Gibson C-1 Flat Top Mandolin (1932)

Gibson  C-1 Flat Top Mandolin  (1932)
$1,250.00 + shipping
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Item # 11890
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson C-1 Model Flat Top Mandolin (1932), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 257 (FON), natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, black tolex hard shell case.

The rare C-1 mandolin is a cool Gibson obscurity, the direct depression-era descendant of the earlier Style D "Alrite" and "DY-Army/Navy" mandolins that were Gibson's very first attempts at flat-topped instruments. Gibson's entire marketing strategy was originally built around the superiority of their arched-top designs, so the company had to tread carefully when opening up this new area! The C-1 was a later iteration of this design, conceived early in the depression when the company desperately needed to offer instruments at the lowest possible price points.

The C-1 (a name not fitting into any known Gibson nomenclature) re-used the oval, flat-bodied design of those1910s "Alrite" models, with a slightly altered silhouette to better fit the standard arch-top mandolin neck. The flat top has no pickguard (although the catalog pictured one) and a simple non-adjustable bridge, a lower cost "clamshell" tailpiece. The top is natural finished spruce, bound on the top edge with a 3-ply soundhole ring. The back and sides are mahogany, the neck is mahogany with an ebony fingerboard topped by a 1920's style Gibson headstock with the '30s white script logo and basic unplated tuner strips.

Gibson seemed somewhat ambivalent about the idea from the beginning. The design had originally been shown as an off-brand "Kel Kroydon" logo instrument, but emerged as a full-branded Gibson in 1931. The C-1 has a distinctive warm sound, but had a very short shelf life. Introduced in 1931 at a price of $25.00, it was out of the catalog after 1932 and examples are rarely seen today. This is kind of a shame as although built to a price this is a fun instrument to play and better sounding than one might expect. This is the only one of these we have seen and a neat very playable piece of Gibson history.
Overall length is 26 in. (66 cm.), 10 1/4 in. (26 cm.) across at the widest point, and 2 1/16 in. (5.2 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.).

Overall this is a fairly clean and all original mandolin, showing some general wear but structurally excellent and a very nice player. The all original finish light checking and some random dings, dents and scrapes. There is a patch of pickwear to the top and some rubbing and chips mostly to the unbound back edge. The instrument plays very well and has a lively sound, rather different from the common carved top Gibson with more warmth and depth than most flatback mandolins. This neat Gibson rarity is fairly unique in sound and feel and a lot of fun to play; it rests in a later HSC. Excellent - Condition.