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Thread: Blacktop Friday

  1. #1

    Default Blacktop Friday

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    1924 A2Z, 1929 A0, & 2022 Kentucky KM-1000B

    Do mandolins come in other colors?
    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    1924 Gibson A2Z "Snakehead"
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2022 Kentucky KM-1000B
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    Two banjos, a fiddle, and a tiple

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by 20MartinA View Post
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    1924 A2Z, 1929 A0, & 2022 Kentucky KM-1000B

    Do mandolins come in other colors?
    Do you have a photo of the A2-z’s label?
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  3. #3

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

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    I just bought it from Gryphon. Below is their description. The particulars don't interest me all that much. What does interest me is how it sounds. It is the best sounding style A I have ever played. I wouldn't sell it for many times what I paid for it.

    This lovely Gibson Snakehead mandolin was made in 1924 during the waning days of Lloyd Loar’s tenure at the company. This is a great sounding instrument with all the goodies from that period which set these apart from earlier Gibson A model mandolins. The neck is 1 1/16" wide at the nut, it has both an adjustable truss rod in the neck and its original adjustable ebony bridge (patent date stamped on the base). It has its original parts including the pickguard, tuners with Ivoroid buttons, and the tailpiece with cover. The top, back and neck are bound in ivoroid and it has the classic “The Gibson” inlay in the headstock. The finish is in good shape and original throughout. The original frets show some wear but have lots and lots of life left in them.

    This instrument has all of the features we associate with the A-2Z, except it has a black top. The A-2Z had, of course, an amber top. The label is stamped A on the line that describes the model but at some point in the past, someone added a numeral 1 in ink, which is weird because this is not an A-1. A handful of other blacktop snakehead mandolins with A-2Z appointments from the same period have turned up over the years, so this mandolin is rare but it’s not unique. But, like many things Gibson has done over the decades, it is a bit of mystery.
    • Year 1924
    • Top material Spruce
    • Back sides Maple
    • Fingerboard Ebony
    • Neck material Mahogany
    • Bridge Adjustable Compensated Ebony
    • Scale length 14"
    • Finish original shellac varnish
    • Nut width 1 1/16"
    • Binding Grained Ivoroid
    • Tuners Waverly (original)
    • Case type Original Hardshell
    • Serial number 78275
    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    1924 Gibson A2Z "Snakehead"
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2022 Kentucky KM-1000B
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    Two banjos, a fiddle, and a tiple

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  5. #4
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    And do you have the FON? It should be visible through the sound hole up on the neck block.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  6. #5

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    It's stamped on the neck block twice. The one on the left looks like 11899. The one on the right could be the same, or possibly 11999. Neither one is very clear. The first "9" might have had a 0 stamped over it, making it 11099, but it's hard to tell for sure. 11099 would put it squarely in the 1924-1925 range, although there is no "A", as described here:
    http://guitarhq.com/gibson.html#serial
    Years Batch Number Range
    ----- ------------------
    1902-1916 1 thru 3650
    1917-1923 11000 thru 12000
    1924-1925 11000A thru 11250A ("A" suffix used)
    1925-1931 8000 thru 9999
    1931-1933 1 thru 890 (with some isolated higher numbers)
    1934 1 thru 1500 (with some isolated higher numbers)
    1935 1A thru 1520A (most with "A" suffix and some isolated higher numbers)
    1936 1B thru 1100B (most with "B" suffix and some isolated higher numbers)
    1937 1C thru 1400C (most with "C" suffix and some isolated higher numbers)
    1938 1d thru 1000d (most with "D" suffix and some isolated higher numbers)
    1939 1E thru 980E (most with "E" suffix and some isolated higher numbers)
    1940-1945 1 thru 7900 (some with letter suffix or prefix, some with neither)
    Gibson's records can be spotty, at best. But the serial number jibes with 1924 numbers.
    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    1924 Gibson A2Z "Snakehead"
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2022 Kentucky KM-1000B
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    Two banjos, a fiddle, and a tiple

  7. #6
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Interesting. This is the one that I used as a benchmark when ordering my blackface A2-z from Mike Black:

    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/79224

    It’s #79224, actually from FON 11999, and likewise a Style A manufactured in 1924 and shipped in 1925. My hypothesis is that such instruments started life as an A2-z, that some kind of aesthetic blemish marred the top, and so it was covered in black and subsequently labeled as an A.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

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  9. #7

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    The true story is lost in the mists of time, I guess. Nobody back then ever imagined there would be cults of vintage instrument afficianados ruminating on minutiae like this. They were just making instruments for mandolin orchestras and country string bands. But, I gotta say this A2Z, or whatever it started life out as is one of the best mandolins I have ever played.
    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    1924 Gibson A2Z "Snakehead"
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2022 Kentucky KM-1000B
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    Two banjos, a fiddle, and a tiple

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  11. #8
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    I used to own a Gibson black top F-2 many years ago, I still miss it. Nice collection you have there.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  13. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    I have one just like that one that was my main mandolin for years. I also was told when I bought it decades ago that it was an A2Z but the style name in the label only actually says A-. I call it a black Gibson A-2 snakehead. Pictured with my 2007 Brentrup A4C on the left.

