Sunday, November 4, 2012

Restoring a 1906 Gibson F-2 Mandolin

 This 1906 Gibson, serial #6221 was found at an estate auction. It looks pretty rough. The neck has been broken and poorly repaired, but the body is in pretty good condition for its age.

 The back is very solid with one small damaged area at the bottom that can be repaired.

 The peghead was broken completely off and also cracked down the middle, and both scrolls were broken off. Someone "fixed" it by running a bolt all the way through horizontally and painting it black. The beautiful original German made Handel tuners are still completely intact and functioning.

 The engraved tailpiece is completely intact and in pretty good shape. Since all the original hardware is still good, this is a perfect candidate for restoration.

 The top has a couple of minor cracks that can easily be repaired, but I'll have to do some cosmetic work to undo the bad repair job from some time before.

 Let's start the demolition! I carefully removed the back with a little steam and a thin hot blade.

 The design and workmanship are excellent from 1906. The inlaid piece of ebony in the top supports the end of the fretboard. I'll have more details of this later. I love the level of detail for purely aesthetic purposes.

 OK, so I wasn't so careful removing the neck. I have to build a new one anyway. This one is beyond repair, so I sawed it off. Sorry Mr. Gibson, sometimes surgery isn't pretty, but necessary.

I took a blade and scraped off the paint to see if the original logo was there. I couldn't see any sign of it through the paint and thought maybe it had been removed.

 It was like scratching off the winning lottery ticket.

Since the peghead had been broken in half, the Mother-of-Pearl inlay was also broken, but at least I have an accurate pattern and exact placement when I replicate it. These were cut by hand and I have seen several instruments from this era and the logos have some wild variation. I was really happy to find this, so I can make the new one exactly the way Orville Gibson intended it.