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Thread: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    http://siminoff.net/cms/wp-content/u...of-the-F5L.pdf

    I just re-read this. Good insight into where the Corp was back then. Couldn't convince them there was enough of a market.
    Yeah Roger said at one point that Ed Rendall (spelling?) about threw him out of Kalamazoo when Roger made a less then encouraging remark about what were probably the worst mandolins Gibson ever made, the 1970 re-design. I once owned a 1972 F-12 with Ed's signature in it. That mandolin sounded exactly like the Morgan Monroe MMS-3 that I also owned at the time.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    I agree Bernie, that the introduction of the F5L was a big step in the right direction in Gibson's return to building a respectable mandolin. But it took those other "builders getting in the game (approximate quote from Jim Hilburn)" to force them in that direction.


    Posts like Brunello's offer a nice sounding show of respect to the company that started it all. Unfortunately, those same posts are a slap in the face to Hutto, Wood, Duff, Gilchrist and many others that have made possible the wonderful choices we enjoy today...
    Just for the record can anyone supply the dates when Hutto, Wood, Duff, Gilchrist, Carlson, and others who made higher end F-5s got started with a commercial product available to the mandolin community?
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Bertram,I don't think the F5 was taken to much from a violin,Orville was influenced by the Victorian era art in which he lived,,everything was scrolls,leaves,flowers and carvings,the f holes came much later...I'm not dissagreeing with you,I think the 3 pt body and inlays and such is,very Victorian also..
    Granted, you find many of those stylistic elements in furniture of the era as well. It just shows that re-use of design has been and is still going on all the time. Under these circumstances, doing what is normal and then holding fast to it
    , saying "that's mine, stay off ye villains" is no longer normal, like claiming intellectual ownership of a seashell you found on the beach.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Gilchrist made 9 instruments from 1976 to '77, 39 in '78, and 30 in '79. He has maintained production continuously since then, except for a break from early 1985 to early 1987.

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Granted, you find many of those stylistic elements in furniture of the era as well. It just shows that re-use of design has been and is still going on all the time. Under these circumstances, doing what is normal and then holding fast to it
    , saying "that's mine, stay off ye villains" is no longer normal, like claiming intellectual ownership of a seashell you found on the beach.
    Bertram noted

    But would you say that same philosophy applies to tunes and songs now -- just a sea shell found on the beach?
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    Bertram noted

    But would you say that same philosophy applies to tunes and songs now -- just a sea shell found on the beach?
    Well, for the genre I am aquainted with (ITM, that is) it certainly does. They call it tradition, or put in other words: if you know one Irish tune, you know them both. Half of any new tune I learn today consists of building blocks I already know. There are many tunes in ITM where the composer is known, but none of these composers ever arrived at the idea of copyrighting anything (which would be in vain anyway because every player creates his own version).
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Gilchrist made 9 instruments from 1976 to '77, 39 in '78, and 30 in '79. He has maintained production continuously since then, except for a break from early 1985 to early 1987.
    Thanks! So Gilchrist was about 1 or 2 years ahead of the F-5L?

    Of course Randy Wood in Georgia was making Gibson copies in the early 1970s.

    Another "competitive" F-5 mandolin was the Japanese-made Kentucky mandolins that all started in the early 1980s but this was after the F-5L was launched in 1978.

    And Flatiron started selling excellent F-5 mandolins in 1987 correct? They were bought out maybe a few years later and moved to Nashville in 1996 -- the were not head and shoulders better than the F-5L though.

    I'm just suggesting that except for the work of a few private luthiers (e.g., Randy Wood and a few others) Gibson was not really so "late to the party" in the building quality F-5 mandolins again? Of course all the credit for that goes to Roger Siminoff because Norlin had no clue. They actually thought the 1969 -- late 1970s mandolins with the straight slot neck were state of the art! Norlin is the main reason Gibson did not get back to building a real F-5 sooner.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Well, for the genre I am aquainted with (ITM, that is) it certainly does. They call it tradition, or put in other words: if you know one Irish tune, you know them both. Half of any new tune I learn today consists of building blocks I already know. There are many tunes in ITM where the composer is known, but none of these composers ever arrived at the idea of copyrighting anything (which would be in vain anyway because every player creates his own version).
    Fair enough!
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    They kinda flooded the market .

