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Thread: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

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    Default Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    I was looking at the current inventory on the Retrofret site. 1913 and 1917 F-4s are described to to have carved tops. Two different 1922 F-4s are both described to have arch tops. Were there different manufacture processes for these short scale scrolled instruments during the teens and twenties?

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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    I think you get the arch by carving. Carving = arched.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    They are the same thing using two different terms. The tops and backs are carved from a thicker piece of wood (as opposed to a flat top) to produce an arch, like a violin.
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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    While Retrofret could have been more precise with their choice of words, in this case they both mean the same thing.

    Gibson changed buildings in 1917, but the manufacturing processes remained pretty much the same on their A and F style mandolins well into the 1920's. The biggest change during the period would have been the introduction of the truss rod in the early 20's, and the advent of lacquer sometime during the mid to late 20's. During the 1930's, the build and finish is often quite a bit heavier than the teens and twenties.

    Technically speaking, the words "arched" and "carved" are not necessarily interchangeable, since not all arched instruments are carved; but all Gibson's teens and 20's A's and F's were carved.

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    Additionally, you can induce an arch on a flat plate using heat and or steam and or pressure. You can also laminate an arch.

    With larger retail operations it becomes a somewhat curious game of creative embellishment: How do I place another descriptive advertisement for a cool old mandolin without sounding like I just cut and pasted the text for the last 65 of that model that we sold?

    The late Stan Jay from Mandolin Brothers was a master at crafting delightful stories intertwined with humor and delicious descriptions of the wonderful old instruments that he sold. Being a New York business, it would be almost impossible to not be influenced by his history and style. I'm not alone when I say I miss Stan....

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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    The scale length is the same as any modern or even older Gibson mandolin. Yes the bridge is in a different position but the scale is the same.

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    The late Stan Jay from Mandolin Brothers was a master at crafting delightful stories intertwined with humor and delicious descriptions of the wonderful old instruments that he sold. Being a New York business, it would be almost impossible to not be influenced by his history and style. I'm not alone when I say I miss Stan....
    So true. And Stan never failed to draw some connection to Lloyd Loar whenever he described any old 1925-42 Gibson mandolin.

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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    [QUOTE The biggest change during the period would have been the introduction of the truss rod in the early 20's, and the advent of lacquer sometime during the mid to late 20's. End Quote)

    IMO, the other changes to consider is the way Gibson changed(and improved, IMO) the arching, and maybe the graduations, of their mandolins, between 1900 and 1921 or so(before Loar arrived), and the neck angle(which will affect the bridge height).

    I have not taken any measurements, but visually comparing the top carve(and recurve), neck angle, and bridge height between my 1921 A, and a 1913 F-2 I owned last year, I could see the differences. The '21 A had superior tone and volume. Admittedly a limited sample, but I've handled others in my repair work. Also, from my experience playing and repair vintage archtop guitars, a bridge that is too low(i.e. from being shaved to avoid a neck reset) is a tone and volume killer.

    I think Gibson and it's employees were 'figuring it out' in that 21 year period.

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Richard View Post
    [QUOTE The biggest change during the period would have been the introduction of the truss rod in the early 20's, and the advent of lacquer sometime during the mid to late 20's. End Quote)

    IMO, the other changes to consider is the way Gibson changed(and improved, IMO) the arching, and maybe the graduations, of their mandolins, between 1900 and 1921 or so(before Loar arrived), and the neck angle(which will affect the bridge height).

    I have not taken any measurements, but visually comparing the top carve(and recurve), neck angle, and bridge height between my 1921 A, and a 1913 F-2 I owned last year, I could see the differences. The '21 A had superior tone and volume. Admittedly a limited sample, but I've handled others in my repair work. Also, from my experience playing and repair vintage archtop guitars, a bridge that is too low(i.e. from being shaved to avoid a neck reset) is a tone and volume killer.

    I think Gibson and it's employees were 'figuring it out' in that 21 year period.
    That '21 A must sound pretty darned good
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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    Default Re: Early Gibson F-4 mandolins with both carved and arch tops?

    Another change was the spacing between the tuners. Don't know why this was done but it appears it was done in 1924. When Stewmac sell Golden Age repro tuners they have two styles. Pre 1924 and 1924 onwards.

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