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Thread: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

  1. #1
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Here's a delightful instrument at Retrofret from the earliest days of the 'modern' Gibson A models. HERE The top grain is so striking, I think it's worth noting. These were the days of vast easy supplies of local Spruce, so I imagine this billet must have caught someone's eye, who perhaps wondered how it would sound in a carved top. It was not yet in the days of frantic production trying to keep up with the mandolin orchestra heyday, so I doubt it was a case of 'use every scrap of spruce and get it out the door.'

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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Wow! Impressive piece of wood that no one would use these days... makes you think! Wonder how it sounds?

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    Likes quaint instruments poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    Wow! Impressive piece of wood that no one would use these days... makes you think! Wonder how it sounds?
    That is exactly what makes me wonder about the vintage Gibsons and Martins. One piece coarse grain or painted to hide the wood and no bindings etc. That wood looks like floorboard.

    Thousands of cheaper guitars from that period were made of much better materials but are still not close to the prices of these mandolins.

    I don't understand it.

    And the wood and craftsmanship of a thousand Italian mandolins, far overshadows these two compagnies.
    Kentucky KM-805..........2 Hora M1086 Portuguese II(1 in car)
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    Wonder how it sounds?
    Now that's what really matters. I don't play the wood grain...I play mandolin. Assuming the action is good, it's the sound that counts.

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    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavy View Post
    Wow! Impressive piece of wood that no one would use these days... makes you think! Wonder how it sounds?
    They didn’t have good wood back then. The trees were too young
    Not all the clams are at the beach

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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Wild!
    too many strings

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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Very cool looking top.

    But I always feel a little spooked about these early Gibsons with that common crack running down the headstock. Not sure if it's the wood used in the center strip of the neck, or the glue that fails, but I've seen many examples where the inlay has started falling out of the headstock and/or the crack runs substantially down the length of the neck. Makes me wonder if they either foresaw a problem, or quickly became aware of it, and updated their neck design around 1912.
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by KCNelson View Post
    Very cool looking top.

    But I always feel a little spooked about these early Gibsons with that common crack running down the headstock. Not sure if it's the wood used in the center strip of the neck, or the glue that fails, but I've seen many examples where the inlay has started falling out of the headstock and/or the crack runs substantially down the length of the neck. Makes me wonder if they either foresaw a problem, or quickly became aware of it, and updated their neck design around 1912.
    Yes, how did they get that good reputation, with manufacturing faults like that? And people still want the old ones at high prices.!!

    I have a lot of mandolins but find myself preferring a new Hora I paid 160$ for. It's the easiest to play and sounds good to me. Deciding the sound quality is not easy and I will mention the elephant in the room:Hearing loss with age.

    It starts in the late 30s and will gradually get worse. You loose the higher frequencies and maybe also the sensitivity.

    So are we people above 40 qualified to judge sound quality at all?
    Kentucky KM-805..........2 Hora M1086 Portuguese II(1 in car)
    Hora M1088 Mandola.....Hora M1087P Octave
    Richmond RMA-110..... .Noname Bearclaw
    Pochette Franz Janisch...5 Pocket............Alfredo Privitera pocket
    Puglisi Pocket 1908........Puglisi 1912.......Puglisi 1917
    Mandolinetto Neapolitane 1910
    1 Mandriola...................Cannelo G. Mandriola...Böhm Waldzither 1921
    Johs Møller 1945............Luigi Embergher Studio 1933
    Marma Seashell back......Luigi Embergher 5bis 1909

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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    That is exactly what makes me wonder about the vintage Gibsons and Martins. One piece coarse grain or painted to hide the wood and no bindings etc. That wood looks like floorboard.
    Haha, doesn't it just. Not sure how that one escaped: normally they'd paint a top like that black, and folks today would pay a premium for those good old floorboards

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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    “ So are we people above 40 qualified to judge sound quality at all?”
    If the genre of the music is mostly listened to by older folk, then yes.
    It’s really only small children, with actually smaller hardware, who hear the really high stuff, and we don’t ask them for opinions.

