An elegant 1906 Gibson
© Frank Ford, 1999; Photos by FF
Gibson instruments evolved and developed considerably in the first ten years of production. The first "F" style mandolins were about an inch longer and somewhat shallower than the "standard" ones made after about 1911.
This top-of-the-line F-4 has maple back, sides and neck with a cedar top. Like others of its vintage, the neck is pitched forward and the bridge is quite low. It has the typical inlaid celluloid pickguard common to bowl back style mandolins. Unlike any later Gibson mandolins, this vintage was characterized by the use of elaborate mother of pearl inlay decoration. The peghead veneer and the fingerboard are dyed maple.
As you look this one over, notice the detail of the scroll carving. This style is typical of the early Orville Gibson instruments. This instrument is entirely original except the celluloid pickguard, which had to be replaced because it was decomposing.
Please click the small image
Look closely at these pictures. You'll see Gibson's very first "sunburst" finish. The shading is well developed on the sides, edges and neck, although the light area of the back is a simple diagonal band.
This mandolin has no strings or bridge because it's currently (March, 1999) in Gryphon's shop awaiting the inlay pattern of stars and crescent in its new pickguard.
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