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  #1  
Old 04-29-2019, 06:14 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Default Oddball Gibson 12 string guitar-mandolin

Elderly Instruments has me on their promotional email list, and I particularly look forward to the emails that show up on Mondays that show their latest used and vintage instruments. Some of them can be....distinctive.

Here's an instrument type that I didn't even know existed:




GIBSON A-40-12 12-STRING OCTAVE GUITAR (1963)

This was obviously a special order instrument, and I suspect that some exuberant folkie playing the exuberant hootenanny music of the period called Gibson trying to get an octave 12 string guitar built, not a 12 string guitar-mandolin. I can hear a Gibson guy nixing the idea of an octave 12 string guitar, but then reluctantly saying: "Well, I suppose we could build one on a mandolin body...."

While I've never heard of a 12 string guitar-mandolin before, I've encountered several 6 string Gibson and Gold Tone guitar-mandolins. Gibson has put those hybrids into production on a spasmodic basis from time to time.

I'm sure some people must like them, but speaking as someone who's played both mandolin and guitar for many years, to me guitar-mandolins represent represent the worst of both worlds, frankly. They don't have much (if any) guitar tone to speak of, and they don't have the penetrative or projective qualities of a mandolin.

It's as if a St. Bernard hopped the fence and mated with a female Chihuahua, and the resulting puppies were as inept and ungainly as you'd imagine.

That's what I suspect happened here: the exuberant folkie got his or her hybrid 12 string guitar-mandolin, strummed it a few times, went "Eeww," then tried hard to like it but ultimately stashed it in a closet and forgot about it. Now, 56 years later, adult grandchildren cleaning out the old folks' house so they could put it up for sale found this "exceptionally rare" instrument and put it on consignment at Elderly. That series of events would certainly explain why it's in such fine condition.


Wade Hampton Miller


Here's the link to Elderly's page on it:

https://www.elderly.com/products/gib...m_source=zaius
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:03 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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You might find this of (dis)interest:

https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldt...struments/f-12

Everything old is new again...
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:31 PM
drive-south drive-south is offline
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I'll see your' 12 string mando-tar and raise you 1 Veillette Gryphon.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:25 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Don't knock the Gryphon - I've played a couple and they're the real deal:



FYI they make a downscale version - which I've also played - that sounds just as good amplified, and almost as good acoustically:

https://www.zzounds.com/item--VEIAG12

Got one of the latter on my list, as soon as I can clear out some low-use stock I've accumulated over the years...
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:00 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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I can't imagine playing chords on this - seems like a single-line instrument.

I suspect that the "closet" theory is correct. No way that someone gigged with this for years.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:27 PM
The Growler The Growler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
Don't knock the Gryphon - I've played a couple and they're the real deal:



FYI they make a downscale version - which I've also played - that sounds just as good amplified, and almost as good acoustically:

https://www.zzounds.com/item--VEIAG12

Got one of the latter on my list, as soon as I can clear out some low-use stock I've accumulated over the years...
I agree. Don't knock them. Well made and nice guitars. I love mine!
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:41 PM
Red_Label Red_Label is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Growler View Post
I agree. Don't knock them. Well made and nice guitars. I love mine!
I'm not sure what to think of my Avante Gryphon so far. Just got it less than two weeks ago. Neck is pretty chunky. Chunkier than my Guild 2512 and WAY chunkier than my Yamaha LL16-12. Sounds good, but it's fairly heavy. I've had four mandos and the necks on those are too tiny for me... and being tuned in 4ths screws me up. So I dunno... jury's still out on my final opinion. But certainly a quality instrument.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:50 PM
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Brucebubs Brucebubs is offline
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I'd like a closer look at the tuners and bridge pins ... even if it does have a tail piece.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:51 PM
The Growler The Growler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red_Label View Post
I'm not sure what to think of my Avante Gryphon so far. Just got it less than two weeks ago. Neck is pretty chunky. Chunkier than my Guild 2512 and WAY chunkier than my Yamaha LL16-12. Sounds good, but it's fairly heavy. I've had four mandos and the necks on those are too tiny for me... and being tuned in 4ths screws me up. So I dunno... jury's still out on my final opinion. But certainly a quality instrument.
Give it some time. When I first got mine, my big hands felt cramped, but I got used to it after some practice time.

