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Thread: To Gibson or not?

  1. #26
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolad View Post
    I asked him if he would go any lower and he said no, though I didn't throw out a number. The slightly inflated prices may be due to the fact that I live in a very expensive city. I do like how it looks alot, though. My main concern is it sounds so bassy on the low notes...meaning the notes rings for a long time once the G and D strings are played. Might be the strings?
    The bass and sustain which you describe are an inherent feature of the Gibson oval, particularly the pre-Loar paddleheads. It makes them ideal for drones, like those found in Irish traditional music, but suboptimal for bluegrass, which benefits from a quicker attack and faster decay. Of course, you can play any style on any instrument, and if you play long enough, you’ll probably end up with one (or more) of each. For now, pick the one that sings to you and, as JeffD says, play the potatoes out of it!
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  3. #27
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    May 2003
    Leesburg, VA

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    Was in an airport Friday, noodling around on my Eastman 515. A guy with a beat up vintage case joins me, and pulls out an old Gibby A. We did a little tasting. Nice tone, like you would expect for 100 year old wood. Hardly any volume.

    IMO, my Eastman felt, played, and sounded a lot better.

    Take that grand, and upgrade to a better mandolin. Don't get sucked into the Gibby thing "just because."
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Jerman custom 5 string electric, Eastman MD-515 & El Rey, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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  5. #28
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    Jan 2009
    S.W. Wisconsin

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    My old Gibson ('22 A2 paddle) is loud, balanced, warm and just a wonderful sounding mandolin. It also plays like the proverbial butter. The earlier Gibson's can be tubby, once you get to around 1918 they can be much better. Late '21 and '22 can have all the Loar improvements except paddle head and the narrower neck. My A2 can easily be heard in a jam against several fiddles, banjo, and guitars.

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  7. #29
    ForestF5 Gene Summers's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Western Kentucky

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    I've NEVER regretted buying any Gibson I have owned. They will hold their value better than most, as long as they are in good condition. This one looks like it has new frets. That adds value to it, as long as the fret work is well done. If this mandolin is in good structural condition, has a straight neck, has the tone (try different strings -J74's) and playability and appeals to you, buy it. If I were serious about it, I would offer him $150 less than what he is asking out the door. If it has the original case in good condition, that would add about $300 value to the package. Good luck with what ever you get.
    Last edited by Gene Summers; Feb-01-2020 at 9:49am. Reason: Added text
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  9. #30
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    St. Paul, MN

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    Oval holes do emphasize the bass sound more. My 1929 A Jr. has more bass than a previously owned 1910 A had. They all have it and it varies from instrument to instrument.

    You can often deal with the big bass by muting with the palm of your right hand. Just like on guitar. As it is, the price is fair with a refret, but not a steal of a deal. It is a nice looking mandolin.

    More importantly, get a mandolin, whether it be this or something else, that you like. Something that is easy to play and sounds like you want to play it.
    2008 Weber Gallatin F, 2018 Collings MT, 1989 Flatiron Performer A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305

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  11. #31
    Teacher, luthier
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    Oct 2017
    Southeast Tennessee

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    The oval hole Gibsons vary considerably in tone and projection. I've heard them bright, dark, bassy, with singing trebles, clear-toned, "tubby," strong, and weak.
    In my experience, the year of build and the model is not a good indicator of what an old Gibson oval-hole will sound like.

    If I hear one that's weak, the first thing I do is to check to make sure the top brace hasn't come loose. Or sometimes, an instrument will be weak no matter what you do.

    Nickel wound strings can sometimes smooth out a "tubby" sounding bass.

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  13. #32
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolad View Post
    It sounds pretty good, but I also have played a $250 Loar and $500 Stewart mandolin that also sound equally good to me.
    There is wisdom in the statement that if you really can't hear a difference save the money.

    Who has bought one of these instruments and found it a good or not so good investment, especially for someone who only dabbles in mandolin?
    My view is to avoid any thinking about investment. It leads to ridiculous behavior like not playing your instrument because it is an investment, not taking the mandolin camping or to a festival or not adding an arm rest or tone gard for fear of lowering its value as an investment. Invest in stocks and bonds, buy instruments, (in my humble opinion), as if you want to play them. You only lose money if you sell them.

    I have and still play a 1923 A2 snakehead. I bought it umpty ump years ago, and I love it. While I recognize that were things to get dire or in an emergency I might have to part with one of my mandolins - but I have never and never will let that unlikely future occurrence affect my decisions now. I buy to keep, not to catch and release. I have rarely parted with an instrument.

    To me it is akin to buying an engagement ring or wedding ring. It's value as an investment is just irrelevant to me.

    And remember, this will not be the last mandolin you every buy. Of course it won't. Of course.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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  15. #33
    Mando Training Wheels kegcrowe's Avatar
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    Mar 2019

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    Mandolad, sorry, I’ve been out of pocket. Yes, there is awesome sustain on the lower notes, which I LOVE. I play for and by myself, without thought of satisfying anyone but me. I mostly play fiddle tunes, medieval tunes (thanks Allen Alexander!) and strum along with Munson mandolin covers on YouTube, so take take my opinion as that, 1 opinion. Happy playing.

    If I could figure out how to insert a video from my phone, I would demonstrate. Luckily, you are saved from said demonstration
    P.s. has anyone had issues being unable to edit a post?

    PPS. Nevermind, after 3 days, the edit button appeared!
    Silverangel Econo A #441
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  17. #34

    Default Re: To Gibson or not?

    Thanks again, everyone. So far, I haven't bought the Gibson. At the end of the day, I guess I'm just not sure the "tubby" sound is the sound I'm looking for. I still might change my mind, but will look more into the Loar first.

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