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Thread: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

  1. #1

    Default Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I'm told this mandolin has the serial number 114118 I'm told it's a 1974 Gibson F5. 15th fret crosspiece? I don't see it. Is this a copy
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    Jacob Hagerty, Hagerty Mandolins

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    it looks real to me
    but this is one of the times it would probably be better if it was a copy !
    Danny Clark

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Yep looks like the real deal, these are not very sought after,most have binding problems, they crumble "yours looks fine" and sound thin/tinny but yours may be fine and reworked could be a real good mandolin, some people have a luthier pop the back off and do a e-graduation and take out tone bars and put em in to Loar specs, some re-graduate from the outside but I like to preserve original finish when possible!

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Clark View Post
    it looks real to me
    but this is one of the times it would probably be better if it was a copy !
    Ouch!
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I said that thinking you had not purchased it , only looking at it
    if you do own it I did not mean to throw off on your mandolin or offend you in any way ,as many know the 70,s Gibson don't sound good ,I have heard a few that were okay ,73-74 seems to be the bottom ,I had a 76 that was actually pretty good
    Danny Clark

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  8. #6

    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I have not purchased yet. Was doing my research. . Thanks everyone. I think I will pass on this one.
    Jacob Hagerty, Hagerty Mandolins

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  9. #7
    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    It's a spitting image of a Samick mandolin I have from (I think) around that time. Same finish, same inlays on the fretboard, same scroll carving, same tuners & bridge, same everything except.... are those sound holes on the large side?
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I don't know about Samick, but I've pointed out several times that these correspond to the same time that Gibson acquired Epiphone and moved production to Japan. Siminoff and others say the Gibsons were built in Kalamazoo but they are nearly identical to Epiphones and Aria's from Japan. The fingerboards at least are clearly imported from Japan as well as the Gotoh tuners. And it appears everyone was working from the same blueprint. F-12's and Lumpers too. Both Gibson and Japanese versions.

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    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    I don't know about Samick, but I've pointed out several times that these correspond to the same time that Gibson acquired Epiphone and moved production to Japan. Siminoff and others say the Gibsons were built in Kalamazoo but they are nearly identical to Epiphones and Aria's from Japan. The fingerboards at least are clearly imported from Japan as well as the Gotoh tuners. And it appears everyone was working from the same blueprint. F-12's and Lumpers too. Both Gibson and Japanese versions.

    Yes I've seen pictures of numerous "70's" F-5's that all looked like my Samick, just never seen a photo of a Gibson F-5 from this time period. It surprised me on how similar they all look, even down to carving, tuners. Fngerboard is 100% the same same, even the riser block area. Heck, even the back looks the same (non-descript). Fascinating.

    For what it's worth, the Samick is definitely thin sounding and quiet and is the main reason I got it (practice late night with low risk of disturbing people)

    All in all, save money and buy Samick (haha)
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric C. View Post
    Yes I've seen pictures of numerous "70's" F-5's that all looked like my Samick, just never seen a photo of a Gibson F-5 from this time period. It surprised me on how similar they all look, even down to carving, tuners. Fngerboard is 100% the same same, even the riser block area. Heck, even the back looks the same (non-descript). Fascinating.

    For what it's worth, the Samick is definitely thin sounding and quiet and is the main reason I got it (practice late night with low risk of disturbing people)

    All in all, save money and buy Samick (haha)
    .....and just like the Ibanez I bought in 1976.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I had an Aria made 1972 as best I could tell, cost me $300 and as good as most of the Gibsons of that time that I think was $1000 or $1500. While we are talking about the good ole days I bought gas for 20 cents a gallon.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    I don't know about Samick, but I've pointed out several times that these correspond to the same time that Gibson acquired Epiphone and moved production to Japan. Siminoff and others say the Gibsons were built in Kalamazoo but they are nearly identical to Epiphones and Aria's from Japan. The fingerboards at least are clearly imported from Japan as well as the Gotoh tuners. And it appears everyone was working from the same blueprint. F-12's and Lumpers too. Both Gibson and Japanese versions.
    1. Gibson bought Epiphone in the late 1950's, and made Epiphone guitars, anyway, in the Kalamazoo factory through the 1960's. According to the Epiphone company history page, production moved to Japan in 1970. I believe there were a limited number of Epi mandolins made in Kalamazoo as well, but they were A-models, similar to the A-50, and labeled "Venetian."

    2. I've never seen definitive proof that Gibson, even during their Chicago Musical Instruments/Norlin ownership period, made Gibson-labeled instruments in Japan. Not to say that components might not have been made there, or that they didn't use imported tuners. And you have a chicken-and-egg question about Japanese-made instruments that "look just like" Kalamazoo-made Gibsons. Clearly many Asian manufacturers were stone-copying Gibsons and Martins at this time; look at the Takamine guitars that cloned Martins, right down to font of the headstock decal. So if US-made Gibsons are "identical to Epiphones and Arias," that's no surprise.

