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Thread: Gibson F4

  1. #1

    Default Gibson F4

    I have an old Gibson F4 that Iím going to help an old friend sell.
    Seems to be a little debate as to what year this is.
    Can someone confirm the year ?
    SN 20811
    Thanks !!

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Gibson F4

    1915
    John D

  3. #3
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    BTW, the top finish doesn't look original...
    Adrian

  4. #4

    Default Re: Gibson F4

    OMG that’s gorgeous. Specially the top, original or not!

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    Look inside at the head block and give us the Factory Order Number (FON) that is stamped there. That will tell you the year it was built.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    Looks like a professional refinish, but not done by Gibson.

    There are 4 filled holes between the hole and bridge. Pickup installed and then removed, maybe? That will adversely affect the value. Overall it looks nice but will have to be sold as a player, not for a collector.
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    Weber Bitterroot A
    Fender Octave Mandolin

  7. #7

    Default Re: Gibson F4

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Look inside at the head block and give us the Factory Order Number (FON) that is stamped there. That will tell you the year it was built.
    2339 is stamped on the block.
    Thanks.

  8. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    2339 doesn't show up in the Spann book but 2337 is a 1913 L-3 and 2364 is a 1913 A. Not all of the FON's are listed. If we assume Joe Spann got it right then I would assume it was built earlier in 1913 and finished and sold a few years later with a 1915 serial number. Interestingly it doesn't line up with the FON's shown for 1913 in the Mandolin Archive but it does line up with the 1915 FON's.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of dating Gibson mandolins.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Gibson F4

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    2339 doesn't show up in the Spann book but 2337 is a 1913 L-3 and 2364 is a 1913 A. Not all of the FON's are listed. If we assume Joe Spann got it right then I would assume it was built earlier in 1913 and finished and sold a few years later with a 1915 serial number. Interestingly it doesn't line up with the FON's shown for 1913 in the Mandolin Archive but it does line up with the 1915 FON's.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of dating Gibson mandolins.
    Thanks for the effort. Iíll probably put it up in the classified section to see if there is any interest.
    PT

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    According to Joe Spann’s Guide to Gibson (you may want to order your own copy) both the Factory Order Number and the Serial Number date your F4 to production and sale in 1913. Joe’s extensive research has reset many of the previously accepted dates that appear elsewhere.
    You will read in Joe’s book that the FON was assigned when the batch of instruments was built to keep track of the materials and labor. The serial numbers were assigned to instruments in finished goods just prior to fulfilling a sales order. Order fulfillment could have been immediately or several years later.

    Mark
    Mark Lynch

  11. #11
    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    You can get a good price for a playable F4 but a lot has to do with how it sounds. Also, is the case with it? The good news is you have the tail cover and the pick guard. Can you send a picture with the tuner buttons?
    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
    --William Shakespeare

  12. #12

    Default Re: Gibson F4

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Roberts View Post
    You can get a good price for a playable F4 but a lot has to do with how it sounds. Also, is the case with it? The good news is you have the tail cover and the pick guard. Can you send a picture with the tuner buttons?
    Here a few more pics. Looks all original. Though the finish may have been buffed out. I don't think it was a total re-finish.

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  13. #13
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    You have the Handel tuners, that's a plus.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  14. #14
    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    If it plays well, the frets are good, the fingerboard flat, and there are no cracks or other structural problems, I think you've got a desirable instrument. As an F4 player myself, if I had the funds I would be happy to own one like that. Some may disagree, but the top, although not perfect, is "good enough": it has character. There were different finishes in tops for F4s, and that could well be one of the factory finishes.

    You can get a good idea of what F4s look like at http://www.mandolinarchive.com. Good luck! I hope we see it here in the classifieds!
    Last edited by Jack Roberts; Jun-15-2018 at 7:31pm.
    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
    --William Shakespeare

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    Why is everyone else ignoring the 4 filled holes in the top? Or am I wrong and just seeing things?
    Don

    Weber Custom Bitterroot F
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    Fender Octave Mandolin

  16. #16
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    It wasn't ignored, you mentioned it early on. It will devalue the instrument. Wishing it won't will not make it so. It's a player grade instrument not a collectable.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  18. #17
    Still Picking and Sawing Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    Sorry, Multidon: I did notice the holes, and your posting, and I agree that the top is flawed, and should have mentioned the holes as an issue. There aiso seems to be a ding in the top as well.

    I own a few 'teens Gibsons, and have played a lot more, and very few have been even close to perfect. I am pleased to own one of the better F4 examples. But I have also found that a lot the vintage instruments with more defects sound better, don't you agree? I would dearly love to play this F4 and see how it sounds.

    I agree that as a museum piece, the top is a minus, but I'd like to take a closer look at the top finish.

    I do think there are examples from that era of blonde tops as well as black tops and the beloved red tops. The Gibson Catalog from 1914 mentions that the top can be ordered with alternative finishes, and I would like to see this instrument up close to determine if this is a custom order finish. If it is, and not a refinish, it could make it more desirable.


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    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
    --William Shakespeare

  19. #18
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Gibson F4

    It is not possible to say without the mandolin in hand, but I do not see any evidence that this mandolin was refinished. It does look like the color has faded, and all of the gloss is gone.

    I have seen a considerable amount of variation in the color and shading of F-4's from this period.

    The pickguard lacks the curlicue that encircles the bridge foot that I generally associate with early teens mandolins. I believe that the guard might have come from another instrument, made somewhere around 1916.

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