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Thread: New (antique) mandolin day!

  1. #1

    Default New (antique) mandolin day!

    I snagged a 1916 A. Action is a little too high for me. Should I lower the original bridge or upgrade to an adjustable more modern bridge. I have some concerns that the larger footprint of an adjustable bridge will mark the top and would be seen should it ever be returned to the original bridge.
    I donít believe this is the original tailpiece but boy this thing is clean. No cracks and tuners work great!
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  2. #2
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Wait, how many new mandolins have you acquired recently? I feel like I've seen a few threads ...
    (That looks really nice)

  3. #3

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Well this is the only cool one. I will probably sell my KM180s. I’ve been wanting an old Gibson for a long time. I gave up on finding an affordable A50. This old A was only $650.00 and it was hard to pass up.

  4. #4
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    i wouldn't have passed it up, either .
    I've also got a KM180s, but it's a Korean one. It's my travel/beater/loaner mandolin.
    I'm really attracted to the older ones, ever since I got my Stradolin.

  5. #5
    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Congrats! I've got one a whole lot like it (same year, case lining color, original tailpiece cover). Paid a lot more for it, though.

    D.H.

  6. #6

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    The MIJ 180s was hard to pass up too (cheap) it may be a keeper but I haven’t decided. I need lessons more than I need more mandolins but sometimes a deal will fall in your lap.

  7. #7

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hicks View Post
    Congrats! I've got one a whole lot like it (same year, case lining color, original tailpiece cover). Paid a lot more for it, though.

    D.H.
    So mine has the original tailpiece? Everything I’ve seen has “The Gibson” tailpiece. Are you using a fixed or adjustable bridge?

  8. #8
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldblues View Post
    The MIJ 180s was hard to pass up too (cheap) it may be a keeper but I haven’t decided. I need lessons more than I need more mandolins but sometimes a deal will fall in your lap.
    I need lessons more than mandolins, too, but that hasn't stopped me yet

  9. #9
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    BTW on the bridge. When I got my Stradolin it had been sitting unplayed for years. When I got it set up, the bridge was moved, and there was a mark. I didn't worry too much about it. My opinion is, get it set up right for you, don't worry too much about the next guy.

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  11. #10
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Changing to an adjustable bridge will have an effect on the tone. It may be quite noticeable, or it may only be slight. You may or may not like the results.
    And it probably will leave a mark, sooner or later.
    If you like the sound as is, you might as well go ahead and lower the original, since it is no longer within spec.
    Then, if you decide to try the adjustable bridge and don't like the results, you can put the original back.
    And no, that is not the original tailpiece, at least not the cover. These mandolins were all shipped with the scalloped rectangular "The Gibson" tailpiece.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Congratulations on your Gibson A, it looks like a very nice example! In 1916 it would have had a traditional “crown” type of tailpiece with the script The Gibson embossed on the top surface. Plenty of originals can be had if you watch the classifieds here as well as nice replicas.

    On the bridge, I wouldn’t necessarily call an adjustable bridge an upgrade. Your A will probably sound best with the lighter weight original one piece bridge. A competent luthier will be able to refit the bridge and lower the action. Also ask him to check the transverse bridge under the top, in my collection of vintage Gibson mandolins about half needed to have the brace reglued. It is not costly to repair and if not fixed the top can collapse of become distorted.

    According to Gibson literature they purposely sent new instruments out with a high action to account for the top settling. It seems that many instruments settled less than others and were never readjusted before their owners lost interest and left them in a closet or under the bed. Maybe yours is one of these!

    Let us know how things work out.

    Enjoy!
    Mark
    Mark Lynch

  13. #12

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Wow! What a deal! I would've jumped on that, too. Enjoy it in good health.

  14. #13

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkELynch View Post
    Congratulations on your Gibson A, it looks like a very nice example! In 1916 it would have had a traditional “crown” type of tailpiece with the script The Gibson embossed on the top surface. Plenty of originals can be had if you watch the classifieds here as well as nice replicas.

    On the bridge, I wouldn’t necessarily call an adjustable bridge an upgrade. Your A will probably sound best with the lighter weight original one piece bridge. A competent luthier will be able to refit the bridge and lower the action. Also ask him to check the transverse bridge under the top, in my collection of vintage Gibson mandolins about half needed to have the brace reglued. It is not costly to repair and if not fixed the top can collapse of become distorted.

