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Thread: Gibson F-5L thoughts

  1. #1
    Registered User GreenMTBoy's Avatar
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    Default Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Well instead of buying a old oval Gibson I have been stricken with Fernmonia and am thinking about trading up to get this http://www.mandomutt.com/products-pa...14-gibson-f-5l
    Buying it without playing it ,going on Kevinís word that it is ecxceptional .
    Thereís just no cure for this mandolin disease !just when you think you are done with it wham it comes back even stronger then before !

  2. #2

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    The fingerboard extension on Gibson F5s is a bit annoying. I honesty don't know why they do it. Maybe classical players play there or just in keeping with Loar. That would be a consideration for me.

    I went to see a mint condition Carlson F5L last year at Tamco and that put me off. Yeah it could be scooped but still too long in my view.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by GreenMTBoy View Post
    ...am thinking about trading up...
    Does that mean trading the Kimble? (Making a leap from your profile photo.) If it does, I think you'll have to find an outstanding F-5L in order to best the Kimble.
    Todd Yates

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    So consider what kind of answers you are going to get here. Everybody here has a different mandolin,along with the pride and prejudice of owning each one. There can be many factors that go into a purchase decision for a mandolin. Like: depth of pocket$, looks, peer approval, style of play, feel, and preferred sound. I don’t think I would have the fortitude to buy one without playing it, but many people do. And it is not as risky when you are buying from a dealer. I’d get an approval time but that’s me. Or fly down there and check it out. It would be a great trip and one of the great stories you get to tell. ( Btw, I like my stock 02 Fern. )

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  8. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I'm a "broken record" on the subject, but let me repeat that I wouldn't spend that kind of money on an instrument I hadn't had a chance to play. Make, model and condition aside, each mandolin is a unique individual instrument; you wouldn't like all F-5L's, any more than you'd like all Corvettes or all 23-year-old blondes. This may well be a good'un, but you won't know until you've had it in your hands.

    The instruments I've bought sight unseen -- and sound unheard -- have been "rare birds" that I most likely would never get a chance to try otherwise: a Gibson '20's tenor lute, a Waldo mandocello, a Howe-Orme mandolinetto, a Polk-A-Lay-Lee. All the others, even rare ones like the Stahl mando-bass and mandola, the National Havana guitar, the Regal Octafone etc., have been at dealers where I could play them for long enough to evaluate them.

    I like the suggestion in the above post that you make a trip to the dealer's, and see if the F-5L is all he says it is. In any case, second the suggestion to get an approval period, so you can be sure you're getting the high-end mandolin you're paying for.
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  10. #6

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by GTison View Post
    So consider what kind of answers you are going to get here. Everybody here has a different mandolin,along with the pride and prejudice of owning each one. There can be many factors that go into a purchase decision for a mandolin. Like: depth of pocket$, looks, peer approval, style of play, feel, and preferred sound. I don’t think I would have the fortitude to buy one without playing it, but many people do. And it is not as risky when you are buying from a dealer. I’d get an approval time but that’s me. Or fly down there and check it out. It would be a great trip and one of the great stories you get to tell. ( Btw, I like my stock 02 Fern. )
    Surely you don't suggest we seriously crave peer approval, do you? In no way did my friend buying an Ellis cause me to seek out the Gilchrist.

    Seriously, having a seller tout the quality of an instrument should have no bearing on the matter either. If you buy that instrument, it will sound like the quality Gibson it is, but line it up with three more and who knows? But finding four similar instruments in a shop is rare. Happened to me only once shopping 60s J 45s. Walked into a shop that had four.
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  11. #7
    Registered User GreenMTBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Yes Sadly the Kimble is going down the road and Im feeling bad !
    That is a outstanding mandolin and I know I am going to regret it .
    But ,It is not the first instrument I have let go and then regretted .
    I am thinning the herd ,recently got a Ellis A-5 which is a keeper ....for now !

