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Thread: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Just thought I would share these photos someone sent me of a very rare (only one I've ever seen) c1936-37 Gibson-made Capital brand Model EJM electric mandolin. Gibson made the Capital brand for J.W. Jenkins Music in Kansas City, MO (also see post on Harwood Guitars & Mandolins) for a short period of time from 1936-37. This is basically a re-labeled Cromwell EGM (another brand made by Gibson in the 30s). Note the Charlie Christian-type single bar pickup with 3 mounting bolts. You won't see many of these that's for sure.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    It was on eBay last summer. I thought you'd be interested in it.

    Paul, are you familiar with the Gibson EM100 and EM125 electric mandolins offered between 1941 and 1943? They have the same pickup, F-holes and pickguard as this Capital ... all of which differ from the better-known EM150. Since they were a short wartime run, my theory is that Gibson had a number of partially finished e-mandos like this Capital left over, and decided to finish them and brand them as Gibsons. I've got more photos in this thread, along with evidence which suggests that the last century's most famous electric mandolin player used an EM100/125 for part of his career.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    The only problem with your theory is the Capital & Cromwell branded EMs did not have truss rods, so I doubt leftovers were rebranded as Gibsons. I am sure that the rest of the specs are exactly the same as the Gibson EMs. My understanding is the EM-100 was introduced earlier than 1941 as it first appears on a Feb. 1938 Gibson price list. Still, the off-brands pre-date the Gibsons by a couple of years.
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Yes, the EM100 is not an exact match to the Capital, the main difference being the headstock shape and presence of a truss rod. One might describe an EM100 as an EM150 neck on a Capital body. (That's what I mean by "partially finished.")
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Interesting conversation, y'all. Do these Capital EMs have carved bodies or pressed bodies like the Kalamazoos?

    Mick
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    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    The Capitals had pressed wood backs and spruce tops, except the electrics which were all pressed wood.
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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pfox14 View Post
    The Capitals had pressed wood backs and spruce tops, except the electrics which were all pressed wood.
    Might the Capitals have been built off the KM21 'platform' then? Were the EM100s/125s pressed bodies? Were the EM150s of the era carved tops/backs?

    Thanks,

    Mick
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    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Mick, The Capital EJM was basically a re-labeled Cromwell EGM. The body style is pretty much the same as a Kalamazoo KM-21, but I don't know if Gibson used the same molds & body forms to build them. My hunch is they did use the same ones for all of the A-style mandolins - Gibson and "budget brands like the Kals, Cromwells & Capitals. Gibson's 1939-41 Catalog AA states that the EM-100s had a spruce top, maple back & sides & mahogany neck, so it appears that they were solid wood vs. the budget versions.

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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Thanks. Cool old ad image. 6 volt battery operated amps?!

    I may be mistaken on this, but didn't the KM21s and Cromwells have pressed tops made of solid wood and not laminates/plywood?

    Mick
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    I'm pretty sure Gibson used the same forms for all of the second line A models that were that style. All of the different models I've seen could have been interchanged with the exception of the binding up the fretboards on the cromwells and some headstock shapes. The second line instruments were meant to be produced as economically as possible so I seriously doubt they would have tooled up much more than what they already had. The early second line guitars seemed to be furnsihed with leftovers that were laying around the factory and that made sense as well.

  11. #11
    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Thanks. Cool old ad image. 6 volt battery operated amps?!

    I may be mistaken on this, but didn't the KM21s and Cromwells have pressed tops made of solid wood and not laminates/plywood?

    Mick
    You are correct. Gibson used what they referred to as the "Arco-Arch method", which was basically pressed solid wood (see KM-21 brochure below). Most pre-1937 Kalamazoos and other brands had solid wood backs too, but after 1937 Gibson starting using laminate backs on the budget brands and even some of the low-end Gibsons.

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  12. #12

    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Very cool. I have its twin and posted a picture last week because I couldn't figure out how to add a picture without starting a
    new thread. There can't be very many

  13. #13

    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pfox14 View Post
    The only problem with your theory is the Capital & Cromwell branded EMs did not have truss rods, so I doubt leftovers were rebranded as Gibsons. I am sure that the rest of the specs are exactly the same as the Gibson EMs. My understanding is the EM-100 was introduced earlier than 1941 as it first appears on a Feb. 1938 Gibson price list. Still, the off-brands pre-date the Gibsons by a couple of years.
    As it happens, I do have a Gibson-Branded non-truss road one of these, but with a 1937 date code in the body. I guess they had a few bits left lying around in the early 40s and decided it would be rude not to use them...great bit of kit.

  14. #14
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Filthyphil View Post
    As it happens, I do have a Gibson-Branded non-truss road one of these, but with a 1937 date code in the body. I guess they had a few bits left lying around in the early 40s and decided it would be rude not to use them...great bit of kit.
    Coolioso, Phil. Might you be able to share some photos?

    Thanks, in advance.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Sure, but I can’t seem to paste it - any clues for a dunce?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

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  19. #18
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rare Gibson-made Capital Electric mandolin

    Hm. Well, no truss rod cover there ...
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson • Wood • Thormahlen • Andersen • Old Wave • Bacorn • Yanuziello • Fender • National • Gibson • Franke • Fuchs • Aceto • Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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