Good luck!
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:59 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Steve on Staten Island wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve DeRosa View Post
You might find this of (dis)interest:

https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldt...struments/f-12

Everything old is new again...
I think you need to rush right out and buy one, Steve. After all, I know you're an archtop fan!

Here's a photo of the culprit:



Gold Tone F-12: 12-string F-style Mando-Guitar

And here's the ad copy on that page:

"These six- and twelve-string mando-guitars are built on a larger artist- (or F-style) mandola body. The F-6/F-12 mandolin guitar's larger air chamber offers extended low-end response and the new, wider slim-line neck and longer scale provide added room for fretting those first-position chords. The fretboard is radiused for comfort and the ebony bridge contains a built-in pickup for easy plugged-in picking."


That ad copy contradicts the spec sheet, which describes the adjustable bridge as being made out of walnut instead of the ebony bridge mentioned in that last paragraph. But my guess on that is that the ad copy was written after the decision had been made to put the instruments into production, but before they had the production prototypes in hand where they could play and evaluate them.

All three of what Gold Tone calls "mando-guitars" currently have walnut bridges, so perhaps they found that they got a better (or at least mellower) tone from the instruments when they used walnut instead of ebony for the bridges.

It's likely that those bridges have to be CNC machined at the Gold Tone plant specifically for these instruments, (because no vendor is likely to make 12 string guitar-mandolin bridges just for the heck of it,) and it's also likely that they found it was significantly less expensive to machine these bridges out of walnut rather than ebony.

It's an interesting new take on the concept, Steve. Gold Tone in general is a wildly creative company, coming out with all sorts of variations on these folk instruments, and executing them very well. I'm certain that the cost-lowering effect for making prototypes and manufacturing that CNC has brought to the marketplace is the only thing that makes this wide array of niche instruments even possible, much less profitable.

I still have zero interest in getting one of these, but thanks for the link. One thing I will say, though, is that it was a clever move on Gold Tone's part to put the 12 string neck on a mandola body rather than a mandolin, because it seems as though it gives the instrument a somewhat better chance to resonate.

Similarly, the best-sounding guitar-banjo that Gold Tone makes, in my opinion, is this open back model with a 12 inch rim:



Gold Tone BT-2000: 6-String Banjo Guitar

The open back and one inch wider rim give it some warmth and musicality that their standard 11 inch rim versions don't quite achieve,

https://goldtonemusicgroup.com/goldt...uments/bt-2000

I love my Deering B6 guitar-banjo, and prefer it to any of the Gold Tone guitar-banjos I've played, but if it was ever destroyed by, say....crazed anti-banjo activists, I would probably replace it with one of these BT-2000's. The Deering Boston successor model to the B6 is well over two grand now, and as much as I play and enjoy my B6, 26 hundred bucks is a bit high for a niche instrument.

Anyway, thanks again.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #11  
Old 04-30-2019, 06:07 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
...I think you need to rush right out and buy one, Steve. After all, I know you're an archtop fan...
Hey Wade, I have my pride...
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Old 04-30-2019, 06:28 AM
zombywoof zombywoof is online now
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I do not have a photo of it but I know a guy who has a 1930s factory-built Gibson Nick Lucas with a plectrum banjo neck. Gibson did offer two stock plectrum guitars but would, like tenor guitars, make you a version based on any six string you wanted.
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Old 04-30-2019, 06:36 AM
perttime perttime is offline
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:14 AM
Red_Label Red_Label is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Growler View Post
Give it some time. When I first got mine, my big hands felt cramped, but I got used to it after some practice time.

Good luck!
Will do. Thanks for the info!
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:27 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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Could be fun, but I doubt I'd string up all 12 strings...Maybe just the octaves on the E A D and double up the G B E?
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