View Full Version : Craigslist - Vern Williams F-12

Brad Nicholas
Sep-15-2008, 1:51pm
There's a Septermber 13, 2008 craigslist ad in Sacramento which claims to be for a mandolin belonging to Vern Williams. I have no interest other than curiosity.

Ad here: http://sacramento.craigslist.org/msg/839993710.html

I'll quote the text here so that it isn't lost once the link dies:

"I have a gibson mandolin for sale it's a f12 model;which I think was made in the 60's and I am not sure what its worth I didnt have it appraised. It was my grandfathers."Vern Williams" He played it alot and is now in the bluegrass hall of fame . Now he is gone and I am in need of money because of the lack of work . It is in good condition . I don't play and have no need for it anymore. If you have any questions feel free to ask Here are some picture of what it looks like . If you want some more pics feel free to ask ... "

There were no pictures with the posting.

Paul Kotapish
Sep-15-2008, 2:36pm
Vern was the real deal, and I loved to hear him sing and play. Can't remember whether I ever saw him play an F-12 or not, but it seems possible. I'll check with some friends who used to play with him. Not sure what he's playing here, but it sure doesn't look like an F-12.

Sep-15-2008, 5:53pm
"Vern was the real deal...."

Man, you better believe it...

I guess he would be #1 one my list of most underrated bluegrass mando pickers/singers...

And to stand in front of the man when he was singing is something that I quite haven't experienced since.... :disbelief:
He could peel nitrocellulous lacquer....

If it's indeed the real deal, I hope that mando finds a good home with someone who loved Vern and his music, which was just about any of us who were living in the Bay Area during those years....

Sep-15-2008, 7:24pm
You might check with his son Delbert. You can Google him.

Sep-15-2008, 7:37pm
Vern & Ray, hardcore bluegrass at its best. That would be an awesome buy if it turns out to be legit -- a piece of BG history that's for sure.


Sep-15-2008, 8:27pm
This most recent photo looks more promising on the F12 front. It's got that 1960s headstock and the neck looks short.

Same ad was on the Sacramento Craigslist briefly a couple of months ago. Careful with this one; could be the real deal or a copycat.

Sep-15-2008, 9:38pm
60's F12s were long neckers but since the fretboard is cut off short it may have the apppearance of a short necker. I would have thought he had a late 50's F12. Hard to tell in that photo as a late 50's or early 60's would look the same.

Mike Bromley
Sep-15-2008, 11:01pm

Sep-16-2008, 7:18pm
Excuse me? "here are some pictures", then no pictures? Same ad posted recently? I'd want to see the instrument and the supposed son in person before i got my wallet out.

Sep-17-2008, 3:52pm
I have seen the photos of this 60's F12 that did belong to Vern Williams.
For starters as I suspected from personally knowing Vern it is not a 60's but a late 1956 with the Serial no. A-24720. And the photo above is probably what it looked like way back when Vern probably bought it new. However over the years, probably sometime in the mid70's Vern decided to update and "customize" his prized '56 F12 with a homemade F5 fingerboard and a real "update" on the peghead with fancy pearl inlays with his name on it and to top it off he was after the famous "Monroe Loar" look in the finish and had the Gibson finish totally taken off and a new non-pro finish put back on. So this might explain why the grandson says he has not had it appraised. I suspect he did have it appraised and was told it's a piece of mutalited ####. The 60's date was likely sumised from the 60's tailpiece that was added later on or if you leave off the "A" in the serial no. you come up with a 1961 date. I guess what I am saying is the only thing original to this mandolin is the raw wood and the orange oval Gibson label. $7000 asking price...... NOT!!!!!!!

Sep-17-2008, 11:57pm
By the way the color photo above of Vern playing what looks like an unknown maker mandolin is the '56 F12 after it was "customized". If you blow that photo up you can clearly see the head inlays and the funky refinish. The headstock is big like the 50's F12 but was bound. I replayed to the grandson with what I said above earlier today and have not heard back from him.
Doubt I will either.

Sep-18-2008, 7:06am
OK, so it was customized to Vern's specs -- is that a bad thing? Is it the mando he plays on those Rounder projects (Vern Williams band) with Keith Little? And on the Arhoolie LP's with Rose Maddox? If so, it sure has "the sound" we associate with Vern. I'm not talking about the price for an original 56 F12, but the sound of a player's mando. So you say it's mutilated ####, the mutilated from original surely, but then again that could be 'customized'; and is the #### referring to the sound or just the fact that it's not original?

