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Thread: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

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    Default Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    I am helping with an old friend's musical instrument estate after his passing. The family has asked me to help value his mandolin. His daughter, who knows nothing about instruments, thinks she has a mando that's worth quite a bit of money. I think she has noticed some "F-5L Fern" editions online and her eyes got wide.
    I am familiar with this instrument because the deceased gentleman taught me to play and I remember when he ordered it.
    It's a 1987 (I think) Gibson F-5L
    The serial number is a 7 digit, 8083766 and is signed by Jim Triggs on May 22, 1987. The tag says: "THE GIBSON MASTER MODEL", "F-5L", "Gibson. Inc. Nashville, Tn."
    If you try the "early" F-5L serial breakdown, as in the article on this site, you get: the 83rd day of 1987, but the "66" for a sequence number doesn't seem right. I would expect a "066" if that were the case.
    If you try the breakdown from an earlier thread about a 7 digit serial (A-5G?) from the same time period you get: the 83rd built in 1986 but the 5th & 6th digit would be the month and that's "76".
    My question is: what is the date according to serial number, and opinions on the value. The condition I would rate as "Good". Wear marks on the finish, pick scratches, etc.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Value is $5,000 give or take 10% depending on condition and how fast they want to sell it.

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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by mcallen View Post
    I am helping with an old friend's musical instrument estate after his passing. The family has asked me to help value his mandolin. His daughter, who knows nothing about instruments, thinks she has a mando that's worth quite a bit of money. I think she has noticed some "F-5L Fern" editions online and her eyes got wide.
    I am familiar with this instrument because the deceased gentleman taught me to play and I remember when he ordered it.
    It's a 1987 (I think) Gibson F-5L
    The serial number is a 7 digit, 8083766 and is signed by Jim Triggs on May 22, 1987. The tag says: "THE GIBSON MASTER MODEL", "F-5L", "Gibson. Inc. Nashville, Tn."
    If you try the "early" F-5L serial breakdown, as in the article on this site, you get: the 83rd day of 1987, but the "66" for a sequence number doesn't seem right. I would expect a "066" if that were the case.
    If you try the breakdown from an earlier thread about a 7 digit serial (A-5G?) from the same time period you get: the 83rd built in 1986 but the 5th & 6th digit would be the month and that's "76".
    My question is: what is the date according to serial number, and opinions on the value. The condition I would rate as "Good". Wear marks on the finish, pick scratches, etc.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    My estimation of the value would be closer to $4,000 but Shawn might have a better feeling for this -- maybe he is considering a Triggs signed instrument of great value?

    Gibson used two different coding sequences for serial numbers in the last few decades though.

    All mandolins made the the Derrington era are 8 digits and the code is read:
    YMMDDPPY (Y = year, M= month, D = day and P = production)
    So for example using this code in a serial of: 11213160:
    the first "0" and last "2" are the year, i.e., 2002
    the "1213" is the date, i.e. December 13,
    and the "16" is the production number, i.e., 16th instrument of the day.

    The coding for the later Montana era is the same but I have noticed that the date coded into the serial number is often up to a few months earlier than the signature date. For example, I have a Bozeman F-5G which has a October, 1995 serial number date but Bruce Weber signed in December, 1995.

    I think the coding is slightly different for those in the early Montana days where the serial number code was a seven digit code like yours: 8083766

    So I think your code should be read:
    YDDDYPPP
    YY is the production year
    DDD is the day of the year (e.g., 083 = March 23rd on non-leap year)
    PPP is the plant designation and/or instrument ran

    So by my thinking you have a mandolin made on March 24th 1987 (83rd day of the year unless 1987 was a leap year then it is March 23rd) and it was the 66th instrument signed that day?
    Last edited by Bernie Daniel; Jul-06-2015 at 9:21am.
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    My estimation of the value would be closer to $4,000 but Shawn might have a better feeling for this -- maybe he is considering a Triggs signed instrument of great value?

    Gibson used two different coding sequences for serial numbers in the last few decades though.

    All mandolins made the the Derrington era are 8 digits and the code is read:
    YMMDDPPY (Y = year, M= month, D = day and P = production)
    So for example using this code in a serial of: 11213160:
    the first "0" and last "2" are the year, i.e., 2002
    the "1213" is the date, i.e. December 13,
    and the "16" is the production number, i.e., 16th instrument of the day.

    The coding for the later Montana era is the same but I have noticed that the date coded into the serial number is often up to a few months earlier than the signature date. For example, I have a Bozeman F-5G which has a October, 1995 serial number date but Bruce Weber signed in December, 1995.

    I think the coding is slightly different for those in the early Montana days where the serial number code was a seven digit code like yours: 8083766

    So I think your code should be read:
    YDDDYPPP
    YY is the production year
    DDD is the day of the year (e.g., 083 = March 23rd on non-leap year)
    PPP is the plant designation and/or instrument ran

    So by my thinking you have a mandolin made on March 24th 1987 (83rd day of the year unless 1987 was a leap year then it is March 23rd) and it was the 66th instrument signed that day?

