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Thread: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

  1. #1
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    There is a really good-looking Gibson A-4 in the classifieds. I think itís from about 1924. $5000.

    I recently bought a 1915 A-4, had it refretted and set up beautifully. I have less than $3000 in it.

    Besides the truss rod in the Loar-period instrument, is there really a lot of difference between these mandolins? Iím specifically curious about the sound comparison. I love my Ď15 A-4 and itís hard to imagine one that sounds a lot better.

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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    I have a 'teens A-4, along with some others, and it meets all my needs. I wouldn't spend 5grand just to get a "24.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buesseler View Post


    Besides the truss rod in the Loar-period instrument, is there really a lot of difference between these mandolins? I’m specifically curious about the sound comparison. I love my ‘15 A-4 and it’s hard to imagine one that sounds a lot better.

    In my experience, except for those who prefer a smaller neck, no. While I acknowledge that every mandolin is different, they can all be loosely described as being either good, very good, or not good at all.

    I will note that I had a late [circa 1930] A-4 pass through my shop a few years back. After I cured its intonation problems, which necessitated replacing the fingerboard, it turned out to be a pretty durn good mandolin. But not as good as some of the best 1910's A-4's that I have played, and better than some of the others.

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  5. #4
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    Well, I will say that Loar era one really looks clean. Like, wow. Even the case looks nice from what I can see in the one photo.

    As it has EVO frets and has been gone over by Bruce, it's probably worth that much to someone.

    Is it better than an earlier one? Depends on what you have and what you value. If sound is number one, then maybe not. If you want one of the nicest examples out there, then this might be it.

    To my mind, that's getting into a worn F2 territory, so would have to consider that.
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    I wouldn't spend 5grand just to get a "24.
    Who needs to spend 5 grand to get a ‘24?
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  7. #6

    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    The 1915 A4, if there are no issues, will be hard to beat for that oval hole sound. IMHO the '24 one falls into that category of rare and like snakeheads, somehow more desirable. Maybe to the collector but if yours is all set up perfectly then I'd see it being as good, at least. May even look better with the HANDEL TUNER BUTTONS. Strings, bridge material, set up all come into it. e.g. I find that a rosewood bridge works much better than ebony on my 1919 F4. Also bone nut as opposed to pearl. I'd be content with what you have but are we mandolinists ever content?

  8. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    The 1924 date of manufacture makes it "Loar era," which means a premium market asking price -- regardless of whether it's a better mandolin than one made five years earlier or later.

    At least that seems to be how pricing's going now, from what I've seen. There may be some additional price justification in having an adjustable truss rod, but IMHO the ghost of Lloyd L is what's kicking the price up.
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    The 1924 date of manufacture makes it "Loar era," which means a premium market asking price -- regardless of whether it's a better mandolin than one made five years earlier or later.

    At least that seems to be how pricing's going now, from what I've seen. There may be some additional price justification in having an adjustable truss rod, but IMHO the ghost of Lloyd L is what's kicking the price up.
    I’ve always thought that the snakehead was just a recognizable visual cue signaling other developments (adjustable bridge, adjustable truss rod, more narrow neck, profile, etc.) favored by modern players.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  11. #9
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    snake heads sound different than paddle heads.

    I kept the latter, but the former costs more.

    Cache does play into this; however. Be guided by your ears and fingers!

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  13. #10

    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    The only plus factor I see with snakeheads is that the strings don't touch each other (as they do with certain other old Gibson mandolins) and the nut slots don't have to be sideways as much. I think the original Gibson mandolins would have been better if the headstock had perhaps been a little narrower at the top without actually going as far as the snakeheads, thus avoiding the strings touching each other.

  14. #11
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-4, Teens vs 20s

    Maybe '22 saw the introduction of the truss rod , my paddle head A4 has a nickel plated TRC proclaiming it's presence..
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