Gibson Prototype A-5 Mandolin (1953)

ASIDE FROM THE one-of-a-kind Loar-signed A-5 mandolin, this designation was not used until 1957, when Gibson introduced a new 2-point Florentine Artist model with a cherry-red sunburst finish and an oval sound hole. This model was taken up by the great jazz mandolinist and comedian Kenneth “Jethro” Burns (Homer & Jethro), who had a customized all-red version, with fancier F-5 style appointments. The instrument heard here has a brown sunburst finish and the 2-point body style, but with f-holes. According to its serial number, this mandolin was made in 1953, three years before any similar instruments appeared.

(from Tone Poems CD booklet, used by permission)

Photography by Eric Harger