View Full Version : New Family Member

Mar-14-2006, 10:13pm
I recently bought a Gibson custom F5G with sunburst back and front, bound fingerboard, adirondack spruce top and varnish finish. The varnish that Gibson applies looks very vintage and the playability and tone are fantastic. When I bought this mandolin it was new, old stock. Gibson did a run of F5G's for a store on the West Coast and sunbursted them all. They also all had bound fingerboards and adirondack spruce tops. I think maybe 45 to 50 were made. Of the 45 to 50, only 3 or 4 were varnished. This particular one was made on March, 24, 2004 and it has wonderful woods in it and that classic Gibson bluegrass tone. I love the look and feel of this instrument.

I also enjoy photography so I'll share some pictures I took of it:




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Mar-14-2006, 10:15pm
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Mar-14-2006, 10:16pm
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Mar-14-2006, 10:20pm
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That's the last of the pictures. It's really hard to capture the true depth of the colors and the varnish finish, but some of these pictures reflect the color very well. I hope you enjoy the photo's of my mandolin.


jim simpson
Mar-14-2006, 10:57pm
Sweet! I liked the yellowed binding. Perfect!!

Mar-15-2006, 10:00am
Jim, the yellowed binding, to me, adds a lot of character to the instrument. It really has that vintage look. I personally think varnish also gives an instrument a different level of playability. I can't explain why, but it seems a varnished mandolin plays easier and responds better.


Mar-15-2006, 6:33pm
Hey Jim,

That's a nice looking mandolin. I didn't know that Gibson would varnish a F5G. How can you tell is this one has a red spruce top? How's she sound?


Mar-15-2006, 6:53pm
I really don't think there is a way to tell if it's actually red spruce after the finish is applied. I spoke with a gibson Customer service rep that looked it up and told me it was actually red spruce as this batch that was made all had adirondack spruce tops.

Lane Pryce
Mar-15-2006, 7:37pm
Jim that is a really nice Gibson G. Its also the first varnished F5G I have ever seen. That binding and varnish really give it a vintage look too. Congrats on your new young'n. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif Lp

Mar-15-2006, 8:07pm
I wonder how that yellowed binding would look with gold hardware?

Scotti Adams
Mar-15-2006, 9:20pm
...to me..that looks soooo right....just lacking the appropriate binding in the right places to bring it up close to the MM look. I just wish Gibson would put the binding on and offer it as a standard F5..or is there such a thing? Im sure there would be a market for it. Congrats and good luck...please keep us posted on her progress.

Mar-15-2006, 9:32pm
Scotti, that's funny man, those exact words came to my mind when I bought it in December '05. When I opened it up and took it out of the case, I thought exactly as you wrote, "That just looks right". If I could find a good luthier to take on the job, I'd have back and headstock binding put on, as long as they could preserve and match the current binding. Know of anyone that might be interested in the job?


Scotti Adams
Mar-15-2006, 9:51pm
Ha...Im sure there are some really good Luthiers who would like to tackle that..If I was one..I sure would. Its the right thing to do. I just wonder If one was to order an F5G and asked for it to be customized with the "right" binding...how much of a buzz that would stir up....Then that would be the F5 Standard...Gibson doesnt offer that. I think there is a market there for that. Of course..what do I know..or think...Hell..I would probably be first in line.

Mar-15-2006, 10:56pm
That mandolin definitely looks "Right!" You got close to a MM at probably half the price.

Mar-16-2006, 4:16am
Thats about the purdyest durn F5g I have ever seen. Looks vintage with the yellowed binding. Wish mine was sunburst on the back.

Philip Halcomb
Mar-16-2006, 6:56am
Great looking mandolin, I've been eyeballing that one for awhile too. Enjoy it I'm sure it sounds great.

Mar-16-2006, 11:35am
I agree with Scotti... it just looks right.

It's got the correct flowerpot too! #

You've basically got a Master Model without the hide glue and a little binding. #

Great looking mandolin. #Congrats!


Frank Russell
Mar-16-2006, 11:40am
Those Adirondack topped F5Gs are great. Buffalo Bros. had some from the same batch, and I was sorely tempted to buy one. Nicer back woods and just a little finer looking than the other F5Gs I have played. Congratulations. Frank

Mar-16-2006, 11:45am
I wouldn't bother with adding the binding. That is a perfect-looking mandolin.

Mar-16-2006, 12:57pm
I've been debating on whether to go ahead and pursue having the binding put on the back and headstock. One one hand, I'd really like to have it for the look and also proctection. On the other hand, I'm gathering that it would be a pretty hard job to add binding and make it look right or match what's already on there. If I could find a luthier that thought they could do the job and do it right, I'd probably have it done, or I might give Gibson a call and see what they say. But, I'm pretty happy with it the way it is now.

