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Thread: Gibson A Jr. Natural

  1. #1
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Gibson A Jr. Natural

    To some of you who REALLY KNOW STUFF!

    Did Gibson make a "natural" A Jr, say in 1924? I just need to now. thanks

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    I never saw one although I have recently seen a refinished one being sold currently, maybe on Reverb? I believe that the description mentioned a refinish so probably not what you are talking about.
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Hi J.C,

    I guess anything is possible but it is highly unlikely that a custom color A-Jr would be ordered since it was a budget model and I suspect there would have been an up-charge for a different finish.

    Here is the catalog description which specifies the Sheraton Brown finish.

    Mark

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  6. #4
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    surely that must settle it. don't you think?
    Last edited by J.C. Bryant; Mar-07-2021 at 6:44pm.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Bryant View Post
    surely that must settle it. don't you think?
    With many companies, I'd say "yes." With Gibson, ???????
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    .... apart from the fact that they say they come in in sheraton brown and the one illustrated is “natural”.

  9. #7
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Well, I see your point. But, I don't know what to do about it except to say well they do not come in natural. . . unless they do.

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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    .... apart from the fact that they say they come in in sheraton brown and the one illustrated is “natural”.
    Well ... It's a black-and-white drawing of a mandolin offered only in Sheraton brown. So that's not natural, owing to the transfigurative properties of rendering a color image using a black-and-white imaging process.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Well ... It's a black-and-white drawing of a mandolin offered only in Sheraton brown. So that's not natural, owing to the transfigurative properties of rendering a color image using a black-and-white imaging process.
    If they’d put a white pickguard on it and printed it in negative, it might almost match the description!

  13. #10
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Catalog photos often don’t correspond to actual manufactured instruments for Gibson and even for other companies like Lyon & Healy and even Martin. To the OP: have you found a natural A-Junior somewhere. Might help to explain why you are asking.
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  14. #11
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    I have found one that the seller said was an over spray natural. And anoter "natural" taht says it is a refinish but , from the photos, there does not appear to be any of the stain "hangovers". I am seriously considering, if I were to get one somewhere, if I could refinish it and return the darker stain. But, I wouldn't want to do that to one that was actually a natural from the build date. Also, somehow, I have just become kind of focused, interested, Obsessed with A Jr's and want to know what I can about them. To that end, where else could a person go but the great knowledge base of the Mandolin Cafe? I think I like the lack of "bling": and the potential of a very good sound.

  15. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    This "natural" on on Empire Guitars is mentioned as a refinish—that one is marked as sold. This one shows up on a few other sites and shows up in a image search on Google.

    Post your other links so we can see what you are looking at. I am guessing that they are all refinished. Since the A-Jr has no binding or even a rosette then I would think all remnants of old finish could be sanded off and not remain.

    I can find no other "natural" ones and knowing how listings go, often many might not realize or don't know if they are refinished.

    OTOH I checked the Mandolin Archive for an advanced search for all the A-Juniors—there are three pages of listings. There are quite a few refinished ones and one unpictured described as blonde but that may be refinished as well.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Yes Jim, I looked through those as well. I am trying to figure, whether, if one had a refinished one should he, she, refinish it, yet again, and bring it back to its original color.

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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Bryant View Post
    Yes Jim, I looked through those as well. I am trying to figure, whether, if one had a refinished one should he, she, refinish it, yet again, and bring it back to its original color.
    Having just attended a jam outside in the sun, most welcome, and enjoying the heat and warmth. I was however glad I brought a natural finished mandolin instead of a dark finish. Considering that I would leave it the natural, makes a conversation potential and is easier played in sunny environments.
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  19. #15
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Unless the refinish was done poorly I would keep it as is.

