INTRODUCED IN 1923 AS PART OF THE new Master Model line of instruments, the H-5 mandola was closely patterned after the F-6 mandolin, and set a new standard - at least in price ($260) - for Gibson mandolas. Despite a vigorous publicity campaign, the . H-5 never took off, even among committed mandola players, who probably preferred the deep-toned, oval-holed H-4 which had been in production for a decade. Compared to most H-4s, the tone of the H-5 is thin, almost like a lower-pitched mandolin. Most of these unique instruments were built in 1924 and have gold-plated hardware, “fern” headstock inlay patterns and Virzi tone producers. This extremely early example (dated April 2, 1923) features the “flowerpot” peghead inlay pattern, silver plated hardware and no Virzi. When they were new, Gibson mandolas were more expensive than their mandolins. In today’s market, the H-4 is usually valued higher than the F-4, while the H-5 commands considerably less than its noble relative, the F-5.
Track 3: It Had to be You
(from Tone Poems II CD booklet, used by permission)
Photography by D. Brent Hauseman