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Rudolf Ponomarev
Rudolf Ponomarev

Alvarez Mandolin Serial Number Lookup !!BETTER!!

Hi I have a Alvarez guitar that is a 5014 model and the serial number is 9194 I was wondering if you could tell me about this guitar and when it was made and what it was made out of? Thank you very much

Alvarez Mandolin Serial Number Lookup

I just inherited a guitar from my dad that I always loved playing but neither of us ever had any info on it. It just says Alvarez guitars made in Japan and model number 5064 serial number 58080. It has beautiful inlays and it plays amazing

Acoustic guitar serial numbers are stamped into the mahogany neck block inside the body of the guitar. The 3-5 digit serial number can be seen by looking through the soundhole toward the neck. Serial numbers can be difficult to read in poor lighting, so a small flashlight may be helpful in accurately reading the number.

Acoustic guitars built after 1991 have a 3-5 digit serial number (stamped into the mahogany neck block) that can be used to date the instrument. You may reference the following table for a listing of serial number ranges issued into production by year.

During the period of 1909 through 1920 Gibson produced large numbers of mandolins. These appear to be the easiest to find and quite reasonable to buy. The early models had shallow neck sets that increased in angle around 1908. The current bridge height and neck angle was reached around 1910. It was the innovations of the Loar period: 1921 through 1925 that saw the introduction of the truss rod, adjustable bridges, bracing adjustments, thinning and grading of the tops and numerous other refinements to create the standards that are still used today. The decade following saw a change in finish from varnish to shinier lacquer.

The Maurer Company records have been lost. It would have helped if the Larson brothers had sequential serial numbers but there is just enough contradictory evidence to prevent one from trusting numbers that appear to be sequential. To complicate matters, the Larson brothers appear to have used different numbering techniques for different brands that they supplied. The following are believed to be accurate known numbers:

In general: Bacon serial numbers begin in 1906 (1 and 2 digit) and run consecutively until the sale of the company to Gretsch in 1940 (5 digit). Like all other companies, there are exceptions. For example: B&D had several un-numbered models between 1913 and 1920.

About Larrivée Guitar LabelsLarrivee Serial Numbers (approximate)Michael Gurian GuitarsAll Gurian Guitars have serial numbers stamped on the neck block in characters visible through the soundhole. The numbers are preceded by letters: A, B, C, or D which indicate the series.

QUESTION: Grisman seems to find odd ball Gibsons everyonce in a while. Like the two point with extra sound holes onthe rim he has been playing recently. Are there a lot of odd balls out there? What are some you have come across and how did they look/sound?Answer from George Gruhn - Gruhn Guitars:Dave Grisman got the oddball two point mandolin you are referring to from me. I have never seen another one like it. David goes to considerable effort to stay in touch with numerous dealers and collectors as well as scouring eBay daily. Since he is willing to pay good prices he can score a fair number of instruments. Dealers such as myself also are actively on the search on a daily basis. After dealing vintage instruments for 40 years I am confident that I have probably had as many oddballs as almost anyone in the business. While unusual non-catalog models are always of interest, they are not necessarily of greater value than standard issue models. While the two point mandolin is much more rare than an original Loar F-5, it doesn't have the same sound or playability and it certainly won't command the same price. There are no statistics available for how many oddball or one of a kind instruments were made, but they certainly are scarce. Since by definition oddball instruments don't conform to standard specifications and differ greatly from one to another there is no way to discuss how they play or sound as a general category.Answer from Harry West - Harry & Jeanie West - Fine Stringed Musical Instruments:Gibson did make some strange instruments. Some were experimental and some were special ordered, not only mandolins, but guitars and banjos as well. David had this instrument with him on his recent visit to our store.Answer from Stan Werbin - Elderly Instruments:There are certainly a lot of oddball Gibsons of all sorts, although I'd say there are more from the 1930's on than early ones. One of the coolest Elderly has had was a natural finish 1906 3-point mandocello. Unfortunately it had a new peghead added by Gibson in the '40's and the scale length was presumably shortened to 21-3/8". But I've not seen nor heard of any other 3-point cellos.Answer from Charles Johnson - Mandolin World Headquarters:The most unusual instrument to come through recently was a 1938 F5 with ablock inlays, torch peghead inlay, factory blonde top and a CharlieChristian pickup with white Bakelite control knobs on either side of thetop. The model was designated on the label as SPF5.