    BTW the most interesting A-Jr was one owned by Howard Frye the virtuoso mandolinist who played Gypsy music. He had it refinished and added binding but it was his main instrument. It is listed in the archives here: http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/75079

    he had passed away when I was in the NY Mandolin Orchestra but his widow played with us and usually played that mandolin.
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    If you're concerned about market value of the instrument, the difference between one that's been refinished natural won't be much different than one done in Sheraton brown. In either case, it's a refinished instrument, and its value is mostly dependent upon the quality of the finish rather than the color [so long as you don't paint it green].

    The only reasons you might consider re-doing it are if the refinish was poorly done, or if you simply prefer Sheraton brown. But bear in mind that finish work is not easy to do well, and the more you monkey with the instrument, the harder it is to get good results. And a poor refinish in any color will only further de-value the instrument, and may have a negative effect on the sound. If I were going to redo one, I would only use a traditional varnish, and keep the finish as thin as possible.

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  23. #17
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Well, I think you good folks have convinced me to leave them alone, for several reasons. One being that it will provide very little in the way of enhancing value. And as far as sound is concerned, if it sounds good play it and let it be ugly, if it is, indeed, ugly. But please know I really do appreciate all your thoughts and comments. thanks

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  25. #18
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Well I have a blond A Jr. The back and sides show evidence of refinishing but not the top, which is unusually, for an A Jr, tight and straight grained. The serial number is 86444.

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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    This has been a very interesting discussion so far.

    It has cause me to revisit some of the instruments in the collection and to try and share my observations with my friends on the cafe.
    I have three A-Jr’s that I would like share with our group. They are pictured from left to right below as listed. Notice the great variety in the top wood selection.
    The 1921 has particularly fine grained wood as Anglo describes his above. When I look closely I see that the top is made of four pieces, the outer 1/2 inch on right and left sides are jointed. I suspect this top was made with cut-offs from a higher model, perhaps and A4. Without any proof I believe this was Gibson’s practice to use up the good scraps up on the lower instrument line. Anglo, what is your FON and does it have evidence or a top made from more than two pieces with a center joint? The other two are more typical two pieces wide grained tops. The 1925 snakehead has a lacquer finish and the grain is not quite as straight. I’ve never had an original A-Jr with anything but a Sheraton brown top, I’ve never seen one in other collections or in the wild. The ones in the Mandolin archive are all Sheraton brown with the exceptions of ones that are noted as refinished (someone will no doubt prove me wrong). Again, anything is possible but the empirical evidence is that Sheraton brown is the color and that anything else would be a rarity or was refinished.

    Anyway, I’m glad I could share these examples with you. And keep the discussion going. I hope my photos all upload okay!

    Mark

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    A-Jr FON 11410 Spann Year 1921 (paddle head, varnish finish) below

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    A-Jr FON 8190 Spann Year 1925 (snakehead, lacquer finish) below

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    Last edited by MarkELynch; Mar-09-2021 at 12:18pm.
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  31. #21
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Wow Mark! All three of yours look immaculate. I had a really nice snakehead A-Jr but it had been pleasantly played and beaten. Still it sounded great. Yours all look brand new. Makes me want another. I love how understated they are.
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Thanks Jim. All three are original. I’ve been blessed and very particular in my selections over the years. I’ve always passed up refinished, repaired, or instruments with replaced or missing parts. This is particularly hard at the low end of any product line that becomes a collectible. The cheap models are usually either put away when the interest wanes or they are played but not treated well because of the low cost. The base model D (Alrite) and the DY (Army Navy Special) are even more difficult to find in clean and complete original condition. I looked for many years and finally found good examples of each of those.

    My antique Gibsons look so new that some of my music buddies like to tease me by asking me if I’m the original owner. :<).

    Mark
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  33. #23
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Thanks Mark, great mandolins! I enjoyed our messaging the other day as well. I can assure you that none of the ones i'm fooling with look so clean and nice!!

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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Sure are nice. I've not heard too much about them before. Do you use one of these at gigs or something else? And if so, why?
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  35. #25
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Mark,

    You have a fine selection of A Jrs, a mix of paddlehead and snakehead. Do you notice any difference in the sound or playability between the head shapes?

    Kevin
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