View Full Version : Brentrup F5 Comparison: F5C and M23VB

Larry S Sherman
Oct-25-2013, 3:01pm
Hans Brentrup made a name for himself in the F5 mandolin world first as a high-end builder with a unique and individual design aesthetic, and later as a builder of vintage Loar-inspired replicas (known as "C" or "Classic" models.

You can trace the evolution of his own F5 design as he refined his M23V model, which typically featured ebony pickguards with an elegant sweeping carving matched to the scooped fretboard extension, top triple binding, ebony strip in the neck, and his "23" logo in the headstock. The final phase of the M23V was the "M23VB" bluegrass model.

During the Charlie Derrington era a renewed focus on exact Gibson Loar replicas was in full swing, and Hans phased out the M23 and using Loar specs he built his first DLC (Distressed Loar Copy), also known as "Lloyd" models. This Lloyd model evolved into the F5C model, which were side-bound (July 9 style). Later Hans produced a "budget" version called the PML (Poor Man's Loar) which used the F5C design but with less expensive hardware and less labor-intensive trim/features.

Here's a quote from Hans regarding the transition: "The F5C's are Loar copies, and the graduations are based on Charlie Derrington's old July 9 Loar and John Reischman's Loar. They replace the M23V bluegrass model which has a different body, neck, peghead, and graduations. "

Although the first Lloyd models copied the iconic Gibson flowerpot, many builders including Hans discontinued using the flowerpot due to concerns over Gibson's trademark protection. The F5C instead featured a new original art-deco inspired "Vase & Flowers" headstock inlay. This inlay is also present in some PML models.

There were interesting tonal and visual differences between the M23VB and F5C, including a narrower headstock on the F5C, dovetailed bone points on the F5C, hand-engraved tailpiece (F5C), different sunbursts, varnish differences, etc.

I recently had the opportunity to take some pictures of a M23VB and F5C together, and I'm sharing them below as a visual comparison of these two iconic Brentrup models.

Both are top-of-the-line trim levels, with Waverly tuners, James TP, varnish finish, etc. This M23VB has upgraded headstock inlay (Torch & Wire instead of the standard "23" Inlay) and a one-piece back. They both feature Red Spruce tops, Red Maple backs, sides, and necks.

The M23VB (http://brentrupmandolinregistry.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/106108-r-23vb-bluegrass-model-f5/) is from 2006, the F5C (http://brentrupmandolinregistry.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/60809-f5-c/) from 2008 (nbr 9).

I'll begin with front and back (M23VB on left, F5C on right):








Larry S Sherman
Oct-25-2013, 3:04pm
F5C Peghead (front)


M23VB Peghead (front)


F5C Peghead (back)


M23VB Peghead (back)


Larry S Sherman
Oct-25-2013, 3:06pm
Backs left & right side


F5C Scroll (front)


M23VB Scroll (front)


Larry S Sherman
Oct-25-2013, 3:09pm
F5C pickguard (with and without flash)


M23VB pickguard


F5C fretboard extension


M23VB fretboard extension


Larry S Sherman
Oct-25-2013, 3:15pm
Needless to say, they sound completely different from each other. I need more time with the F5C to give a proper review of the tone, but so far so good.

The M23VB seems heavier, but I haven't weighed them.

The neck profiles are different, but both play very easily.


Jul-14-2016, 7:40pm
This is so cool.... I love reading this post.