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Mandolin Question

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Vixen 18 May 99 - 08:32 AM
Rick Fielding 18 May 99 - 11:29 AM
Chet W. 18 May 99 - 05:01 PM
Vixen 19 May 99 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,Paul Bamberg 14 Jan 05 - 12:22 PM
Vixen 14 Jan 05 - 12:45 PM
Mooh 14 Jan 05 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,John Hardly 14 Jan 05 - 02:50 PM
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Subject: Mandolin Question
From: Vixen
Date: 18 May 99 - 08:32 AM


It's another question from Vixen...(I have a private stash of them, and I can't seem to stop myself from asking them!)

Tim (my musical partner) has acquired a mandolin which he'd like to know some more about. It's a Gibson "A" model, but it's shaped like an "F" model, only the upper scroll isn't a scroll, but a bulge that sort of resembles a Mickey Mouse ear. Tim plays it in a bluegrass band, and he likes the way it plays and sounds.

Are there any mandolin aficionados here who could tell me more about the instrument? Specifically, how many were made, when were they made, *why* were they made...etc. It seems to be an unusual instrument.

Thanks in advance!!!


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Subject: RE: Mandolin Question
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 18 May 99 - 11:29 AM

It'll take me a bit of time to come up with the model, but in the meantime - would he consider trading it to me for a 56 Chevy mudflap. Seriously it's VALUABLE!
Reg. (on behalf of my brothers Reg and Reg)

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Subject: RE: Mandolin Question
From: Chet W.
Date: 18 May 99 - 05:01 PM

Gibson made this model in the late sixties (don't know when they started or stopped). I remember because there was one in the music store when I bought my first J-45 in 1969. I believe, but I'm not positive, that it was called either the A-5 (the same model number as the previous red two-pointer as played by Jethro Burns) or the A-Artist. It was meant to be a cheaper version of the F- models so it had the same outline as the F-model scroll but it didn't scroll all the way in, like the so-called Florentine scroll, so they called it A-something. I suspect that it was not made for very long because I've never seen or heard of another one in the last 30 years, so it probably was made in the late sixties. The Gibson company was on the verge of falling into complete disarray at that time, so I doubt that their records would do you any good. If you want more details, you might have it professionally appraised by Gruhn Guitars ( or you might ask about it at the mandolin cafe website. If it sounds good I say stick with it. (I still love my guitar I bought then).

Good luck, Chet W.

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Subject: RE: Mandolin Question
From: Vixen
Date: 19 May 99 - 04:58 PM

Rick and Chet--

Thank you for your advice! Thanks to you I've now been to the mandolin cafe (cool site), Gruhn Guitars (hooboy, I'm glad I don't use credit cards on the web!!!), and Gibson (where I posted a query about said mandolin to the "guru," Walter Carter. I'll let you know what I find out.

Thanks again--


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Subject: RE: Mandolin Question
From: GUEST,Paul Bamberg
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 12:22 PM

I also have one of these funky A5 mandolins. Mine is a 1975 model that I refretted and refinished (nitro laq sunburst). It had been left in its case for so long the binding started comming off, and the neck heel cap had cracked and started wreaking the surrounding finish. It now plays and looks better than it did when it was new. As far as I can tell, it is made of solid spruce for the top and solid maple for the back, as the grain appears to match front to back. I also releived the fretboard at the tongue (like Frank Ford does at Gryphon Instruments). Its a good sounding instrument (now with all the repairs) and its an excellent player.
Paul Bamberg

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Subject: RE: Mandolin Question
From: Vixen
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 12:45 PM

Wow! I was surprised to see this thread again!

Tim's still playing the mickey mouse mando. Paul, yours is the 4th one we've found out about since '99. One is owned and played by another Tim in the Fred Lantz Quartet. One is owned and played by John Tibert. If yours sounds as good as the two others we've heard, they're pretty nice sounding instruments.

This is nifty--it would be cool to start a fan club, or users' group, or whatever...


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Subject: RE: Mandolin Question
From: Mooh
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 01:00 PM

Aren't they known, with some affection, as lumpy mandolins? Mooh.

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Subject: RE: Mandolin Question
From: GUEST,John Hardly
Date: 14 Jan 05 - 02:50 PM

The bulge reminds me of Joel Mabus' unusual Stelling two-point that has two rounded off points on either side -- not committed to being actual points, but keeping the mandolin from being a straight "A" mandolin. Joel calls the points "goiters".

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