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Thread: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Pretty wild. Guitar Center San Bernardino has this listed as an A4 mandolin, but the fretboard extension gives it away: it's a mandola.

    If that were an original refrigerator white finish, this would be ultra rare and super cool. (Such a thing could exist ... Frank Ford documented an original refrigerator white mandocello.) But the little strip of original finish in the rosette gives away the game, as does the fact that apart from the headplate, the ENTIRE MANDOLA is painted white.

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    It's listed here for $999, which is pretty cheap for a mandola if you don't mind playing something that looks like it sank the Pequod. (Photos may not be up on the listing yet; I got this photo from someone at the store.) Replacement tailpiece, tuners and bridge; pickguard missing.

    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/In...te-Mandolin.gc
    Last edited by mrmando; Mar-04-2021 at 12:01am.
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    OK, asking in advance to forgive what sounds like a newbie question, but ... painted white? Were white mandolins painted or somehow finished or stained that way? I'm sorry, I just never thought about it, nor had occasion to. And since I've already gone this far, does paint have a negative effect on the sound? Or is it a six of one, half a dozen of the other situation?
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Someone more knowledgeable than I would have to answer concerning the original white-finished A3 mandolins; I would have to assume that yes, the tops were painted. I don't know exactly what effect would be produced by painting over an old finish like this, but I can't imagine it would be good for the tone.
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Thanks. I've done some poking around, and after looking at a dozen or so I found one which went into enough detail to mention "Nitrocellulose lacquer." Seems to me that would show more gloss than this does, which looks like a matte finish. Strange, eh?
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Lol, I’ll admit to being a little excited...until I expanded the photo...that really is turrible (to me, no offense to those of you who may dig it)...
    Chuck

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    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Very white for a instrument of that age.

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    I've seen others as white - not many, but some. But I'm with mrmando - doesn't look like the original finish. Though I don't see how it's all white. The little glimpse we see of the side looks like the standard cherry/mahogany color.
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Gibson was not yet using nitrocellulose lacquer when the "ivory" top mandolins were made.
    I too, have always wondered just what Gibson was using for the white mandolins, but I doubt that anyone knows the answer for sure.

    A factory original white mandola would be of considerable interest.
    While Gruhn's Guide indicates that the ivory finish was available by special order on H-2's and K-2's, I have never heard of one, and I suspect that very few were actually made.

    At least one factory original white F-2 is known to exist.
    And I see from the original post that Frank Ford documents a factory original white 'cello. I certainly would trust his judgement. But the GC instrument does not appear to be factory original.

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    I got that bit of description here. That's all I know. Really. Sum total. Navigating unexplored territory.
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    I'm afraid archtop.com's info on Gibson mandolins is not accurate. Besides incorrectly identifying the finish as nitro, they also made another error-- The back and sides of virtually all A-3's, and all other A models made before the mid to late 1920's are birch, not maple. This is a common mistake, not only because birch looks a lot like unfigured maple, but also because Gibson lied in their catalog descriptions.

    A very few pre-1926 A models have been seen that might have been made of maple, but they are very rare, and the archtop.com instrument is definitely not one of them.

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Thanks for setting that straight. This is why I bring this sort of stuff up here. I trust the Mandolin Café Brain Trust more than just about anyone and everyone else on all things mandolin. Ain't no rust on the Mandolin Café Brain Trust.
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    An interesting discussion!

    In my opinion that white mandola has been refinished. I wish it weren’t so because if original it would be very desirable as pointed out above!

    The rosette is the wrong color and Gibson typically did not use the ivory color on the top above the cross-piece. Check the common Ivory A3 and you will see this area is stained red mahogany to match the sides and the back. The white color is all wrong as well.

    Although Gibson catalogs sometimes contain wrong information as rcc points out in regards to the birch/maple controversy much of it is correct. Here is what the 1920-21 Gibson catalog says about the various finishes. The new Ivory finish is described here and the typical models it was available on. These include the A3, H2, K2 and L3. Everything was possible and I suppose any model could be ordered in any finish. The unusual Ivory F2 rcc mentions is an example.

    Mark

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    Mark Lynch

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Mark is correct about the riser blocks.