    The first example I gave had a typo in it -- it should have read --- corrected part in red type:

    All mandolins made the the Derrington era are 8 digits and the code is read:
    YMMDDPPY (Y = year, M= month, D = day and P = production)
    So for example using this code in a serial of: 11213160:
    the first "0" and last "1" are the year, i.e., 2001
    the "1213" is the date, i.e. December 13,
    and the "16" is the production number, i.e., 16th instrument of the day.
    Bernie
    ____
    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    I would think the Triggs signature date would add to the value since this is a Nashville made one. Triggs was working closely with Derrington during this era and those few F5Ls got lots of attention to detail for that time. I consider value between $5K and $6K.

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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    I think the world of mr triggs,
    he cut his teeth in building mandolins and is superbly gifted
    and i have heard and played his mandos produced under his own name

    i own an 02 Roberts signed fern

    but..............

    this would be pre-redesign to loar specs if im not mistaken

    I would expect, and only that, that this is an overbuilt, Gibson factory style mandolin, ie, despite the signature, i would expect it to sound not as good as the derrington/loar spec models. probably great detail, possibly decent to really good wood-ie figuring, and fret work.

    speaking only for myself,
    but agreeing, occasionally with Bernie, LOL........

    f5loar, however is to be respected.....

    and knowing first hand mr triggs' work and talent,

    i too would be likely to pay around $4K . If i were to hear something other than what i speculate, perhaps more.

    Roberts/ Derrington ferns are selling for $5.5 to 6.5, as i have been on top of ads lately. Sometimes as low as 4.5 for motivated sellers.

    i cannot see this one fetching the same amount as the Derrington/Rroberts versions. its just not built the same, and i speculate wont sound the same either.

    also, condition is perhaps NOT everything, but certainly relevant.

    this is not an iconic period for Gibson mandos.

    otoh, there aren't that many Gibson triggs mandos and you may indeed find someone willing to pay 5-6, especially if it sounds and plays great and looks great too.

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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by stevedenver View Post
    I think the world of mr triggs,
    he cut his teeth in building mandolins and is superbly gifted
    and i have heard and played his mandos produced under his own name

    i own an 02 Roberts signed fern

    but..............

    this would be pre-redesign to loar specs if im not mistaken

    I would expect, and only that, that this is an overbuilt, Gibson factory style mandolin, ie, despite the signature, i would expect it to sound not as good as the derrington/loar spec models. probably great detail, possibly decent to really good wood-ie figuring, and fret work...
    Not entirely correct Steve:

    The return to Loar specs with significant detail was done in earnest by Roger Siminoff et al in 1978 on the F5L Project. These specs were "adjusted" in time by Charlie Derrington and Jim Triggs that we know of, and both gentlemen produced Gibson F5L mandolins bearing their signature. In fact Charlie Derrington has been observed to have referred on several occasions to Gibson F5L mandolins that he personally carved. This was in 1986-87 that I'm aware of, and I have not seen any evidence of a Triggs/Derrington F5L dated after 1988 until Charlie D. came back to Gibson in late 1996.

    Here's a thread that references one such mandolin Derrington-Gibson-F5-mandolins
    1994 Gibson F5L Fern


    "Mandolin brands are a guide, not gospel! I don't drink koolaid and that Emperor is naked!"
    "If you wanna get soul Baby, you gots to get the scroll..."
    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
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    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    If that Triggs F5 is not really to Loar specs in some aspects, the Derrington/Robert F5s are not either; all of them may be great instruments nonetheless. Truth is that Gibson never really went back to Loar specs.

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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Eagle View Post
    If that Triggs F5 is not really to Loar specs in some aspects, the Derrington/Robert F5s are not either; all of them may be great instruments nonetheless. Truth is that Gibson never really went back to Loar specs.
    thanks to both datanick and henry for setting me straight

    I recall some Derrington interview in a mandolin builders summit interview, posted on the site which has the photos of many of the original Loar Gibsons, cant recall its name right now, but it has many archive photos of all styles of Fs.

    As I recall, (and by so stating my understanding here am I by no means closed to being corrected again) Derrington addressed really trying to get the Loar specs, and as I recall a complete 'redesign' , re-graduation of tops and retooling. This took place around late 1999-2000, from my recollection of the article. So, while apparently not to original Loar specs, this was Gibson's best and brightest attempt at it's version of Loar specs.(?)

    As I further recall, other than red spruce tops and varnish, the Derrington/Roberts F5s were almost uniform in build and spec. glues and binding differed, waverlies, bridge, and wood grades too ?

    I recall Derrington saying in this interview too, that while subtle, a trained ear familiar with mando could discern a slight sound difference between finishes, and, that all the ferns and MM were team built and the same in terms of spec. He also said, while he didn't understand it, distressing seemed to also affect sound.