  16. #11

    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    Yes, how did they get that good reputation, with manufacturing faults like that? And people still want the old ones at high prices.!!

    I have a lot of mandolins but find myself preferring a new Hora I paid 160$ for. It's the easiest to play and sounds good to me. Deciding the sound quality is not easy and I will mention the elephant in the room:Hearing loss with age.

    It starts in the late 30s and will gradually get worse. You loose the higher frequencies and maybe also the sensitivity.

    So are we people above 40 qualified to judge sound quality at all?
    How on earth is it shoddy manufacturing when MANY of these old mandos are still being played regularly, over 100 years later? Please get back to me in 113 years with an update on your Hora, lol!

    The OP posted because they found that top attractive. Presumably, at least one other person did, too. Personally, I thought it was cool when I saw it on Retrofret’s site awhile back. Nobody on this thread has played this instrument, so nobody has a way of knowing whether that top has a negative impact on its tone.

    These mandos are still priced very attractively compared to modern MIA instruments. And if you prefer inexpensive MIC instruments, or vintage European ones, that’s fine, too! Different strokes, and all that.
    Last edited by fishermike; May-25-2023 at 10:08pm.

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Very cool top on that one. Somewhat like the one the other mandolin player in our band owns.

    FWIW, if I remember correctly, in about 1910 Gibson went to a stringer in the middle that was made out of pear, or a similar wood. One theory was it was stained and that caused it to rot. Appears to have been fixed by 1911.

    Stating the above as I had a 1910 A with a repaired headstock due to this. Here is an article that covers this issue - https://www.fivestarguitars.com/blog...a4-restoration

    Sorry. Seems I've gone a bit ham sandwich on this topic.

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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    I believe there is as much fashion and fad as there is attention to sound and build quality, in the choices of musical instruments that folks make. And this is reflected in the prices, which, in general, follow the market. What you should have to pay for this kind of craftsmanship, or this quality of sound, (or lack thereof) often has nothing to do with actual price.
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by poul hansen View Post
    That is exactly what makes me wonder about the vintage Gibsons and Martins. One piece coarse grain or painted to hide the wood and no bindings etc. That wood looks like floorboard.

    Thousands of cheaper guitars from that period were made of much better materials but are still not close to the prices of these mandolins.

    I don't understand it.

    And the wood and craftsmanship of a thousand Italian mandolins, far overshadows these two compagnies.
    This critique coming from someone who collects cheap small mandolins.

    Have you ever played a '10s era Gibson A?

    Or are you one of the frequent folks here who complain about something that they have no experience with?

    I can guess we know exactly what this mandolin sounds like: good volume, nice mix across the range low to high, "tubby" in the parlance of the MC. Great tremolo.

    I've owned many (many) MOR Italian bowlbacks of this era built for the export trade to the UK or Baltic countries. The craft level ranges from good to dubious. The fret spacing (and intonation) can be a roll of the dice.

    And your know-nothingness apparently extends to CF Martin, too, right?

    The craft on Martin As is impeccable. Not sure if you are just gaslighting folks here, or just saving up for another pocket mandolin.

    You have strong opinions you like to share.

    Why not back them up with experience playing the mandolins you choose to denigrate?


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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    This critique coming from someone who collects cheap small mandolins.

    Have you ever played a '10s era Gibson A?

    Or are you one of the frequent folks here who complain about something that they have no experience with?

    I can guess we know exactly what this mandolin sounds like: good volume, nice mix across the range low to high, "tubby" in the parlance of the MC. Great tremolo.

    I've owned many (many) MOR Italian bowlbacks of this era built for the export trade to the UK or Baltic countries. The craft level ranges from good to dubious. The fret spacing (and intonation) can be a roll of the dice.

    And your know-nothingness apparently extends to CF Martin, too, right?

    The craft on Martin As is impeccable. Not sure if you are just gaslighting folks here, or just saving up for another pocket mandolin.

    You have strong opinions you like to share.

    Why not back them up with experience playing the mandolins you choose to denigrate?