QUESTION: I saw a used Gibson (f) mandolin hanging very high on the wall at theGuitar Center in Milwaukie, OR. It was out of the way, so not in plain sight. This store is primarily electric-driven instruments, but it did have a small acoustic room where I saw the mando. I think there were only 4 mandos there. It was marked for $two thousand something. I was on my lunch hour and on the way to meeting so didn't have time to ask questions about it. What are some important things to look for (beside liking the sound)?Answer from George Gruhn - Gruhn Guitars:You have simply not provided enough information to have any idea at allwhich model Gibson you saw or how old it might be. Before I or anyone else evaluate it we need to know not only the fact that it was a Gibson F model but we need to know which model, what year, what condition, and how original it is. I suggest you take a look at the September newsletter posted on my website which covers the topic of appraisals. You can also check the Gibson mandolin section in my book Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars by George Gruhn and Walter Carter. It lists not only serial number information but model specifications for all Gibson mandolin models 'manufactured from 1902 through 1999.I decided to just go ahead and call Guitar Center and ask them for adescription of the instrument. I was told that it was a late 1960's Gibson model A-12. Since this model was only made from 1970 through 1979, needless to say it can't really be a late 60's instrument. The description provided clearly did match that of the A-12 which has a so called lump scroll (not fully cut out as on the F models) and two points on the body. They were asking $2,499 for the instrument. Even if they were to come down to $2,000 that would be more money than I have ever asked for one of these.Answer from Harry West - Harry & Jeanie West - Fine Stringed Musical Instruments:Besides liking the sound, check for original made by Gibson (or copy). Check if neck is straight and playable, also if it notes correctly all the way up the neck. If it is a used instrument,inquire if any repairs have been made,or needed. The tonal response is very important.Also look in the sound hole, or f-hole openings for model and serial number.Does the instrument have a case? These are some questions and you cantake a knowledgeable friend w/you. A price of "two thousand and something", you should expect a decent instrument.Answer from Stan Werbin - Elderly Instruments:Look for a knowledgeable dealer! Although it is possible that a store that is primarily electric-driven will provide you with both a good instrument and a fair deal, it is less likely than if you deal with any of the good dealers who have some established expertise in acoustic instruments.But also, do the things you didn't do at the store. Ask questions, be sure the mando is structurally sound, and if you're not sure of this yourself and you buy it, be sure you can return it within a reasonable period of time if you show it to a reputable mando tech and problems are found.

