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Thread: Less Collectible Gibson's

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    Registered User MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Less Collectible Gibson's

    I know that for many years Les Paul guitars made by Gibson in the 1970's (Norlin era) were deemed as being 'less collectible' than other 'vintage' Gibson's. Are there any eras of mandolins with similarly lower value than others?
    Until my level and frequency of playing justifies something much better, I am making do with a Loar 310-F, Eastman MD415-GD, Washburn M1SDL and a Rogue RM-100F . . . .

  2. #2

    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Good question. I think, in general, mandolin players define "vintage" in terms of 'teens or 20's or earlier, whereas guitar players are thinking later for their "golden era".

    A lot of collectibility follows price parameters. In that, some folks will collect Gibson "second-line" instruments such as Kalamazoo or Recording King brands. Others will collect Gibson flattops, such as the Al-rite or Army Navy. Others have taken "less than golden" era Gibsons and had them revoiced to improve their sound. Others have re-necked vintage short neck models to make them more playable. Like ya say, most players won't even consider a 70's Gibson mandolin, even if someone gives you one, prior to the Siminoff era.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Just about the same years as the Les Paul's but that doesn't mean there aren't some good ones in the mix.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Probably the Lump - 'mouse ear' ones with the un cut scroll.
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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    I don't consider much of anything from Gibson between the 1950s and the 1980s to be desirable. They did have a few models in this time period that may be considered collectible due to their scarcity or uniqueness, but from a player's standpoint, very few mandolins in this time are worth spending money on. Even the 1930s and 1940s were pretty lame for Gibson, compared to the teens and '20s.
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    I don't consider much of anything from Gibson between the 1950s and the 1980s to be desirable. They did have a few models in this time period that may be considered collectible due to their scarcity or uniqueness, but from a player's standpoint, very few mandolins in this time are worth spending money on. Even the 1930s and 1940s were pretty lame for Gibson, compared to the teens and '20s.
    Hes gotta point, to a point.

    I agree, Gibson was "overbuilding" , to some extent underfinishing, and not so picky about woods. And, many were comparatively dead sounding. NOt really bad, just didn't sing.

    As a guy with several Norlin LPs, and having had a 35 A50, as well as having had, come and go, J-200, a really beautiful but terrible late 60's F5, Dove, and a 37 A 50 (or A-0) they are all over the map. I will say, often playability is not too great.


    Like many things musical, I think we will (or are,) seeing a shift. Not only in prices, but in perceived value. I see many younger players that simply reject big dollar, big name instruments for their own sake. 50's LPs are way down, as are the prices I used to see for Loars. Still six figures for the best, but, 20-50K less than in 2006 or so.

    Desirability changes, as well as market availability. What was once dumped, and plentiful, later becomes scarce. I still recall seeing used Bush models frequently, I assumed because of the even string spacing. no more.

    After all is said and done, while of course there are differences in instruments and sound, more often than not, imho, in terms of a great usable instrument, the majority are still quite good.

    I see those 70s F5, with the intricate fingerboard inlays, deep yellow clear coat, selling for what a 2000 F5 does. Ditto the Jethro two points. Play them and you cannot compare the old to the Derrington and Harvey eras. Yet, the old ones are....old and unique.

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by stevedenver View Post
    I agree, Gibson was "overbuilding" , to some extent underfinishing, and not so picky about woods. And, many were comparatively dead sounding. NOt really bad, just didn't sing.
    And to me, at least in terms of collectibility and price, it wasn't just about the construction. The aesthetics were terrible too. The sunbursts in the 1930s were uninspiring at best, awful at worst, and unfortunately this sort of retro-extended itself to factory refurbs they were doing on teens and '20s models as well. Not to mention that they were fond of replacing original tuners with newer, cheaper, uglier ones.

    I realize, of course, that part of this was a natural change in style across the board (everything in society, including architecture, lost a lot of elegance after the 1920s), so it's perhaps not fair to put all the blame on Gibson. The Great Depression changed everything, and then WWII. Nothing was the same after that for any instrument company.

    The post-war era was a move towards more industrialized techniques and aesthetics, now that everybody was in "quanitity over quality" mode from the war, not to mention a huge boom in population. Despite having a roaring economy and lots of growth, American manufacturing was unable to return to the days of high quality. This is where we entered the era of mass production with cheap materials and low quality in everything from housing to instruments. This, in turn, gave rise to the great misfortune of importing instruments from overseas sweat shops, which is where a lot of the companies started going. Most of them never came back.

