Johnny Gimble, Tiny Moore and
Gibson EM-150 Electric Mandolins

Here's the text of an email I received from Buddy McPeters:


From: Buddy McPeters
Subject: Gibson electric mandolins, Johnny Gimble etc

I enjoyed your web page and thought I would email you to offer a couple of corrections in regards to the electric mandolins made by Gibson, model EM-150 which are equipped with either the Charlie Christian pickup or a P-90 pickup.

In your reference to the Johnny Gimble sound, this is in fact incorrect. It is more the sound that electric mandolin stylist and pioneer Tiny Moore played during his tenure with Bob Wills from 1946 to 1952. Tiny played his early 40's model stock EM-150 for many years. About '52 he began playing the Bigsby model 5 string and then Jay Roberts built him the Tiny Moore model 5 string in later years which they sold at Tiny Moore Music in Sacramento, CA until Tiny passed away in Dec 1987.

Gimble on the other hand came along and joined Wills in 1949 playing a Gibson A-50 which he had wired up himself with a Montgomery Ward pickup off of a guitar. Shortly after he joined Wills they were in California and the mandolin malfunctioned. Leo Fender took the instrument to the Fender factory and had a Telecaster type pickup and a new volume and tone control installed and charged him $15 for it which Wills paid. The pickup has 4 Alnico IV magnets, is wrapped really full and measures about 5,000 ohms per Paul Glaser in Nashville. It has been rewound at least twice that I know of. Once by Nashville session steel man Shot Jackson and once by a repairman in Austin after which Glaser sorted out some electrical problems.

I interviewed Gimble at length (and played his mandolin) in 1985 for a FRETS magazine article. He is a personal friend. I also interviewed Leo Fender and Tiny Moore about all of this as well. Gimble's tone has always been a little lower in range and yet thinner than Tiny's. Tiny used the high E string. Johnny didn't but added a low C using a guitar 6th string .052 gauge on the bottom. In the 80's he used these gauges: .011, .020, .028, .046 from a Bill Lawrence Guitar Strings set. Now he hand picks his strings and uses .011, .020, .030, .050, and prefers GHS or Gibson Strings. He tunes it up A D G C mandola tuning. In fact, in the 50's and 60's he bought Gibson mandola strings for it while they were still available.

Please refer to the site for any other info on Gimble's instruments. I am also listed. I play a copy of Johnny's mando which I customized myself and patterned after his. Thanks!!

Buddy McPeters
Bay Area, CA

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