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Thread: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

  1. #1

    Default 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    I have a 1977 F-5 signed by Carl Spinoso serial# 000136. That number doesnt match what I had read about the 77 serial numbers. Also, the label is marked F-5-L, which Im suspicious the L was added later considering they were not introduced until 1978 and were signed by Fuller, Cowles, or Doan. This mandolin has had a decent about of use, it belonged to an old family friend and is being left to my daughter. Im trying to decide if it is real and worth having it freshened up, or would I be wasting money. Any info or input on it would be much appreciated.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    if by 'freshening up' you mean 'pro setup', yes, absolutely.

    I'm sure there's plenty of music left in it.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  4. #3
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Mike Edgerton's list of Gibson label signers shows Spinoso as 1976:


    Lloyd Loar (1922-1924) *
    Stanley E. Rendell (1970-1975) *
    Carl Spinoso (1976) *
    Wilbur D. Fuller (1978) *
    Richard J. Doan (1978-1981) *
    Aaron Cowles (1978-1984) *
    Herman Meints (1979-1980) *
    Rick Brown (1980) *
    Marvin Lamb (1980) *
    Donald L. Doans (1981)
    Jerry Rowland (1981) *
    Jim Triggs (1986-1989)
    Greg Rich (1989)
    Steve P. Carlson (1986-1993) *
    Rick Gembar (1994)
    Bill Monroe (1991-1995) *
    Phil Brug (1993-1994) *
    Bruce D. Weber (1993-1997) *
    Bobby Osborne (1993-1996) *
    Larry Barnwell (1994-1995) *
    Paul Schneider (1997-1998) *
    Simeon C. Daley (1998-2001) *
    Charles Derrington (1987-2005) *
    Danny Roberts (2001-2005) *
    Doyle Lawson (2003?)
    Casey Q. Sullivan (2005-2007) *
    Ricky Skaggs (2007-2008)
    David W. Harvey (2007-2015) *
    Sam Bush (2012) *


    Implies you could be right about the aftermarket "L" designation. Hypothetically the mandolin could have hung around in inventory for some time, and not been sold until the F-5L was introduced in 1978 (?). Also, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) that the inlay patterns are pre-F-5L, and characteristic of G's early-to-mid-'70's instruments.
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  5. #4
    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    that numbers dates it to 1973. Odd the label says '77 and F5L. Something not right here.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Agreed. To me, the mandolin looks like early 70's work all around. It does all look like Gibson work.

    I would like to see a pictures of the back, the back of the neck, and one from each side showing the neck joint.

    The writing on the Master Model label looks like it has been monkeyed with.

    My guess is that it is a 1973 F-5 with modified labels. The neck has early '70's specs. An early F-5L neck would have dot inlay and fern peghead. I suppose it also could be a '77 body with a '73 neck and a modified Master Model label.

    Whatever it is, it's not an F-5L.
    Last edited by rcc56; May-13-2019 at 12:28am.

  7. #6
    Registered User f5joe's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Label saying "F-5-L" appears forged to me. Otherwise, an ordinary '70's pre-F-5L mando.
    ..... f5joe

  8. #7
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Yep, something is “off” about the labels.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  9. #8

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Colbert_88 View Post
    .....it belonged to an old family friend and is being left to my daughter. I’m trying to decide if it is real and worth having it freshened up, or would I be wasting money.
    Regardless of all "the details" that are mostly of interest to collectors, your daughter is being left a nice F-style mandolin to learn on. I would have it cleaned and setup with fresh strings. Shouldn't cost very much to do that.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by f5joe View Post
    Label saying "F-5-L" appears forged to me. Otherwise, an ordinary '70's pre-F-5L mando.
    So someone would forge C Spinoso's signature on an F-5L label -- when, according to Mike E's listing above, Spinoso signed in 1976, before the F-5L was introduced?

    Or perhaps the "L" was added to the "F-5," and Spinoso's signature is correct for an instrument that was labeled in '76.

    Interesting problem.
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  12. #10

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    I agree with Jeff. It was thoughtful of someone to leave your daughter an instrument. Hopefully she appreciates that and plays the heck out of it.

  13. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    That's really not my listing by the way, I took over maintaining that list when the OP stopped showing up.

    To me that F-5-L looks like it was added on through the sound hole.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  15. #12
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    My guess is that the signature label has not been tampered with. The model number on the other label appears to have been altered.

    A mandolin leaving the Kalamazoo factory with a neck with a '73 serial number on a body with a '77 signature label is not an impossibility for Gibson during the '70's. They were neither building nor shipping many mandolins at the time.

    At any rate, yes, it would be worth a few dollars to have the instrument inspected and set up.

  16. #13
    Registered User f5joe's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    So someone would forge C Spinoso's signature on an F-5L label -- when, according to Mike E's listing above, Spinoso signed in 1976, before the F-5L was introduced?

    Or perhaps the "L" was added to the "F-5," and Spinoso's signature is correct for an instrument that was labeled in '76.

    Interesting problem.
    I had no comment about the signature line. I believe the "-L" was added.
    ..... f5joe

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  18. #14

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Thanks to everyone for the info. The -L is definitely added just judging the difference in pen thickness compared to the serial and signature. Looks like it was done with a ball point and the rest of the label looks like felt tip. Its unfortunate that some would do that, but Im still happy with my daughter having it. I am glad to hear that it isnt outside the realm of possibility that it is a production f-5 with a 73 neck on a 77 body. That would make some sense. Im going to make arrangements to have it inspected and setup. Here is a picture of the back, the back of neck, and side shots of neck joint that rcc56 requested. Thank you again, this board has been an amazing wealth of knowledge and history.