QUESTION: I'd be interested in knowing how the panel feels about the continuedrise in prices of vintage gear, whereby these high end shops tend to catermore towards a smaller segment of the fan base (i.e. collectors rather thanmusicians) ignoring the much larger segment. It seems to me that thedealers seem to be helping raise those prices because it makes them moremoney - not necesarily for any specific reason other than rarity. Iunderstand that this is the truest form of capitalism, but aren't theseinstruments meant to be played, and not stuck in a vault or in a climatecontroled case? (and lets leave the Strads and other vintage violins out ofthis discussion, they have had a few hundred years to show why they aregreat and worth their vast sums).Answer from Stan Jay - Mandolin Brothers:This question is even older than the 32 years we've been in business. Evenwhen we started this company in 1971 people were asking the same question.Back then Loars and Ferns were like maybe $1,000. And $1,000, then, feltnearly as out-of-reach for the casual musician/college student as theircurrent market value does now. So the first consideration is: does itreally matter what drives the market? Isn't the whole point "if you wantsomething badly _just buy it_ and as time goes by you will see the priceyou paid (due to just inflation, if nothing else) become utterlymeaningless - if not a joke then a much deserved pat on the back for beingastute.Is it not true that houses - almost literally all real estate - haveincreased in value over the same period? My first home, in 1975, cost me$45,000. It's amazing to even think that. I would guess that, here onStaten Island, that same house (I no longer own it) would today sell forsomething like $350,000. So - did real estate brokers cause the value ofthat house to increase nearly 8 times? I don't think so. It was duemostly to supply, demand and inflation. The same with automobiles. Backin 1972 for one semester only I was a full-time, salaried college professorof music, here on Staten Island. (The other 5 1/2 years I was an adjunctassistant professor which was a good gig, but nothing like full-time,salaried.) Just from that one semester I made enough money to buy a newChevy Impala, and the price, before sales tax, was $4000. I would assumethat the equivalent model today might be $24,000. So new cars apparentlywent up 6 times, houses 8 times. I remember buying a new D-28 Martin in1973. It cost me $325. Nowadays that guitar, as an excellent conditionused instrument, with hard case, might sell for, well, the Vintage Guitar2003 Price Guide says $1500 to $1800. Let's call it $1600, which is,coincidentally, right around the same "street price" as a new one. So the1973 Martin increased nearly 5 times. It didn't keep up with the stockmarket, or houses, or car prices but it did go up. Did dealers cause it goto up 5 times? Heck no. Supply and demand did. Does the fact thatmillions of people can now sell their possessions on eBay make thosepossessions more valuable? It doesn't make them more valuable, but becausethe owners can reach a much larger audience than they could on their ownfront lawn on a Saturday, and because the excitement of an auction canelevate a price, (or not), they may be able to get full market value ormore for those items.It is a fallacy that high end shops tend to cater to collectors and notmusicians. We're a high end shop and 99.9% of our customers are musicians.I don't know if I've ever met a "true" collector - somebody who owns butdoes not play.Dealers cannot raise a price. In every market that exists, dealers (orindividuals) can ask more than accepted market value for an exceptionalpiece, but the market at all times tends to seek its own level. Thingsmost often sell for what they should sell for. Let us, together, repeatthe definition of market value: "the highest price a buyer is willing topay, the lowest price a seller, not under duress, is willing to accept."Nowhere in that definition is the phrase "except when rapacious miscreantsmanipulate the market to cause buyers to temporarily lose their minds andoverspend."The inquirer uses the term "tonally inferior." With rare exception thatconcept doesn't exist. Tone is subjective. I have heard brilliantclassical guitar players play a $400 classical guitar and make it sound (tome) a lot like recordings of John Williams' most expensive concertinstrument; it's all in the technique. Same with condition: oneperson's "ratty and old, broken down old warhorse" may be another person's"wholly original instrument showing greater than normal wear." I'd ratherhave that than "refinished and restored to look brand new," thank you.We are happy that, over the long run, the market value of American vintagefretted instruments has risen, just as it has for other kinds of finemusical instruments, art, antiques, homes, Swiss watches, and so forth.The joy that comes from owning something fine is, somehow, amplified byknowing that the instruments' owners, can often, in time or immediately,sell it for more than they paid for it. At the same time, companies suchas C F Martin, Gibson and Fender have made the ownership of new, highquality fretted instruments much more attainable than ever before, to evena young person on a budget. It is the best of times for players and it isthe dealers, the retailers, in large part, who have helped cause this to be.Answer from Richard Johnston - Gryphon Stringed Instruments:What many vintage instrument fans seem to ignore is that demand drives prices up, and very little else can have any effect if the demand isn't there. So if a dealer overprices a particular instrument, it will go unsold if there are other, similar