Made an offer on a mandolin

bobouz

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1923 Gibson A3, Lloyd Loar era Ivory top. I'm hoping to snag this one for $1,200 clams, but I will pay the asking price of $!,400 if I need to.
Dread, check that A-3 out closely. The A-3 was discontinued in 1922, so something seems amiss in the listing. If there’s no truss rod, it predates the Loar golden-era. And to be clear, Loar had nothing to do with the construction of A model Gibsons, but A models that correspond to the F-5 Loar-signed years are often perceived to be some of the best sounding of the breed - which speaks to the probability of superior build quality during that time. Dating Gibson mandolins correctly is best done with the Factory Order Number, found on the neckblock. Consult Joe Spann’s book for the most accurate list of FON numbers (should be available online).

Personally, I’ve never seen an A-3 with a truss rod, but there could be a few that exist. Pre-truss-rod A models used a V-shaped strip of ebony under the fingerboard for reinforcement. Usually these will hold up pretty well over time, but I did have one warp on a 1919 A model. A few truss rods were installed in late ‘21, but ‘22 is typically considered the first year of the truss rod, as it was generalized to many (not all) Gibson models in that year, including the initial Loar F-5. Below is my 1922 Sheraton-Brown A with truss rod & super straight neck (no body cracks either!).

Edit: An additional important point - Be sure to check for any top sinking. Oval hole models from the teens & twenties only have one short horizontal brace, just south of the soundhole. There is no bracing beneath where the bridge puts pressure on the top. Carved tops are strong, but early bridges were one-piece affairs that pressed fully on the top without a gap in the center. This meant that string pressure pushed straight down from the strings, and directly onto the center seam of the two-piece tops. With the development of the two-footed adjustable bridge, string force was shifted more east & west from center.

61FEAAE7-C2BE-4520-831C-65907533BB49.jpeg
 
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dreadnut

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Me too, this is something I've been Jonesing after for a long time! Nothing sounds like a 1920's Gibson mandolin. And I prefer the "A" style.

Lloyd Loar was there from 1919-1924.
 

dreadnut

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Loar had nothing to do with the construction of A model Gibsons, but A models that correspond to the F-5 Loar-signed years are often perceived to be some of the best sounding of the breed - which speaks to the probability of superior build quality during that time
Except that he was Chief Engineer of Gibson when this was built.
 

bobouz

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Except that he was Chief Engineer of Gibson when this was built.
Yes, it is quite cool that Loar was roaming the halls at Gibson, and I’m as guilty as anyone of tossing around the term “Loar-era” regarding my mandolin, but the “A” model’s body had been in production for many years before Loar arrived on the scene. Conversely, he was absolutely the catalyst for the design & development of the F-hole group of instruments which debuted in 1922 as the Master Model Series. A Loar signed Master Model indicated that the instrument’s body had been carefully tuned by hand to achieve a particular pitch - including the top, back, tone bars, and even the size of the F-holes.

So back in the ‘70s when folks like Gruhn started first seriously paying attention to this stuff, the term Loar-era was applied to the timeframe in which he actually signed the line of Master Model instruments (‘22-‘24), and this logically became the common frame of reference. Fast forward to today’s internet age, and we see the term “Loar-era” applied at every conceivable point-of-sale opportunity, including parts. That said, it indeed does not change the fact that he truly was in the building prior to 1922. And again, it’s rather clear that during his tenure, Gibson’s overall build quality on the assembly line resulted in consistently fine instruments - all good stuff!
 
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fronobulax

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Yes, it is quite cool that Loar was roaming the halls at Gibson, and I’m as guilty as anyone of tossing around the term “Loar-era” regarding my mandolin, but the “A” model’s body had been in production for many years before Loar arrived on the scene. Conversely, he was absolutely the catalyst for the design & development of the F-hole group of instruments which debuted in 1922 as the Master Model Series. A Loar signed Master Model indicated that the instrument’s body had been carefully tuned by hand to achieve a particular pitch - including the top, back, tone bars, and even the size of the F-holes.

So back in the ‘70s when folks like Gruhn started first seriously paying attention to this stuff, the term Loar-era was applied to the timeframe in which he actually signed the line of Master Model instruments (‘22-‘24), and this logically became the common frame of reference. Fast forward to today’s internet age, and we see the term “Loar-era” applied at every conceivable point-of-sale opportunity, including parts. That said, it indeed does not change the fact that he truly was in the building prior to 1922. And again, it’s rather clear that during his tenure, Gibson’s overall build quality on the assembly line was notably high - all good stuff!

We seem to be seeing something similar happening with Ren Ferguson and New Hartford. If it came out of NH after Ren arrived then optimistic folks (usually sellers) try and attribute the design, construction and perhaps even the specific choice of wood to Ren, in hopes they can get a Gibson aficionado to pay higher than market prices for a Guild.
 

sailingshoes72

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Congratulations Dread! That is a really cool mandolin purchase. I've enjoyed reading this thread. The historical information from Dread and bobouz about Gibson production during the early 1900's is very interesting.
 

dreadnut

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Elderly instruments has two 1924 Lloyd Loar signed F-5's; one is $125, 000 and the other is $145.000. And I bet they're not on-site at the store.

Ricky Skaggs has a Loar signed 1924 F-5.
 

bobouz

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Cool. Sounds like a bigger purchase than mine.
There’ll always be another opportunity to spend money, if you are so inclined. For now, you’ve chosen wisely, Grasshopper!
 
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