Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

  1. #1

    Default 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    It appears to have the necessary provenance. One assumes that the family members were not keen mandolin players and the instrument has been carefully stored for a century.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-Min...f25a%7Ciid%3A1

  2. #2
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,949

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Yes, it appears to be in very fine and original condition. We do still occasionally seem them in that condition, but less often than we used to.

    I hope the seller is not too disappointed if he finds that its value has not necessarily "gone up considerably" from its price as appraised by Mandolin Brothers. It might bring a little more on a good day, but not very much more.

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Also being discussed here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  4. #4

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Yes, some fairly acerbic but pertinent comments regarding the seller's view of what it might be worth based on an old valuation from the days of yore. It is indeed very nice but it is what it is and its market worth is only so much even in tip top condition.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    Spokane, WA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    This one is living at my house now. Very pleased with this very clean and sweet sounding instrument. Only thing I can find as an issue is it gets a bit sharp as you work your way up the fretboard.

  6. The following members say thank you to DCHammers for this post:

    Cobalt 

  7. #6

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Well done! Have you tried to move the bridge a bit further down the top away from the pickguard? The photos from the listing show the bridge right up under the guard and the scale length may be too short as a consequence making it play sharp. I would sincerely doubt that the mandolin was made with an intonation problem although a bent neck would create problems. However, if the neck is fine then it is most probably a question of trial and error to position the bridge correctly- which may have never been done in the past. After all, the instrument has been stored rather than played.

  8. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Another thing to take into account are the stories of the Gibson fret saw spacers being a bit out of wack and placing the frets wrong. Over the years that has come up now and then. I don't recall when it was at its zenith.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  10. #8
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,949

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    I've measured a bunch of them, and the accuracy of some of them leaves much to be desired. However, mandolins made after 1918 seem more prone to having out of tolerance fret placement than earlier ones, and the odds are good that yours is ok and you just need a bridge adjustment and possibly a professional set-up. The earliest one that I have had on my workbench that was a candidate for fret spacing correction was made between 1919 and 1921. I don't remember the exact year, but it was a brown A-2.

    Loosen all but the two outer strings, move the bridge back until the fretted note at the 12th fret is in tune with the 12th fret harmonic, and make sure the bridge doesn't lean forward when you tighten the rest of the strings. Repeat if necessary.

  11. #9

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    I would hope and trust that when the mandolin was assessed by Mandolin Brothers in 2004, it was played and the intonation was assessed as part of their valuation. It's all very well and good being virtually unmarked but if the frets are not where they should be then this should feature in the appraisal and affect the valuation which was a high figure.

  12. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    I bought several instruments from Stan Jay, I loved the guy and his store but I wouldn't make that assumption. I seriously doubt they would have checked that.

    ...was officially appraised back in 2004 by Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island at $1,500, and in the past 16 years it's value has gone up considerably.
    Appraisals are rarely to market value and it sold for about what I would have expected it to sell at $1,227.00. That is actually a premium price.

    I think that the late Paul Hostetter had done some research of the saw issue and the fret placement. I'll see if I can dig out the threads.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Sep-10-2020 at 1:15pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,747

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    If you have a different gauge of strings, or the humidity has swollen the instrument and changed the action, the intonation will change even if it was right when you bought it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  14. #12

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    That $1,227 failed to make the reserve and the mandolin was relisted. The buyer commenting here paid a cool $1,826.

  15. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    24,117

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    That $1,227 failed to make the reserve and the mandolin was relisted. The buyer commenting here paid a cool $1,826.
    Ok then, maybe I won't part the one I'm sitting on out.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. #14
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,109

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    I've measured a bunch of them, and the accuracy of some of them leaves much to be desired. However, mandolins made after 1918 seem more prone to having out of tolerance fret placement than earlier ones, and the odds are good that yours is ok and you just need a bridge adjustment and possibly a professional set-up. The earliest one that I have had on my workbench that was a candidate for fret spacing correction was made between 1919 and 1921. I don't remember the exact year, but it was a brown A-2.

    Loosen all but the two outer strings, move the bridge back until the fretted note at the 12th fret is in tune with the 12th fret harmonic, and make sure the bridge doesn't lean forward when you tighten the rest of the strings. Repeat if necessary.
    Here's one of the articles that's been floating around on this issue - https://www.allenguitar.com/smakula.htm
    2008 Weber Gallatin F, 2018 Collings MT, 1989 Flatiron Performer A, 1935 Gibson A-50, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305
    http://ericplatt.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/LauluAika/
    https://www.lauluaika.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/Longtine-Pl...4404553312723/

  17. The following members say thank you to Eric Platt for this post:


  18. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    Spokane, WA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Gentlemen, Thanks for your advice / comments. I was thinking it might need a bit of bridge adjustment. The potential of a fret spacing issue is unexpected. Figuring out the value of anything is difficult, but when I compared the cosmetics of this A to other instruments listed for just a few hundred dollars less I thought it was worth the bid.

  19. #16
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,949

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    The exact positions of the frets on the old Gibsons varies from instrument to instrument. The general tendencies are that the first five or six are a bit far back, 7 through 12 are not too bad, and anything can happen above the 12th fret. I've noted the same thing on their guitars.

    A large number of these instruments play well enough as is. Some need correction. Sometimes moving the nut back 1/64" is enough, sometimes 2 or 3 frets need to be moved. The worst I have seen was a very late A-4. I had to replace the fingerboard on that one.

    The ear is more forgiving than the science. I have found that most of the instruments sound well enough if none of the frets are no more than +/- 1/64" from their ideal position. My approach is to leave the instruments alone unless the intonation is noticeably objectionable. When it is, I try to find the simplest and least invasive solution to the problem.

    Most of the teens instruments I have encountered do well enough if left alone other than making sure that the nut is well adjusted, a good spot can be found for the bridge, and any deep grooves in the frets are addressed.

    Mr. Hammers, the chances are very good that your instrument will be fine if you find a good spot for the bridge and have a good repairman adjust the nut.

  20. The following members say thank you to rcc56 for this post:


  21. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    Spokane, WA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: 1917 Gibson A "Mint Condition"

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Here's one of the articles that's been floating around on this issue - https://www.allenguitar.com/smakula.htm
    Thanks for posting. Quite an interesting article.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •