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Thread: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

  1. #1

    Default Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    https://imgur.com/gallery/BxpVj4t

    For the life of me I cannot read any writing whatsoever on the label inside. Even with a bright light.

    Iíve had the strings replaced, bridge set, and the head repaired since these photos. Iíve played a little bit on it mainly using the songs Iíve learned in fiddle class. Looking forward to really digging in a learning more.


    Attempting to find information on this heirloom mandolin. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    I assume it is a Style A and that finish I believe began in 1917. As you have lost the original tuners- it has 1970s Grover units as used by Harmony after Waverly closed- same plate shape but different gearing, this takes away some of the dating features. The bridge looks old (1930s?)but it may not be original- the early examples would have a non-adjustable bridge but that could have been replaced as has happened to the tailpiece cover. I would suggest it is circa 1920 give or take a few years. You may see the marks left by the earlier tuners on the headstock.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Thanks for the information. Much of what you said (tuners, bridge, tailcover, etc) was also told to me by the man that fixed the headstock. He took a video of himself playing it and demonstrating its ability to stay in tune up the neck (intonation?). It sounds wonderful. He advised while not terribly valuable monetarily, it is certainly very playable pleasing to the ear. Told me to learn it, love it, and play in honor of my grandpa!

    Yes. I do see the previous tuner indentions.
    Last edited by Smittybuilt19; Oct-19-2021 at 11:39am. Reason: Phrasing clarification

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Can’t read the label? Is there a numberstamped inside - up near the neck block? This will be the Factory Order number and should help date it.

    Difficult to see from your photo’s but does it have a neck riserblock?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    I should clarify, I cannot read the serial or model number. I will make another attempt. I will also try to get some better pictures. What angle should I take to be able to see the presence of a riserblock? Thank you!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    It's a plain style A, probably from between 1910 and early 1918.
    The top has been refinished. I can't tell about the back.
    The tailpiece and bridge are later Gibson replacements. The tuners are replacements from sometime in the 1950's, 60's, or 70's. I don't remember who the manufacturer of that style of tuner was, but they were US made, and are a high-ratio tuner that was somewhat common.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    See if you can see the neck block through the sound hole as the Factory Order Number- if present, will be there and that can provide information on its year of build.
    Last edited by NickR; Oct-19-2021 at 1:57pm. Reason: Correction

  8. #8
    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Look for the FON (factory order number) on the neck block as in this image:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Will do!

  10. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Attached are a few of the OP's images.

    I wonder if you have any photos of the side. It looks like the top took a big shot of something with a few cracks on the treble side and possibly an old repair of those. It sounds like you took it to a good repair person? I hope so and I hope that person checked the inner braces and that the top retained the correct arch.

    Yeah, it looks like it had a tough life but hopefully gave joy to your grandfatheróI assume he was the one who played and owned it before you? I agree that it looks like to was refinished probably way back in its life.

    There should have been some remnants of holes for the mounting of the pickguard either on the treble side of the fretboard or possibly on the treble side of the body (less likely).
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    Jim

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  12. #11

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Ok folks hereís a link to more pictures. Please let me know any other angles that might be necessary. It appears there is something stamped on the the neck block inside. Too faint for me to make it out, just looks like 11118 or something similar.

    https://imgur.com/gallery/dWjT19n

  13. #12

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Hey Jim. Thanks for the response. Iíve added some more pictures (link). Iíve tried to get good shots of the inside near the neck.

    I noticed you were able to get my pictures embedded into the thread. Is this only possible on desktop? I watched the tutorial when I joined the group today and it seemed based on a desktop setup which I do still have access to and can use for future pictures. Thanks!
    Last edited by Smittybuilt19; Oct-19-2021 at 7:48pm. Reason: Spelling

  14. #13

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    If the number is 1111X(?) then it is a 1918 factory order number according to Spann's Guide To Gibson. This certainly seems reasonable judging by the instrument's look. 11113 is shown as an A model mandolin.

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  16. #14
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    I don't know how the site operates on a phone, but if it's similar to a laptop, there should be a row of icons above the message pane. Toward the right is the Insert Image icon. Click on that, browse to your photo(s), and upload. The result should be easier to view than via imgur - I find that hard to negotiate. And welcome to the Cafť!

    PS: I agree with your grandpa - it's worth more as a player and heirloom than whatever you would be able to get if you tried to sell it. Keep it, play it, care for it, enjoy it.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

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  17. #15

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    If the number is 1111X(?) then it is a 1918 factory order number according to Spann's Guide To Gibson. This certainly seems reasonable judging by the instrument's look. 11113 is shown as an A model mandolin.
    Interesting. I did try once again to illuminate the label and thought* I could see the remnant of writing but it could've been my mind playing tricks on me ha.

  18. #16

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

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  19. #17

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Quote Originally Posted by Smittybuilt19 View Post
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    Goodness what a mess. I tried.

  20. #18
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    To add to what everyone else has observed, the case looks original but the handle has been replaced.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  21. #19

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    To add to what everyone else has observed, the case looks original but the handle has been replaced.
    I have been advised to store this case as it is original and purchase a new case for regular use. Thanks for the comment!

  22. #20

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    I don't know how the site operates on a phone, but if it's similar to a laptop, there should be a row of icons above the message pane. Toward the right is the Insert Image icon. Click on that, browse to your photo(s), and upload. The result should be easier to view than via imgur - I find that hard to negotiate. And welcome to the Cafť!

    PS: I agree with your grandpa - it's worth more as a player and heirloom than whatever you would be able to get if you tried to sell it. Keep it, play it, care for it, enjoy it.
    He left all of his children and grandchildren a fiddle (around 14 or so) myself and one other cousin are the only ones to take it up, I've been taking fiddle for a little over a year. I was left his electric bass via my stepdad who passed two years ago and now I have his mandolin (found under a bed). I know he was very much a fiddle player but have never heard stories of him playing mandolin. I intend to keep these instruments for life. Cheers friend!

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  24. #21
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Be very careful buying a new case. These have very short necks and most modern cases don't accommodate or protect them well.

    Here is a current thread that describes the issue.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  25. #22

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Be very careful buying a new case. These have very short necks and most modern cases don't accommodate or protect them well.

    Here is a current thread that describes the issue.
    Thanks for looking out! I have a couple of Crossrock cases in my AMZ cart. I'll check out the thread you shared.

  26. #23
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Do you know the story behind the trolley car insignia?
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
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    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

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  27. #24

    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Do you know the story behind the trolley car insignia?

    Not a clue, wish I knew though.

  28. #25
    Registered User LongBlackVeil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Identification Gibson A Oval Hole

    Definitely refinished. But i like how it was done. Looks very Gibson still.

    Needs alot of work.
    "When you learn an old time fiddle tune, you make a friend for life"

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