    The early 1970's marked a "down" period for Gibson acoustics' quality. This was somewhat turned around, on the mandolin side, by the mid-'70's introduction of the F-5L. On the guitar side, contemporaneously, the Kasha-designed Mark series guitars were introduced, though this attempt at "scientific" guitar redesign never caught on. There have been many, many threads critiquing Gibson mandolins from this period. That said, any individual instrument stands or falls on its individual look, feel and sound. As this one will.
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  16. #13

    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I agree with Allen. I don't buy the "70's Gibson mandolins were made in Japan theory". Similar looking, yes. If you have handled hundreds and hundreds of instruments, working at a music store, for example, quality quickly becomes obvious, even when comparing the lousy 70's era USA versus Japan instruments. SURE, looking at pictures on the internet, they look VERY VERY similar. THE BIGGEST giveaway, IMHO, is that Gibson used nitrocellulose lacquer back then (and still does on guitars) whereas the Japanese imports used poly finishes, because poly dries quicker and you can make 'em quicker. It takes about 5 minutes in a vintage guitar shop to train your eye to tell the difference. Nitro is porous and breathes, poly looks like a piece of plastic. Collectors of made in Japan "lawsuit era" instruments love to mention the "thin poly" finishes used early on before they started really globbing it on -- as a sign of quality! I'm not making this stuff up!

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I tried out one of these in the Hobgoblin shop in Leeds [ West Yorkshire ] a few years ago, it was the cheapest price I had ever seen for a Gibson F5, it sounded like a cheap far eastern plywood box.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Apart from the name,it's identical to the Asian mandolins that began appearing in the UK, along with Asian made banjos in the early 1970's. Whilst the banjos did have some semblance of the 'look',the mandolins seemed like plywood to my eyes,
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    It may be me, but that does not look like the fat headstock that is typical of 70's.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    I asked the question once, is it possible that these 70's Gibsons were actually imported? The answer came back from Almiera Strings and Roger Siminoff that they had personally witnessed the mandolin construction in Kalamazoo and I accept that as fact. However Roger also said it was entirely possible that they were using imported components and I think that is fact with the fingerboards.
    But the question of why there was the sudden shift in the look, construction, and similarity of Gibson's to the Japanese mandolins after so many years of being able to trace the evolution of Gibson instruments raised a lot of curiosity with me.
    The fact that Gibson contracted with Aria to have Epiphone's build mostly guitars but also Epiphone mandolins at the same time that both Gibson and the Japanese mandolins had so many similarities, there's more to the story than writing it off as copying.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    I asked the question once, is it possible that these 70's Gibsons were actually imported? The answer came back from Almiera Strings and Roger Siminoff that they had personally witnessed the mandolin construction in Kalamazoo and I accept that as fact. However Roger also said it was entirely possible that they were using imported components and I think that is fact with the fingerboards.
    But the question of why there was the sudden shift in the look, construction, and similarity of Gibson's to the Japanese mandolins after so many years of being able to trace the evolution of Gibson instruments raised a lot of curiosity with me.
    The fact that Gibson contracted with Aria to have Epiphone's build mostly guitars but also Epiphone mandolins at the same time that both Gibson and the Japanese mandolins had so many similarities, there's more to the story than writing it off as copying.
    Rumors abound about Les Paul's being roughed out in China and shipped here for finish.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Jim Hillburn raises a good point. The appearance of these mandolins isn't a 'proper' Gibson look IMHO. I'd say that the 'look' is too close for comfort to the Asian mandolins of that era - however.............. ??.

    We'd really need the input of somebody close to Gibson at that time,
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Look at here, this Aria mandolin looks similar

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Could it be possible that Gibson imported complete neck assemblies? To my knowledge, they never make a neck with a volute, at least on mandolins. But the peghead similarities, worm over Gotoh's and pointy heel sure looks like a duck.

  27. #22

    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    No doubt Gibson was looking to cut costs during this time. Same could be said of CBS-era Fender, the cheapening of the product is quite obvious as each year went by.......Martin, as well, with Sigma, Shenandoah, etc.....

    But, this is how a good conspiracy theory gets started. Yes, the "Gibsons" look too close for comfort to the Asian mandolins, but it should be the other way around -- the Asian mandolins copied the Gibson. I wouldn't sweat the fingerboards. That is a part, like the tuners, tailpiece, etc....I too, thought maybe they were buying pre-fretted fingerboards to save time and labor, BUT, a guy who frets necks everyday for a living can fret a neck in about 10 minutes -- there is a youtube of a guy fretting a PRS neck with a fret press and he finishes it in a little over 3 minutes!!! And, he is not rushing, just working steady. So, there wouldn't be much savings, IMHO..............

    But, to me, it seems like wasted brain energy to even try to figure all this out. This needs to be sorted out ONLY AFTER everything Loar is known, then ONLY AFTER everything pre-Loar is known, then ONLY AFTER everything 20's post-Loar is known, then 30's, 40's and so on......

    I mean, 70's Gibsons -- we are really talking Yugo's, not Ferrari's, OK?
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Jun-02-2017 at 12:55pm.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    The copy theory completely dismisses the fact that Gibson was contracting with Aria to at least make Epiphone mandolins and the fact those mandolins were made in the same factory as Aria.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    If it's insignificant being 40 years ago don't waste another minute on it. I just find it interesting, like a "Mando She Wrote" mystery.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5 1974 is this real?

    Nothing wrong with questioning any decade Gibson or any other instrument. I don't have to know everything there is to know about a Loar to have question about a 70's F-5 or a 60's Martin. Who made the list for the order we should study mandolins?

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