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Thread: question on restoring an old gibson

  1. #1
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default question on restoring an old gibson

    Hey all,
    I have my eye on an old gibson A that looks like it has had its top replaced with a flat top. If one were to make a new top for it, would it mean having to remove the neck? I imagine so.

    Thanks.
    Cary Fagan

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    Not enough info to answer the question.
    Are you thinking of replacing with an arched top?
    The neck angle should be very different for a flat top as opposed to an arched top, so depending upon the neck angle the neck may or may not have to be removed.
    I've done it both ways: replace the top without removing the neck and replace the top with the neck removed.
    Can you post pictures?

  3. #3
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    I haven't seen it in person, John. Here are some pics. It has the original tailpiece, btw. Repaired back crack. I'm just toying with the idea.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Cary Fagan

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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    I bought an old Washburn A5 style missing a top and carved a new arched top. I did not remove the neck, and it was beyond my luthier abilities to fit the top under the elevated fretboard nicely. It looks OK from 10 ft or so and I like the sound so I'm happy with it. With the fingerboard resting on the top plate I don't know how you would replace the top without removing the neck or at least the fretboard. I also left the plastic binding in place because I didn't feel confident in repairing the damage in the factory finish. That said, are you sure it's a flat top? The reflections look curvy.

  5. #5
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    SBJ, I sent that question to the seller. No response yet. Not in the same city.
    Cary Fagan

  6. #6
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    I can't tell enough from the photos to know how bad the situation is, but it looks like some serious tampering has gone on there...
    It would have to be really inexpensive for me to consider it interesting as a project (for an aspiring luthier, not for me).

  7. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    Cary, there are plenty of reasonably priced Gibson A's out there. Unless someone gave that to you I would run the other way. For the cost to have someone make a carved top you probably could have a complete and playable mandolin. And even if you had a good top made for it it would not be particularly desirable if and when you decided to sell it. IMHO a true losing proposition.
    Jim

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    John gave you some good info in his first post.
    It would probably be necessary to at least remove the part of the fingerboard that covers the top.

    I also agree that the instrument has already seen some less that professional repairs, and if I were looking for such a project, I would only be interested in this one if the price was quite low. The fingerboard appears to be a replacement, and you would have to insure that the fret spacing is within spec.

  9. #9

    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    Agree with Jim. For some reason, 1917-1925 Oval Hole Gibson A mandolins seem way under priced considering how resonant and rich the sound is and considering that one is buying a genuine and attractive antique. You could pick one up for 1200--1800 or so. The cost of the other one, plus repairs might approach 800? 1000? -- I don't know, but I sure love my 1917 A, even if it doesn't have that f hole chop.

  10. #10
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    You're all right. It was more a thought experiment, I think. I'm not actually looking these days for a Gibson. A passing notion on a winter project. I shall truly let it pass, thanks.

    BTW, the seller says the top is carved.
    Cary Fagan

  11. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: question on restoring an old gibson

    Quote Originally Posted by Cary Fagan View Post
    BTW, the seller says the top is carved.
    From the photo it looks like it was carved concave vs. the usual convex arch. Maybe it is an optical delusion.
    Jim

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