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    Yeah Roger said at one point that Ed Rendall (spelling?) about threw him out of Kalamazoo when Roger made a less then encouraging remark about what were probably the worst mandolins Gibson ever made, the 1970 re-design. I once owned a 1972 F-12 with Ed's signature in it. That mandolin sounded exactly like the Morgan Monroe MMS-3 that I also owned at the time.
    I may be mistaken but that might have been Rendell Wall not Ed Rendall. I’m sure someone here will set the record straight.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    I don't know much about guitar market, but you need to know history of the instruments and it's production. If we look just at F-5 with it's "iconic design" it is just remake of the Orville Gibson's designs that were just compilations of the popular designs of the era - I recall there was a thread where headstock with scrolls was posted that predates Orville by few years. Scrolls and points on bodies were used by more companies as well. Also arched tops with f holes were made before Orville. Gibson himself didn't trademark his design when he was the sole maker and even after he sold his name to form Gibson company, they didn't trademark it either, they patented few new things more or less succesfull (like truss rod concept) so they knew about IP laws but they didn't claim trademarksfor the designs. The mandolin production of Gibson went sharply downhill after 20's and pretty much stopped. And now comes the "icon" it's Bill Monroe - he was the man who discovered that old F-5 in the barbershop and started playing it. He has been playing several other mandolins (Gibson and other) but settled upon that one. Gibson was no longer able to even repair decently those mandolins not to build one so folks playing the new genre started looking for either old Gibsons or they had to build them themselves - that's how majority of the first generation mandolin makers started. The demand for F-5 was not because of the design but because Bill Monroe played it - heck, folks even started wearing pants, boots and hats exactly like he did ... He was the icon in the design.
    Gibson didn't care at all till 1978 when outsider (Siminoff) had to come and tell them the train has left the station. They slowly strated building mandolins but the mandolins were nothing special and other makers had been making better mandolins and certainly more of them. This slowly led to the Flatiron acquisition but by the time they were just one of many makers.
    You should also note that Gibson has not been making "entry level" mandolins (like they used to do in teens or 20's) so that part was entirely left on Japanese, Korean or Chinese companies and many of the beginners who started playing bluegrass on one of the cheap imports secretly lusted for Gibson but Gibson was not able to deliver the quality that many smaller or larger builders did.
    Similar fate happened to some of the iconic guitar models - they became iconic because of the iconic players who started using them few years after not-so-good start, not because folks immediately realized how "timeless" trademark-worthy design they had.
    Just imagine if everyone around filled their cola into same red bottles for years - do you think Coca-Cola could get back the design for their sole use after leaving it in the wild?
    Adrian

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    I may be mistaken but that might have been Rendell Wall not Ed Rendall. I’m sure someone here will set the record straight.
    Stanley E. Rendell (1970-1975)

    On the Gibson "Head Luthiers" list, people that signed labels. Roger mentions Stand Rendell in that that thread.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Stanley E. Rendell (1970-1975)

    On the Gibson "Head Luthiers" list, people that signed labels. Roger mentions Stand Rendell in that that thread.
    Yeah Stanley -- I was thinking of Ed Rendell former governor of PA! LOL!
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    For the record, Flatiron started making mandolins in 1977. Gibson bought them in 1987. Flatiron had been making carved mandolins in significant numbers by 1983. I believe that most of the pre-Gibson carved Flatirons were A models, although an F model was also available.

    The pre-Gibson carved Flatirons were good instruments. One could argue that they were the best factory-made instruments of the period.

    We had only a handful of independent makers in those days-- Gilchrist, Monteleone, Randy Wood, Bob Givens, Gene Horner, Tom Morgan, Lou Stiver, and Rolfe Gerhardt [Unicorn]. The explosion of small shop mandolin makers is a 21st century phenomenon.

    Someone posted a link to an article saying that Gibson threatened Flatiron before they bought them out. I had not heard that before. I always assumed that Gibson bought them to eliminate the competition, and to get the factory and some of the workers.

