View Full Version : Gibson F-2
I'm new to the board. Mostly a guitar player, I have had my dad's old Martin A-style for several years and play some country/rock/blues. I recently was given my (deceased) grandfather's Gibson F-2. It's a 1912 acc. to the serial# and appears to be in excellent shape other than a moderatly warped bridge (the upper piece).
What can anyone tell me about this model mandolin in terms of quality, sound, appropriate music styles, collectability, etc.
Since it's a family instrument, I have no intention of selling it.
a 1912 gibson F2 is a very high quality mandolin indeed. i think it would be great for any style of music, especially for blues, jazz, country, celtic, etc. most people that play bluegrass prefer mandolins with f holes, but i wouldn't let that stop you. you should probably take it to a repair person that knows vintage mandolins and have it checked out, and the bridge repaired or replaced. gibson F2 mandolins are quite valuable, especially in original condition, so don't let anybody talk you into anything drastic like replacing parts, refinishing, etc. that it doesn't absolutely need. i think you have a real treasure, especially since it's been in your family.
Your bridge may be non original in that they were one piece until about 1922 and the introduction of the adjustable 2 piece bridge....Gary S
Thanks for the info!
I'm curious (beginner) why F holes are preferred for bluegrass?
why F holes are preferred for bluegrass
'Cause that's what Big Mon played! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
I think the f-hole mandos tend to be louder and cut through better. I've got an F-9 that really does have a great tone, but sometime I really prefer my A-40 (f-hole) or my wife's oval for the mellower tone. I'm envious of your inheritance. I think Gary S. is correct that the bridge is likely a replacement, so as you bring it back to life I don't think you need to worry too much about replacing it (although it could have been on there since the 20's or so). If you haven't done it already, post pictures... and if it's not in mandolin archives (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/contact.shtml) you should get them some info and pics.
Congrats on the heirloom!
Welcome, Salmon Man, and allow me to introduce you to the "search" feature on this site. The oval vs. F-hole debate has been thoroughly hashed out on this board numerous times, so reading those old threads will certainly give you more info and opionions than I can in one post.
Basically, though, the F-hole mandolins have more of the frequencies that are not being covered by the other instruments in a bluegrass band, and therefore, the sound cuts through better. They are often said to have more projection.
Congrats on the acquisition of the F2. It's a fine mandolin, and even better with family history in the picture.
Yes, the bridge is non-original if it's two piece. A two piece is fine for playing, but a replica bridge is an easy project for a pro luthier. You can have one made, and/or use an adjustable bridge.
Check the brace inside the mandolin. Reach a finger into the sound hole on each side and feel the ends of the cross brace that you'll find toward the bridge from the hole. If the ends of that brace are loose, you'll be able to move them by squeezing them toward the top. If it's loose, take the strings off and have the brace glued. That's one of the most common minor problems with these old mandolins, and if left un-glued, the top can have structural problems.
Salmon Man, F holes tend to give more projection and more of a focused sound that "cuts through" an ensemble better. Oval holes often sound warmer and have more sustain. That's a broad generalization. BTW, no one told Jimmy Martin he couldn't play bluegrass on his F-4.
Ah, that's what I get for getting distracted while posting. ... John beat me to it!
I have an F2 and try everything on it, but the I think the F5 is better for bluegrass because the shorter neck of the F2 (compared with an F5) makes it harder to play the 4 finger chop chords above the G position. Of course, good players (and that excludes me) can make anything work, but the heel and scroll are right there behind the 8th fret.
Its a really fine mandolin and inspiring to have as a first mandolin. Its yours for life. Mine sounds great with Thomastik Infeld mediums strings, but everyone here is raving about the Labella JM-11s. I imagine that steel flatwounds were what these instruments were intended for.
These early Gibsons are considered by some to be national treasures.
Play it often, care for it, and never let it go ... except to sell it to pay for life - saving surgery!
Hmmm ... maybe that's an oxymoron.
Plenty of advice on this board (Some of it good!) so I won't bore you with details. You lucky dawg.
All the best
Never ever sell your old Gibson. Keep it, play it and pass it down... Nick