Gibson H-2 Carved Top Mandola (1912)

Gibson  H-2 Carved Top Mandola  (1912)
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Item # 11662
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson H-2 Model Carved Top Mandola (1912), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 17835, black top, dark cherry stained back and sides finish, birch back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This is a lovely 110 year old example of an early Gibson Style H-2 Mandola, played in but still in very nice condition with a lot of life left. The H-2 was the "middle grade" mandola, itself the middle-pitched instrument of the mandolin-mandola-mandocello trio. Mandolas from any era are fairly scarce, although more were made in the 1910's than later periods this is still a fairly scarce item well over a century on. The H-2 is distinguished from the lower-priced but structurally identical H-1 by decorative elements, notably the headstock face with "The Gibson" and a Fleur-de-llys inlaid in pearl, a double half-herringbone soundhole ring with an ivoroid center and inlaid Handel tuner buttons.

This H-2 was made in mid-1912, a banner year for Gibson who were just then codifying improvements that made their carved-top mandolin family instruments indisputably the best in the world. Typical period features include a jet black varnish finish top over lightly stained back and sides and the tailpiece with the then-recently introduced Gibson-engraved cover with a fluted top edge. The tuners are the beautiful Handel-made strips with inlaid ivoroid buttons used on the higher-end Gibsons of the period. The top is tight-grained spruce, the back and sides birch and the Honduras mahogany neck is fitted with a heavy bound ebony fingerboard. This is a lovely sounding and fine playing example, ready for another century at least.
Overall length is 28 in. (71.1 cm.), 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm.) across at the widest point, and 2 in. (5.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 15 3/4 in. (400 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

This beautiful Mandola remains in structurally excellent condition over 110 years on, and original with the exception of the bridge which is a later Gibson style adjustable ebony piece and the pickguard, which has gone missing. There is some typical micro-checking to the original varnish, with chips, dings and scrapes overall but only light pick wear; really it is pretty well preserved for its age. The headstock for some reason has the heaviest checking, dings and chips. There appears to have been a strap of some sort fixed around the headstock just above the nut that was removed but left marks long ago. Some finish is rubbed off the back of the neck and the area of the body below the neck joint.

The only crack repair is a small grain split off the upper edge where the player's arm would rest, sealed but not overfinished. , The back and side seams all look solid with no repair needed. The beautiful original inlaid Handel tuners are still intact and work well. The original tailpiece and cover are present and accounted for; it appears to have been mounted slightly off-center at the factory. As noted the bridge is a later style repro and the pickguard is missing. The original thin1912 frets are intact, showing some wear but still quite functional. The original nut was shimmed up a bit long ago. This is a good player and a fine sounding Mandola, brighter than some with very good projection and a well-balanced tone. It is still housed in the original HSC, showing some wear but fully solid. Overall Very Good + Condition.