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Thread: Pre-teens (tween?) Gibson A

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    Hey Dan, and other folks,

    There are some nice photos of a pre-teens Gibson A on this eBAy auction page:

    <a href="http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE-GIBSON-1905-A-1-MANDOLIN-W-INLAID-PICK-GUARD_W0QQitemZ7371567019QQcategoryZ10179QQ
    rdZ1QQcmdZViewItem" target="_blank">http://cgi.ebay.com/VINTAGE....iewItem</a>

    They show the hollow neck volume well, reverse neck angle, and an interesting, early-Martin-like cone-shaped joint at the neck/head joint.

    I think Dan B. plays one of these; anyone else? Can anyone comment about the feel and tone of these early instruments?

    Thanks,

    Keith

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    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    I like the looks of that one. Nice peice of history. Are you going to bid? Lp
    J.Lane Pryce

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    That one's been listed 5 times now I think, must have a very high reserve..

    Yeah, the thing on the back of the peghead is called a "volute". Those dissappear in serials soon after that one. The neck isn't *as* hollow as earlier ones, meaning there is a neck block. The top is sort of hollow.. I have 3376 which isn't dissimilar.. the much thicker piece for the carved top & forward neck angle. Mine sounds surprisingly nice!
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    Thanks. If I thought I could get it for under $1K I would be tempted to bid, but that seems unlikely, especially given what Dan says above about its eBay history. And no doubt it will cost something to properly set-up. With the reverse angle, and such a low bridge, the options for setting the action might be limited to a neck re-set. Also, it just doesn't look right without the pineapple! (I'll be watching though...)

    I'm very curious about these early A's though; I love the inlaid pickguards on them. Dan, will your new CD feature any tracks with your pre-teens A?

    Keith

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Keith, oddly enough the forward neck angle isn't a problem. It feels really goood actually, a nice thin neck ahd the fingerboard is "raised" because the whole blooming top arches like 3/4". If you pick so close to the bridge that sparks fly off, it sounds just like Mick Maloney's on "Strings Attached" hehe. I was ready for it to be really hard to play and more a looker than anything else, but it really works nicely.

    It probably won't make it on the disk. I have 13 in the can.. and am sort of waiting for some RSI issues to get sorted to finish a few more that I really wanted on there when I set out to do this in the first place.. both of those are probably coming on a different mandolin.

    Back to 3376 though.. it's very sensitive to bridge position. Completely kills the note if it's a little off. I haven't got it perfect yet, the G still sounds dull.. maybe it always will.. but the rest is very big and open, bright sounding but pretty good sustain. It feels incredibly light (Smaller wood blocks in there? less wood in the top with that huge arch? the beech back?) as well, like it might float away
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    Thanks for the reply Dan. Interesting that an early model would be lighter. I would expect them to start heavy, then get lighter with tweaking the design over time; maybe because those first Orville "pancake" mandolins look so heavy. Did Orville's early "pancake" mandolins also have the "hollow neck" going on?

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    yes.. The best way to spot a fully hollow one is to look for this detail.. note the neck heel is the same piece as the rim..



    One of the really cool things about #2526

    is that it is owned by talented repairman Rick Van Krugel.. he took several great photos of it while he was restoring it. This image really shows what's going on inside:





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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Looks like you could fry eggs in there.

    Really shows why "hollow neck" is used to describe them eh?

    Right at the very beginning Gibson used Orville's design- these instruments have no really significant differences from the patent application or his hand-built instruments. The very first Gibson work can be a bit crude (especially the carving on some early Fs!) comapred to Orville's pieces.

    Interestingly, Rigel today uses a system that is quite similar to the original Gibsons, check out this image from Ted's site

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    Wow - that is fascinating. I think Gryphon had a pre-teens, inlaid pick-guard Gibson A several years ago, but I didn't make it down there to check it out. I believe they were asking close to $1.4K for it, which seemed like a lot at the time.

    Here's an image from the current eBay instrument showing the neck-joint area:

    And another:

    Though the top is way arched and, presumably, hollow in the neck block area, the assembly looks otherwise similar to teens models.

    I'd love to hear/play a comparison of these mandolins, along side a Rigel as well.

    Any experience playing Rigel mandolins Dan? From much I've read here, neck attachment (dovetail vs. motise & tenon vs. bolt on) has a significant impact on tone; but anecdotally, luthiers I have spoken with have played this down...

    p.s. - not sure if the images are posting; if not I'll add them below...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Okay, for some reason I couldn't post more than one omage at a time...here's the other:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    That's "image"...(or homage....)

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (keithd @ Dec. 09 2005, 17:33)
    I think Gryphon had a pre-teens, inlaid pick-guard Gibson A several years ago, but I didn't make it down there to check it out. I believe they were asking close to $1.4K for it, which seemed like a lot at the time.
    *cough* ahem, yes I know the one you mean *cough*

    I'd kicked myself for not buying it when I played it at Gryphon, then it came available in Utah. It's a very fun one, several unique features: the tulips, very very thick top piece, nice inlay on the neck, the back is beech.. All that and a it has very sweet voice! That's the one I was basing my comments about nice tone and volume on earlier in this thread.



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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Oh yes- Rigels.. I think they sound wonderful. It's taken me a while to get over the look to be completely frank, but they are consistently getting a wonderful sound. I think they are the best tone for the dollar and very serious machines. I have a policy that whenever I see a mandolin in a store I haven't tried, I try it.. and if it's one I didn't like the first time, I'll try it again!
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    Great policy Dan! I do the same but i think its my MAS! LOL I have seen that mando listed before too and noticed a few things which Im not totally sure of and some that i am...non original taipiece and bridge too I think. It doesnt have the "bubble" top and back I noticed on yours and mine also. I have finished the refret on mine (1906)and its been cleaned up some so I'll forward some better pic's to the Archive later today and maybe post a few here too. Thats still a great looking mando tho and I'd love to have it!!!
    Jeff
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    Oh - I didn't remember that it's the same mandolin, or that the inlay was so elaborate, and that it was so well preserved. That kind of explains the price! The bridge design is a bit different from the eBay instrument as well. Perhaps it's just plainer, or maybe not original. Not that it matters, but is the 12th fret not quite aligned with the cross-trim on the shoulder of 3376? If not, does that mean the neck is a bit longer...? Are scale length and nut width the same as later, teens, A's?

    Regarding Rigel, the Q is quite the mandolin. I only play sitting, so it's an attractive feature to me. I haven't had the pleasure of playing one though. In terms of tone, would you say they share any characteristics with the earliest Gibson A's of similar construction? I realize the long neck, bolted joint, different woods, etc. make them quite different...

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    Quote Originally Posted by (mandolooter @ Dec. 09 2005, 20:40)
    non original taipiece and bridge too I think. It doesnt have the "bubble" top and back I noticed on yours and mine also. I have finished the refret on mine (1906)and its been cleaned up some so I'll forward some better pic's to the Archive later today and maybe post a few here too. Thats still a great looking mando tho and I'd love to have it!!!
    Yeah-, the tailpiece on that ebay one is a standard part that I've seen in some old catalogs.. The lack of the bubble is quite normal though, they varied a lot in the early days. It's fun to fit them all into a timeline really, you can see the shape evolving.. a few experiments..

    I think a few people have their eyes on it, but I think the reserve is quite high.
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    maybe that explains why a newer Gibson cover wouldn't fit on mine but I don't think that clamshell would cover the rest of the TP. And Dan a collage of yours, mine, and the fellow from BC with the one piece back/sides (can't remember his name, real nice fellow tho) is now my new screensaver...the only problem now is i need one just like them too!
    Look up (to see whats comin down)

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