1917 Gibson Alrite Style D Pancake Mandolin

I originally worked on this same instrument back in 2011 and it just came back to the shop this year for resale. The owner's just not playing mandolin anymore. His loss!

A friend of mine suggested that I just make "new" posts for old instruments rather than update the old ones (thus archiving them), so I think that'll be the format from now on unless I've posted on it within the last five years or so.

Per my original blog post, Gibson made these in 1917 (and, I hear from some corners, in 1918) as an upgraded-trim version of the cheaper Army/Navy model which was intended to be sold to World War I "doughboys" over in Europe. They handle like a Gibson A (carved-top) roundhole save that the tone is more direct, barky, and punchy and that the neck joint is actually at the 12th fret, giving you a couple more frets free of the body than a same-period A.

When I first got this, I think I played it about a year before I sold it on. In that time I'd installed a K&K Twin pickup for gigging use. It sounds great acoustic or plugged-in and, because it has that Gibson handling and chop, makes an instrument suited to various styles -- old time, a little bit of chuggy bluegrass, Celtic, what-have-you.

This one is entirely original, though it does have a number of repaired cracks and has definitely seen some play. The finish looks great, though, in that well-worn lovely Gibson way. It's interesting to note that this is one of the only Gibson instrument types I've seen with marquetry-style purfling which is usually reserved for Chicagoland instruments.

The top is solid spruce, the back and sides are solid birch, the neck is mahogany, and the board and bridge are ebony. It even has (amazingly) the original pickguard and bracket all intact. It sounds slightly more open and a hair louder with the pickguard removed, but its use as a finger-rest (and its killer looks) mean I think it's got to stay on.

It plays perfectly, though it has those old, teeny-tiny Gibson frets that are quite low. They remind me of old bowlback frets. At any rate -- if you like a modern feel, have me refret it. It's about ~$100 worth of work on something like this. Otherwise it plays as-normal for a period Gibby.

Repairs included: previously hairline crack repairs to the back and top, seam repairs, fret level/dress, setup work, etc.

Top wood: solid spruce

Back & sides wood: solid birch

Bracing type: v-shaped/tonebar

Bridge: ebony, comp'd

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: mahogany

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall
String gauges: 36w-10

Neck shape: medium V

Board radius: flat

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: teeny-tiny and low

Scale length: 13 7/8"

Nut width: 1 1/8"

Body width: 9 1/2"

Body depth: 1 7/8"

Weight: 1 lb 12 oz

Condition notes: it has big center-seam/middle cracks that're repaired on the back and front and a few smaller hairlines that're also repaired back and front. The back bracing has been reglued in the past and there are cleats in there as well. It's all-original, otherwise, and the finish is worn with use but it does look grand.

It comes with: a tweed-outside hard case and a K&K Twin acoustic pickup installed internally.