    According to Gibson literature they purposely sent new instruments out with a high action to account for the top settling. It seems that many instruments settled less than others and were never readjusted before their owners lost interest and left them in a closet or under the bed. Maybe yours is one of these!

    Let us know how things work out.

    Enjoy!
    Mark
    The top seems to have its original arch. I was told that the poor old thing spent the last 40 years or so, in a closet with the strings loosened. The old strings I removed had the fuzzy stuff on the loop ends. I haven seen that since the 1960’s. Included in the case was a box of Lion brand strings that look very old. I have lowered and fitted a bridge on a beater KM150 but I think I’ll let a pro set this one up. The string height at the nut are too high as well and I don’t trust myself on this old relic. The intonation is off maybe partly due to the string height. Going to see a luthier next week. Thanks for your input!
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  15. #14
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    That tailpiece base is also non-original.

    A correct style modern replacement is the nickel plated Prucha replica tailpiece available from Greg Boyd for $38.24 plus shipping. An original is fairly hard to find and will cost quite a bit of money.

    Save the current tailpiece cover and base, though. Although it is not correct for a Gibson, it is collectable and is probably worth as much or more as the Prucha replica tailpiece.

  16. #15

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Great price and great looking pumpkin top Gibson mandolin! Congratulations!

  17. #16
    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldblues View Post
    So mine has the original tailpiece? Everything Iíve seen has ďThe GibsonĒ tailpiece. Are you using a fixed or adjustable bridge?
    No, sorry, didn't say that clearly. I have the original tailpiece and cover- different from what I see on yours. Original bridge, too.

    D.H.

  18. #17
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Can you share the serial number for your 'teens A?
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  19. #18

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Can you share the serial number for your 'teens A?
    It’s hard for me to read but here is a shot of the label.

  20. #19

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    34948 looks like to me

    - - - Updated - - -

    Or 34648

  21. #20
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Yes, the third digit is hard to read, it might also be 34048. Maybe you can post a picture from a different angle.
    Also, you have the original paper label but it should be white or yellowed, never glossy, it should have a plain matte finish like notebook paper. This label shows evidence of being over-coated with a transparent finish, probably sprayed lacquer. This might indicate that the top was over-coated as well and the oval hole wasn’t masked so the label was sprayed as well in the process. Perhaps your A was refurbished in the distant past and maybe the tailpiece was changed at the same time. What do you think?

    Mark
    Mark Lynch

  22. #21

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkELynch View Post
    Yes, the third digit is hard to read, it might also be 34048. Maybe you can post a picture from a different angle.
    Also, you have the original paper label but it should be white or yellowed, never glossy, it should have a plain matte finish like notebook paper. This label shows evidence of being over-coated with a transparent finish, probably sprayed lacquer. This might indicate that the top was over-coated as well and the oval hole wasn’t masked so the label was sprayed as well in the process. Perhaps your A was refurbished in the distant past and maybe the tailpiece was changed at the same time. What do you think?

    Mark
    . No clue, I’m totally ignorant about these old guys.

  23. #22

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    I did order a Prucha repro tailpiece. They were out of stock in nickel plate but they had a bare brass so I intend to nickel plate it myself (I was a bench jeweler in a former life) I think I will age/relic it too. I will post photos when the science project begins…

  24. #23

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Looked again with strong light 34068

  25. #24

    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkELynch View Post
    Yes, the third digit is hard to read, it might also be 34048. Maybe you can post a picture from a different angle.
    Also, you have the original paper label but it should be white or yellowed, never glossy, it should have a plain matte finish like notebook paper. This label shows evidence of being over-coated with a transparent finish, probably sprayed lacquer. This might indicate that the top was over-coated as well and the oval hole wasn’t masked so the label was sprayed as well in the process. Perhaps your A was refurbished in the distant past and maybe the tailpiece was changed at the same time. What do you think?

    Mark
    I can’t see any evidence of spray. Maybe someone brushed varnish on the label to thwart the peeling? If that’s the case they did a perfect job and stayed on the paper as there is no brush marks and they stayed within the borders. The number is “34068”

  26. #25
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    Default Re: New (antique) mandolin day!

    Have you located the factory order number? If visible, it would be stamped in black ink on the neck block inside.
    According to Joe Spann that will pinpoint the production year.

    Mark
    Mark Lynch

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