Gibson A-4 Carved Top Mandolin (1913)

Gibson  A-4 Carved Top Mandolin  (1913)
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Item # 11420
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Gibson A-4 Model Carved Top Mandolin (1913), made in Kalamazoo, serial # 22319, black top, natural back and sides finish, birch back and sides, spruce top, mahogany neck, original black hard shell case.

The Model A-4 was Gibson's highest priced "A"-style oval-bodied mandolin for much of the company's early history. This example is fairly early, dating to late 1913 when Gibson was established as the major force in the mandolin market. By this point, the Gibson mandolins had been given the "modern" sharper neck angle, and the sound is fully developed compared to instruments from a few years or earlier, and genuinely superior (at least to modern ears) to anything else available at the time.

This period's A-4 features include a rakish black top finish, pearl and wire inlaid grained ivoroid buttons on the Handel tuners, and a pearl fleur-de-lis and Gibson logo on the headstock. A lovely-sounding playable piece of Art Nouveau, and another example of the instruments with which Gibson first conquered the fretted world.
Overall length is 25 1/2 in. (64.8 cm.), 10 1/16 in. (25.6 cm.) across at the widest point, and 1 13/16 in. (4.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 14 in. (356 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This is a very good-playing old A-4, showing some wear and recently refretted with period correct wire but with no other major repairs or alterations. The original varnish finish shows scuffs and dings, most notably on the top. There is a decent amount of playwear to the back of the neck, down to the wood for much of its length. The seam around the neck's V-shaped maple inset is more visible on the face of the headstock than most, with some finish chipping along the lower edge.

There are no cracks, though a few edge seams appear resealed as is typical. The hardware is a mix of old and new; the lovely original inlaid tuners, tailpiece and cover are original, the bridge a later Gibson-style adjustable ebony piece and the pickguard and clamp have gone missing. This is a nice player's A-4; it sings with a sweet but ringing sound with a nice, woody overtone. It is ready to gig, complete in its original HSC, itself in surprisingly good condition for 110 years on. Overall Very Good + Condition.