Gibson A-4 "Snakehead" Mandolin (1924)

THIS TOP-OF-THE-LINE A-STYLE mandolin reached its structural and artistic zenith in the final years of Llyod Loar’s tenure as acoustical engineer at the Gibson factory (1922-24). It was finished in a rich red mahogany sunburst on the top and dark red mahogany on the (often) curly-maple back and sides. The recently streamlined neck was reinforced with the newly developed adjustable truss-rod, which, implanted inside the neck, could be tightened or loosened to straighten warpage. These Loar period A-4s also featured the redeigned “snakehead” peghead shape, and many can be found with the “Virzi Tone Producer,” a spruce sounding disc suspended from the top inside the instrument, installed as an extra option during this period. This example is, however, Virzi-free.

Track 7: Mill Valley Waltz
(from Tone Poems CD booklet , used by permission)

Photography by Eric Harger