    The 1950s and 1960s sunbursts were even worse than the 1930s ones. While I would call a 1930s sunburst "uninspiring" due to the lack of elegance in color transition, I would call the 1950s-1960s sunbursts downright "hideous" with their orange-pinkish hues. This is where they really started to try to bring back the aesthetics factor, but failed to focus on construction quality. Everything was gaudy and chunky. And it lasted through the 1980s, as far as I can tell.
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeZito View Post
    I know that for many years Les Paul guitars made by Gibson in the 1970's (Norlin era) were deemed as being 'less collectible' than other 'vintage' Gibson's. Are there any eras of mandolins with similarly lower value than others?
    Flatiron mandolins at one time, were built by Gibson, side by side with 'real' Gibson mandolins. Those Flatirons seemed to be somewhat 'less collectible' (not really 'vintage' yet so I don't know that 'collectible' is the right term) or at least less expensive than their Gibson counterparts on the 'resale' market.

    Lately though, it seems that the asking prices for the Gibson era (and earlier) Flatirons has jumped quite a bit.

    I don't know that this at all what you are asking about, but maybe it is.?.

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Remember, Gibsons were built side by side BY FLATIRON first because Gibson had to acknowledge they didn't know how to build a mandolin. Or to be kind, after the move to Nashville had not set up a facility to build mandolins.

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Well I totally disagree with TOBIN the Gibson's of the 30's had some fantastic instruments. don't know what he's saying about terrible sunbursts, not sounding good et... 1935's were great looking as were other years, so much variety in each model. Some of the F-5's sound just great, talk to Grisman or Sam Bush! Certain A's and F's with certain configurations are way better than teens to 20's Gibson's, It's to one's own ear but I think most everyone is so stuck on "THE MYSTIC LOAR ERA" nothing compares. Loar didn't build em, he was just given a title and overseer of some of the instruments. Sure 30's budget brands weren't the best but I wouldn't be knocking the real Gibson's of the 30's! Mandolins or Guitars.

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    I have a Lab Series L5 Amp from the Norlin era. Similar to a Fender Twin Reverb but solid state. It is worth maybe $400....
    However it will blow the doors off a Twin.. This is the amp of choice of BB King.. He owned several.

    Proving once again brands can cost you more than you get and if you use your own judgement you can come out a winner.

    I bought mine as a package with an unplayed mint 1977 Strat hardtail with a one piece body. Sold the guitar for a 6 fold profit and kept the amp... now going on 15 years.

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Tobin I completely agree with your perspective but......

    oh my Tobin, I think you have not seen some of the sunburst that I have from the "darkness".

    my 1935 A 50 had the most beautiful triburst-red-yellow-tobacco-true deep colors

    and, a 1958 J-185 I had was truly gorgeous, again a deep hued almost coca cola red brown into amber-

    I know of the harsh uncomplex yellow and browns you speak of, often without transparency and depth, and sometimes muddy, sometimes looking more like paint than stain but man, they were not all like that.

    and, .....when Gibson did the bright red to orange to yellow sunbursts well, in the late fifties, and again under Triggs, they are spectacular. some of the 2000s LP were also breathtaking, brownish red wine-with a touch of blue, into red, into orange into amber......

    Some of these don't translate well on a monitor, but in person, they are not garish, but simply eye candy.

    indeed, there are many sunbursts that simply suck, have no depth or trueness or clarity of hue, but some were great.

    I went to the Gibson custom shop in 1999, and, what I gleened, especially with the spraying of instruments, is it is hugely dependent upon the skill of the person mixing the stains, the brand or chemicals being used at any time, as well as the control over the surprisingly heavy industrial spray guns. shot a couple of LPs myself in the booth, and while a reasonable experienced paint guy with a small airgun, it gave me an entirely new understanding of how one could easily screw up the outside shading by making it too deep along the guitars edge, etc.

    I have to say, too, my 02 fern, had a gorgeous triburst when I first purchased it. the red faded to reddish from sitting in the shade and getting indirect Colorado sunlight a few too many days. it is now more a reddish tobacco, but, still, rich and very well done.

    I might add, the 35 A mando and J-185, and my old Dove (also a great bright red burst) were ....gorgeous.....but sounded like they were sock laden, and, none too easy to play either.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    I have a Lab Series L5 Amp from the Norlin era. Similar to a Fender Twin Reverb but solid state. It is worth maybe $400....
    However it will blow the doors off a Twin.. This is the amp of choice of BB King.. He owned several.