    Mick
    Thank you for a positive and polite answer.
    Kentucky KM-805..........2 Hora M1086 Portuguese II(1 in car)
    Hora M1088 Mandola.....Hora M1087P Octave
    Richmond RMA-110..... .Noname Bearclaw
    Pochette Franz Janisch...5 Pocket............Alfredo Privitera pocket
    Puglisi Pocket 1908........Puglisi 1912.......Puglisi 1917
    Mandolinetto Neapolitane 1910
    1 Mandriola...................Cannelo G. Mandriola...Böhm Waldzither 1921
    Johs Møller 1945............Luigi Embergher Studio 1933
    Marma Seashell back......Luigi Embergher 5bis 1909

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Very cool top on that one. Somewhat like the one the other mandolin player in our band owns.

    FWIW, if I remember correctly, in about 1910 Gibson went to a stringer in the middle that was made out of pear, or a similar wood. One theory was it was stained and that caused it to rot. Appears to have been fixed by 1911.

    Stating the above as I had a 1910 A with a repaired headstock due to this. Here is an article that covers this issue - https://www.fivestarguitars.com/blog...a4-restoration

    Sorry. Seems I've gone a bit ham sandwich on this topic.
    Thanks for that, Eric. That was a really creative repair he made there on that mandolin.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  25. #17
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    Thanks for that, Eric. That was a really creative repair he made there on that mandolin.
    +1 yep, very interesting article
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  26. #18

    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Very cool top on that one. Somewhat like the one the other mandolin player in our band owns.

    FWIW, if I remember correctly, in about 1910 Gibson went to a stringer in the middle that was made out of pear, or a similar wood. One theory was it was stained and that caused it to rot. Appears to have been fixed by 1911.

    Stating the above as I had a 1910 A with a repaired headstock due to this. Here is an article that covers this issue - https://www.fivestarguitars.com/blog...a4-restoration

    Sorry. Seems I've gone a bit ham sandwich on this topic.
    Appreciate the ham sandwich - something less appealing has appeared in this thread!
    Anyway, that repair description is of interest, perhaps in the ‘builders and repair’ section, but it left me thinking that the ‘mulch’ pearwood in the neck doesn’t get addressed except for fretboard glue holding the halves together. I would think that excavating at least some of it down from the top and adding glue would have been safer, but the guy gets credits for being careful about the headstock veneer and tunneling under.
    But what do I know - I’m just a collector of cheap and weird mandolins.

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  28. #19
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    I think Frank Ford has some similar repairs documented on his frets.com.
    The center strip is likely maple stained black by a chemical treatment that makes it disintegrate after few decades. I've seen many folks refer to the ebonized parts as pear but on close inspection I always see flocks of medularies that suggest maple, but I haven't seen any of the pre 1910 mandolins. The later ones had a thin ebonized strip installed from rear of the neck.
    For repair all you can do is either excavate and repace with new wood or saturate it with some resin or very thin CA glue but that still may fail if you don't manage to get all the pieces saturated well enough an of course there is potential for a BIG mess.
    Regarding the wood used, there was not specialized tonewood market in the US back then and the factories just bought quartersawn lumber and sorted that to several grades for different instrument models. They were not all that fussy about visual quality of the wood for lower models as we are today. These days, with easy and cheap transportation we can get nicest woods from any part of the world.
    Adrian

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  30. #20
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    Default Re: 1910 A-1 with fantastic wide grain

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard500 View Post
    ...........
    But what do I know - I’m just a collector of cheap and weird mandolins.
    MeToo
    Kentucky KM-805..........2 Hora M1086 Portuguese II(1 in car)
    Hora M1088 Mandola.....Hora M1087P Octave
    Richmond RMA-110..... .Noname Bearclaw
    Pochette Franz Janisch...5 Pocket............Alfredo Privitera pocket
    Puglisi Pocket 1908........Puglisi 1912.......Puglisi 1917
    Mandolinetto Neapolitane 1910
    1 Mandriola...................Cannelo G. Mandriola...Böhm Waldzither 1921
    Johs Møller 1945............Luigi Embergher Studio 1933
    Marma Seashell back......Luigi Embergher 5bis 1909

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