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Thread: Gibson F12

  1. #1
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Gibson F12

    I saw a Gibson F12 at Janet Davis website for sale for approx. 7k. This seemed like a lot. I was wondering if any of you Gibby afficiados could enlighten us on this model?
    Tony Huber
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Here's what the Vintage Guitars informational website has to say about the F-12:


    Available: 1934 to 1980

    1934 F-12 specs:
    2 point Asymmetrical body, "F" holes, single bound top, back, pickguard, no point on pickguard at body point, single bound fingerboard with treble side extension, fingerboard raised off of top, scroll type inlays, single bound peghead, 2 handled vase and curlicues peghead inlay, pearl tuner buttons, gold plated parts, red mahogany sunburst top finish, deep red back and sides.
    F-12 discontinued 1937.
    1948 F-12 Re-introduction specs:
    Point on pickguard, clamshell tailpiece, mahogany neck, longneck, bound rosewood fingerboard with square end, fingerboard flush with top, dot inlays, unbound peghead, crown peghead inlay, small peghead, Cremona brown sunburst top finish, uniform brown back and sides.
    1959 F-12 specs:
    Wriggle-edge tailpiece, fingerboard raised off top, larger peghead.
    1970 F-12 specs:
    Treble side fingerboard extension, smaller peghead, single bound peghead, fleur-de-lis peghead inlay, "The Gibson" script logo.
    F-12 discontinued 1980.

    If you're asking about this one that J Davis is selling, it's a reissue of the later style of F-12 -- scroll, raised fingerboard, dark sunburst finish, non-pointed pickguard, and with the standard current Gibson tailpiece rather than the clamshell. It has the straight-across "Gibson" script logo, which is more characteristic of '30's models than of the later '40's F-12's, which probably would have had the block "Gibson" inlay. And I'm not sure if the later F-12's had gold hardware. The '40's model came with a fingerboard flush with the top and no "Florida" extension, also.

    This appears to be one of those Gibson reissues that "evokes" the original F-12, with out being totally scrupulous as to the details. Is it worth $7K? Well, how's it sound? It's a good-looking mandolin, for sure. However, "reissue" esthetics aside, the proof's in the picking. Sometimes it's a bit frustrating when Gibson builds a "commemorative" or "reissue" instrument that differs in a number of details from the original, but that's sorta irrelevant in terms of what kind of musical instrument you get.
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  3. #3
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Thank you Allen. Great information. Exactly what I was looking for.
    Tony Huber
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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Another attempt to make a "reissue" of something that is not the same as the original. I've picked on right many prewar F12s and never found one with a long neck. While I can understand the reason to go with a long neck version of the prewar F12 and other modifed areas such as fretboard extension why not just call it something else like an F15? Or is that a jet number?

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    When I got my F-12 in 1978, my understanding was that it was a "poor man's F-5" - that is, similar in construction but less expensive woods, less fancy ornamentation (hardly any inlay). The description at Janet Davis' site differs from that, but what do I know? I'm no expert, just a former owner. Anyway, it had the changes mentioned in the 1970 redesign, but the serial number places it in 1966. This is the best picture I have of it, and despite the less-than-perfect image quality, you can see it had the angled Gibson logo, fleur-de-lis inlay, fingerboard extension (mostly obscured by my hand), and gold colored hardware.

    The one at Janet Davis seems to include various styles, which I don't understand. If it's supposed to be a 75th anniversary, you'd think it would emulate the 1934 model exactly. Isn't that the point?

    Sorry - can't seem to upload this as a thumbnail so it can be enlarged.
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    Last edited by journeybear; Mar-03-2010 at 12:24am. Reason: Trying to sort out changes in attachments
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Does sound like a lot to ask for that mandolin.

    I had a '49 F-12 for a while. Heavy, fingerboard glued to the top, thuddy tone, even with fresh strings. Was nice to look at.

  7. #7
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    I find it curious that Gibson would actually make a false statement regarding the original construction

    The carved solid spruce top and figured maple back and rims lent the F-12 a blend of cut and sweetness that could compete with any mandolin of the day, while its long-neck design offered supreme playability.
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Yuck.......
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  9. #9
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    A good tip-off that authenticity isn't paramount in such situations is the use of such marketingese phrases as "proud to honor the legacy" and "holds true to its ancestors’ heritage." There's more wiggle room in that language than terms such as "exact" and "precise" and, well, "authenticity."

    Why does the Gibson site not give prices on instruments, even MSRP? Or did I not look in the right place?
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    An interesting and ongoing issue with the recent Gibson "reissues." They mention the name of the earlier model mandolin, giving the impression that you're buying a re-creation of the 1948-80 F-12, e.g., but there are so many differences in detail that what you're buying is basically a new design. It's an instrument that looks like the earlier F-12 from across the room, but when you get up close, it has multiple differences. Doesn't stop it from being a great instrument -- if it is -- but it calls up comments like the ones above. I agree: make it the F-13, or the F-12B, or something similar. It may well be a great mandolin for the price, once you sit down and play it, but real Gibson aficionados have trouble getting past the "that's not an F-12, because of x, y, z" stage.
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    In the end, Gibson is out to make money and that doesn't always lend itself to the best decisions. Sometimes the marketing people stir things up and muddy things. In my business, I always have to keep in mind that a retreat is usually bad and kills business momentum. I have always thought a new model is usually better than a re-issue. Look at the Jam Master as an example. Great mandolin at a great price.
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    I had a 1950 F-12 that was a great mandolin and in my opinion when the later (1970) F-12`s came out they were junk and ruined the reputation of the earlier F-12`s....Thats why when an F-12 is mentioned on here some say "Yuk"....Mine had some things a little different from the descriptions that Allen posted, mine had a raised fingerboard and the serial number said it was a `50 and that was agreed to by John Duffey...perhaps Vintage instruments doesn`t know all there is to know about all mandolins....

    Willie

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    Registered User Gary Hedrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Now let's not bash Gibson too much on this one.....

    I thought the attempt was to remake a prewar F12 but go ahead and put the longer neck on it to make it a more playable instrument, like they should have in the 30's had they not been trying to use up F4 necks to save money.

    As for playing a lot of prewar F12's, I thought that they only made 3 or 4 of them....Yes????

    The late 40's and early 50's F12's were not too bad.....the later ones....junk but hey Gibson is making these and the buyer can decide if they want to spend their money. I'm sure they are a lot better sounding instrument than most of the F12's out there right now.

  14. #14
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    I had a 1950 F-12 that was a great mandolin....Mine had some things a little different from the descriptions that Allen posted, mine had a raised fingerboard and the serial number said it was a `50 and that was agreed to by John Duffey...perhaps Vintage instruments doesn`t know all there is to know about all mandolins....
    Well here's a 1950 F-12 at Greg Boyd's, and they say that its raised fingerboard was a Randy Wood conversion: "Mr. Wood also vaulted the fingerboard over the Spruce top." On the other hand, here's an F-12 ID'ed as a 1952, with a raised fingerboard. And again, here's a 1949 F-12 with a square-end, flush fingerboard. So you tell me.
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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Seems many here are confusing a prewar F12 with a postwar F12. They were trying to recreate the prewar F12 which is a totally different animal then a postwar F12. Can someone post a photo of a real un-feathered prewar F12 for comparsion?

  16. #16
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Believe it or not, I don't see any pre-war F-12s at the Mandolin Archive or any at Alan Bond's museum. So cross those sites off your list if you're looking for a pic.

    I rather liked my F-12 even if it was from the era which some consider junk. It did take a LOT of playing for it to sound good, but after that I enjoyed it tremendously for a quarter century or more, and would love to have it back. I'm not about to say it doesn't compare to an F-5, and in some ways even my plain A is a better instrument. But blanket statements like that irk me. Still, I'm not gonna make a major issue of this, as I'd rather keep the thread more or less on track.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Pre-war (1934) short-necked F-12;

    http://www.mandozine.com/index.php/i...son_f_12_1934/
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
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  18. #18
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    Seems many here are confusing a prewar F12 with a postwar F12. They were trying to recreate the prewar F12 which is a totally different animal then a postwar F12. Can someone post a photo of a real un-feathered prewar F12 for comparsion?
    Christie's Auctions says this is one.
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    Spencer Sorenson Spencer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Christie's Auctions says this is one.
    If a real version of a rare instrument sells for 6500$, is a new remake worth the same, or was the auction price too low?

    Nate Bray played a 50's F-12 that had a really sweet tone, and I had one for a while, which was a decent instrument.

    Spencer

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Here's the text from the Mandozine example:

    PERHAPS THE RAREST OF ALL Gibson Artist’s model mandolins is the pre-war, short-necked F-12. Introduced in 1933 (with similar models F-7 and F-10), the F-12 had an elevated fingerboard, fancy inlays, an attractive red mahogany sunburst finish on its top and deep red finish on its flamed maple back and sides, along with gold-plated hardware. The lightly finished mahogany neck joined the body at the 12th fret (like the earlier F-2s and F-4s), placing the bridge “incorrectly” lower on the body than on the Master Model F-5. One wonders why this was done (perhaps to use up a number of left-over F-4 neck blanks). Discountinued by 1937, this model is quite rare, and this example is one of the very few in existence. The F-12 designation was revived in 1949 and was in production until 1980, but the later version was very different from its predecessor in almost every respect.

    What gets me is that last sentence. If you're going to produce a model that different, why not give it a different model name? What about F-6 through F-11? They're available, right? Why did they ever go all the way out to F-12 anyway? I'm sorry if this question has already been posed and answered before. I'm just seeing red right now - sort of a red mahogany sunburst, actually.

    Below are the item from the Christie's auction and the new 75th anniversary model. What struck me immediately is the auction item does not have a clamshell tailpiece cover. I'm sure there are other distinctions. Like the neck length. They did do a nice job recreating the inlay, though.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #21
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Nate did quite well on his 50's F12. There were dozens of other pros that started out at least with a 50's F12 but who was the only bluegrass pro to hold onto a prewar F12 in his long career?

  22. #22

    Default Re: Gibson F12

    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  23. #23
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    1. Did Duffey re-neck his F-12? It definitely seems to have a longer scale.

    2. I wasn't aware that it was a '30's model. Guess I assumed it was a re-worked late-'40's. Several of the articles about Duffey mention that he had the F-12 set up with such high action, that others had trouble playing it.
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    Yep, he put the long neck on, finished carving the top. It is a 1938. I played that F-12 several years ago (graciously handed to me by the current owner). It had some sort of fiberglass wedge on the top, to cover a worn-through area. It was a thrill to play.

  25. #25
    mandolinist, Mixt Company D C Blood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F12

    That Christie's mando sure looks like an F-7 to me. What's the difference between the short-necked F-12 and the F-7 ??? I know some of the F-7s had aluminum tuning keys...anything else?
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