Gibson H1
Gibson H1 mandola, 1911, acoustic. $2,100.
A fine pumpkin-top mandola by Gibson, from the golden age of the mandolin orchestra. Very good condition, with no cracks, separation, or sinking. 15-3/4" scale; warm, dark, throaty tone. 21-fret ebony fretboard, soundhole, and spruce top are all single-bound in ivoroid; soundhole rosette is a double ring of rope-style inlay. Mahogany neck; birch back and sides; ebony headplate with "The Gibson" logo inlay.
     This mandola is housed in a well-used vintage purple-lined chipboard case with a black alligator-textured exterior (not the original case). Though the case is worn, all the latches work and it's still entirely functional. The mandola itself bears its original pickguard (it's quite unusual to find a Gibson mandola with its pickguard in good shape), tuners, tailpiece, endpin, and one-piece bridge. However, the original side clamp for the pickguard is missing.
     Luthier Duane Lasley has glued up a slight separation in the headstock. The mandola is otherwise solid, playable, and ready to go. There's a fair amount of player wear, including typical finish crazing along with scuffs and scratches. Finish on the neck is worn from a player's left hand in first position. There's also an unusual area of wear on the bass side of the top, between the bridge and the tailpiece. This doesn't seem like a natural place for a player's hand to contact the surface; my best guess is that it could have been caused by sleeve buttons but I don't really know. There's a small inscription scratched into the headplate reading "R842J5," just below the logo. The serial number is 13295 and the factory order number is 1537, pointing to 1911 as the year of both shipping and manufacture, according to Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902–1941.
      Whether you're looking for an alto-voiced instrument to use in a mandolin ensemble, or need something in a different register to accompany singing or spice up the sound of your band, a Gibson mandola will help you stand out from the crowd. This one resonates beautifully and is a joy to play; were it not for the non-original case and the missing pickguard clamp I'd be asking more for it. I will ship it with your choice of phosphor bronze, nickel steel, or flatwound strings.
     Add a strap, see more photos, call 425/772-0231, or for more information. $2,100 plus shipping.