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Thread: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

  1. #1

    Default Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    I'm not quite sure I grasp all of the differences between the two models. Does one play or sound better than the other? What are the other differences?

    Thank you to anyone who has the time to mull this over.

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    As far as I know, the difference is in finish, ornamentation and binding, not in basic construction. The K-1 was made from 1902 to 1943, but the K-2 was only available from 1902 to 1922. Hence, quite a few more K-1's around.

    Here's what the Vintage Guitars Gibson website has to say about the two:

    Model: H-1 Mandola and K-1 Mandocello
    H-1 Available: 1902 to 1936. K-1 Available: 1902 to 1943.

    1902 H-1, K-1 specs:
    Same features and changes as A-2 mandolin.

    1908 H-1, K-1 specs:
    Same features as A-1 mandolin but with treble side fingerboard extension, bound fingerboard.

    1922 H-1, K-1 specs:
    2 wood inlaid soundhole rings.

    1923-1927 H-1, K-1 specs:
    No peghead change (no Snakehead shape).

    1925 H-1, K-1 specs:
    Black top finish.

    1927 H-1, K-1 specs:
    Same specs as Style A mandolin.

    H-1 discontinued 1936. K-1 discontinued 1943

    Model: H-2 Mandola and K-2 Mandocello
    H-2, K-2 Available: 1902 to 1922.

    1902 H-2, K-2 specs:
    Same features and changes as A-4 mandolin.

    1918 H-2, K-2 specs:
    Ivory finish available.

    H-2, K-2 discontinued 1922.

    So the K-2 had a different finish, ornamental inlay on the headstock, and, I believe, a bound back, while the K-1 was plainer. I would say any differences in sound would be more related to differences among individual instruments, than to overall differences between the two models. IMHO, of course.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    My K1 is plain Jane - binding on top only, no inlaid Fleur-de-lis on headstock.
    My K2 is a liitle fancier - binding on top and bottom, bound neck, Fleur-de-Lis inlay on headstock.
    The K2 has Handel inlaid tuner buttons.
    To my ear the K2 sounds richer than the K1, but that might not be intentional.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    While we're on the subject of Gibson mandos, what is the market value of a decent condition K-4?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    Whatever you can get for it.

  6. #6
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    At least one ivory K2 exists, having been documented by Frank Ford.

    I might be wrong, but I think K1s exist only in pumpkin, whereas K2s also come in black, Cremona brown and sunburst. Or it could even be that there are no pumpkin K2s. The Mandolin Archive would clear it up.

    Other than that, yes, it's the back binding, the fleur de lis, and Handels on pre-1918 K2s.

    Market value of K4s is hard to establish because they don't come up frequently. There's been a pair of them on eBay lately, one of which has been renecked as an octave mandolin. The seller has listed them repeatedly at $15-16K for the pair and they haven't sold.
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    Registered User David Westwick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    I have a black K-1. It has a truss-rod, and a post-Loar style bridge. The Gibson serial # database put it at about 1928 (which is at least consistent with its construction.
    David Westwick.

  8. #8
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    Well, there goes THAT theory.

    Post-Loar cellos are pretty rare, are they not? I hardly ever see one with a truss rod.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    My K1 (1924, black) is easier to play than the K2, it has a truss rod and a slim neck. The neck of my K2 (1912, black) is more like a tree. Binding, ornamentation, and tuners are different, and they sound a bit different. But I can not describe it. Old ladies, sometimes stubborn. Even on bad days, they produce a lot of joy.

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  11. #10

    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    Once played a K1, too. Great instrument. You΄re right. - I had a lot of joy.
    Last edited by Claudia Amslinger; Jul-18-2014 at 2:43pm.

  12. #11
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Difference between gibson K1 and K2 mandocello

    Quote Originally Posted by Amos View Post
    Once played a K1, too. Great instrument. You΄re right. - I had a lot of joy.
    Here is my 1936 K-1 it has a truss rod, slim neck and also binding on the front a back. So like everything else Gibson varied its specs for mandocellos over the years.
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    Bernie
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