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I don't know much about guitar market, but you need to know history of the instruments and it's production. If we look just at F-5 with it's "iconic design" it is just remake of the Orville Gibson's designs that were just compilations of the popular designs of the era - I recall there was a thread where headstock with scrolls was posted that predates Orville by few years. Scrolls and points on bodies were used by more companies as well. Also arched tops with f holes were made before Orville. Gibson himself didn't trademark his design when he was the sole maker and even after he sold his name to form Gibson company, they didn't trademark it either, they patented few new things more or less succesfull (like truss rod concept) so they knew about IP laws but they didn't claim trademarksfor the designs. The mandolin production of Gibson went sharply downhill after 20's and pretty much stopped. And now comes the "icon" it's Bill Monroe - he was the man who discovered that old F-5 in the barbershop and started playing it. He has been playing several other mandolins (Gibson and other) but settled upon that one. Gibson was no longer able to even repair decently those mandolins not to build one so folks playing the new genre started looking for either old Gibsons or they had to build them themselves - that's how majority of the first generation mandolin makers started. The demand for F-5 was not because of the design but because Bill Monroe played it - heck, folks even started wearing pants, boots and hats exactly like he did ... He was the icon in the design.
    Gibson didn't care at all till 1978 when outsider (Siminoff) had to come and tell them the train has left the station. They slowly strated building mandolins but the mandolins were nothing special and other makers had been making better mandolins and certainly more of them. This slowly led to the Flatiron acquisition but by the time they were just one of many makers.
    You should also note that Gibson has not been making "entry level" mandolins (like they used to do in teens or 20's) so that part was entirely left on Japanese, Korean or Chinese companies and many of the beginners who started playing bluegrass on one of the cheap imports secretly lusted for Gibson but Gibson was not able to deliver the quality that many smaller or larger builders did.
    Similar fate happened to some of the iconic guitar models - they became iconic because of the iconic players who started using them few years after not-so-good start, not because folks immediately realized how "timeless" trademark-worthy design they had.
    Just imagine if everyone around filled their cola into same red bottles for years - do you think Coca-Cola could get back the design for their sole use after leaving it in the wild?
    Yes Adrain no doubt it was Bill Monroe the put the Gibson F-5 back in the spotlight in 1945 after it had languished for over two decades. The crash of the "mandolin craze" and the birth of the F-5 was bad timing!

    As to Gibson "not being able to repair" Monroe's F-5 wasn't that more a case of miscommunication? Gibson pretty much proved in 1983 that they could put an F-5 back together from splinters even?!

    About Gibson not caring I think that is true and why would they? Because except for a handful of folks playing something called new and located down south called "Bluegrass" no one cared much about mandolins at all in the USA at least?

    The big mandolin orchestras had almost all broken up. So the only musicians besides bluegrass pickers who were into mandolins were the former members of those old orchestras -- they were banded together mostly as members of the FIGA (the Fretted Instrument Guild of America) which was headquartered in Chicago. For FIGA players the top of the line mandolin was the F-4 for the most part - they did not pay too much attention to the F-5 it seems to me? I used to be a member of FIGA -- back in the 70s and I attended a few of their national conventions. Lots of fun!

    As to quality. This is just my opinion but I would put the F-5L almost on a par with the mandolins the Flatiron started making 10 years later. In fact isn't it likely that Steve Carlson used the F-5L as a guide to his Flatirons? I'm not really sure about that statement or relative quality because there was only one time in my life that I ever played a Flatiron F-style Performer and a Gibson F-5L in the same place at the same time and that was in the Famous Old Time Music Center in Carthage, Ohio about 1999 or so.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    The best thing H.J. did was buy Flatiron,after that it was excessive spending,,but that brought Steve Carlson on board and I think that started another upward trend in quality..
    Last edited by T.D.Nydn; Jun-23-2019 at 6:38pm. Reason: Spelling error

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Gibsons mandolin history really doesn't matter until they start accusing others of ripping them off.

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    The words getting out there quick . I truly think Gibsons loosing alot of fan base. After whats been posted. I can see why.

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    197 posts in 4 1/2 days, the majority of them not very favorable to Gibson.
    Even if they win a settlement, they are probably not helping themselves . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by slimt View Post
    The words getting out there quick . I truly think Gibsons loosing alot of fan base. After whats been posted. I can see why.
    Yep. Once public opinion turns against them, which it looks like is well in progress right now (among musicians anyway, dunno about collectors) after that unfortunate video, things will likely not go particularly well for them.

