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NMM 2883.  Mando-bass by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Company, Kalamazoo, 1916.
Style J.  Serial number 25936.
Arne B. Larson Collection, 1979.

NMM 2883.  Mando-bass by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Company, Kalamazoo, 1916

One of the problems with the new mandolin orchestras was that the mandolin family historically lacked a bass instrument. Gibson was the only company to address the problem directly. Introduced in 1912 to supply a true bass to the mandolin orchestra, the Gibson mando-bass was modeled after the Style A mandolin and tuned like a double bass. With four over-spun strings, the instrument could be played with a plectrum, unlike double basses of the period, whose plain gut upper strings required finger picking. Alternatively, Gibson catalogs also say that a small felt-covered hammer could be used to play the mando-bass, suggesting a comparison with the piano, as well as the double bass. Indeed, Gibson also stated that the mando-bass was an instrument "with a tone as deep and powerful as the bass register of a concert grand, but with the plectral tone color."


Front, Back, and Side Views


NMM 2883.  Mando-bass by Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Company, Kalamazoo, 1916 Treble side of Gibson mando-bass Bass side of Gibson mando-bass Back of Gibson mando-bass


Front and Back of Body


Front of body of Gibson mando-bass Back of body of Gibson mando-bass


Views of Fretboard and Peghead


Fretboard Front of peghead Back of peghead


Neck Heel


Neck heel


Tailpiece and Soundhole


Tailpiece
Soundhole

Click on soundhole image above to see image of label



Bridge and Lower End of Mando-Bass


Bridge

Bottom of mando-bass

Lit.:  Joseph R. Johnson, Mandolin Clubs and Orchestras in the United States (1880-1920): Their Origin, History and Instruments, M.M. Thesis (Vermillion: University of South Dakota, 1987), pp. 34, 49-51, 182.

Joseph R. Johnson, "The Mandolin Orchestra in America, Part 3: Other Instruments," American Lutherie, No. 21 (Spring 1990), pp. 45-46.

Joseph R. Johnson, "The Mandolin Orchestra in America," The Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Two, 1988-1990, (Tacoma, Washington: Guild of American Luthiers, 2000), pp. 271-272.

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