Thanks all for the comments.

Jim Watts

Jim Roberts
Mar-16-2006, 1:03pm
What kind of tuners are those, Jim? And do they function well?

Big Joe
Mar-16-2006, 2:58pm
The binding is colored mostly due to the varnish on the mandolin. If you have the rest of the mandolin bound you may have to have the finish redone and then it may not match since we have our own proprietary varnish formula. The binding itself is nothing unusual, just the varnish gives it that vintage glow. I encourage you to think twice about having it bound. It is very nice now as a special F5G. If it gets messed up by someone trying to make it look like something it is not, you may be very sorry and out a lot more money. Just my thoughts, but then what do I know http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif .

Mar-16-2006, 3:29pm
Yeah - I'd vote for leaving it alone; it's an absolutely great looking mandolin, with a nice vintage vibe - congratulations! It would be like binding the back and headstock of an old F-2...

BTW, the neck doesn't look as narrow as a lot of Gibson mandolins; what is the nut width?


Mar-16-2006, 3:30pm
I agree with Big Joe hole heartedly! If it ain't broke, don`t fix it http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif It looks great as is, and would be more valuable down the road left alone.


Joe Mangio
Mar-16-2006, 3:54pm
Lookin' good, all the best Jim!

Mar-16-2006, 5:27pm
I think with all the input from you guys here, I've decided to leave it original. I think the wear around the edges that aren't bound will just add to the vintage look of it as it ages.

Jim Watts

Mar-16-2006, 7:55pm
Jim Roberts, the tuners are the Custom Grovers that are made specifically for Gibson. The work great, not as heavy as Waverly's, but have a great feel to them. Not hard at all to tune and they stay in tune very nicely.

As far as the nut width, I'll have to wait until I get home to meaure it, but it feels like the standard 1 1/8 or so to me..


Mar-17-2006, 6:38am
I don`t know if this is the first mando you have owned with a red spruce top. You will be amazed when it starts to get played in. Typically, red spruce takes a little longer to break in. When it does you will be blown away. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif The combination of red spruce and varnish just works so well together!!



Mar-17-2006, 12:05pm
Keith, I just measured the nut width and it's actually 1 1/16". The picture makes it look wider because of the close-up.

Darrell, I've been through quite a few mandolins, although this is the first Gibson red spruce, varnish combination I've had. I've had a custom mandolin with that combo and also a phoenix deluxe with that combination. I agree, this pairing just seems to work, and while it's already got "that sound", the opening up process should be a good ride.


Apr-11-2006, 2:22pm
Hey Jim
I also have one of these mandos that i got last april, they sure are nice and a great deal to boot. Mine is # 40324010 so i think thats the same date as yours. I'm thinking of having a radiussed fingerboard installed on mine, i'm going to try and e-mail joe about it. I really do like the varnished finnish and the look of the binding.

Apr-12-2006, 11:23am
Tom, good to hear from you. Our mandolins were signed on the same day and your's was the first and mine was the second signed. I think Buffalo Brothers has one more and I assume that is the third and final one of the varnished F5G's in this special order. As I understand it, there were only 3 of them out of the 45 or so that was built, with a varnish finish. I really like mine and just love the look and feel as well as the whomping bluegrass tone it has.

Tom, I would love to see some photo's of you mandolin. If you have some, please post some pictures, or email them to me. I'm in the process of taking some more photo's of mine with better lighting. I'll post those on my website when I get them completed. Stay in touch and I'll give Buffalo Brothers a call just to see if that is the third one they have in the batch.

Jim Watts

May-13-2006, 7:46am
Hey Jim

Sorry its taken so long for me to reply. I checked out your website, nice job there, those are really some great pics of your mando. I could use some lessons there.

Anyway heres a shot of mine taken by Guitar sales when i was buying it. I'll try and take some more, though i have trouble with fine detail, but now that its warm enough to go outside the natural light should help.

I noticed your tailpiece cover says "The Gibson" mines just "Gibson"


May-15-2006, 8:07am
Tom, your mandolin has the same look as mine. I'd love to see the back woods used in yours. Also, feel free to email me and I'll help you all I can with getting some photos taken of your F5G custom. It's really all about good lighting and white balance to get the colors to show correctly in the pictures. Also, another tip, shoot as close as you can with everything in the frame you want to photograph and then crop to keep things other than your subject out of the picture. On the tailpiece cover, I was able to obtain a Silver plated Master Model cover for my mandolin from a friend. Mine came with the stock "Gibson" engraved tail piece cover just like yours.

Have you recorded anything with your mandolin yet? I'd love to hear it and compare the tone and volume to mine. The third one at Buffalo Brothers sounds very similar to mine and I'd bet yours has that tone and volume as well.

Jim Watts