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Thread: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

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    Registered User JoeD's Avatar
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    Default Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    Curious to hear the collective wisdom on this model. I dropped out of the mandolin tribe a few years back, and I'm thinking about trading a guitar that doesn't get a lot of play for a new-to-me 2008 F9. I'd appreciate any advice on what to look for.

  2. #2
    texaspaul texaspaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I had an F-9 and 2 A-9s they played great and sounded wonderful . But I wanted something with just little more ornamentation.

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    Registered User JoeD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    Lucky for my wallet, I prefer less ornamentation. What did you think of the tone and playability?

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    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I'd speculate the collective's general impression would be quite favorable. Although any individual mandolin could be great, or a clunker, or anything in between, as a group the F9's have the rep of giving all that great classic Gibson tone without the high price of their fancier cousins. The only thing that kept me from targeting one back when I was looking was that in those years the F9's did not have marker dot on the fret board and I needed those landmarks and still like having them. But if you can live without the dots, and you like the tone and volume then I'd go for it. (The newer F9's for the last couple of years do have fret marker dots now.)
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I have a Master Model and an A-9. I love the A-9. It just sounds good. I have played quite a few f-9 s and have never been disappointed. I have played a few that were amazingly good and have not run across anything at that price point that sounds as good.
    It doesn't matter . . . I'm going to WINFIELD!!!!!

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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I have one, it's not pretty but it sounds fabulous.

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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I talked with Dennis at the Mandolin Store and talkin mandos like us freaks do he said that all the new F-9's will have sunburst tops,body binding and dot fingerboard inlays!.

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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    My Dad bought a used 2006 F9 about a year ago and it is an exceptionally amazing instrument. It will hold its own with my 2002 Master Model. I cannot go to his house without playing it, each time i am amazed that it was only $2100. It has lots of volume with tones of tone "color", it's mid range rings just like a Gibson F-5 should, and it has a great bark when chucking chords.
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  12. #9

    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I've only played three and they ranged from good to very, very good, correlating to age. The new one was the best. In my limited experience, the only mandolins I've played that sounded like a Gibson was a Gibson.
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I like mine. (2002)

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    From what I have played and seen, these are made by Gibson USA but with a thinner finish and lighter weight than the F5L. That contributes to the sound. If you can get over the fancy dressing and finish, they are great mandolins from Gibson Co.

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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I had one for a while. A great mandolin for the $2500-3000 price tag. Truly a Gibson Master Model and has the wonderfully tuned sound put there by great luthiers. I think the action and tone are better on my custom shop J Bovier F5 Tradition-plus, but Jeff Cowherd puts so much personal time and attention into voicing and set up to the specs of the buyer that his instruments in the high teens $'s are competitive players. I do however, miss the F-9. That name on the peghead is important for some of us.
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    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    I had one for a while. A great mandolin for the $2500-3000 price tag. Truly a Gibson Master Model and has the wonderfully tuned sound put there by great luthiers. I think the action and tone are better on my custom shop J Bovier F5 Tradition-plus, but Jeff Cowherd puts so much personal time and attention into voicing and set up to the specs of the buyer that his instruments in the high teens $'s are competitive players. I do however, miss the F-9. That name on the peghead is important for some of us.
    I don't have a JBovier F5, but I do have a recent A I got from Jeff. I agree that Jeff puts a lot in the voicing and set up. Dollar for dollar his stuff is some of the best. Just did purchase a 2002 F-9 and have not received it yet.
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    Got my 2004 from MandoMutt. Just a great instrument with no reservations.

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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I know it varies from instrument to instrument, but does anyone have an opinion about how the current, more ornate, F9 stacks up tonally with the stripped down bare bones model from the early to mid 2000's?
    Mandolins: Northfield F5 "Big Mon", Eastman MD 515
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  21. #16
    Registered User JoeD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    Just wanted to drop in and say thanks for the input. Y'all are giving me MAS.

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    Mandolin Production Head dhmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    Quote Originally Posted by f5loar View Post
    From what I have played and seen, these are made by Gibson USA but with a thinner finish and lighter weight than the F5L. That contributes to the sound. If you can get over the fancy dressing and finish, they are great mandolins from Gibson Co.
    The F-9s are actually built at the Gibson Custom Shop by the same folks that build all the Gibson Mandolins, my crew and I!
    The thinner satin finish gives the F-9 a wonderful, open sound right out of the box!
    JoeD, I'm sure you will be very pleased if you choose an F-9!

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  24. #18
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I would say to play it if you can.

    Hate to be the voice of dissent, but I've played a number of F9s and owned one for over a year before selling it. I've found that some are really good, and others, including mine, not as much.

    Of course it may depend on the year? Mine was an early 2000s (sorry I can't remember the exact year). Like you, I prefer the less-ornamentation look of the F9.

    So my advice would be to play before you buy, if that's possible.
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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I've got a 2002 F-9 that has been my main player for the last 7 years or so. I received it 2nd hand in a trade. From what I've heard in comparing it with other instruments, it has the same wonderful Gibson bark and growl, the same balanced tone and strong volume as I've heard from similar era F5G mandolins.

