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Thread: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

  1. #1

    Smile Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Hi all,

    A while back I bought a Gibson copy (knowingly, don't worry!) in Maryland, SUPER wowed by how incredible this little instrument was.

    A tech recently set it up, found the script on the inside: "1981 FLS". The only other information I have on this bad boy is that it was made in Pennsylvania. Anyone have ANY clue where this thing came from, or who made it? It's an awesome instrument, just want to see if I can find any more info out there on it.

    Thanks so much - pictures attached. Cheers!


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  3. #2
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Fred Oster at Vintage Instruments, Philadelphia might know who made it.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Does Lou Stiver have a real first name? Isn't he from PA?

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  5. #4

    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Someone who shall remain nameless has informed me that he believes the builder to be Fred Snyder. Never heard of the guy myself however.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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  7. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    There's a mention of Fred Snyder in Red Lion, Pa building mandolins in the 60's in one thread here. Another mention of someone owning one.

    A search on the Internet shows a Frederick L. Snyder that is over 80 years of age living in Red Lion, Pa.

    That doesn't tie it to this mandolin but it gets you pretty close. I'd be making assumptions that it was him.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  9. #6
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    That’s exactly the guy I was thinking of. Very nice man. I think Randy Graham played one of his in the mid-late 70’s with the Bluegrass Cardinals. He had a 717 area code back then.

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  11. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Quote Originally Posted by RichieK View Post
    ...He had a 717 area code back then.
    He might still have that!
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  13. #8
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Looks like the binding on either side of the back button is broken. Neck movement? And that pearl dot on the button? Maybe it might be covering a screw head from a repair to stabilize a failing neck joint? I’d be worried if it were mine.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
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  15. #9
    Expert on my own opinion Bogle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Frederick L. (Fred) Snyder was among the very few people building F-5 copies, back when Gibson's mandolin output was non-existent and/or of questionable quality. Real Gibsons (even the lousy ones) were selling for what seemed at the time outrageous prices. I found Fred through one of his classified ads in Bluegrass Unlimited, and I bought one (new) from him in the summer of 1973 for $375. I was a poor 19 year-old at the time, and it was my first GOOD mandolin. Fred lived in Red Lion, PA, worked as a foreman for Wickes Lumber and built mandolins in his spare time. Back then, our correspondence was via mail, and he typed all of his letters (his mandolin build labels too!) on a manual typewriter. Even after my purchase we kept in touch for a few years; he would occasionally drop me a line whenever he picked up a great deal on strings, and would sell me 6 or 12 sets at his cost.

    I reconnected with him around 2002, after being out of touch for about 29 years. He saw a review of my band's CD in Bluegrass Unlimited, and sent a letter (perhaps the same typewriter!) to the band contact P.O. box address listed in the review. Fred had retired by that time, and asked if I might send him a CD, as he was hosting a Bluegrass/Gospel radio program at a small FM station outside of Red Lion. He was no longer building mandolins, however he was a talented writer of poems/song lyrics, and even sent a couple of them to me. He did this, hoping that we would put the lyrics together with melodies, and we did. In fact, we were proud of the final results and incorporated those 2 songs into our regular set lists.

    Fred was an exceptionally good person, and passed away about 2 years ago, while in his late 80's. I'm unsure as to how many mandolins he built over the years, but it was clear that he loved his hobby and enjoyed putting affordable, great-sounding instruments in the hands of players.

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  17. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    That is way cool! Thank you so much for posting that.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  18. #11

    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogle View Post
    Frederick L. (Fred) Snyder was among the very few people building F-5 copies, back when Gibson's mandolin output was non-existent and/or of questionable quality. Real Gibsons (even the lousy ones) were selling for what seemed at the time outrageous prices. I found Fred through one of his classified ads in Bluegrass Unlimited, and I bought one (new) from him in the summer of 1973 for $375. I was a poor 19 year-old at the time, and it was my first GOOD mandolin. Fred lived in Red Lion, PA, worked as a foreman for Wickes Lumber and built mandolins in his spare time. Back then, our correspondence was via mail, and he typed all of his letters (his mandolin build labels too!) on a manual typewriter. Even after my purchase we kept in touch for a few years; he would occasionally drop me a line whenever he picked up a great deal on strings, and would sell me 6 or 12 sets at his cost.

    I reconnected with him around 2002, after being out of touch for about 29 years. He saw a review of my band's CD in Bluegrass Unlimited, and sent a letter (perhaps the same typewriter!) to the band contact P.O. box address listed in the review. Fred had retired by that time, and asked if I might send him a CD, as he was hosting a Bluegrass/Gospel radio program at a small FM station outside of Red Lion. He was no longer building mandolins, however he was a talented writer of poems/song lyrics, and even sent a couple of them to me. He did this, hoping that we would put the lyrics together with melodies, and we did. In fact, we were proud of the final results and incorporated those 2 songs into our regular set lists.

    Fred was an exceptionally good person, and passed away about 2 years ago, while in his late 80's. I'm unsure as to how many mandolins he built over the years, but it was clear that he loved his hobby and enjoyed putting affordable, great-sounding instruments in the hands of players.
    This is AWESOME! This is exactly why I love Mandolin Cafe. Thank you all so much for helping to solve the "mystery"!

  19. #12

    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Looks like the binding on either side of the back button is broken. Neck movement? And that pearl dot on the button? Maybe it might be covering a screw head from a repair to stabilize a failing neck joint? I’d be worried if it were mine.
    The instrument definitely has a screw to stabilize the neck, no doubt. Binding and everything else is fine.. it's an awesome instrument for sure.

  20. #13
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    I had a Fred Snyder mando in the early 80s. Loved it.
    1/2/89 Gibson A5-L

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  22. #14
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5 Copy - 1981 FLS?

    Yep,this kind of information from folks like Bogle, are what makes this site special!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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