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Thread: 1909 Gibson mandolin

  1. #1
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default 1909 Gibson mandolin

    I had this nice old mandolin on the bench this week. A little work and she’s ready to go. A sweet sounding mandolin. It looks like Gibson added a decal to the peg head or it was re-necked. It doesn’t look like anything was done to it. It kind of looks over sprayed. The worst part is someone cut the top of the tailpiece cover off. Go figure.
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  3. #2

    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Is that a one-piece top or just remarkably unmatched?
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    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Wow, I wonder if it's possible that is the same mandolin I saw years ago at the bottom of this page at Frets.com?
    Clark Beavans

  5. #4

    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by tree View Post
    Wow, I wonder if it's possible that is the same mandolin I saw years ago at the bottom of this page at Frets.com?
    Wide/narrow grain sides are reversed on the two. Could be they got the halves meant for each other
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  7. #5

    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by tree View Post
    Wow, I wonder if it's possible that is the same mandolin I saw years ago at the bottom of this page at Frets.com?
    Great call! Sure looks like it, and is used as an example of early Gibson practice. And it sounded good too.

  8. #6
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    Is that a one-piece top or just remarkably unmatched?

    It's a mis-matched top.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by tree View Post
    Wow, I wonder if it's possible that is the same mandolin I saw years ago at the bottom of this page at Frets.com?
    It's been in the owners possession for decades.

  9. #7

    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Talk about some wide grain. Yowza! Who would dare to build with that wood today?
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  10. #8
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by tree View Post
    Wow, I wonder if it's possible that is the same mandolin I saw years ago at the bottom of this page at Frets.com?
    As Keith said, the wide grains are reversed in your example. Yours are on the treble, the op's is on the bass.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  11. #9
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    The one-piece top on my A-jr. goes from quite fine grain on the bass side to pretty wide on the treble. But not as wide as Skip's example.

    Narrow bass to wide treble seems counter-intuitive to meó I'd have expected the reverse. But probably the people at Gibson knew what they were doing.

  12. #10

    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Hey Skip, that mandolin looks familiar! This my first post ever on the cafe; I just had to comment on it. Glad it's getting its 15 minutes of fame at the ripe old age of 113! I'm guessing the neck is original because it has the 3 peice neck and the more rounded headstock profile that seems to correspond to the older, "Orville-label" gibsons. Could be wrong though. Man, the stories these old instruments could tell. Anyway, thanks again Skip and I can't wait to play it after you worked your magic on it!

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  14. #11
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    .....Narrow bass to wide treble seems counter-intuitive to meó I'd have expected the reverse. But probably the people at Gibson knew what they were doing.
    Ha!!!!!! It was factory work and nothing more- slam that top on the pattern cutter and repeat 50 times more before your lunch break. No unicorns. No fairy dust. Just a minimum wage employee who doesn't give a $#!@ trying to get by; the same as today.....

  15. #12
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    . . . and in 1909, Gibson had not yet quite figured out what they were doing.
    Their work would mature considerably over the next couple of years.

    But despite the anomalies we often see in some of those very early Gibsons, some of them sound quite good.

    BTW, that's an early 1930's factory silkscreen logo. The instrument evidently went back to the factory for repairs sometime during that period-- perhaps for fretwork and/or a fingerboard, and added the logo then.

    Some of the very early Gibsons had so-called "dyed pearwood" fingerboards, which often deteriorate because of chemicals used in the dyeing process. We often see similar fingerboards used on instruments made by other companies all the way up until WWII. Anyone who has ever tried to replace frets on a decomposing dyed wood fingerboard knows what I'm referring to.

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  17. #13
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    . . . and in 1909, Gibson had not yet quite figured out what they were doing.
    Their work would mature considerably over the next couple of years.
    Yep, I've got no complaints about my Junior, which is from about 1924ó the coveted "Coolidge era".

  18. #14
    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    It's fascinating that the top has held up just fine all these years!

    Near to me they farm Doug Fir: trees are cut down after 20-30 years, all new fast growth, and the grain looks just like that - about 2-4 lines per inch if you're lucky. Traditional wisdom has it that wood like that is utterly useless for instrument tops, but who knows!

  19. #15
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    Besides fingerboards, they also used pearwood for a stringer in the neck around 1910. A lot of those rotted. The one I had was repaired by screws and dowels through the headstock to hold it in place.

    Love the top on that one. My bandmate's 1910 has wide grain, but not that wide. My 1927 A Jr has really narrow grain. Go figure.

  20. #16
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1909 Gibson mandolin

    I'm really impressed that these mirror image mandolins with distinctive grain patterns

    1) were made;
    2) still exist;
    3) have been found by the MC sleuths.

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