Gibson A-3 Carved Top Mandolin (1917)

Gibson  A-3 Carved Top Mandolin  (1917)
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Item # 12090
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Gibson A-3 Model Carved Top Mandolin (1917), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 41376, natural top, cherry stained back and sides finish, birch back and sides, mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, tweed hard shell case.

This is a nice player's example of one of the Gibson Company's more obscure mandolins, the early Style A-3. This high-midline model was never a big seller and went through a couple of variations in the 1910s. In collectors' minds it is mostly identified with the striking "Antique Ivory" finish used only on this model between 1918 and 1922. This A-3 dates to 1917 and has a more standard "pumpkin" natural top finish, distinguished from the models under it by a double-half herringbone soundhole ring and a dainty pearl geegaw on the headstock under the pearl script "The Gibson" logo.

The top and back are single bound, the ebony fingerboard is single bound with pearl dot inlay. The elevated pickguard is tortoise Celluloid with the 1910s bracket anchor, the original tailpiece has the standard "The Gibson" engraved cover. The bridge is more modern two-piece adjustable unit in the vintage 1920s Gibson style, the tuners are correct style repros as well. This is one has some wear and maintenance repair but remains a good playing and great sounding example of this relatively rare early Gibson mandolin.
Overall length is 25 3/4 in. (65.4 cm.), 10 1/4 in. (26 cm.) width, 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 1/4 in. (32 mm.).

This 107 year old mandolin shows some predictable signs of use but remains relatively clean for its age and a fine sounding instrument. There is light general finish wear overall, with some very minor touch up work but no notable overspray. The thin varnish top finish remains original with some small dings, scrapes and dents. The back and sides are also lightly worn with a nice patina, the headstock face has some typical scratching, chips and dings. There are a couple of small touched up spots on the sides, and a larger spot on the heel where a strap button was once installed.

The back center seam has been neatly resealed; no other crack repairs are evident, not even the often seen back/side seam repairs. The fingerboard has been nicely refretted; the frets are somewhat larger than period Gibson style wire and in excellent shape. The fingerboard binding may have been replaced at the time but is tie correct style grained ivoroid. The bone nut remains original. The hardware remains original except the more modern adjustable bridge and repro tuners. The instrument is very solid and sounds great with a powerful ringing tone. It resides in a modern tweed HSC. Very Good + Condition.