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Thread: My New Baby

  1. #1
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default My New Baby

    Well, new to me, anyway. This is a 1916 A-4, cherry sunburst finish. She's a perfect match for my 1916 H-2 mandola, one of the main reasons for making the effort. Another reason was the bling - I've been playing plain As for the longest time, and while they sound fine and play well, they just look so ... plain. I wanted a mandolin that proclaimed its identity proudly, with a flourish.

    Also, I thought I could get her at a decent price. This was an auction item in an estate sale, being held in a small town in the western hills of Virginia. I hadn't been looking for anything, though in the back of my mind I've been thinking about an F-2 or F-4 for a long time. But I saw this, and thought that it might not attract much attention and it could be had for a reasonable price.

    Well, my hunch paid off. Bids hovered around $1300 for days. Then a couple days before closing someone got interested, and it went to $1500 or so. And stayed there. On the final day, I started with small increments, which kept getting matched automatically. I had in mind a hard upper limit of $2000, as there were a couple in the classified for a few hundred more than that, which I knew were from reputable dealers. I had no way of knowing exactly how good this was from the few photos available. I was thinking I'd have done well to get it for $1800 or less, so after it got over $1600 I put in an automatic bid just over $1700. I was pleasantly surprised to get her for ~$1650.

    That's not what I ended up spending, though. I knew about the 5.3% sales tax. But I didn't see the 17% online bidding premium. Plus shipping and insurance was another $150. So all told the cost was just under $2200. So my great buy ended up being not so much, but ... well, still a pretty good buy. Not quite on the level of finding something in grandpa's attic, but better than I could have gotten anywhere else. And all in all, I'm very happy to have such a nice instrument to play. I don't think she's going to go traipsing around with me to bar gigs but I expect I'll be playing her at home and with friends a good bit. It's not as though I can really justify such a big expense when I'm hardly playing out any more, but I've been living within my means for so long, I can afford a bit of extravagance. Plus it is just plain worth it, having a really nice instrument to play. I'm sure everyone here can understand that.

    After a bit of nail biting and some last-minute delivery tweaks, she showed up today, ready to play. She looks and sounds great - strong yet subtle. And rings like a bell. Just like the mandola, she keeps ringing all the while I'm putting her in the case. (Oh, and it's an OHSC with rich deep purple lining.) There are some signs of wear, though nothing drastic. Could use a cleaning and polish. But the tuners works easily, the frets look good, even the pickguard clamp is tight. There's a bit of fret buzz around the 9th and 10th frets, which hopefully will be an easy fix. Oh, and there were a dozen picks in the case pocket, including my old choice, a black Dunlop 1mm, a couple more Dunlop heavies, and in with the cheapo cheapos, a Golden Gate pick. Go figure!

    I'll post some pictures soon. The ones I took in the fading daylight don't do her justice. Here are some from the auction listing.

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    Last edited by journeybear; Mar-11-2021 at 7:47pm.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  3. #2
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Hey Journeybear, Congrats on the new A4 with that great cherry sunburst! Haven’t seen many of those! Great deal, too. May you play it long and happily.
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  5. #3
    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Nice score ~ you can’t beat a good sounding and playing oval hole.

    Enjoy it in good health!
    ... not all those who wander are lost ...

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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Congrats buddy

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    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Beautiful! I bet it knows all the songs you do, too.

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  11. #6
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Thanks! Actually, funny you should mention it ... not a one. I think she spent her life in a different part of the country, where they play different kinds of music, or something. Everything I play on her sounds new.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  13. #7
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Congrats Steve, good score, I’m glad it arrived safe and sound! Very pretty.

    In looking at your photo I noticed some things about the bridge. You have an original Gibson bridge that has removable string saddles, the saddles fit into a groove in the top of the bridge base. The saddle for the second string pair (AA) is offset so that the intonation could be changed depending on wether you were using plain strings or wound strings. The saddle is installed closer to the nut for wound A strings and farther from the nut for plain strings. Your picture shows the saddle set for wound strings right now. If you are planning on installing a set of D'Addario EJ-73 strings that have plain A strings you will want to carefully reverse the saddle. If you are using TI strings with a wound A then you are fine as is. Also, the base of the bridge appears too close to the tailpiece, it is usually closer to the pickguard but I’m sure you’ll check this when you set things up!

    As we spoke before, the oval hole Gibsons are well known for having a loose transverse brace under the top. Please check and have this repaired is necessary before stringing it up.

    Mark

    Your bridge (below)

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    Bridge set for plain A strings (below)

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    From the Gibson Catalog “I”
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    Mark Lynch

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    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    There a whole lot of cool in that old A.
    J.Lane Pryce

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    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    The Handel tuners alone are worth the 17% buyer's premium. If it sounds as good as it looks, you scored.

