Gibson A-50 Carved Top Mandolin (1938)

Gibson  A-50 Carved Top Mandolin  (1938)

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Item # 7988
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Gibson A-50 Model Carved Top Mandolin (1938), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # DG-3202, sunburst lacquer finish, curly maple back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, original hard shell case.

In the late 1930's-an era of very slow mandolin sales-Gibson experimented a bit with its midline models to try to make them more appealing to the string band players of the day-some of the few musicians actually using mandolins. The F-hole A-50 model was "advanced" somewhat like the archtop guitars earlier with a longer scale neck and wider body. This was likely designed to increase power and projection, as it did with guitars, to better cut through in an ensemble. Whatever the reasons, the experiment was not considered a success and after a few years the A-50 reverted to its familiar smaller dimensions.

The instrument was not only enlarged-it was dressed up too! The A-50 gained more elaborate fingerboard and headstock inlays, similar to those used on the much more expensive F-7 model. The headstock itself was a somewhat more elaborate shape, while the wider body feels a bit more bulbous than the standard Gibson mandolin. The solid spruce f-hole top is carved, and the body, fingerboard and pickguard edges are single bound. The other hardware is typical Gibson, with the standard adjustable bridge, tortoise celluloid pickguard, openback Kluson tuners and old-style 1910's era tailpiece and cover. The carved back has a nice flame maple grain, and the instrument has a sunburst finish on all body surfaces. None of the changes seem to have helped much-the A-50 from this era remains a fairly rare instrument. This is a very nice high-quality instrument, a fine player and a relative bargain in an authentic pre-war F-hole mandolin.
 
Overall length is 26 5/8 in. (67.6 cm.), 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm.) wide, and 1 13/16 in. (4.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 14 1/2 in. (368 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.). This is a nicely original mandolin with some wear overall, most notably on the top. There are scrapes under the bridge and a bit of discoloration from the original pickguard suffering celluloid distress. The pickguard currently fitted is an exact replica, everything else is original. There are a couple of small pinholes in the binding on the top edge of the fingerboard over the top, perhaps the result of an aborted pickup mounting. This instrument has a big, rather sweet tone and is a very nice playing and sounding mandolin. The original case has been covered over with some very heavy ancient paint but is still intact and functional. Excellent - Condition.