instruments being sold for less. And today, thanks to internet searches, it only takes a few minutes to find out what similar instruments are selling for, not only in the US but around the world. At Gryphon, which is in the middle of Silicon Valley, some customers come in, check out an instrument, then return to their car to do a search via a cell-phone hookup to their laptop. One customer came back in with a list of half a dozen similar instruments to the one we were selling, only minutes after he left. This is an extreme example, but there's no excuse for paying too much anymore.In my experience, ebay has had a much more dramatic impact on prices than have the vintage dealers. This is because ebay puts the same instrument in front of dozens, or even hundreds, of buyers worldwide and enables them to compete with one another in timed, do-or-die auctions. Many people thinking of selling instruments to us follow ebay for several weeks before bringing their instrument in, and if we can't pay close to what they've seen similar items sell for, they'll go to the trouble of selling it themselves. This means that we're often working on much slimmer margins than in the past, and other vintage dealers I've talked to say the same is true for them.For the most part, blaming dealers for high prices is like "shooting the messenger." If you want to see price increases slow down, the demand must decrease. We all saw what happened in the early 1990s when prices for archtop guitars got overheated as the late Scott Chinery and others were all competing for the same guitars. Soon, most buyers realized that there were a lot more archtops made in the '30s, '40s, and early '50s than they realized. Demand dropped, and prices followed. There are people who bought sunburst, non-cutaway American archtops over ten years ago who still can't recover their original investment, which pretty much kills the idea that vintage instruments always go up in value, or that dealers can set pricing levels not supported by demand.Answer from Stan Werbin - Elderly Instruments:There are several reasons for the rising prices of vintage instruments, and dealers are probably the least of the reasons. Here are two important ones:a) Current owners who know instruments will frequently demand higher than current market prices, because THEY perceive the value as higher than the market. Dealers will often agree that they may be right, and go along with them. If they sell, which often happens, it establishes a new value for the model.b) Prices of new instruments, which have increased significantly over the years, can affect the value of used instruments. In many cases the older instrument is still the clear superior to the new one, so if the price of a new instrument increases then there can be a trickle back affect and the old ones can go up accordingly.My point is that the dealer is often just the messenger. Some dealers (well, probably all, sometimes) will encourage this price inflation, in order to insure that they get the cool stuff to sell. If we have nothing to sell then that's not good for business, and if we have things that are not selling (because they are priced too high) then sometimes the market catches up with the prices, and sometimes they merely serve the purpose of bringing attention (and other instruments) to the dealer.Answer from Tony Williamson - Mandolin Central:Every instrument is unique, despite its similarity to others in model number, serial number or appointments. It is true that I deal with collectors as well as players, but you know what? The collectors I know want their instruments to sound good too! Sound and playability are the essential ingredients that make me want to buy a piece, and if it knocks me out and I can afford it, I buy it. I don't care if there's a guy in Amarillo that has one for half the price. Maybe his didn't get as good wood selection when it was built, or maybe mine has just been played hard and even tho the description might be VG instead of EXF, the VG sounds great. So I buy it. I'm happy. If another guy wants to buy it from me, he has to pay more than I did. I'll give you a great example. Howard Frye's 1923 A-jr (This is just an example, this mandolin is NOT FOR SALE because it is being played by Howard's widow and brings her great pleasure). What's a well used A-Jr worth these days, less than $1200? But Howard's is nowhere near original, having had a huge amount of work, including cosmetic reconditioning. As a dealer being fair to my customers, I should price it as a refin, say half of the cost of a decent, original A-Jr. Right? Wrong! This mandolin may well be one of the finest sounding, best playing instruments on the planet and if I had the opportunity to sell it for $10,000 or more I would think my customer got a fantastic deal, especially if he intended to keep and play it.Perhaps my take on this might not show much market analysis, but I price my stuff based on what I have paid for it, not on what some guy on ebay wants for it. First, I only buy stuff I personally like and would be happy playing myself if no one else wants it. Second, when I sell, I need to get a little more for it than I paid, or else I keep it.I know a lot of guys who got burned in the archtop craze of the early 90s, the Strat craze of the late 80s, etc. In almost every case, these were speculators motivated by expectation of profits. They were sadly disappointed and often blamed their dealers. At the same time this was going on, I was selling 20s F-5s for market value and people were saying Loars are $20k, they'll never go higher than that. Well, my customers who have recent


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