    OK, I will be glad to ship it to you if I can't get local help. I have a Cumberland mandolin bridge just sitting here, so I'll take measurements to see if it might work.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  18. #16
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,112

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    in case anyone's curious, the FON is 11604 and the SN is 68678. I believe these would indicate ship and build dates of 1922 according to Spann.

    As Ed noted above, the saddle was on backward — but to add insult to injury, the base was glued on backward as well! (The patent date stamp faces the soundhole instead of the tailpiece.)
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  19. #17
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,682

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Sounds like you have one of the last H-2's.

    I had one of the last A-4's-- circa 1932. It had a factory engraved truss rod cover with the name "F. Slimer" [!!].
    I didn't record the factory order number. I might have a record of the serial number somewhere, but I'm too lazy to dig for it right now.

    Had to replace the fingerboard on that one because the fret slots on the original board were so badly located that the mandolin simply would not play in tune. It was quite a good mandolin once I got it straightened out.

    It had been previously owned by a well-known musician, and came with a letter of provenance. After 2 or 3 attempts to sell it in the classifieds, I traded it to Bernunzio's, who sold it within days to The Acoustic Music Company in the UK. They also sold it quickly.

    That mandolin was one reason I got out of the fix-up and re-sell business. I never could figure out why it didn't sell in the classifieds-- I had it listed for several hundred less than Bernunzio.

    Here's a link to the Acoustic Music Co. listing of the mandolin : www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/whats-news/?p=5887
    Last edited by rcc56; Apr-26-2020 at 11:10pm.

  20. #18
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Sugar Grove,PA
    Posts
    2,826
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    So is it a snakehead mandola? I can't seem to locate the photos from Reverb? If its a snake mandola its the 2nd one I've ever heard of! Very sweet if so, and a rare piece of GIBSON oddity. Could you post a few photos of her, I'd love to see it?

    A small amount of top sink/ or a bit of flatness is really no biggie, I've seen this on many old Gibson mandolins, if its real bad I know an experienced luthier can steam the top back into place, "Randy Wood did this for me on an old F-5 about 20 years ago" or if its under the bridge feet fit a full contact bridge base and after awhile it will go back to normal-I've done this with a few F-7 conversions and an 82 Gilchrist F-5 I had. On all my keeper vintage mandolins I always fit a full contact base.

  21. #19

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Like rcc56 says heat will remove it, but not for the faint of heart. I would approach it the same way I remove an acoustic guitar bridge. Take a piece of cardboard that will cover the entire mandolin. Cut a hole in it the exact size of the bridge base. Cover the cardboard with aluminum foil. Get a "heat lamp" from Tractor Supply or wherever -- just a small relfector with a spring clamp to mount it to something. You need a 250 watt "chicken" bulb, a 150 is not hot enough. Put it as close as you can to the bridge base, 2 inches or less. Get a clock and time it. It will take 6 to 10 minutes, but the scary part is after about 4 minutes smoke will start coming off the wood, not sure if that is moisture, oil, or whatever, but you must wait, 4 minutes isn't enough time. Don't touch it with your bare fingers, it will burn you. Somewhere around 6-10 minutes it will release, sooner if you get lucky. If there is any gap between the foil shield and the bridge bridge the heat lamp will burn your finish black and bubble it -- so no gaps -- not for the faint of heart. (This is the kind of luthier stuff better not seen by the customer, IMHO!)

    You can also use an iron placed directly on the bridge base, but you risk ruining the base and you have to be very careful not to touch the surrounding finish. A household iron will do, but they make a small 1x3 inch tacking iron for the dry mounting industry that is perfect, but a fairly expensive specialty item.

  22. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,511

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    I use the same technique, but slower. My bench light and a 100w bulb. It still gets hot, takes more time, but I remove bridges like that all the time. It is a little safer and doesn't burn the wood. I move the light and check it when it smells hot so I can get it off as soon as possible. Again it takes longer, but is less stressful.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  23. The following members say thank you to pops1 for this post:


  24. #21
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,682

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    I use a 1" x 5" heat blanket plugged into a Harbor Freight router control to lift guitar bridges and mandolin fingerboards, and a 2" x 5" blanket to lift guitar fingerboards.
    The heat blankets let you put the heat exactly where you want it, and the router control functions as a temperature controller.

    Heat blankets in several shapes and many sizes are available from McMaster-Carr and MSC Industrial Supply.
    They are well worth the modest cost. They have made a lot of jobs around here simpler and safer. The recommended power rating for lutherie is 5 watts per square inch.

    LMI also sells a few, but they charge twice the price and want you to buy their high priced fancy temperature controller which is no more effective than the router controller.

    I would want something smaller to use here if I was going to try heat. But my inclination is to avoid heat on this one. I worry that the amount of heat necessary to soften the glue will also soften the finish.

  25. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:


  26. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,511

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Yes there is no finish under a guitar bridge. I have a blanket, but prefer the light method.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  27. #23
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    12,112

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    Well, a little finish damage directly underneath the bridge feet at least wouldn't be visible with the bridge back on. There is a little gap under one of the feet already. it might not take much heat. I have a chicken bulb (alas, the chickens have gone to the big coop in the sky) but would definitely leave work like this to a professional.

    Not a snakehead, sorry for the confusion. It is a paddlehead sunburst H2 with a truss rod and a metal truss rod cover. At first glance it seems to be all original and in fairly good shape, minus the bridge issue. The case is vintage but not a type i've seen before. Unbelievably funky: the handle, instead of being on the same side as the latches, is on the hinged side! Doesn't seem very secure, since there are but 2 latches and one of them is loose. I missed out on a nice secondhand Calton and a Cedar Creek mandola case that were sold on Reverb while I was waiting for the H2 to get here.

    I saved the Reverb ad photos here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/9fCHdgV8zGcjCALZ9 I haven't taken any of my own yet.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  28. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,511

    Default Re: What's up with this A4?

    The stainless truss rod cover was used in '22. My A2 has one too.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  29. The following members say thank you to pops1 for this post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •