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Thread: The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

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    Question The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

    Hi Folks,

    I have a nice model A 1918 mandolin that has been very good to me for ~ 8 years. The Gibson F2 model is appealing to me. What is the difference in performance? Does it have a better punch in volume? Is it slightly bigger? Is it only style? I would assume the necks to be similar. I do not see many F2 and can not afford F4. what is the difference between the F2 to F4. Thanks!

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

    You will get lots of opinions on this one. I think the F models (F2 or F4) do sound better than any A model of same year. Bigger in that it has the big scroll, two or three spikes and florentine headstock. But there have been some really killer A models like the A2Z from the mid 20's and some F2s better than F4s. Neck is similar depending on year made. Truss rod models tend to be thinner. The difference is in the cosmetics between the F2 and F4 similar to what the difference is between an A2 and an A4. Better woods in the F4, more binding, more pearl inlay. Finish would be the same as you could get either model in black top, red sunburst or blonde top. A really clean F2 can cost as much as really worn F4.

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    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

    Panache.

    Seriously, there are those who say no difference in sound, others who find a difference. I have a 1920 A-2 and a 1922 F4. Both sound good, but I like the F4 sound better. I also think the F4 sits better on my lap and balances a little better. Maybe if I stood with a strap that would not be a factor.

    YMMV.
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    Registered User Annette Siegel's Avatar
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    Default Re: The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

    Quote Originally Posted by hopalong View Post
    Hi Folks,

    I have a nice model A 1918 mandolin that has been very good to me for ~ 8 years. The Gibson F2 model is appealing to me. What is the difference in performance? Does it have a better punch in volume? Is it slightly bigger? Is it only style? I would assume the necks to be similar. I do not see many F2 and can not afford F4. what is the difference between the F2 to F4. Thanks!
    Though I am new (about a year) to the world of Gibson mandolins, I'm OCD about them, coupled with being a luthier's wife. I've seen and played all of the mandy models you've mentioned as well as currently having all of those models (did I mention OCD?) I've found that when all is said and done...all of the mandolins sound good but have a different voice. The "A" & F2 models are made with birch, which gives a different sound than the F4 which is made of maple. Though even the different birch models (Loar era and before) have different sounds....woods are like that, even though they look similar, woods by their very nature have different qualities.

    I have found the best thing to do is play the mandolin and if you like the sound it shouldn't matter if it's a A, F or from Mars...the sound is what your looking for.

    Annette

    www.livingtreemusic.com

  5. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

    own 2 As from 22 A4 and an A no number In Brown but top edge bound, so not a Jr

    The Aluminum bridge likely contributed to it sounding so much brighter,
    though when I tried fitting an Ebony bridge , experimental swap
    when I got a fossil Walrus tusk bridge piece for the A4
    it didn't sound any different aluminum or ebony so I put the aluminum one back on.
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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    Default Re: The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

    Sounding good is what ever the player likes....Red Rector played an oval hole A model and it sounded as good as any oval hole F model that I have heard, much like the F-4 that is played on most of Jimmy Martins recordings....

    Annette has the best advice for you, play as many as you can and then pick the one that you like the best, different woods will give different sounds of course....Not everyone is looking for the same sound....

    Willie

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    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: The difference between Gibson A models and Gibson F2

    Hi gang, I've been silent for a while but this is my take on your question hopalong. Most of us shopping for a mandolin are unable to play enough of them especially old Gibsons to make side by side comparison a valid option. My humble opinion is that tonal outcomes from woods used, neck & tuning plate configuration, year of original sale & movement out of the factory are each a generality which is often blown out of the water by exceptions to any and all preconceptions. It basically works out like this. You like what you have or have just gotten until you play and hear another one you like better. The truth is we have very little to validate one being better other than our own humble isolated opinion. The more similarities in the build the more likely one to sound similar to the other but sutle differences like depth of bass, upper register pleasantness and clarity, string response and action, etc.,etc.. will always be subjective to the fingers and ears of the musician. If you find a scrolled mandolin appealing that in itself is enough to validate buying one. Whether what comes in the Ups/FedX etc. is a really great example comparatively you my never know.

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