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Thread: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

  1. #26
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Quote Originally Posted by yogiZ View Post
    What do you experts think of this beauty? A2 (Z?) SN not readable FON 11999

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    Same as mine... Label just says A with not readable SN (someone wrote over with pencil but without the first 7) but same rosette, back binding and inlaid logo on headstock and same FON 11999.

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    Jim

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  3. #27
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    I don't see how you could misread that label. It's an A2-Z on a cloudy day.

  4. #28
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Is there any way to tell if mandolins were originally part of one of the orchestra sets that Gibson used to make up and ship to orchestras? Just thinking there may be other reasons for refinishing other than cosmetic covering up. If an orchestra wanted a set of black instruments then the a bit of repurposing to make up a set would make sense too. Has anyone ever found any info that would allow those sets to be identified?
    Eoin



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  5. #29

    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. Fascinating stuff. Sent the A2Z off to Cumberland Acoustics for a Refret and a setup. Really excited to have it back. It will be with me for the long-haul for sure. When I first picked it up, I knew it was a keeper. It's label is cool, for sure. But, I love the story and the discussion that is has generated. I write about guitars in my spare time, and the history and strange practices of Gibson fascinate me. I love Martins, but they are straight instruments ; ) I'm kinda crooked ; )

  6. #30
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Gibson was notoriously strange in its practices for sure. That is why we love them. I have had my A-2 for about 40 years. Sometimes the newer kids get more play time but I always pick it up and appreciate it.
    Jim

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  7. #31
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Anything is possible with a factory produced instrument.

    I will occasionally intentionally make a black faced mandolin that has a burst back or neck. For those instruments, I burst the initial coat of the top the same as the back, before the black gets added. It is a subtle little surprise for the future owner in 50 years when the finish starts getting worn, just like the English imported 1950s stratocasters that had red over an original burst finish that did not show up until recently when the topcoat finally was worn down.

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  9. #32
    Registered User Matt Bowe's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    This mandolin was purchased from Mandolin Brothers advertised as a '1923 A2' with serial number 74753. FON 11971.
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ID:	186118 After several years of playing part of the top finish revealed the characteristic 'black inside white' top binding
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ID:	186124It also has two superimposed labels but doesn't indicate a model.
    MJB

  10. #33
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Beautiful instruments...

    But, a word of caution... I have a friend whose beautiful ca ~2000 black body Martin dreadnought's top-center-seam opened up while being played under about 30 minutes of direct southern California summer sun. This wasn't in the desert, just in one of the towns outside of L.A., so there was nothing extraordinary going on. And in that group, other people who had similar vintage natural finish Martins also in the sun had no problem.

    Since witnessing that I hesitate to play any black or dark finish instrument in direct sunlight. They just get too hot, too fast. Best to err on the side of caution.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
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  11. #34
    vintagemandolin.com Charles Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Quote Originally Posted by yogiZ View Post
    The top has white binding all around, but on the spots where the black finish has gone you can see a black binding on the inner side of the white binding. Isn't typical for A2z and A3?
    Yes, thats is one of the identifing characteristics

  12. #35
    vintagemandolin.com Charles Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Remember the mandolin was intended for classical music. The musicians wore formal dress, and it was not uncommon for them to request the Gibson respray their instrument black to be "more formal". I have had several instruments that were resprayed black, including a 1920 F4 and a 1915 A3.

  13. #36

    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Johnson View Post
    Remember the mandolin was intended for classical music. The musicians wore formal dress, and it was not uncommon for them to request the Gibson respray their instrument black to be "more formal". I have had several instruments that were resprayed black, including a 1920 F4 and a 1915 A3.
    I have often heard that instruments were oversprayed in clear to "freshen them up" when sent back to Gibson to preserve a new appearance for musicians playing "tuxedo" gigs.

    Similarly, I seem to remember Brian Epstein having John Lennon's Rickenbacker guitar repainted black to freshen up their image in the Beatles pre-fame days....

  14. #37

    Default Re: The dreaded black A2Z question. With a possible answer...

    My "A" snakehead with A2Z trimmings. Note the black trim internal to the white binding on the bass side (which is obscured where the black face finish is intact)
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