    That is the information, as I recall it, upon which I based my erroneous statement.



    was Gibson at least using a compound neck joint in the late 80's?

    FWIW< in looking at that Triggs related link, I have to say that sunburst on the Triggs build pictured is almost identical in color and feel to a 1979 Les Paul I own in tobacco burst. Distinctive in its tone of brown and the way the top has taken the color.
    Last edited by stevedenver; Jul-23-2015 at 5:53pm.

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    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Agreed, not sure about the late '80s neck joint, though.

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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Eagle View Post
    Agreed, not sure about the late '80s neck joint, though.
    Tenon-Mortise: this is a holdover from the 70s, and when Roger Siminoff did the F5L project they couldn't get corporate buy off to go dovetail, because of bins of pre-fabbed tenon-mortise necks ready to go. Tenon-mortise is the neck joint type in the spec that Jim Triggs shared via inservice with the Faltiron luthiers after the acquisition when he went to Bozeman to instruct them in how to build Gibson mandolins (F5L).

    My source as I've stated in another thread is Bruce Weber who graciously filled me in on the details of this period of Gibson mandolin production. As an aside, he also stated that Flatirons were made to Flatiron spec, Gibson to Gibson spec, and n'eer the twain shall meet! Mr. Weber said he preferred it that way...
    1994 Gibson F5L Fern


    "Mandolin brands are a guide, not gospel! I don't drink koolaid and that Emperor is naked!"
    "If you wanna get soul Baby, you gots to get the scroll..."
    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
    "Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence" Vince Lombardi
    Playing Style: RockMonRoll Desperado Bluegrass Desperado YT Channel

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    Registered User Pjones3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    The first example I gave had a typo in it -- it should have read --- corrected part in red type:

    All mandolins made the the Derrington era are 8 digits and the code is read:
    YMMDDPPY (Y = year, M= month, D = day and P = production)
    So for example using this code in a serial of: 11213160:
    the first "0" and last "1" are the year, i.e., 2001
    the "1213" is the date, i.e. December 13,
    and the "16" is the production number, i.e., 16th instrument of the day.
    How about this F5G with a 7 digit serial number '2463089' ???
    Doesn't seem to fit any of the patterns for Gibson serial numbers I have read about.
    It's got a Bozeman label.
    (Great mandolin by the way)

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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    I could read this stuff all day and still not know the true facts, not that it really matters, if they sound and look good that is what counts, a lot of it is just hype put out to help sell mandolins...That's my opinion and I am not always correct...Just like any person...

    Willie

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    Registered User Pjones3's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post
    I could read this stuff all day and still not know the true facts, not that it really matters, if they sound and look good that is what counts, a lot of it is just hype put out to help sell mandolins...That's my opinion and I am not always correct...Just like any person...

    Willie
    Well said, although having owned perhaps a dozen Flatirons over the years I am mildly curious about the processes related to Gibson's purchase and oversight of the Montana years and how they incorporated Flatiron serial numbers into their system etc. I bought my F 5G specifically because it came from the Montana shop and I knew Carlson and Weber were there at the time it was made. It was a smart purchase, which isn't always the way I do business.....

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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by Pjones3 View Post
    How about this F5G with a 7 digit serial number '2463089' ???
    Doesn't seem to fit any of the patterns for Gibson serial numbers I have read about.
    It's got a Bozeman label.
    (Great mandolin by the way)
    August 1992; 463rd mandolin produced YTD...if it has a signature label(mandolin tested, tuned, etc), then the exact date will be on that label.
    1994 Gibson F5L Fern


    "Mandolin brands are a guide, not gospel! I don't drink koolaid and that Emperor is naked!"
    "If you wanna get soul Baby, you gots to get the scroll..."
    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
    "Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence" Vince Lombardi
    Playing Style: RockMonRoll Desperado Bluegrass Desperado YT Channel

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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another 7 digit serial number, but an F-5L this time

    Quote Originally Posted by Pjones3 View Post
    Well said, although having owned perhaps a dozen Flatirons over the years I am mildly curious about the processes related to Gibson's purchase and oversight of the Montana years and how they incorporated Flatiron serial numbers into their system etc. I bought my F 5G specifically because it came from the Montana shop and I knew Carlson and Weber were there at the time it was made. It was a smart purchase, which isn't always the way I do business.....
    I have found that the Montana Gibsons can be really, really good mandolins, and some exceptional; despite the differences in their specs vis a vis Derrington specs...YMMV
    1994 Gibson F5L Fern


    "Mandolin brands are a guide, not gospel! I don't drink koolaid and that Emperor is naked!"
    "If you wanna get soul Baby, you gots to get the scroll..."
    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
    "Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence" Vince Lombardi
    Playing Style: RockMonRoll Desperado Bluegrass Desperado YT Channel

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