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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Does it look like the tuners were replaced? Can you see an imprint in the finish? Those usually had Gotoh's.

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Okay, I just checked my 70's archives (you won't find that on mandolincafe) and found another C. S. 's signature on one dated 2/8/77 with serial no. 000-274. The tuners have been replaced, everything else looks fine, even down to the rotting binding on yours. I found another C.S. signed on 3/24/77 with a serial of 250428. Other 1977 serials I have found: 70188052; 240002; 967396; 967559; 627208 What I have found on these mid to late 70's is Gibson serial no. system was all over the place and you simply can not date one by the serial no. alone.

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  23. #17

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    has anyonw taken a seventies f 5 and had the back off and the top recarved to get a better tone??? i have heard it can be done and result in a much improved tone.

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  25. #18
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    I'm sure they have been modified/re-graduated etc. I had a 1980 Gibson F5-L that was Wayne Benson's but before him I believe Dewey Farmer had it and had it re done by "I don't remember", The luthier signed the inside top, I can't believe I forgot! I guess he was rather disappointed by it brand new from the factory in 1980 and wasn't sold on the hype of the new improved F5-L. People have been doing that to Loar F-5's-30's-40's-50's-60's F-5's, 1930's F-7's and F-12's up through the 60's also, so its nothing new. But prepared to spend some $ on a full re-grad! You can do it yourself if your handy, I've re-done a few 30's Gibson A models and they turned out great-I had to have someone else set the neck and match the finish though as I didn't want to ruin them? Randy Wood has done a few F-7's for me and I'm waiting-been 2 years waiting for a 1958 F-5 that also needed a new neck. But I got a deal on the 58 so I was prepared to spend 2G+ on Randy re-working it!

    So if I got a 70's on the real cheap sure I'd re-do it, and also set the neck at a steeper angle-John Duffey style!

  26. #19
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Randy Wood's the person I've heard as specializing in re-graduating F-5 tops. If there are others, please chime in...
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  28. #20

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    So what price would you need to buy the mandolin for to make sence to have it reworked? Lots of used Harvey F5s out there, great sounding and ready to go.

    Getting one free, it would be a no brainier, at least if you had patience. But the older I get, the less I want to wait for anything.
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  29. #21
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    On my 58 F-5 when all said and done with Randy Woods magic I'll have maybe 4G in it! I got the 58 cheap as it had a very poor reneck! Randy charges anywhere from 1G-around3G I think unless he raised his prices? But he's a great guy but I don't think he has much help if any as I've waited two years? I know his quality so well worth the wait to me at least, some people are impatient and while understandable the luthier that has many projects at once go from one to another instead of finishing one repair/modification! I know a few that do this as they take time on one thing and then have to go to something else? That's ok with me! Kinda like what they are saying about Da'Vinci now that he was ADHD! That's a laugh!

  30. #22

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    ...he's a great guy but I don't think he has much help if any as I've waited two years? I know his quality so well worth the wait to me at least, some people are impatient and while understandable the luthier that has many projects at once go from one to another instead of finishing one repair/modification!
    I'm no Randy Wood, but I work by myself and do repair for several local shops. Usually, I have 25 or so instruments around here in various stages of repair. I agree, in general people are reasonable, but some get impatient and resort to calling weekly (some DAILY!) and also texting -- thinking it will "move things along....." It really is just part of the game. I am grateful for the work, so I try to stay positive about the nagging and put myself their shoes. Common sense would say if I answered 25 phone calls and texts everyday that it would take my entire day and I wouldn't get any repair done, right? My logic, is to do the "quick stuff" first in order to get paid every week -- stuff like setups, bridge and nuts, wiring, etc -- stuff that takes 2-3 hours to complete. Get it in and out. The "other stuff" crack repair, fretwork, necksets, finish work usually gets started at the time of diagnosis and giving an estimate, but often gets put on the back burner, to be honest. Nothing personal, I am working on something every day.

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  32. #23
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    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    Right on Jeff! I agree 100% with you. Easy stuff/not that complicated gets done first to bring in the $, hard stuff say like mine where a new neck, inlays, back off for re-grad, and Loar tone bar spacing, etc..that stuff is time consuming, I was going to attempt it as I've done some 30's A models but I really didn't want to eye sore a nice 58 F-5! I'm not that experienced-yet! Where are you located? Website? I like to talk about modifications as I've done some myself and will do more next year when my shop is built! I've made some Blueridge guitars way better, some cheaper imports etc...Fun stuff!

    I'm no good with color match up! My Red-Greens are off as I'm a bit colorblind in that area! weird considering my eyes are hazel-depending on mood blue and green? I doubt that has anything to do with it, must be that Irish/English mix-scary and funny!

  33. #24

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    If you give an honest time estimate, the first communication should not come from a customer before that date. That is when I'd expect a more or less firm commitment, give or take a few weeks. Miss that date and you'd hear from me weekly.

    I waited a year for a neck reset on a Guild acoustic because the guy doing it had thirty years experience on Guilds. But my fault not pinning them down, as I accepted at least six months as a starting point. But even then, I wouldn't have taken it to a guy who would cringe at the thought of doing it. In the end I got some frebee work for my patience.
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  35. #25

    Default Re: 1977 Gibson F-5 Questions

    I have a '75 F5 that I purchased almost 30 years ago. It was a real dog. Quiet and dull. Had my luthier revoice it and install real tone bars (rather than the #2 pencils it was born with). The top and back were thinned, although this is complicated by the lack of recurve in the original. There was a dramatic improvement in volume and tone quality. It gets played now, and to some compliments I might add.

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