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    Last edited by Jim Garber; Nov-26-2023 at 6:44pm.
    Jim

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    1924 Gibson A4 - 2018 Campanella A-5 - 2007 Brentrup A4C - 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin - Huss & Dalton DS - 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead - '83 Flatiron A5-2 - 1939 Gibson L-00 - 1936 Epiphone Deluxe - 1928 Gibson L-5 - ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo - ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo - ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo - National RM-1

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    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    I also have a soft spot in my heart for the Gibson black mandolins:
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ID:	210787 A4 and K2. The mandocello is a treat to play even with its baseball bat neck. It would be nice to have the matching H2 mandola, but I’ll have to wait for a flare-up of my chronic MAS affliction. I do have a matching black Gibson L-4 guitar from the teens, but it needs some serious attention by a skilled luthier.
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    And not a Gibson, but other than the name, sure looks like one. Another fine work of art by Bruce Weber.
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  17. #11

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Is Blacktop Monday allowed??

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    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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  19. #12

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    Is Blacktop Monday allowed??

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    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    Of course! Blacktop every day!

    BTW, the 1929 A0 is for sale in the Classifieds. I'd love to keep it, too, but the arrival of the Snakehead means one has to go.
    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    1924 Gibson A2Z "Snakehead"
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2022 Kentucky KM-1000B
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    Two banjos, a fiddle, and a tiple

  20. #13

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Some noodling on my 1929 Gibson A0.


    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    1924 Gibson A2Z "Snakehead"
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2022 Kentucky KM-1000B
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    Two banjos, a fiddle, and a tiple

  21. #14
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    I know that Andy Statman's legendary black-top Gibson is actually stamped as an A- on the label. Not an A2Z and not an A or A1. Dems da facts...

  22. #15
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    I know that Andy Statman's legendary black-top Gibson is actually stamped as an A- on the label. Not an A2Z and not an A or A1. Dems da facts...
    Yes, just like mine above. A-
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
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    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    1924 Gibson A4 - 2018 Campanella A-5 - 2007 Brentrup A4C - 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin - Huss & Dalton DS - 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead - '83 Flatiron A5-2 - 1939 Gibson L-00 - 1936 Epiphone Deluxe - 1928 Gibson L-5 - ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo - ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo - ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo - National RM-1

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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Can I join the band with my Eastman MD-404 ?

  24. #17

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Yes, just like mine above. A-
    And mine. The "A" was stamped. But, there is a handwritten " - / " next to the A. Is that a " 1 "? Just a stray mark? Who knows?

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    Roger

    1920 Martin Style A
    1924 Gibson A2Z "Snakehead"
    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
    2022 Kentucky KM-1000B
    Plus guitars - lots of guitars
    Two banjos, a fiddle, and a tiple

  25. #18
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Here's my only blacktop. I have mostly sunburst mandolins, but made an exception for this A-Style Heritage model built by Michael Heiden.Click image for larger version. 

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  27. #19
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Well its not Friday but here are my Three Black Tops
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    2011 Weber Black Ice Octave, 1925 Gibson H1 Mandola, and a 1997 FlatIron Festival Mandolin
    The Black ice is one of my favorites and I play it and record with it a lot, even used it on stage a few times although it has no pickup.
    The Mandola was in rough shape when I got it, but I had Tom Dobrovich bring it back to life, we agreed not to mess with the top cosmetically, now it has such a sweet tone and is so easy to play.
    The Flatiron was in no better shape when I got that, Tom wet sanded the top and reapplied lacquer, as well as new frets and setup, its a whole new mandolin.
    I always was inspired by the black Gibson F5 Norman Blake is holding on the cover of "Original Underground Music from the Mysterious South " album.
    My YouTube Channel

    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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  29. #20
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    I always was inspired by the black Gibson F5 Norman Blake is holding on the cover of "Original Underground Music from the Mysterious South " album.
    Actually, it's a circa 1910 3 point F-2.

  30. #21
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    your right, I had the vinyl and the CD, always thought the F2 looked cool anyway, Dave Surrette had a great sounding Black F2.
    My YouTube Channel

    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  31. #22
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    And those were a couple of really good black top A-4's in that picture.


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    Pete Ostroushko fell in love with the one he was holding, bought it from Norman, and kept it for the rest of his life.

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  33. #23
    Mandolin Codependent
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    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    I'll add mine blacktop even though its only Wednesday.

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    I love this thing.

    Tracy

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  35. #24

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    One of my early ones. Truth was I had gotten the wood from a Canadian supplier and when finished blonde it had a horrible runout problem and this was the only solution I could think of.
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  37. #25

    Default Re: Blacktop Friday

    I got this shot of that mandolin and I still have it as my wallpaper.
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