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1910s Gibson H-1
 
Joe K. Walsh demonstrates his vintage mandola, which he set up with an old DeArmond pickup for playing electric.
February 15, 2021
 

Besides playing standard mandolin, Peghead Nation instructor Joe K. Walsh often enjoys playing his other mandolin family instruments, including a Lawrence Smart mandola and a Northfield octave mandolin. Inspired by electric guitarists such as Bill Frisell, John Scofield, and fellow Peghead Nation instructor Matt Munisteri, Joe has been looking for ways to create similar tones, and he recently modified his vintage Gibson H-1 mandola to do just that. 

Gibson H-1s were built from 1902 to 1936 (check out Peghead Nation instructor Marla Fibish’s demo of her 1914 H-1!). On Joe’s instrument, the serial number is obscured, making it hard to determine the exact year it was made, but Joe thinks that it is from the 1910s. Because Joe didn’t want an amplified acoustic sound, he consulted with Matt Munisteri about his options, ultimately tracking down a vintage DeArmond mandolin pickup, which is similar to the pickups used by many jazz guitarists in the 1950s and ’60s. Designed as a retrofit for existing instruments, the DeArmond has a clamping mechanism that attaches to the strings between the tailpiece and the bridge, and the magnetic pickup itself extends into the picking area in front of the bridge. Because he was looking for an electric guitar–like sound, Joe also decided to string the instrument with just four strings, rather than the usual eight. 

In this video, Joe demonstrates the instrument played through a Fender Pro Jr. tube amp and talks about how the increase in sustain opens up guitar-like playing techniques that are difficult to accomplish with a standard mandolin. He finishes the video by playing a duet of his tune “Madison,” using the H-1 and his Northfield octave mandolin. 

To study mandolin with Joe K. Walsh on Peghead Nation, enroll in his Bluegrass Mandolin Jam Favorites or The Advancing Mandolinist course!

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© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com