Gibson Style J mandobass
Gibson Style J mandobass, 1918. $6,500.
The mighty mandobass is a piece of history, an artifact from the mandolin orchestra days, when giant mandolins roamed the earth. This one has seen a lot and has many tales to tell, but is ready for a new home, if that home is ready for a mandobass.
     Spruce top, 2-piece birch back and sides. The serial number is 47835 and the factory order number is 11190, indicating a build date and a ship date of 1918. Original maple bridge, tailpiece, and closed-gear tuners. This mandobass has endpin holes drilled in both the end and the treble side, as do many of its siblings, but the endpin itself is missing. A violin shop may be able to fit a new one.
     Most Gibson mandobasses have suffered various slings and arrows that required repair, and this one is no exception. It has two repaired heel cracks, as well as a repaired back crack and partial seam separation. The back has shrunk slightly and doesn't match up perfectly with the sides in a couple of spots. In its defense, the instrument is set up and fully playable, and its tone and projection are above average for a mandobass. It has an external soundboard pickup of the type that attaches with putty, whose jack is secured to the tailpiece.
     This instrument has four strings and, unlike the rest of the mandolin family, it is tuned in fourths, the same as a standard string bass. There is no case, but it comes with a custom-made padded gig bag with shoulder strap. Shipping this mandobass would be an absolute pain and I actually have no idea how much it would cost, but I'll work with you to find a solution. Driving a few hundred miles might be preferable and cheaper (the mandobass is in the Pacific Northwest).
     See more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $6,500 plus shipping. 48-hour approval period.