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Thread: Gibson A Jr. Natural

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Showing the nice top wood of my natural A Jr (possibly refinished)Click image for larger version. 

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    Anglocelt
    mainly Irish & Scottish but open to all dance-oriented melodic music.
    Mandos: Gibson A2, Mike Black A4, Taran Springwell, Shippey Rosewood; TM and OM by J E Dallas (London) & Davidson.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Kevin, thanks for posting the photo of your A-Jr, can you tell us what the Factory number stamped inside on the neck block reads?
    The selection of the spruce top is beautiful and much more fine grained than usual, it is difficult to see the number of pieces it is made from. I can see the center seam and might see one more joint on the treble side. Maybe you can take a closer look and report back. It might be a two piece top intended for an upper model but used because of material shortages or some other unknown reason.
    I would agree that the top has been refinished. There are sanding marks most notably in the area at the end of the fingerboard on the bass side and on the edges of the black binding in the sound hole. What do the rest of my Cafe friends think? Here is an enlargement of Kevin’s photo.

    Mark

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    Last edited by MarkELynch; Mar-10-2021 at 11:31am.
    Mark Lynch

  3. #28
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    I think I agree Mark, but at any ratem it is a fine piece of spruce! But, to me, and most important, I would ask Anglocelt, how does it sound?

    Also, you fine people, on the subject of A Jr's, what is the dark/black peghead covering, paint stain, or what?

    Blessings to all

  4. #29
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Mark, I don't see any sanding marks, just the normal slope of the top as it comes up to join the fingerboard. There has been some restoration work done, visible from white glue dribbles near the neck joint. The back looks like it could have been reinstalled. Those glue dribbles also help to obscure the FON number. I can see a 2 at the neck end but that is all.

    As for sound, it is 'typical Gibson A'. I have had a few of these and this one is at the brighter end of the sound spectrum. My other A Jr (#68589) is a brown top, original (flaking) finish. It has a bit of depression around the bridge whereas my natural A Jr has no visible depression. Despite that I think I prefer the sound of my brown one - much darker and bassy. Maybe the sinking helps there?
    Kevin
    Anglocelt
    mainly Irish & Scottish but open to all dance-oriented melodic music.
    Mandos: Gibson A2, Mike Black A4, Taran Springwell, Shippey Rosewood; TM and OM by J E Dallas (London) & Davidson.

  5. #30
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    On the subject of A Jr's, what is the dark/black peghead covering, paint stain, verneer or what? I have one which has been refinished and I, at least, want to put the pegehad back to a dark color.

  6. #31
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    The Gibson peghead veneers used during the oval hole period were made out of an unknown dyed wood, often generically called "dyed pearwood." It is likely that the wood was pressure dyed, and the exact species may have varied somewhat due to the whims of the supplier. Other instrument manufactures also used similar wood for veneers. Many of these old veneers are starting to deteriorate, possibly because of caustic chemicals used in the dying process. We see this deterioration quite frequently on Fairbanks/Vega banjos, and I am starting to see it more often on some of the early oval hole Gibson mandolins.

    Any dyed wood of medium hardness with regular grain would be sufficient for a replacement veneer. If you want to re-dye an existing veneer, Fiebings leather dye will work. It will be necessary to dye the entire face of the veneer, let it dry for several days, apply a very light sealing coat, let dry, and apply a second light sealing coat before building your shellac, varnish, or lacquer.

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  8. #32
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    RCC, thanks for your most excellent description of the Gibson peghead veneers and the method for repairing them, we all appreciate your expertise!
    However, I believe only models that have a peghead inlay are veneered, the mandolin models below the A1 (A, A-Jr, DY, D) which have no inlay are black colored by some other means. Without the veneer on the face the center joint is clearly visible under the black coloring. Perhaps you have some details on how the black finish was accomplished. Thanks!

    On another note, did you ever notice that the black center stripe on the tip on an A4 peghead is painted? It is supposed to appear to be the end of the dark center neck lamination if it were to extend up through the peghead. It is well done and easy to fool the eye!

    Mark
    Mark Lynch

  9. #33
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    There is a beautiful lacquered A-Jr snakehead in the classifieds currently that has an atypical fine-grained spruce top. NFI

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/168358#168358

    The seller writes “This Gibson Junior Mandolin (A Junior) serial number 81216 was built around 1925. It in great shape and plays great.” He sent these detailed photos.

