At the turn of the last century, predating the popularization of commercial radio broadcasts and the universal agreement on 78 rpm as the playback standard for gramophones, mandolin orchestras were peppered across the country to provide a less-formal outlet for community musical entertainment. This also coincided with the advances Gibson was making in mandolin design, eschewing the flat-top / round-back Venetian designs common in Europe for a carved-top/arched-back design borrowed from traditional violin lutherie.

To accommodate the arrangement needs of the mandolin orchestra, Gibson produced four sizes of mandolin family instruments that mimicked the role of the traditional bowed instruments in a string ensemble - mandolin (violin), mandola (viola), mandocello (cello), and mandobass (bass).

This example is the K-1, the big brother to the A-1 mandolin and H-1 mandola. A solid, carved spruce top with birch back and sides...tuned to CGDA with a 24 3/4" scale. It has replaced tuners and a refinished neck...and the tailpiece cover is long gone (doesn't affect function...just a nice aesthetic touch.) The original celluloid guard and bracket assembly are intact and doing their job. The top has aged to a lovely amber hue...not as much "pumpkin" as seen on the mandolins, for whatever reason. Original hardshell case. A cool voice for the studio! $3750 Go to for more photos.

Year Condition Color Case
1914 Excellent Natural Original Hard


Willies American Guitars
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