    Generally speaking, whether advertising/marketing or politics or whatever, once the public (and customers and potential/former customers and supporters) have arrived at a certain mindset for whatever reason, it's an uphill battle to persuade them otherwise. Customers lost tend to stay lost, hard to win them back once they're gone.


    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    ... If we look just at F-5 with it's "iconic design" it is just remake of the Orville Gibson's designs that were just compilations of the popular designs of the era - I recall there was a thread where headstock with scrolls was posted that predates Orville by few years. Scrolls and points on bodies were used by more companies as well. Also arched tops with f holes were made before Orville. Gibson himself didn't trademark his design when he was the sole maker and even after he sold his name to form Gibson company, they didn't trademark it either, they patented few new things more or less succesfull (like truss rod concept) so they knew about IP laws but they didn't claim trademarks for the designs. ...
    Well that should settle that, then. But who knows what clever tricks they'll have their lawyers try to get away with, hoping that no one will know the difference...

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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    For the record, Flatiron started making mandolins in 1977. Gibson bought them in 1987. Flatiron had been making carved mandolins in significant numbers by 1983. I believe that most of the pre-Gibson carved Flatirons were A models, although an F model was also available.

    The pre-Gibson carved Flatirons were good instruments. One could argue that they were the best factory-made instruments of the period.

    We had only a handful of independent makers in those days-- Gilchrist, Monteleone, Randy Wood, Bob Givens, Gene Horner, Tom Morgan, Lou Stiver, and Rolfe Gerhardt [Unicorn]. The explosion of small shop mandolin makers is a 21st century phenomenon.

    Someone posted a link to an article saying that Gibson threatened Flatiron before they bought them out. I had not heard that before. I always assumed that Gibson bought them to eliminate the competition, and to get the factory and some of the workers.
    Thanks for that list of independent builder back in the day. Most of the names I have heard of but I really did not know who was building when.

    Are you sure about Flatiron dates? I assumed 1987 from a sentence that Bruce Weber posted on his sight but the sentence is a bit ambiguous so I may have miss read it.

    So the Flatiron F-5s and the Gibson F-5L basically came to the market at the same time then?

    I had never heard the story that Gibson threatened Flatiron --i.e. to cease and desist? I also thought the purchase was to get volume production as Gibson had only three individuals in-house who could make the F-5L. But there are individuals on this forum who would know that for sure what happened back then. Steve Carlson has commented several times on this forum including a lot of details on how they got started with Flatiron but I do not recall him mentioning any coercion?
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by DHopkins View Post
    There are others:

    TENNESSEAN® (U.S. Reg. No. 38846555) (That's also a newspaper in Nashville.)
    THUNDERBIRD® (U.S. Reg. No. 3989004)
    PURE® (U.S. Reg. No. 2644117) (But not 99 44/100%)
    ONE MORE TIME® (U.S. Reg. No. 4042789
    WORN® (U.S. Reg. No. 4092717) (That includes me. Do I have to pay 'em for my old age?)

    And the list goes on. It borders on ridiculous. No, it's ridiculous.
    It might seem ridiculous to you but you don't own Gibson. Most companies do things like that. All of the automakers have each patented thousands of names -- names they really never intend to use most likely but they are names that they don't what their competitors to have access either. Its common business practice and it is naive to think otherwise?

    Fiat-Chrysler just got a patent on the name "Saint". Why? Because they don't want Ford or GM to make a car called the "Saint" and claim it will crush the Dodge "Hellcats" and"Demons". It is called PR and it is part of business.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by JL277z View Post
    Yep. Once public opinion turns against them, which it looks like is well in progress right now (among musicians anyway, dunno about collectors) after that unfortunate video, things will likely not go particularly well for them.

    Generally speaking, whether advertising/marketing or politics or whatever, once the public (and customers and potential/former customers and supporters) have arrived at a certain mindset for whatever reason, it's an uphill battle to persuade them otherwise. Customers lost tend to stay lost, hard to win them back once they're gone.




