View Full Version : 1916 Gibson F4

Sep-26-2010, 6:06pm
Well, it’s official. I'm now the 4th generation “Ivers” to own a 1916 Gibson F4 Master Model Serial # 24532. All I can say is that it's truly an honor and a privilege to take my turn as the caretaker of this beautiful instrument. Wow! I guess I knew I would end up with it eventually, but it's really a thrill to be able to enjoy it sooner than I thought. When my dad handed it to me last week, I didn’t really know what to say or do, so I tuned it, and gave it back to him to take one last ride on it. He sight read a few tunes from an American Song Book collection, and then it was my turn.

It plays easily, really sounds big and deep, and the sustain is amazing. The frets closer to the head stock are a little worn, but the action is really nice and low (adjustable bridge added in 1921). The colors in the “Flowerpot” head stock inlay are beautiful and change with every angle. For some reason it felt really light weight to me, like I thought it was bigger and heavier when I had last held it as child. And this might sound weird, but one of the first things I noticed, and am still amazed by, is how great it smells! I had one of those crystal clear flashbacks to when I was a child and smelled the old wood of that mandolin. It was old then and even older now, and still has a very distinct woody aroma. Very cool smell!

It is truly amazing to gaze at a 1921 photo with my Great Grandmother Ivers playing the same mandolin I now hold in my hands. My Great Grandfather, Joseph Ivers, the mandolin orchestra leader and Gibson Mandolin Company “agent” purchased it new in 1916, and he and my Great Grandmother Mary Bassett Ivers played it. For sure my Grandfather George Ivers played it, then my Father, Robert Ivers played it, and now I'm playing it. Go to: Iversmandolinorchestra.blogspot.com for more info on the family history.

I feel a little unworthy, as I am not as proficient or as good as I should be for my age, actually playing the mandolin. I'm not sure why it took me so long to start playing mandolin, given my family history but I'm 49, and only started playing 6 years ago. I had been thinking for years I should learn, and finally in 2004, while vacationing in the Asheville, NC area, I bought a Weber Sweet Pea at a cool store in Brevard, NC. Since that day I've been preparing to own and play the F4.
The Sweet Pea is great, I’ve taken it with me all over the world, but my wife thought I should have something better. So, for a Christmas present a few years ago, she got me a Morgan Monroe MMS 5; an F Style, that really sounds and plays great. That's when I really started to enjoy playing mandolin. Since then, it’s been a slow but very rewarding process teaching myself to play by ear. Today I'm really grateful, even as a novice, to have enough playing time under my belt to be able to enjoy the sound and feel of this awesome 1916 Gibson F4 Master Model. It's beyond my wildest dreams, and I'm humbled and excited about learning and playing it in the future.

Bill Van Liere
Sep-26-2010, 6:34pm
Best mandolin story I hard in some time.

Enjoy that great instrument, anything you play on should sound wonderful.

Sep-26-2010, 7:19pm
Great story! What a treasure handed down generation to generation. You are a very lucky person to share in such a tradition. Play her well.


Sep-26-2010, 7:23pm
That is one heckuva cool story. Enjoy that thing and keep pickin'!

Jason Kessler
Sep-26-2010, 7:32pm
Great story, beautiful instrument.

Sep-26-2010, 7:37pm
That story is way cool. That is truly a blessing.

Sep-26-2010, 8:12pm
Great story indeed. Thanks for sharing it with us. Do you have any kids to pass it on to someday?

F-2 Dave
Sep-26-2010, 8:28pm
Beautiful mandolin. Even better with the family connection. Enjoy it.

Sep-26-2010, 8:30pm
No kids of my own. My sister has three daughters. I've though about "accidentally" leaving a beginner mandolin around the house the next time I visit her, and see if anyone shows any interest. I was well into my 40's before I got with the program, but I guess it's never to soon to plant the seed.

Sep-26-2010, 8:58pm
Great story. I just hope that my recent mandolin purchase will become a cherished family heirloom some day as well. I'm currently the caretaker of my wife's belated father's guitar and I feel that that its a true honor to posses such a cherished family antique. Enjoy and play her with pride!

Scott Tichenor
Sep-26-2010, 10:35pm
What everyone else said. Congratulations. A truly beautiful instrument and story.

Clement Barrera-Ng
Sep-27-2010, 2:46am
What a great family mandolin story. Really enjoing your blog as well BTW - you've got some cool vintage Gibson info on there.

Mandolin Mick
Sep-27-2010, 3:23am
Congratulations! I can't relate to your situation at all ... but happy for you! :)

Sep-27-2010, 4:58am
Great story with your heirloom! Write the story down and keep it in the case with the picture. For some reason mandolins (or other instruments) with a story and lineage seem more valuable. Being the steward of my heirloom, I feel it's my honor and duty to care for it and treasure its journey to the next generation.

Play it and enjoy it! You deserve it!

Sep-27-2010, 5:18am
´t is a neat story and a beautiful instrument. The crack on the lower bout that I seem to notice is hopefully taken care of by a master luthier. These teens Fs can sound very, very nice.

Scotti Adams
Sep-27-2010, 7:27am
All I can say is wow...take good care of her. Great story!

Sep-27-2010, 11:06am
That is awesome. Hopefully my offspring will be enjoying my instruments 4 generations from now.

Sep-27-2010, 11:11am
Congratulations What a beauty. I noticed from the orchestra photo that your F4 is the only scrolled one. I guess being the wife of the local Gibson Agent and orchestra leader has it's benefits.

Sep-27-2010, 11:30am
I agree with you 100% on the smell of old instruments ... there's nothing like it in the world. I've read that of the five senses, smell elicits the most powerful emotional response. Now, I'm not sure how such a statement could be quantified, but when I play a vintage instrument and am surrounded by that wonderful woody-musty aroma I think it may well be true.


Jack Roberts
Sep-27-2010, 12:35pm
So cool. Don't worry about starting late, you started earlier than I did. (of course, I really can't play, but I have fun.)

Sep-27-2010, 1:21pm
´t is a neat story and a beautiful instrument. The crack on the lower bout that I seem to notice is hopefully taken care of by a master luthier. These teens Fs can sound very, very nice.

Yes, this crack was repaired some years ago by Eric Aceto an excellent luthier in Ithaca, New York.

Rob Gerety
Sep-27-2010, 1:29pm
...but I guess it's never to soon to plant the seed.

In more ways than one.;)

Wonderful story. Thanks for posting that.

Sep-28-2010, 1:14am
thats a sweet lookin Gibby!

Oct-22-2010, 3:01pm
Correction: This F4 is from 1915, not 1916. Here's the Mandolin Archive link:

John Eischen
Oct-22-2010, 5:39pm
Pretty cool, enjoyed the story and the web page!

Nov-10-2010, 11:45pm
lovely story.

i bought an f 4 from the canadian prairies back a dozen years ago. 1916 i think, but i would have to look it up. looks identical to yours. they have beautifull touches like inlay in the tuning buttons and the binding is nicer than later.

i play celtic so i also love the warm sound. not so good for bluegrass but perfect for celtic or old timey music.

i have been wondering who i am going to leave it to, now i really have to write that will codicil