Sep-18-2008, 10:07am
I was going on the seller saying this is a 60's F12 in good condition. If Gruhn/Elderly said the same thing I would expect to see an original finish with all original parts '56 F12. When you are selling vintage anything and it has been grossly altered from it's original state it should be noted. This was not.
I told the seller this is probably a great playing and sounding mandolin but I can't tell that in those photos. And I doubt anyone can tell sound through photos. The seller clearly said he did not get it appraised.
I don't fault Vern or the seller but facts are facts and with a $7000 price tag someone needs to step up to the plate here and tell it like it is before someone gets burnt although I doubt any here would go for it at that price, others might believe what the seller tells them. I'd look at this one like I would at a Randy Wood conversion F12 to F5 and price accordingly based on the quality of the conversion which I don't see it in those photos. The fingerboard has a zero fret on it. Looks like it was scooped out with a pocket knife and refinish looks uneven with very non-professional application.
And no I don't think Vern recorded all his classic recordings with this one. At some time he did get another Loar like F5 but I'm not a Vern expert. I do claim to know a little bit about postwar Gibson mandolins.

Tom C
Sep-18-2008, 10:44am
That must mean Frank Wakefield's loar is worth 2 bits.

Sep-18-2008, 11:59am
Like Monroe's , Frank's is still a signed Loar F5. Refinished like Monroes and Apollons but still is Frank in the Monroe status of fame? Adding value to an instrument for it's celebrity status is not an exact figure to add to the value.

Tom C
Sep-18-2008, 12:15pm
Granted Frank's is a Loar, but....Maybe the worst of the worst as far as original..
Maybe the inlay and wood are the only original. I would not be suprised if the fretboard has been changed at some point in time.
1) Tuners
2) Pickguard
3) Tailpiece?
4) Bridge
5) frank's own baked red finish...
I sure would not call these upgrades.

Sep-18-2008, 1:20pm
Last I heard Frank still has the original parts for his Loar. Worse case examples have been restored by guys like Gilchrist that will take this worse case example up to the value of a refinsihed Loar. But do that and it no longer has the Frank mojo value to it. Tough decision should this one ever come to market. Frank, like Monroe has put a lot of years of his soul into that mandolin.
Back to the Vern F12, it would be possible to bring it back to the look of a '56 F12 but you still would have the same market value in it. Refinish is still a refinish even on the 2nd go round.

Sep-18-2008, 1:55pm
I don't fault Vern or the seller but facts are facts and with a $7000 price tag someone needs to step up to the plate here and tell it like it is before someone gets burnt.

Yes, I agree with you here. Full and honest disclosure of any item for sale and its history (i.e. modifications, but can also include ownership), then let the buyer decide the value.

The original ad. is certainly a mis-representation of what is for sale, and I am very happy that experts like you step in and give us the facts.

Oct-03-2008, 1:58am
Hey, the Vern Williams F12 is now here in the Classifieds (http://mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/classifieds.cgi?search_and_display_db_button=on&db_id=30528&query=retrieval).

Oct-03-2008, 10:00am
Hey, the Vern Williams F12 is now here in the [URL="http://mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/classifieds.

And priced now at $6,500...are we getting closer to a realistic price?

Bernie Daniel
Oct-03-2008, 12:37pm
TOm C: Granted Frank's is a Loar, but....Maybe the worst of the worst as far as original..
Maybe the inlay and wood are the only original. I would not be suprised if the fretboard has been changed at some point in time.

Thanks for the great pic of Wakefield's Loar -- I was just wondering if anyone knows the details about that finish? Do you happen to know how he "baked" it? Oven or a heat lamp etc.?

Also its different -- the color that is -- but I rather think he did a pretty good job with it -- the sunburst is really fine.

The tailpiece is that just a glued on ebony cover with inlay?

True, he might have messed up a Loar -- but it's pretty cool looking nonetheless.

Oct-03-2008, 1:23pm
And priced now at $6,500...are we getting closer to a realistic price?

Um ...

Well, it's also back on Craig's List (http://sacramento.craigslist.org/msg/857006843.html), with photos this time, for a mere $5,000.

It sounds to me like if you make the kid a reasonable offer, he just might take it. We've discussed why it isn't worth $7K, but what do y'all think it is worth?

Oct-06-2008, 5:26pm
Well this is a touchy personal situation in selling a well known players mandolin and putting a "star status" price to it. Frank Buchann(ex 60's Bluegrass Boy) is going through the same thing. He has a '49 F12 he bought new and then sometime in the 60's/early 70's had it "customized" adding an F5style neck to it. Sounds fine but don't look too good. Had these 2 guys left their F12s alone and just played them as is with normal or even excessive wear they would be easier to put a vintage market price to them. But since they both are no where near being an original F12 you have to take off that market price not add to it. Since they are not collectible and are "pickers" mandolins and both now around the $5000 price you must ask yourself what else is out there for $5000 that might at least look better and sound the same. That's a no brainer :grin:

Oct-06-2008, 6:25pm
No brainers suit me just fine. If I had a brain I would play the fiddle!

Oct-11-2008, 12:47pm
Could it be this mandolin?


And by the way, Vern was one of the greatest. Raw-energeting straigh ahead bluegrass all the way.

Oct-12-2008, 6:17pm
This looks like the Fake Loar F5 Vern had. What happened to it?

Brad Nicholas
Oct-16-2008, 7:20pm
The current posting (http://sacramento.craigslist.org/msg/879678168.html) on craigslist has pictures now. I'll post them here so folks can still see them once the posting dies.