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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I never thought I would buy an instrument without first playing it. But I took the plunge 9 years ago and bought a Buckeye, custom built. Best purchase Iíve ever made.
    Bob

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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I bought a 2017 F5L sight unseen a few months ago and donít regret it at all. Morgan Music was awesome to work with and gave me the option of keeping it for a few days to find out if it was a good fit for me. Not sure what year youíre looking at but I think we all know that mandolins change with time and playing, and itís hard to tell what youíre dealing with until it starts to really open up. That being said Iíd see if there was an option to test drive the Fern for a couple days to make sure itís what youíre looking for, if itís good or great right off the bat you can guarantee itís going to get better; if youíre underwhelmed you might need to keep looking. My Fern went from good to great in a few months with steady play and a proper environment and itís sound is still improving as far as Iím concerned. Good luck
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  17. #10

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    It is not always possible to make a trip to a dealer to play an instrument. When I was living in Alaska in 2007 I purchased a 2005 Derrington era Gibson Master Model F5 from a dealer in Tennessee that completely ended my quest for a mandolin. It is still a joy to play.

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  19. #11

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Kevin, aka mandomutt, has an approval period on sales but not on trades.

    IMO David Harvey signed F5L's, are probably gonna sound really good, if not great, based on the 4-5 I've played.

    YMMV

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    A Harvey-signed Fern is a pretty safe bet.

    I've encountered a number of them and have owned one for several years. All were very good indeed. That looks to be a very fine example, with outstanding wood on the back/sides.
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  23. #13
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I think when you're spending that kind of money, an in person visit or a decent return period is necessary. If they have 4 or 5 instruments that you're interested in, a visit to the shop might be best.
    If this is the only instrument that they have that you'd like to check out, I'm sure you could work something out with the seller for them to ship it to you for a trial.
    If you are looking at a $7000 violin, you might play it for a week before making a decision. In fact many shops let you do a 2 or 3 instrument "in home trial". If you buy one, then no charge for shipping etc. If you send them all back, you pay the shipping.

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  25. #14

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I don’t think you can go wrong these. Harvey era ferns sound amazing and their fit and finish is grade above previous eras.
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  27. #15
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I mentioned my story in another post a bit back but my experience was not as successful. In 2016 I purchased a new one from a store on line and after playing it for a day and a half I sent it back. It just did not have the "Gibson" sound that I was looking for. I then called a store in Nashville and they had a new one and a '14 and they sent me what they thought was the one for me, which was the used one. Interestingly the strings were higher than anything I have ever seen, in fact the bridge could not go any higher really. This one had the all white binding which I don't like either. It was marginally better sounding do probably to being a little older but it still did not impress me so that went back as well. I spent like $140 I think in shipping costs ( I insured the crap out of them on the way back) but that was cheaper than flying anywhere. I have since moved on from the thought of an F5L and have a great instrument that I am very happy with. I also just picked up a 2002 F9 that blows away either one of the ferns that I played. I am not a big fan of the redness of the ferns either I guess. Anyway that is my story. I am dreaming and scheming on how I get a older MM though but probably won't do the mail order. It will have to be me walking into a store and not being able to walk away from that instrument moment.

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  29. #16
    Registered User GreenMTBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Kevin at Mandomutt is a stand up guy ,with very honest accurate descriptions of his instruments ,I have bought and sold with him several times with no problem .
    In his add he states ithe Fern was built by David Harvey for a fellow Gibson Shop Associate .
    I checked out the story with DH who by the way is a very nice guy and incredible mandolin player !
    He took the time and looked up the serial # for me and indeed it was originally purchased by aGibson Employee ,a good friend of his and someone very high up the food chain at Gibson ,I’m not going to mention names for privacy reasons ,but well known with a huge following for his work .
    David says this person picked this one out and he obviously knows a great instrument when he sees one !
    DH says this person is a guitar player and probably wasn’t playing it as much and might as well let it go .
    So It goes without saying ,I am really looking forward to getting this Mando .