    Mark

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    Mark Lynch

  10. #34
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkELynch View Post
    Perhaps you have some details on how the black finish was accomplished. Thanks!

    On another note, did you ever notice that the black center stripe on the tip on an A4 peghead is painted? It is supposed to appear to be the end of the dark center neck lamination if it were to extend up through the peghead. It is well done and easy to fool the eye!

    Mark
    People have been debating about 1910 - 1920's Gibson finishes for years.
    All that I can say for sure is that they are soluble in alcohol, which indicates the presence of some sort of spirit varnish.
    I am confident that aniline dyes were used for the coloring, except for the "ivory" A-3 top finishes and possibly the black finishes.
    I wouldn't take very much stock in anything Gibson might have said in old catalogs or sales literature.

    Lacquer does not appear until the later 1920's. I cannot give an exact date. Like most other Gibson changes of the period, the transition from varnish to lacquer was probably a gradual process, which may have taken several years to complete.

    The black stripe on a 'teens A-4 peghead appears to be an extension of the same piece of wood that was used for the neck's back stripe. Although I have not had the neck completely off one of these instruments, I believe that the multi-piece necks on the upper model mandolins were in 4 pieces, plus any "ear wood" that might have been added to the sides of a peg head and the peghead veneer. Multi-piece necks consisted of a "dyed pearwood" center stripe between two pieces of mahogany, plus a triangular piece of hard maple that served as a neck reinforcement and is visible only if the fingerboard is removed. Some of the very early mandolins used cherry instead of mahogany.

    The low A models often have one piece necks plus the maple reinforcement.

  11. #35
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Thanks rcc56! I have a refinished A jr which was converted to "natural". The maple piece insert you are discribing is ckearly visible in the middle of the peghead just above the nut. I am trying to stain the top of the peghead "black" and that little maple piece of maple absorbs completely different than the rest of the peghead. It may faintly show even when I am done. thanks

  12. #36
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    You can add some black pigment to your varnish, shellac, or lacquer. Test on a piece of scrap. You will want the color coat[s] to be deep in color, because you want to get all your color on in one or two coats. Avoid sanding the color coats if possible. If you must sand, let dry very well, then only scuff sand lightly with 400 or 320. Try the 400 first. Do not try to level it yet. Then clear coat once or twice, scuff sand with 400 or 320 [make sure you don't go through], clear coat once or twice more, let cure very well again, level sand, and polish.

    If you've never worked with colored finishes before, it will be worth your while to go through the whole process on scrap wood before you try it on the mandolin.

    Good luck. There is a learning curve when working with colored finishes. You have to learn when to sand, and how much, and learn to keep your paws off it and give your coats extra drying time. For me, the hardest part is making myself leave it alone while the coats cure. My inclination is to work too fast, but if I do, I have to re-do the work.

    Me, I would probably stain the wood, then French polish with dyed shellac, and finish off with clear shellac.
    Last edited by rcc56; Mar-14-2021 at 2:16pm.

  13. #37
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Quote Originally Posted by J.C. Bryant View Post
    Thanks rcc56! I have a refinished A jr which was converted to "natural". The maple piece insert you are discribing is ckearly visible in the middle of the peghead just above the nut. I am trying to stain the top of the peghead "black" and that little maple piece of maple absorbs completely different than the rest of the peghead. It may faintly show even when I am done. thanks
    Just my opinion, but no problem if it does show. My bandmate has a 1910 A1 and you can easily see the insert if you know what you are looking for. His instrument has original finish.
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  15. #38
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Three more A-Jr’s appeared on Reverb today including a nice Snakehead but it may have been over coated. Here are photos of each again illustrating the wide variety of top woods used on this model. The first one pictured has a badly crazed lacquer finish but you can still see the grain through the finish.

    Mark

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    Mark Lynch

  16. #39
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    Default Re: Gibson A Jr. Natural

    Actually I am the one who put those up on Reverb. I just have too many mandolins. I plan on keepling the one which doesn't sell. (maybe all of them. Ha) The old snake head has been through the mill. It has been refinished and I even did a little. It had a "The Gibson" decal on the peghead and I too that off an re-did the peghead top. But the thing is, as it applies to our thread, is that that old Gibson, beat to pieces but still is a great sounding mandolin. The '22 is a very clean mandolin and the '27 has seen some tough times, environmentally, as well but also has a good sound. To be honest I really like the ugly ones which sound good. I may pull that old snakehead off, yet. Blessings,

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