    There really isn't any reasonable doubt of its being a (bad) refinish job.

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    It looks like the sides may have been left alone. But on the original whiteface A3s, only the top was white. Sides and back were often reddish.

    if this were only $500 I'd be tempted to acquire it as a project and set myself to the task of getting rid of the white paint. And if I had reason to believe the finish was original, I'd have bought it before posting it here.

    Even knowing that the H2 was available in white as a custom order wouldn't explain this instrument, which is clearly an H1. The H2 has back binding and a fleur-de-lis in the headstock.
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    A good reason for opaque paint is to cover significant damage underneath, so maybe one owner wasn’t trying to create a fraud, but just make a scarred or patched thing look a bit better. I wouldn’t embark on stripping the paint expecting an undamaged finish beneath. It would be depressing to find old, deep gouges filled with Bondo.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    It would be depressing to find old, deep gouges filled with Bondo.
    Exactly, which is why it isn't worth acquiring as a project unless it is cheaper than dirt.

    It would still be fun to put some other opaque finish on it, if it must have one. And surely not EVERY part of this instrument that's covered in white has suffered damage.
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Yetch! A real project! This is awful! The pictures of the back and the neck remove any doubt that it has been repainted.

    Also, it has a set of tuners with the right-hand worm (worm under) which would have been right for a pre-1925 instrument but they are from a more basic instrument like the A-Jr.

    And, they mounted the tuners upside down!

    Quite a mess!

    Mark
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Having gone this far, and determined this a mess not worth much, I believe it's time to drag out the old story of the only white instrument I've ever known.

    My first Key West band, back in 1988, when it seemed we were doing pretty well for ourselves in this odd music scene, decided to go cruising the pawn shops for gear, even up the Keys some. Two things stand from this shopping trip: a Crown power amp, a thing of beauty, grace, and yes, power; and a stand-up bass, painted a flat white. No idea why. We just had to have it, even if we were going to use it for nothing more than a prop. The number $100 sticks in my mind, though we may have talked the proprietor down even further. It was playable, though no great shakes. Our first order of business was to have our friend the airbrush painter decorate it with a delightful tropical sunset, with palm trees on a beach, leaping dolphins on the water, dude relaxing in a hammock - I mean, as corny as it gets, but still pretty nice. It never got played much; we just left it on stage, as we were playing six nights a week at this club.

    So ... perhaps that's what should be done with this - don't strip and refinish it, but continue in the tacky direction it's already been taken. Perhaps a grand is too much of a buy-in for this purpose, but if it doesn't sell for a while, a best offer approach might prove amenable.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    I vote for this:
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    I became curious about the instrument in the background of the headstock photo. It's a vintage 8/8 Ricky lap steel!
    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Ri...l-116577857.gc
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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    I daresay that is a much better way to spend a grand - more bang for your buck(s). Nicer finish, too.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    I’m just wondering what the paint-job might be hiding.

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    So ... perhaps that's what should be done with this - don't strip and refinish it, but continue in the tacky direction it's already been taken. Perhaps a grand is too much of a buy-in for this purpose, but if it doesn't sell for a while, a best offer approach might prove amenable.
    I like your style

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Thanks! I'm mostly kidding - mostly - but it would be something to do with this oddity.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    A guy up our way has been trying to sell on CL nearly forever, a pair of instruments (probably mandolins at birth), that some doddering fellow decorated with cowrie shells, his departed wife’s jewelry, all glued on. Such a piece of folk art that I wanted to actually buy the pair, but I’ve been locked down, and the current owner won’t ship. For Key West, and a much larger canvas, I would think shells and an abalone mosaic, maybe even a whole lobster might be just the thing.
    So where is that white bass now?

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    Default Re: A White Gibson H1 Mandola ... Really?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    So where is that white bass now?
    No idea. Long gone, I reckon. I can't imagine anyone really wanted it, being so large and, as I recall, no great shakes as an instrument. It was a nice prop, but otherwise ... The Crown amp is still in deep storage, for whatever reason.

    The scene painted on it was pretty similar to the backdrop Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks travelled around with, shrunk down to fit. It's here, but I must say - if you are looking at that more intently than the shenanigans in the foreground, something might be wrong with you!

    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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