Gibson Alrite Style D Flat Top Mandolin (1917)

Gibson  Alrite Style D Flat Top Mandolin  (1917)
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$1,750.00 + shipping
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Item # 9996
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Gibson Alrite Style D Model Flat Top Mandolin (1917), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 512, natural varnish finish, birch back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

The Style D "Alrite" mandolin was a colorful if very short-lived Gibson experiment, the company's very first attempt at a flat-topped instrument. Gibson's entire marketing strategy was built around the superiority of their arched-top designs, so the company had to tread carefully when opening up this new area! Using an oval, flat-bodied design for the new "Alrite" model, Gibson fitted their standard neck and hardware with a lower cost tailpiece and tuner strips.

Gibson seemed ambivalent about the idea from the beginning, and the instruments were built for only a year or so in fairly small numbers. The top is amber spruce, with colored wood marquetry around the edge and soundhole. The back and sides are cherry-stained birch, while the neck is mahogany with an ebony fingerboard.

The Style D has a distinctive sound, and despite its short shelf life is well-remembered; the Flatiron company was founded to produce instruments based on this model in 1977. Gibson kept the plain-Jane low-cost line alive with the "Army-Navy Special", which was built to the same general design as the Alrite but dispensed with all decorative trim, sporting only a utilitarian brown finish. These were intended originally for sale to Doughboys at military PX's.

This was followed by the "Junior" models introduced after 1919, but the "A-Jr." mandolin was built with a carved top,
leaving the flat-top mandolin design to languish until the 1930's. The Style D Alrite has a unique tone, bright and peppy but with a distinctly Gibson flavor. This is a somewhat worn in but good-playing and sounding example of this rare and distinctive mandolin.
 
Overall length is 24 1/4 in. (61.6 cm.), 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm.) width, and 1 15/16 in. (4.9 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 nice if somewhat played in example of this over 100 year old mandolin. There is general wear with some pick marks to the top and dings, scrapes and dents to the finish overall. A couple of old repairs to the back edge are visible; the birch back often shrinks off the rims on these but everything is solidly glued up. The tailpiece is old but not original, and a somewhat larger-footed ebony bridge is fitted. The tuners are correct style repros. This is a very good sounding and playing "Alrite" with a nice vibe, housed in a newer HSC. Excellent - Condition.