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Thread: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

  1. #1
    Registered Registerer Champlin's Avatar
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    Default 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    I just came upon this buddy! Gibson's off-brand Cromwell GM-6, FON stamped inside appears to read 536B which I believe makes it a 1936. I've seen a few posts about these claiming there were fewer than 20 of these made? Also I've seen differing opinion as to whether it's pressed or carved. It does have a back brace (which is currently loose) which would imply that it's pressed, but I don't exactly know how to tell if it is or not. There are no dead giveaways that it's carved, but nothing (besides the brace) that would make me think otherwise. Either way, I don't really care, just curious and would welcome any and all information or thoughts on this. It sounds totally killer, and I love the wide fretboard and V-neck. It's a keeper!

    I also have the original bound firestripe pickguard.
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    The majority of Gibson's off-brand archtop instruments had pressed tops and backs. These were often called "arco-arched" tops and backs in catalog and sales literature.

    There were some carved top Cromwell guitars. They were listed as G-5 models. Lower numbered models were pressed. There is conflicting information on whether the higher numbered models were pressed or carved.

    I can find no specific information on the GM-6 mandolin. Spann's Guide confirms # 536B as a batch of GM-6 mandolins made in 1936. The presence of the back brace would tend to indicate that the back was pressed. That would make me think that the probability is good that the top was also pressed.

    Take a look at the f-holes, and see whether or not the inner edges are more or less level with the outer edges. While this is not a definitive test, edges on a carved top Gibson from this period are more likely to be somewhat level than those on a pressed top. But this is only a tendency, rather than an empirical test. If anyone knows of a more definitive test, I would be glad to hear about it.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    These first surfaced here many years ago after a well known vintage dealer declared it a fake

    Several of us finally determined what it was and they have been discussed many times. Most of us missed the fact that it didn't have any points. It is the first of what would become the Gibson lump scroll models or Gumby's as they are affectionately called.

    https://www.google.com/search?client...ndolincafe.com

    https://www.google.com/search?q=crom...client=gws-wiz
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    The carved vs pressed question would be great to resolve with this model.

    I'd be pleasantly surprised to learn this was a carved top.

    Mick
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    The carved vs pressed question would be great to resolve with this model.

    I'd be pleasantly surprised to learn this was a carved top.

    Mick
    If you can find one that nobody wants and bring it by I'll run it through the band saw so we can get a better look at the insides

    This model has always intrigued me.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    If you can find one that nobody wants and bring it by I'll run it through the band saw so we can get a better look at the insides

    This model has always intrigued me.
    The Depression notwithstanding, '30s were halcyon days of cinema animation in the US. Hard not to see the "Goofy-ness" of this design in that light.

    Mick
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    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Quote Originally Posted by Champlin View Post
    I just came upon this ...Cromwell GM-6, FON ...536B ... 1936. ... It sounds totally killer, and I love the wide fretboard and V-neck. It's a keeper!
    Show us a soundbite of your killer. I do not have any doubt that it's a very interesting mandolin. The oddball look together with a good sound will certainly make it a head turner.

    I am intrigued.
    Olaf

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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    If you can find one that nobody wants and bring it by I'll run it through the band saw so we can get a better look at the insides

    This model has always intrigued me.
    Very generous offer Mike. haha
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  13. #9

    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Isn’t the most visible sign of a pressed top the lack of any relief (carving) at the scroll, and the less visible lack of thickness variation throughout? A basic magnetic gauge can profile the latter. While not definitive - a carved flat plate could be then pressed for a small saving of wood, this is barely worth the trouble, and would not represent the same acoustics. Wrong concept?

  14. #10
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Yes, a Hacklinger guage might be able to determine whether plates are carved or pressed. Has anyone put one on a Cromwell or '30's Recording King??

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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Yes, a Hacklinger guage might be able to determine whether plates are carved or pressed. Has anyone put one on a Cromwell or '30's Recording King??
    If I recall there was only one of the Gibson second lines that had a carved top model mandolin and it was an A style. You can almost bet that these were pressed. Also, there really isn't a scroll so the carving of the scroll isn't really an indicator.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    Supposedly, Recording King model 1642 mandolins [A style with f-holes and maple back] had carved tops.
    But I don't know whether the reference books are accurate about that.

    There are surviving advertising pages that indicate that all of the Kalamazoo models were pressed.

    I'd estimate the probability is 95%+ that the Cromwell GM-6 was pressed.

  17. #13
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    Default Re: 1936 Cromwell GM-6

    As far as I know that was the only one and it probably sold for a premium price at the time. There were also some premium Recording King guitars sold. You could probably borrow mafia money and bet the ranch that this model was pressed.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

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