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Thread: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

  1. #26
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Let me be the first to wish your mandolin a Happy 100th Birthday!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Consumers have been convinced that they want them....then, there's all the other reasons compounding. It's really that damn Loar mystique...have you ever seen one for sale that omitted the phrase "Loar era"...? Gotta say, tho, my '24 A-Jr. is a gas!
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    No one talked of Loar era when I bought my ‘23 A-2 back in the early 1980s. I had a very nice sounding 1919 A-3 at that time and yet this snakehead had something else, something different. It was just an excellent mandolin and still is.
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    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    My snakehead wasn't very expensive. Are you thinking about getting one? If you are, shop around for a while until you find one at sane price. This is the best place to start.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Or not. Here, where a much higher percentage of folks know what's what about mandolins than the general population, there's a much greater chance that someone will beat you to the punch on your dream machine, especially if it's a good deal.
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  6. #31

    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    My snakehead wasn't very expensive. Are you thinking about getting one? If you are, shop around for a while until you find one at sane price. This is the best place to start.
    Eventually, I'd like to have an old oval hole Gibson. I don't care too much about the headstock, just wanted to know why there was a price difference.

    I am saving for a guitar at the moment though since I already have two nice mandolins and my guitar is only so-so.
    I guess I'll just stay right here, pick and sing a while...
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  7. #32
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    To be clear it is not only the headstock that makes it different. Some folks do prefer a narrower neck and the tone, for one reason or another, can be different. However, as I have said here often, the pre-Loar era oval holes can sound quite wonderful. And the necks are a bit wider and chunkier which some folks prefer. I will admit that my recent purchase was that I was paying for a rarer set of features and collectibility though I do love the sound as well. There are some lovely oval hole vintage Gibsons out there and it is nice that so many have survived to be played over a hundred years later.
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  8. #33

    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Qualcuno sa spiegarmi una cosa riguardo il mio mandolino A -Style.??
    Last edited by Giuseppe1234; Dec-10-2022 at 11:51am. Reason: Info Gibson A-Style

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by Giuseppe1234 View Post
    Qualcuno sa spiegarmi una cosa riguardo il mio mandolino A -Style.??
    What exactly is your question, Joe? (You may want to start a new thread, no?)

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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Mi scusi signore. Penso che questo non sia il posto migliore per la tua domanda. Ti suggerisco di iniziare una nuova discussione, in Discussioni Generali sul Mandolino, o forse ancora meglio, vai su Argomenti Generali sul Mandolino e poi vai su Alla ricerca di informazioni sui mandolini. Otterrai i migliori risultati se includi una breve storia sullo strumento e alcune foto - molto importanti. E fai il tuo post in inglese, se lo conosci, o usa Google Translate, come ho fatto io. Buona fortuna! E benvenuto al Caffθ!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  11. #36
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post

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    Well, I had a nice A2Z and a somewhat scratchy A4 snakehead, and years ago I had to let one go to satisfy the tax man. I A/B'd them and the A4 won. It's my go-to mandolin for classical and italian gigs, and I played some jazzy Christmas tunes on it for a gig last night.

    The truss rod gives snakeheads a different center of gravity and balance compared to paddleheads. There's a little more mass around the neck joint, as there is with F models, and I don't know if that makes a difference in tone, but I like it better.
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    Registered User mandotool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Nice group of Snake siblings sharing a seat ..


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  14. #38
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandotool View Post
    Nice group of Snake siblings sharing a seat ..
    Mandotool: are each of these A-4s different in tone. Is there a reason to have four of the same. Oh, wait, I was assuming that these all belong to you. I may be wrong…
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  15. #39