    My 2002 F-9 was built with what I like to call "rustic" finish work quality. There are a number of external finish work areas which obviously weren't given a lot of time. None of those are functional areas and as said, the tone and volume are wonderful, but if someone is looking for a "boutique quality" looking instrument, they might look further because of these "rustic" characteristics. The 2002 F-9s were also provided with a thin finish, which is part of the F-9s out-of-the-box tone equation, but it also means the finish is easily marred. Personally I really like the thin finish, but I also have some marks and honest wear in it that I have regretted.

    I've seen recent F-9s from David Harvey's shop that do not have this same "rustic" quality, so I'm guessing that special effort, time and techniques are being employed to "dress-up" the F-9 mandolins now. I've also read a number of excellent reviews of these recent F-9s.

    My F-9 has had some changes since 2002, in addition to honest playing wear... I've added a full-size ebony pick-guard, a ToneGard and an ebony armrest. About 2 weeks ago I had this instrument re-fretted using Evo-Gold banjo-size frets, and at that time I had the neck V-profile gently rounded (to give comfort to my left thumb), the neck speed-necked and French-polished (since I had worn most of the "Vintage Brown" finish off of the back of the neck anyway), and basically had the instrument professionally setup. This work was expertly done for me by Austin Clark while he was working in the Luthier's Workshop at the 2017 Grass Valley Father's Day Bluegrass Festival. This F-9 now has greater volume and it plays like butter. I guess the original fine frets on this instrument were really badly worn because I can actually do some techniques now that I was not able to cleanly execute before.

    I really like this F-9's original "Vintage Brown" finish combined with the black binding; if I were to order a new F-9 from David's shop, I'd request the same finish. I'd also ask for a full-size pickguard and Evo-gold banjo-size frets, and I'd request a very gentle, moderated-V neck profile and a speed neck. I might also request a mildly radiused fingerboard, or at least I'd talk with David about that.

    The recommendation to try before you buy is a good one... Typical things people compare for are tone, volume and playability, plus sufficient looks that the bling-search is satisfied. With those things in mind, I'd seriously consider an early F-9 (2002-2004), or a recent Harvey workshop F-9 again if I needed to replace mine.

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    -- Don

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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I had a 2002 F-9 for about a year and really liked the tone and volume - as stated above.
    It had fret markers on the side of the neck - where you can see them and they are useful. Did not have dots on the fret board and the plain finish - really liked the looks of it.
    Unfortunately, it had a very narrow neck - exactly 1 inch at the nut - with a pronounced V-shape. My hand couldn't get used to it so I moved the mandolin along...still kind of miss it.
    I'm picky about neck size/shape - if you are too I would definitely recommend you try before you buy. My understanding is that the necks are individually carved so there is some variation.

    Kirk

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    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I love the 2002 F-9 I just purchased. I believe I got a really fine deal on it, paying midway between 1500 to 2000 dollars for it. Just sounds great. The nut measures 1 1/16" which is fine with me as its a flat fretboard and I've really gotten used to radius boards. I regards to that it isn't a a really skinny neck though. More of a V profile and it fits my hand nicely. The chop sound is great and picking is easy. The sound on a solo really carries. I am very impressed with it. If it has that "Typical Gibson sound," then I love that "typical Gibson sound. First real Gibson I have owned outside of a 1964 A-40 which seemed more like a novelty item to me. This to me is a real Gibson and I'm real glad I purchased it. The price might have been higher, had it not been for a small cosmetic flaw, just above the bridge, treble side. The light finish had worn, down to wood, where the previous owner had apparently placed the end of his pinkie finger while playing. He was the original owner, and the rest of the mandolin was nicely kept, including the original case.
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    Registered User dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    Quote Originally Posted by tiltman View Post
    Unfortunately, it had a very narrow neck - exactly 1 inch at the nut - with a pronounced V-shape. My hand couldn't get used to it so I moved the mandolin along...still kind of miss it.
    I'm picky about neck size/shape - if you are too I would definitely recommend you try before you buy. My understanding is that the necks are individually carved so there is some variation.

    Kirk
    I was going to say this exactly, great mando, too narrow a fretboard for my sausage fingers! And it's a flat board, so I found it unforgiving.
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

  29. #23
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    Default Re: Thoughts on the Gibson F9?

    I'm encouraged to see I'm not the only one with a problem with the V-profile. The fleshy tip of my left thumb would ache while playing, right where I anchor it over the back of the neck; I must have an errant nerve there or something...

    Now that I've had that V-proflie gently rounded, thumb pain is gone for me, plus the wider and taller frets have made a huge difference for my fingers in playing comfort and note clarity.

    As mentioned, I had largely worn through most of the finish on the back of the neck, so after the V-profile was reduced, a speed neck was the natural direction. It is well sealed with the french polish and actually dresses up the instrument nicely.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 "$199.00 solid F style" MKLFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus an assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars and other noisemakers)

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