Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1915 Gibson K-1 Mandocello

With its low C stringing and unison strings tuned in 5ths, a mandocello has an amazingly unique and beguiling tone. The second largest of Gibson’s Mandolin family instruments of the WWI era (the Mando-bass was larger), the K-1 Mandocello was an important part of the mandolin ensembles and orchestras that were prevalent during the first 20 or so years of the 1900’s.

This example, built in 1915, is a wonderful sounding instrument and is set-up well with excellent action and playability. It’s completely original and intact but for a missing pickguard, and is looking great at 103 years old. The top shows some localized sinkage under the treble foot of the bridge, but isn’t suffering from wholesale top sinking as is common with these instruments. The neck angle and bridge height are perfect, and the neck relief is close to where we’d have set it if there were an adjustable truss-rod in the neck. Frets show little wear, and the tuners, nut, bridge, tailpiece and finish are original. Minor back center seam separation, and a well-executed repair to the bridge-top. No other cracks or repairs. Scale of 24.75, nut width of 1-5/8”.

With Harptone hardshell case

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