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Thread: Gibson neck question

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Dec 2008
    Southern California

    Default Gibson neck question


    I'm a guitarist looking to get into mandolins. I have been playing lots of mandos at local stores trying to determine what type of mandolin would be good for me. I was assuming that I needed a radiused fretboard (because of ease of play) but one thing that I have found is that the absolute most comfortable neck for me has been on vintage Gibson A models (like A40 or A50) that I have tried. Am I correct in assuming that these are flat, wide necks (either 1 1/4 or 1 3/16)?

    If so, I don't think that I need a radiused fretboard and that would open up a lot more choices for me. Since I am new to this I was hoping to buy a new mandolin since I don't really know what to look for in a used/vintage model but if push comes to shove I could end up with an old A40/50.

    Thanks. Rob

  2. #2
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.

    Default Re: Gibson neck question

    A 50 [mine] measures about 30mm wide at the nut, 12th is 10 mm wider..

    depth of neck tapers as well ,

    older A's [22] are a rounded triangular shape neck still a comfortable shape, for my hand,
    as left hand treats mandolins differently,
    thumb alongside the top-side of the neck, rather than behind it,
    as with Guitars ... unless you have big hands , and long thumbs for the wraparound grip .

    minor Radius-ing can be done with full re-frets on flat fingerboards , dots on the top edge are no longer centered, in the binding , of course..

    Perhaps special order A 9s can be made with non deep V (Loar?) shaped necks.. ???

    Last edited by mandroid; Dec-24-2008 at 4:28pm.
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  3. #3
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    Jul 2003
    Portland, OR

    Default Re: Gibson neck question

    Hey There,

    Neck width and neck shape make a huge difference in terms of comfort. I used to have an old A-50 and it was, for me, the most comfortable neck. Conversely, at one time I had an F-9 which was not comfortable for me. The difference was that the A-50 had a wider neck and what I call a rounded or C-shape to the neck. The F-9 had a narrow neck (1" at the nut) and a pronounced V-shape to it...loved the tone and look of the F-9 but I had to let it go because it was just uncomfortable to play for long periods.

    Keep doing what you're doing, play as many mandos as you can and really find out what you like. Plus, the journey really is fun!


  4. #4
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    Sep 2003

    Default Re: Gibson neck question

    Play what is most comfortable for you. Don't assume you need a radius fret board. Most pros don't have a radius board. I prefer a flat board, but can play either. If you play a mandolin and like that instrument, then that is the one to get. Don't be concerned about the fingerboard as the basis for your decision. You will adjust quickly to what you get. Just find the one that speaks to you and go from there. Hope this helps a little bit .
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

  5. #5
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Gibson neck question

    RobW95, what kind of music do you plan to play?

    I have a 1960's A-50, a 1919 F-2, a 1952 F-12, a 2002 A-9, and a 2002 F-5 all Gibsons.

    The necks on the A-50 and the F-2 for example are quite comfortable and both are different from the F-12 which in turn is somewhat different from the the A-9 and F-5 (which are nearly identical in feel to me). But there is considerable range here in these mandolins -- even though they are all the same manufacturer.

    In addition, the width at the nut ranges as well from about 1 3/16 " on the F-2 to 1 1/16" on the A-9 and F-5. But I find all of them easy to play even over an extened period of time.

    Perhaps some players require more rigid requirements esp. GOOD players!

    Maybe my playing is so mediocre that I am immune from precise requirements

    But I guess my point is I think you can adapt to a neck within reason so try to get a mandolin that makes the sound you want for the music you play?

    Just another way to look at it.

    Merry Chirstmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Great New Year to all!
    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

  6. #6
    Phylum Octochordata Mike Bromley's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
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    Default Re: Gibson neck question

    In an oddly appropriate context, "comfort and joy" come to mind.
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  7. #7
    Registered User DannyB's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    Fostoria, Ohio

    Default Re: Gibson neck question

    I for one have tried 2 mandolins with a radiused fret board and don't like it at all. But I have played without radius for 20 some years, might have something to do with why I don't care for it. Just a question. Does your guitar have a radius board? Something to think about and I agree with Joe if the mando feels good and sounds good to you that is what matters the most.

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