    Well that should settle that, then. But who knows what clever tricks they'll have their lawyers try to get away with, hoping that no one will know the difference...
    I think to posit that "public opinion" (as in the instrument buying world "out there") would correspond to the opinions of a dozen or so members of the Mandolin Cafe forum is a bit of a stretch?

    I'd say 99.99% of instrument buyers will never hear of this discussion nor while they hear or probably care about the Gibson legal actions either? My opinion of course.

    Is there any evidence that Gibson is coming after any independent mandolin maker at this time? I'm asking as I have not heard of any but perhaps I am uninformed about some developments?

    I do know Gibson made a claim on the fern head stock pattern a few years ago but are there any other examples of such on mandolins (also there is the claim on the truss rod cover and flowerpots).
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    It might seem ridiculous to you but you don't own Gibson. Most companies do things like that. All of the automakers have each patented thousands of names -- names they really never intend to use most likely but they are names that they don't what their competitors to have access either. Its common business practice and it is naive to think otherwise?

    Fiat-Chrysler just got a patent on the name "Saint". Why? Because they don't want Ford or GM to make a car called the "Saint" and claim it will crush the Dodge "Hellcats" and"Demons". It is called PR and it is part of business.
    You're right. I don't own Gibson (but if I did, I would have done things differently a long time ago, but that another story). Anyway, being prolific doesn't legitimize the process. Well, maybe it does, in a way. That's the way they do business. I think I'll register "air," "rain," "water" and maybe I'll come up with some more later. My law firm of Delay, Knockwood & Pray (a division of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe) will handle my lawsuits.
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    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    To answer Bernie's question about Flatirons, the carved models had been available for several years before Gibson bought them in May of 1987. The majority of them were A models.

    I'm not sure of the accuracy of the claim that Gibson threatened Flatiron with legal action before they purchased them. Perhaps someone from Flatiron can tell us whether or not that claim is accurate.

    According to UPI, Monroe's mandolins were smashed in November of 1985. His main mandolin was repaired and returned to him in February of 1986.

    I remember the state of the mandolin market in the '80's. I was playing a Strad-o-lin in those days. Most of the new mandolins we saw were Asian made: Alvarez, Epiphone, Washburn, etc. The Flatirons and the Unicorns were a breath of fresh air when they appeared. They were considerably better than the Asian instruments. The first F-5L that I saw was, in my opinion, not much better than some of the Asian mandolins.

    Around 1987, somebody stuck a really good 'teens A-4 in my hands and a light went on-- I heard how good an old Gibson could sound. I went to Gruhn's and bought an F-4 for $1600. Of the 8 or 10 old Gibsons George had in the shop that day, it was the best one by far. Later, I picked up a good A-4, and H-2, and a Lyon & Healy style B. I cut quite a few tracks with those mandolins. I still have the three Gibsons.

    There were not a lot of small shop mandolins around in those days. I didn't see a Gilchrist mandolin until the '90's.

    I have never owned a modern era mandolin, except for an Eastman 505 that I got in a trade that I set up and sold. It was good enough to gig with, and since I now have a new band, I kind of wish that I had kept it. The better Asian instruments available today are considerably better than those available in the '80's and '90's.

    This lawsuit against Dean is going to be a test case for Gibson. If they win, it seems likely that they will file other suits. If they lose, they might or might not give up on future suits. The current management does not seem to be very interested in public opinion. They do appear to want more operating capital, so only time will tell.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-23-2019 at 10:07pm.

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  34. #250
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
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    1,010

    Default Re: Gibson threatening the mandolin and guitar luthier community

    The current state of supply for new Gibson mandolins:

    Morgan Music advertises one F-9 in stock.
    The Mandolin Store advertises a total of perhaps 9 or 10 total: 1 each of the F-9, 1 F-5G "Black Night", 4 F-5 "customs" with varying appointments, more than one Fern, and 1 Master Model.
    Guitar Center/Musician's Friend shows 2 F-9's in stock. Guitar Center also shows 2 F-5G's in stock while Musician's Friend does not; this is a little odd since they are the same company.

    That's a total of between 12 and 15 new instruments total between the 3 existing authorized mandolin dealers. They're don't seem very interested in making and selling mandolins at this time.

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