    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    I bought my 1923 A-2 in about 1996 because I loved the tone and I bought it from a notorious shop in London, and paid too much for it. I knew nothing about these mandolins back then and I later discovered that it was missing its original tuners and pickguard while the tailpiece cover was a recent repro but the bridge is most likely old but not original- likewise, the case was modern. Of course, many years later, I found out that I had a "snakehead" and all this "Lloyd Loar Era" mystique started to waft around but some reckoned the Loar devised graduations on the top were an improvement- so there may be more to this notion other than pure moonshine. A while back, my luthier wanted to look at it- as he was going to make his own version of the A-2 and he was very impressed- told me it was a "real cannon" and was the best he had encountered in 25 years and ordered me to restring it! It seems, despite being ripped off, I had over time "got lucky" which is good, to know but I did buy it for how it sounded. I had been back to the shop a few times and was hooked- so I coughed up the loot with a feeling I was probably being suckered but it was hard then to know what something was really worth.

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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    One person's opinion: 1920s Gibson snakeheads are some of the finest sounding and most beautiful mandolins ever built. Iconic, gorgeous, brilliantly designed, trend setting, still highly desirable. 100 years later, only a few top-tier builders can match their equal. A models have largely been an afterthought at Gibson since and they've never come close to equaling those. Sure, they make a few every so often, but nothing the community at large has gotten excited about. But hey, any mandolin company can have a bad century.

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Exactly this. They sound great, look cool, and can be obtained for less than a modern luthier-built instrument. I've horse-traded tons of these in my time, and there were only a few "duds" that I would say weren't very good. There were several that were insanely good and that I should have kept if I'd known better!
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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    I'm equally amazed at how such a simple design can work so consistently well for a mandolin, but when they add a low C and expand the body by 15%, there are such a high number of absolute miserable failure mandolas utilizing the same design that sound like wet cardboard.

    BUT- not the snakehead mandola....
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    I'm equally amazed at how such a simple design can work so consistently well for a mandolin, but when they add a low C and expand the body by 15%, there are such a high number of absolute miserable failure mandolas utilizing the same design that sound like wet cardboard.

    BUT- not the snakehead mandola....
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Thomas: The "underground bunker" is more like a supply closet!

    I've been lucky to access that snakehead mandola, the Griffith, and about 50 other Loars over the years, as well as hundreds of the world's finest instruments, many in private collections and some of the world's great museums. The mandolin community is generally a small group and most are pretty friendly people, so putting yourself out into the world with intent & purpose while representing yourself in a professional manner helps.

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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    I'm equally amazed at how such a simple design can work so consistently well for a mandolin, but when they add a low C and expand the body by 15%, there are such a high number of absolute miserable failure mandolas utilizing the same design that sound like wet cardboard.

    BUT- not the snakehead mandola....
    I have two mandolas, both with f-holes, and still dream of that one (or more likely a modern tribute to it).
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    I would like to have information about my mandolin. Which my grandfather bought in America in 1916 in New York and then returned to Italy. Now the mandolin is here in Italy. Gibson A-Style Number 29855

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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    But hey, any mandolin company can have a bad century.
    Almost splorted my coffee.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Almost splorted my coffee.
    Gibson’s antics as a company have caused much sport action over the years. Check our Joe Spann’s book. There is a whole section of catalogued incidents of splortation. Or check out the Wikipedia page on Music Industry Splortation. .
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by Giuseppe1234 View Post
    I would like to have information about my mandolin. Which my grandfather bought in America in 1916 in New York and then returned to Italy. Now the mandolin is here in Italy. Gibson A-Style Number 29855
    According to (Joe) "Spann's Guide to Gibson", your mandolin was shipped in 1915. There should be another (4 digit) number, the so called factory order number (FON) stamped inside at the neck block. The FON allows to identify the year of manufacture. Your mandolin may look like the one in this c. 1920 catalog picture:
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    As you can see, it has a head stock in the shape of a paddle (hence "paddle head"), not a snake head. Which is why your A model should be discussed in another thread. Why don't you start one and add a few pics, so we can all look and comment on it?

  28. #50
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are old Gibson snakeheads worth so much more?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hendrik Ahrend View Post
    Why don't you start one and add a few pics, so we can all look and comment on it?
    I think he already has started at least two other threads with the same question.
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