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  19. #10
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkELynch View Post
    If you are planning on installing a set of D'Addario EJ-73 strings that have plain A strings you will want to carefully reverse the saddle. If you are using TI strings with a wound A then you are fine as is. Also, the base of the bridge appears too close to the tailpiece, it is usually closer to the pickguard but I’m sure you’ll check this when you set things up!
    I haven't heard this before. It has plain A's on it now. Can't tell what set they are. The shipper slackened the strings, but not much - and I mean, about a half step. I was surprised when I strummed it and it sounded fairly tuned. So I tuned it up, and though i haven't done a thorough intonation check yet, it sounds pretty good. Yes, the bridge is pulled back. Again, I'll see how that affects intonation tomorrow.

    As we spoke before, the oval hole Gibsons are well known for having a loose transverse brace under the top. Please check and have this repaired if necessary before stringing it up.
    It's already strung up, so ... But I'll bring it in first chance i get. Didn't make a sound when i shook it.

    Speaking of the pickguard ... I wonder why it has a bit cut out of it by the neck. Weird. I wonder if a former owner used that to make a couple of picks.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Yeah, man, sweet find!!
    Chuck

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  22. #12
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louise NM View Post
    The Handel tuners alone are worth the 17% buyer's premium. If it sounds as good as it looks, you scored.
    Well ... yes and no. That's almost $300! But yes, they sure are purty.

    It's kind of funny - it doesn't sound as full as my plain A. Kind of a lighter, perhaps more refined tone. I'm thinking there are lighter strings on her. And as Mark says, got to check the braces. I recall a recent/current discussion elsewhere about the different woods being used on low-end and high-end A models. I wonder if that's at play here. I also wonder whether I'm just used to the plain A sound. Time will tell, I reckon.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  23. #13
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    It looks real nice!
    Could we maybe see a picture of the matched pair together?

    It's excellent that it arrived sooner than expected and the shipping went smoothly.

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  25. #14
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Of course! That's the plan.

    Yes, indeed. It was sent Tuesday via 2-day ground, so even though the website kept saying it would be delivered by end of Friday, it did get here in two days, as promised. It made two stops at transfer points along the way, and both times it was in and out in just a couple hours. Very efficient.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Beautiful. My duet partner has a great old A-4. And the one you have looks very clean. Congrats.

    Could be just need to be played a bit to sound fuller. Hard to say. Or, like you said, could be the strings.

    Oh, and I would bet the pickguard is missing a chunk because a prior owner used a DeArmond pickup and cut away so the pickup could lay flat. That might also explain the bridge being moved back. Needed room for the mounting stick.

    (Took this from photos in a Google search. Not mine and no claims to ownership of the photo).
    Click image for larger version. 

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  28. #16
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    I would bet the pickguard is missing a chunk because a prior owner used a DeArmond pickup and cut away so the pickup could lay flat. That might also explain the bridge being moved back. Needed room for the mounting stick.
    Aha! That makes more sense. That fits under the strings, and the bracket and other hardware serve to hold it in place, right?

    I haven't decided yet about putting a pickup on it. I'm not ready to do any modifications. I was thinking maybe just a clip-on miniature microphone. Though I am toying with the notion of swapping out the bridge for a Fishman with adjustable height, which would also eliminate that bit of fret buzz. Since I'm not at all interested in playing bar gigs with her, that isn't under consideration for the foreseeable future.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Sweet!
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Very nice. Do you know any of the history of it? Previous owners and such?
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    Registered User Isaac Casas's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Beautiful, congratulations!
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    I once had a 1917 A4,,awesome mandolin that I wish I didn't sell..

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  37. #21
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Very nice. Do you know any of the history of it? Previous owners and such?
    You, always with the good questions! It just so happens I just sent an email about this very thing to my contact at the auction house. I have no idea how much she knows or can learn about the previous owner. But it does seem there would be something to be gleaned. I'm well aware how rare it is to be able to determine information such as this. We'll see ... Stay tuned ...
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  38. #22
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    OK, here are a couple of photos of the happy couple. The photographer is not happy, though. Struggling with glare, and then once the cause of the glare diminished, so did focus. Phooey! This'll have to do for now, until I get a real camera over here.

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

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  40. #23
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Just lovely! What a pair!

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  42. #24
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    Looks like you got your 'dola's Mini-Me! Since they're from the same year, how close are their serial numbers?
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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  44. #25
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: My New Baby

    I was thinking more like Big Sister and Little Sister.

    Good question. They're #27723 and #25366 respectively. Which is pretty darn close, in Gibson years.

    It just might be time to set up a photo shoot for the Mandolin Archive. Hoping my request for provenance on the mandolin proves fruitful.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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