    Proving once again brands can cost you more than you get and if you use your own judgement you can come out a winner.

    I bought mine as a package with an unplayed mint 1977 Strat hardtail with a one piece body. Sold the guitar for a 6 fold profit and kept the amp... now going on 15 years.
    A woman I worked with popped in with a 60's SG and a Gibson amp that her boyfriend had bequeathed to her. When I took it to Stan Jay at Mandolin Bros. to sell it he took the guitar and sent the amp home with her. They certainly don't rise up to the levels of the Fender amps as far as being desirable. That sucker was loud.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    I'm pretty sure Gibson went from hand applied to sprayed bursts in the 30's some were just great, some not so much.

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    All of us that have been around for a while have seen good and bad Gibsons and what stands out in our minds is whatever we want to be remembered, also remember set ups weren`t as popular then as they are today, most people bought a mandolin and just played it and never worried too much about keeping them with a good set up....Some of the `70`s F-5 were OK after having the tops recurved or replaced...

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    Well I totally disagree with TOBIN the Gibson's of the 30's had some fantastic instruments. don't know what he's saying about terrible sunbursts, not sounding good et... 1935's were great looking as were other years, so much variety in each model. Some of the F-5's sound just great, talk to Grisman or Sam Bush! Certain A's and F's with certain configurations are way better than teens to 20's Gibson's, It's to one's own ear but I think most everyone is so stuck on "THE MYSTIC LOAR ERA" nothing compares. Loar didn't build em, he was just given a title and overseer of some of the instruments. Sure 30's budget brands weren't the best but I wouldn't be knocking the real Gibson's of the 30's! Mandolins or Guitars.
    To be fair, I didn't say that ALL 1930s instruments were awful. Some of their higher end models still carried design features and construction details from the Loar era, and were good mandolins. But I think most people would agree that the 1930s was the transition period where things started to really look different and the quality started to go downhill. As I said, the Depression was on, and the mandolin craze was pretty much over. Their attention had turned to other instruments, and they sort of gutted their mandolin lineup. Maybe they reassigned the top craftsmen to other instrument?

    This isn't to say that they didn't produce some good mandolins during this decade (especially the earlier half). But there were a lot of changes happening at Gibson in this decade, and it was a step away from their former glory days. The transition actually started in the late 1920s, but it looks to me like it was about halfway through the 1930s when their attention to mandolins sort of withered. But that's just the way I see it, thinking back on the examples I've seen. I won't qualify myself as a "serious" Gibson collector, only having two vintage Gibsons. All I know is that when I'm looking at vintage Gibson mandolins and pondering buying another one, it's always the teens and '20s that look and sound the best to me.
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Getting my head around the question... Collectable implies a collector. Distinguishing between a player and a collector.

    I am not sure there are many, if any, collectors who are not players. Is there a distinction between what a player would want and what a collector would want? Are there instruments that are more collectable than playable? Or VV, instruments with a reputation for playability, tone, volume, etc., that would not be considered collectable.

    I suspect the category being referred to are instruments which are less likely to be sought after by players because they don't have the reputation, as a group, for tone, volume, playability etc. Sure there are exceptions, but as a group those years are not the first place to look.

    If there are folks who just collect them and don't play them, I don't think there are enough of them to have any impact on the prices of vintage instruments.
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    To be fair, I didn't say that ALL 1930s instruments were awful. Some of their higher end models still carried design features and construction details from the Loar era, and were good mandolins. But I think most people would agree that the 1930s was the transition period where things started to really look different and the quality started to go downhill. As I said, the Depression was on, and the mandolin craze was pretty much over. Their attention had turned to other instruments, and they sort of gutted their mandolin lineup. Maybe they reassigned the top craftsmen to other instrument?

