Gibson David Harvey OM-5C carved top Octave Mandolin (2016)

Gibson  David Harvey OM-5C carved top Octave Mandolin  (2016)
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Item # 11598
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Gibson David Harvey OM-5C Model carved top Octave Mandolin (2016), made in Nashville, TN, serial # 60817011, Cremona Brown Sunburst finish, curly maple back and sides, spruce top; laminated maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original black tolex hard shell case.

This instrument is a unique product of the Gibson Custom and historic division, overseen by master luthier David Harvey. It is designated a Model OM-5C, for Octave Mandolin (or Mandola, depending on the semantics) Style 5, cutaway. It offers a unique set of features never before combined in one instrument by Gibson, put together using David Harvey's unmatched knowledge and appreciation of Gibson mandolin history and lore (and yes, "Loar"). It is an 8-string instrument with a 23 1/2" scale tuned G-D-A-E an octave below the mandolin, halfway between the standard Mandola and Mandocello.

The Octave mandolin has existed in various forms for well over a century, but not attempted by Gibson since their earliest days. In the early 1900s when the company was building their business on Mandolin Orchestra teaching, this configuration was purposely eliminated as there was no classical equivalent, meaning standard orchestra scores were not written for it. Gibson lobbied the Mandolin fraternity to specifically eliminate this style of instrument, claiming "Total Victory' at the 1907-8 Guild conventions getting the "Tenor Mandola" (which sounded as the orchestral viola) adopted in place of the "illegimate" octave model. Since then this tuning has survived most commonly in Celtic playing (often termed the "Irish Bouzouki") but is little known in the modern mandolin world.

If this OM-5C was a production instrument it might change that! It is a superb, hand built instrument that plays and sounds like no other. At 15 3/4 wide the body is slightly smaller than the classic 16" L-5/K-5 style, giving a slightly brighter voicing. The parallel braced top is carved from tight grained spruce, triple bound with bound F-holes. The back and sides are beautiful flame maple. The body is built with Gibson's traditional soft "Venetian" cutaway, a more "modern" (well, 1940s anyway) feature.

The 23 1/2" scale neck is 5-ply laminate curly maple (early 1960s style) built to a slim very soft "V" configuration. The triple bound, dot inlaid ebony fingerboard has a treble side extension to enable a 24-fret layout. The triple bound headstock is the traditional F-5 scrolled style with the late Loar-style "Fern" inlay pattern in abalone under the slanted "The Gibson" inlay. Gold plated pearl button tuners and gold tailpiece complete the "Style 5" appointments; there is no pickguard.

The simplest thing we can say about this is what a great idea, perfectly executed! The ghosts of Gibson's founders may be spinning in their graves but without the constraint of adhering to "legitimate" orchestra scoring this is a superb, versatile configuration for a carved-top mando-family instrument. The 23 1/2" scale gives it far more resonance than the typical mandola, while the slimmer strings and higher fundamentals make it a fantastic chording instrument compared to the mandocello. David Harvey and his team created a unique masterpiece with this one, and he personally signed the Loar-styled label on August 17, 2016. We can imagine many contexts this unique OM-5C would shine in; as far as we know this is the only one built. If this sounds like your dream instrument, as Dylan sang "better grab it fast"!
Overall length is 39 3/4 in. (101 cm.), 15 3/4 in. (40 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 2 5/8 in. (6.7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 23 1/2 in. (597 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/16 in. (36 mm.).

This unique instrument shows very little play wear, just a few small random dings and scrapes on the back and upper side. The frets show virtually no wear and the instrument plays perfectly, with a most unique sound. It resides in the original HSC, wit the Gibson Gold warranty card personally signed by David Harvey included. Overall Excellent + Condition.