The Gibson catalogs from the early 1960s do not list an octave mandolin or a Mandola available for purchase, but that did not stop Gibson Teacher-Agent Irving Kessler from ordering them. Mr. Kessler owned a teaching studio in New York called the Hawthorne Guitar Studio and was able to order instruments directly from Gibson to sell to students.

It seems Mr. Kessler made a habit of ordering custom appointed instruments including an L-5CT Special, TB-250 Special, A-40N Mandola (not yet listed), and this interesting TG-25 factory drilled and set up for use as an octave mandolin with 8 strings. I purchased the collection of custom ordered instruments along with Mr. Kessler's clean 1960 Gibson ES-355 TDSV from his grandson. The TG-25 OM came to me with an incorrect saddle in place so I sourced a rosewood saddle and bridge adjustment screws as well as a period correct case. It's now in excellent playing condition and sounds lovely.

Vintage Gibson TG-25 octave mandolin mando cello

Gibson TG-25 8 strings

Gibson TG-25 8 string custom order
John Shults


Irv Kessler was my first guitar teacher. I started playing when I was 6 yrs old. Used to catch the bus from Pleasantville to Hawthorne when I got old enough. Bought my first decent acoustic guitar from him, followed by a 12 string Epiphone.
Later, in 1974, I got my first Les Paul Custom 20th anniversary issue from him, fresh out of the box from Gibson.
Great teacher, fantastic string musician and a powerfully important influence on my music.
Nice to see him mentioned and the special order instruments he had that I used to see in his studio and hear him play now and then.

— Raphael D’Amato

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