    This isn't to say that they didn't produce some good mandolins during this decade (especially the earlier half). But there were a lot of changes happening at Gibson in this decade, and it was a step away from their former glory days. The transition actually started in the late 1920s, but it looks to me like it was about halfway through the 1930s when their attention to mandolins sort of withered. But that's just the way I see it, thinking back on the examples I've seen. I won't qualify myself as a "serious" Gibson collector, only having two vintage Gibsons. All I know is that when I'm looking at vintage Gibson mandolins and pondering buying another one, it's always the teens and '20s that look and sound the best to me.
    I hear ya, I've always been a fan of depression era Gibson's for the different configurations on the same models, granted some are dogs that I've owned, while some outshine others, Some inlay work was as good as the 20's while some was sourced from different suppliers and the inlay work was sometimes crude. Gibson still had some of the same people working in the 30's that were there in the 20's but on some mandolins I think you can tell when new help arrived! Mandolins weren't real popular even in Loar era and a whole lot less after and during the depression,so being the depression Gibson used whatever they had to use up and came up with models to try and make $$$ they even made toys at one point in that era. I do agree the varnish bursts of the 20's are far sweeter than the heavy lacquer of the 30's. but to me something about em that I like

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    I don't consider much of anything from Gibson between the 1950s and the 1980s to be desirable. They did have a few models in this time period that may be considered collectible due to their scarcity or uniqueness, but from a player's standpoint, very few mandolins in this time are worth spending money on. Even the 1930s and 1940s were pretty lame for Gibson, compared to the teens and '20s.
    I partially agree with you if you are only talking mandolins, tho I do think there were some decent mandolins built then in the 1930s. However in the period from 1930-1960 there were some very good guitars, flat tops, archtops and electrics. Also I have a 1963 EM-200 mandolin that is a wonderful instrument. I also have both 1930s and 1950s Gibson flattops that are absolute joys to play. Once you get into the 1960s I certainly agree with you. Cherry sun bursts make me gag and I am not so fond of the tone of those guitars either.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    My 1954 F-5 is quivering with resentment of the above discussion.

    Honestly, not a great instrument, but workmanlike, decent sounding, lots of bass if that's what you like. I paid $1.5K for it "back when," and have played it fairly aggressively since. Mostly sits in its case now, since I'm not doing much bluegrass, but I'm surely not embarrassed by it. Lacquer checked quite a bit, and the pick guard warped so I took it off (still have it in the case).

    Individual instruments differ so widely, that generalizations about "eras" are fraught with peril. Most agree that '60's Gibson mandolins were sort of a low point, but I'd be cautious about dismissing every one of them -- without at least playing the one(s) in question.
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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    It's pretty simple to say Gibson mandolins (all models) from 1900 to 1945 are going to be mostly great mandolins. Those from 1946 to 1969 not as good and those from 1970 to 1977, pure crap. And think that's what the post was about, the quality and price difference. I've sure seen some great ones from the 50's. Lots of pros used them. To me Dave Apollon sounded just as good on his 1923 F5 as his 1962 Custom F5 and all those F5s he had inbetwen there. Same can be said for Jethro Burns, a long time Gibson endorser. Jesse McReynolds, Buzz Busby, Roland White and Dean Webb seemed happy with their 50's Gibsons.

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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    It's pretty simple to say Gibson mandolins (all models) from 1900 to 1945 are going to be mostly great mandolins. Those from 1946 to 1969 not as good and those from 1970 to 1977, pure crap. And think that's what the post was about, the quality and price difference. I've sure seen some great ones from the 50's. Lots of pros used them. To me Dave Apollon sounded just as good on his 1923 F5 as his 1962 Custom F5 and all those F5s he had inbetwen there. Same can be said for Jethro Burns, a long time Gibson endorser. Jesse McReynolds, Buzz Busby, Roland White and Dean Webb seemed happy with their 50's Gibsons.
    Well Said. That's it right there

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    As far as I know, Gibson invented the Guitar-Mandolin sunburst so it's a bit hard to judge them against some of the custom work we've seen since then. But a quick Google of Gibson archtops got me to this '37 L-7 and to my eye thats pretty nice.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hildreth View Post
    I have a Lab Series L5 Amp from the Norlin era. Similar to a Fender Twin Reverb but solid state. It is worth maybe $400....
    However it will blow the doors off a Twin.. This is the amp of choice of BB King.. He owned several.

    Proving once again brands can cost you more than you get and if you use your own judgement you can come out a winner.

    I bought mine as a package with an unplayed mint 1977 Strat hardtail with a one piece body. Sold the guitar for a 6 fold profit and kept the amp... now going on 15 years.
    Nice to see someone who remembers how great those Lab Series amps were. Alan Holdsworth also used them for a time. I remember the day I played one for the first time at an audition. I went out the next day and sold my Twin so I could get one.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Less Collectible Gibson's

    All quality and excellent playing and sounding guitars from the 1930s and the late 1940s ('35 L-Century, '39 L-00, '48 LG-2, '48 SJ):

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Jim

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