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Thread: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

  1. #1
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    What are the differences from a A2 and a A2Z snakehead Gibsons? Binding? Tone? I understand the label marked with the Z. Im going to be looking for one soon. any advice?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    Differences: Most A-2's have a Sheraton Brown finish, single binding, and a plainer rosette. A-2Z's have a blonde finish, a double bound top, and a fancier rosette with an ivoroid center ring. Black A-2's are occasionally seen. People will fight over whether any of them left the factory with a "Z" on the label. I'll not comment further on that subject.

    Tone? Use your ears and pick the best sounding mandolin. A popular belief is that the Z models have a special tone. I do not necessarily agree.
    Advice? If you find a plain A-2 and an A-2Z that both sound really good, you will have to decide whether you think it worthwhile to pay $3000 more for fancier top binding and rosette and an extra letter on the label.

    Some people believe that the Z designation was applied as a catchy name for marketing purposes: A-2Z-- A to Z. Others believe that when the A-3 was discontinued in early 1923, some unfinished bodies with the double binding and fancy rosette were left over, those bodies were finished out with A-2 necks, and the letter was added to distinguish the new, more spiffy version of the model. I believe that there is truth in both theories.

    The Z designation was introduced in the 1923 catalog. That catalog lists only the A-2Z model, it does not list an A-2 without the Z. The model was dropped from the catalogs by 1928. Spann's lists of known factory order numbers show no evidence that both models were built concurrently, and shows no examples of either version of the model being built after 1924.

    An example of Gibson's inconsistent use of the Z designation while the model was available can be gleaned from a current ad from a long established vintage store: "In Gibson's 1926 catalog there's a full page write up and picture of the A-2z, in the back the price list says A-2. This one marked A-2-." From a Lark Street Music listing for a 1924 A-2 with Z appointments. NFI.
    Last edited by rcc56; Dec-31-2020 at 4:46am.

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  4. #3
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    Thank you very much. Thats what I was looking for. Much appreciated.

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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    Some A-2s have tortoise binding on back. ive seen a couple but not too common.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    A-2Z in the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/162972#162972

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    I have (by the specs) a black A-2 from 1923. However the label says "A-". Not sure why that was but as far as I know there were no black A-2Zs or at least they were not labelled that way. When I bought mine the dealer had it listed as an A-2Z but I have since a few years here stopped calling it that. I love picking it up and hearing the sounds it makes, nonetheless. I have played quite a few other snakeheads and they do vary a bit and have also played a fair number of both A-2Zs and snakehead A-4s and they usually do not disappoint me. OTOH I am certainly in no rush to sell off my snakehead. It has been with me now for about 40 years—I believe I bought it in 1981.
    Jim

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom C View Post
    Some A-2s have tortoise binding on back. ive seen a couple but not too common.
    Also a handful of 20's F-2's I've seen with tortoise back binding-pretty neat.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    My other favorite oddball feature at least on snakeheads and possibly other mandolins of the era are the coffee-color tuning knobs on some. There is probably some story about that but I don’t know why it happened. Maybe the button maker left a batch in the stain too long or something. Or they fell into his mug of coffee?
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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Jan-01-2021 at 6:45pm.
    Jim

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    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  14. #9
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    My other favorite oddball feature at least on snakeheads and possibly other mandolins of the era are the coffee-color tuning knobs on some. There is probably some story about that but I don’t know why it happened. Maybe the button maker left a batch in the stain too long or something. Or they fell into his mug of coffee?
    Those look good on there.

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    Default Re: Question about A2 Gibson Snakeheads.

    Interesting discussion. Would the quality of the tone woods have been better on the a2-z vs the a2? Maybe closer to an a4 snakehead?
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