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Thread: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

  1. #1
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    Default 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

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    New friend!

    No label, no serial or FON #s.

    I know it's 30s from the headstock and logo, but wondering if anyone knows more. It's in near mint condition with original case. Bridge foot has a crack.

    Whaddya think?Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    1934-35 a4?
    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

  4. #3

    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    It might be a rare oval hole A50 if it isn't an A4 although the headstock shape and logo are probably wrong for an A50. A FON number may help identify it. I have those tuner units on a Wards Model 1642- a version of the A50 that was made in 1936.

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    No headstock inlay or bound fingerboard. Probably not an A4. FON would be helpful.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    I'd bet it has an elevated fingerboard? Hard to tell from the pix but I'd say so do to the look and peghead inlay, So it should be a late version of the A-4 "some say its an early version of the A-50", yours dates from 33-34, Then they quit making that one and introduced the elevated board A-50 with F-holes in late 34 "I've only seen one, the rest are 1935's. I've never seen a 36 A-50 with elevated board and I've owned maybe 8 or so of those through the years. Bernunzio has one like the OP for sale right now I believe. It should be a mighty fine mandolin with proper set-up and hopefully no neck set is needed, its very common with some of these I've seen as the necks were way underset from the shop. Nice one!

    How about a side shot so we can see the board and top

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  8. #6

    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    It has 11 frets clear of the body like an A50- the A4 is 10 but does not have the bound board as pointed out above which the A50 should have. The Gibson logo and "open book" headstock suggests early 30s. Did it once have a pickguard? There would most likely have been a screw hole on the side just below the top if it did.An A50 would have a maple back. It's a curious mix it seems.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    Yes it would've had a pickguard from all the ones I've seen did.

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    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    According to Gruhn's Guide to vintage guitars, the A50 had an oval soundhole in '33 only, and had a silkscreened logo that year. The A4 from that period had no inlay, other than the Gibson logo. Both the A4 and A50 from that period "should" have a bound fingerboard.
    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    1930's depression era Gibson's there was no method to the madness, they used whatever was available!

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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

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    thanks all! Yes, elevated fingerboard, and it did have a pickguard; screw hole is there and bracket in the case.

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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    yes, the Bernunzio example looks exactly the same!

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    Hard to tell from the angle of your photo but It pry would be really killer if your going to keep her to get a neck set! Can you give us a complete side shot of the whole mando so we can see the angle? It's great you have the original bracket, in the 30's I have reason to believe they changed the material composition because way too many 30's Gibson mandolins had the dreaded guard rot/disintegration, I bet that's what happened to yours? Lucky someone took it off as the guard gas will toast a finish in the case! I like your horn as I'm a fan of the 30's Gibson's! NICE

  16. #13

    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    You would expect a fingerboard extension on an A4 but it's possible the new A50 neck and fingerboard with no binding were used as times were hard and as William Smith mentions. "they used whatever was available."

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  18. #14
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    My 2 35 elevated board F-hole A-50's that I still have, have no binding on the board and all the other ones I've owned didn't.

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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    yea, there's a slight blemish where the pickguard was, but not bad. This is the first oval hole I've owned, so likely to keep it for now. It's in practically new condition, so it needs some banging on. Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #16
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    All A-4's had a pearl logo and a fleur-de-lis in the peghead.

    This mandolin has characteristics of A-1's and A-50's built right around 1933-34. It does not completely match the catalog specs for either model. The bound back and the elevated fingerboard extension are characteristic of an early oval hole A-50. The unbound board is characteristic of a late oval hole A-1.

    This is an early depression era Gibson. Gibson almost went under in 1932, and in the early '30's Gibson was doing whatever it could to get an instrument out the door. Deviations from catalog specs are common during this period, especially on mandolins and banjos.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    Yep that's an early A-50! I'd say from the photo above that the neck set looks good "I'd give it a deep neck set!" The saddle looks shot as its dipped in! I'd change it, I will say it again fix her and love her!

    Does anyone have a catalog description of the A-50's price? As this I bet is it for the period, 50 bucks??

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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    sweet, thanks, guys! Yes, the saddle sags as there's a crack on the bass side. I guess Bernunzio's is really an A-50, as it looks identical.

  23. #19

    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    An A50 was $50 in 1933, all right.

    Yes, I think it is more of an A50 rather than an A4- I would expect a Ritzier extended board on an A4 but a maple back for an A50 but as mentioned above, at that time, the company was struggling to stay viable leading to non-standard aspects that keep people busy here nearly 90 years on! I bought my Gibson A series pickguard from Bernunzio- who had described it as "Lloyd Loar Era" when it was late 1920s- "post Lloyd Loar Era", so their attributions are not necessarily always 100%. I did a thread on that guard as I did not want to drill my 1923 A2 to fit the bracket- a Lloyd Loar era A2 has a clamp. Anyway, I am still working on attaching it without drilling a hole for that later clamp.

  24. #20

    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    This was on another thread which I will post. The OP was asking about an A4 and it was identified as an A50. A maple back is in the text.

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  26. #21
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 30's Oval Hole Gibson - Model?

    Thanks Nick as I never saved the link to them sweet old catalogs and sure don't own any originals! It should be a mighty fine horn!
    I did notice in the ad that the headstock is a silkscreened logo like a 36 and I've never seen a 36 with a raised board! Interesting!

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