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Thread: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

  1. #1
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    Default Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I just purchased an '89 (Carlson) Gibson A5L. Won't see it until Wednesday. I have always loved the shape and aesthetic of these. I have scoured the cafe for what I could find about them, and there isn't all that much specific discussion. Would love to hear about yours while I wait.

    Thanks,
    Fernmando

  2. #2
    Registered User jan281969's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I owned a newer 2005 Danny Roberts signed that was a great mandolin.I found it to be balanced,woody,clean,and plenty of volume if need be.Enjoy your new "Pup"!
    1980 Gibson F-5L

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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I've have a 1992 A5L,,Carlson signed, great woods, very light and responsive with a great tone and volume. It's a dark sunburst, with signs of use, not overuse. It has a patina and feels instantly friendly. Extremely well made, solid construction but not very heavy. There is a photo of the headstock in my picture album...

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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    That's a sharp headstock!

    - - - Updated - - -

    This is coming my way.....
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    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I'm sure you are going to love it. You can do an awlful lot with a mandolin like that..

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  10. #6

    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I've owned several over the years
    They are still some of my favorites
    Danny Clark

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I had an '84 A5-1 for years (Carlson). It had fewer appointments and was x-braced. I loved that mandolin, but sold it when my custom was delivered. I like the wider nut for my big hands.

    You bought a great instrument!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    It looks to have the Griffith Loar body shape. Is the bridge kicked forward as on #74003?
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I totally dig the Gibson A5L. There was new one at a local store when I first went looking for a mandolin. They let me play it even tho I didn't know a single chord. The retail sticker was over $5K.

    What was/is the going retail for new (does Gibson still make these) on these?

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  18. #10
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    What was/is the going retail for new (does Gibson still make these) on these?
    Mark, I'm under the impression that Gibson has not resumed building A-style mandolins since the flood.
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    So the one I saw in 13' had been hanging a while. Any idea what they typically sold for new?

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  22. #12
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I think the last edition of A5 pushed up toward 5k retail.

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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    To my eye, the FF holes don't appear to be shifted upward like #74003, pheffernan. My KM-900 has that shift, and it's VERY distinctive. BTW, I spent a couple hours with #74003 a few years ago. It's all they say it is, then some.

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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I think you get a lot for your money with an A5L..lucky people who played the Taylor Loar, I would love to play it for just 5 minutes..also,,the A5L qualifies as a "snakehead"....

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    The one you are getting looks like that light tobacco cremona finish like the used on some of the early Loars. The Sept. A5 was a bit darker like other F5s in that time frame. Yeah Gibson missed the mark on making it an exact copy. Not sure why as they had or could have had the original one to go by for better specs. Most copies of the A5 you saw back in the 70's were not right either as many builders would start with an old Gibson A50 and just add a long snake head neck to it. You don't see them for sale very often these days.

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  29. #16
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    Just for the heck of it I would like to know how the A-5L stacks up against a Kentucky KM-900, which is a terrific mandolin and sells for about 1/5 of the Gibson model A-5L...I know a few folks here on the Cafe own them and have always said good things about them...myself included....

    willie

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  31. #17
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I have a 2010 KM 900, and it's an outstanding mandolin. The tone of the Gibson sound samples is more complex, with more sustain. I am expecting an apples vs. oranges scenario here.

  32. #18
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....



    (I love my Gil A3, but it's apples and guavas!)
    Billy Packard
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  34. #19

    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    For an instrument that was kind of a "black sheep" in the Gibson line, one doesn't see many of them offered for sale, lately.

    That tells me that folks who have them, tend to like them, and wish to hang onto them for a while...

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  36. #20
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I have been playing mandolin for 39 years, and in the time since Gibson began building A5-Ls I think I have seen and played well under half-a-dozen.

  37. #21
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I have an '83 A5-2 Flatiron signed by Carlson — one of the first ones made by that company before they were bought out by Gibson. A friend of mine has a post-Gibson Flatiron-made Gibson A5 (not sure if it is an A5-L or not) but it is very similar to mine in tone and general construction.

    I know there are some differences (like headstock logo) but I do wonder what changed for the Gibson version.
    Jim

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  39. #22
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I believe that the FF hole A models from Montana through 2002 or so were all either A-5L or A-5G. They switched to the A-5 designation probably during Danny Robert's tenure. I could easily be off by a little. The shape of the neck block, and a slight body shape change as a result, happened somewhere in the later period.

    - - - Updated - - -

    As to any differences between Gibson/Flatiron during the Montana years, I'd like to know those as well.

  40. #23
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I have an '83 A5-2 Flatiron signed by Carlson — one of the first ones made by that company before they were bought out by Gibson. A friend of mine has a post-Gibson Flatiron-made Gibson A5 (not sure if it is an A5-L or not) but it is very similar to mine in tone and general construction.

    I know there are some differences (like headstock logo) but I do wonder what changed for the Gibson version.
    I think your A5-2 has x-shaped tone bars and the A5-L has parallel tone bars.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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  42. #24
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    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    WOW! It's all I can say. This mandolin is spectacular. The physical and tonal balance is astounding. Can't wait to see what it has after a bit more playing time.

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  44. #25

    Default Re: Tell me about your Gibson A5L mandolin.....

    I have a 2005 A5L signed by Danny Roberts. Mine has the Gibson tone in spades. Not quite as punchy as my F5, but that's a real monster. The tailpiece has been replaced with a Price, (I have the original) but everything else is stock. I was playing in an old-time session not long ago, and the visiting American owner of a very nice 20s A4 asked if we could swap mandos for a while. He handed it back ten minutes later, and remarked 'It's always good to meet a man who don't bring a knife to a gunfight'. Said it all really; these are seriously underrated mandolins.
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