1964 Gibson A-12 Carved-Top Mandolin

This consignor's instrument has been awaiting repair for a while. I finally got to it and am glad I did -- it's a fun little rig! It definitely has that bright, cutty, crunchy, bluegrass sound even with the slightly-light (for its build-style) 34w-10 strings I've got on it.

These A-12s are the infamous "lump scroll" design that looks like an F-style but doesn't have the full scroll on the shoulder. You either like them or hate them. Considering that I'm a fan of the reverse-scroll Regal mandolins, I think you know which camp I'm in. It's a straightfoward-sounding instrument and these cost one far less than an "actual" F-style and still have the points and vibe. I'm in!

This one arrived in pretty good shape, though the fretboard extension ramped-up a little past the body joint and the frets were teeny-tiny. I gave it a board plane and refret with mild-medium stock, and then set it up to play on-the-dot with hair-under 1/16" action at the 12th fret. It feels like a new, boutique-style mando in the hands. It's yum.

Just a note on the date for this instrument -- its serial number corresponds to a '64 build date, but traditional sources state the model was a '70s build only. If you know for sure about the date, please let me know. I'm only familiar with the serial number and stamping scheme for Gibson guitars from this era.

The sunburst is pure, '60s Gibson-style. The mandolin appears all-original, too, minus the bridge which is a replacement, ebony one.

This has a 1 1/8" nut width, mild-medium soft-V neck shape, and flat rosewood fretboard. The truss works perfectly.

The mando shows a mild amount of finish checking and use-wear. The top is carved-spruce and the back and sides are solid maple.

Pretty maple, huh?

The tuners work just fine and hold pitch well.

Some of the finish has chipped-off right next to the heel and there's a small (secure) hairline crack on the back coming down from the "lump" shoulder.

The unbound back has the usual Gibson thing going on, with finish checking around the seam.

The original hard case comes with it.