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  31. #17

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by carleshicks View Post
    I don’t think you can go wrong these. Harvey era ferns sound amazing and their fit and finish is grade above previous eras.
    this is what I have read as well.
    FWIW I bought my 2002 fern, sight unseen, with a 3 day return. I love it.

    You cant always find one where you live. In fact, you cant always find lots of musical stuff locally.

    As for the fretted florida, finger rest, etc. I actually like those things. imho, the finger rest may eliminated the pick clash by raising your hand.. I never get it. I like the finger rest, and, imho, they DO NOT interefere with projection, and, they do eliminate pinky wear.

    and, I like those little frets......I can play and do play as high as 22nd. its fun but odd, I know.


    Frankly, I have no issue with mail order instruments, so long as I have the option to reject, and return, and confidence in the vendor.

    I am certain you will know very quickly if its a match for you.

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  33. #18

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I am no stranger to buying instruments before playing them and have had a pretty good track record. Ideally I won't do it again. If you know you like the sound and feel of Gibson's and it is as advertised than it is a pretty safe bet. However, when you compare it with the likes of Ellis, Kimble, etc, you may find you don't like it as much, but who knows. Unless of course your Kimble isn't that good. I mean if you liked it that much you would probably keep it, eh?

    Example, a buddy has a great instrument by a renowned builder X. He likes checking out instruments and heard about a outstanding mandolin that came available built by builder Y. So he bought it. Then he got it and was like well it really is outstanding, but I still reach for my builder X and think I will want to play it more...

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  35. #19

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    On the other hand, I have bought some serious instruments sight unseen. I bought a great Ellis F5 that I had a couple years. Then I ordered a new Duff after doing some research and corresponding with Paul Duff. That lead me to ultimately sell my Ellis. I don't think I would have sent away my Ellis for it, though. Bought the Duff as an A to complement it...

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  37. #20
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I've bought a number of serious instruments sight unseen, but they were all used and either a.) very good deals or b.) very specific instruments from makers with a strong reputation for consistency. Traveling to a location with a good enough store to have multiples of these classes of instruments is expensive for me, in both time and money, so I took the risk of buying without playing. I also figure I can resell these if I have to and be out a couple hundred dollars at most, which is less than my travel costs.
    -Dave
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  39. #21

    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Here's a thought I've been having lately. My goal is to be able to fake my way through most anything I could come in contact with. A jam, sitting in with a band, an audition, etc. I want to be asked to play with people again, and I have had some success on that account. Now I've been thinking, would I be better off with a $5000 mandolin and $2000 worth of lessons from a good teacher, or a $7000 mandolin.

    I can't recall a dud in the 5K price range. Some I liked better than others, but send me any of them and I'd be fine, so if you can buy with a return agreement, go ahead. Just don't sell what you have first. Of course when you get that next instrument, it won't be long before you start dreaming of what another two grand will get you. Such is MAS.

    Hey, I saw a Loar for $120K. Such a deal.
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  41. #22
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I'll mention that Vermont to Burlington, NC is 2 days drive. Pick up I-81 in Scranton, PA; spend the night in Winchester or Harrisonburg, take I-77 south of Pulaski, pick up I-74 at Mt. Airy, and take I-40 into Burlington.

    If you get there and don't like the Gibson, take another day to drive to Nashville. You'll find more good mandolins there than you can shake a stick at. Then, it's 2 days to get back home.

    I'd think long and hard about trading in a mandolin made by a good hand-maker sight unseen for another instrument. You might not like the new instrument and wish you had your old one back.

    It's a pretty time of year for the trip. The dogwoods and the redbuds are coming into full blossom as I write this.

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  43. #23
    Registered User GreenMTBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    In a perfect world that road trip would be really nice ! Unfortunatly in the world I live in ,just no way I can get away .
    I would if I could but can’t . Online shopping really is my only option .

  44. #24
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    Call Randy Wood and get him to make you one.

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  46. #25
    Registered User GreenMTBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F-5L thoughts

    I like this one made by David Harvey just fine ,did you look at it ,it’s a beauty !
    http://www.mandomutt.com/products-pa...14-gibson-f-5l

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