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Thread: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest options.

  1. #26
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Martin View Post
    Man, those terrified tops on the Ellis mandolins really scream.
    In my defense it is almost Halloween.....

    And drewbarries, have you played either of these? How did you narrow your search to these two?

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  3. #27

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    You mentioned an Ellis with the highest options, this would be hard to beat........

    https://themusicemporium.com/new-arr...tailpiece-8171

    Yummy!

    NFI
    It would be hard to beat... exactly! Iím surprised itís not already gone except the runout on the one piece back from straight on. I personally love everything about the look of this mandolin, the faux tortoise binding reflects the light in the most beautiful translucent way. The pretty Florette inlays on the buttons and even the abalone choices he used are special. Iíve heard high quality sounds examples of this mandolin and it sounds incredible, so pretty, traditional it is not however but it has a beauty all of its own and a real throaty power mid freq and wonderful highs that are very sweet and donít have any unwanted harsh overtones. The things is this though I really love the warmer woodier tone of a Gibson too.

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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Well I've always wanted to own a Gibson Master Model or a DMM -- but they would probably not be enough (or any better) than the regular Gibson F-5s that I currently own. Many people like the Ellis mandolins including some individuals whose opinion I greatly respected -- I've never wanted one myself -- but I have no doubt that they are wonderful insturments.

    I'll add that philosophically I find this thread curious (although) it is certainly not the first of its kind. If I were to buy an expensive mandolin -- one that would bring me pleasure -- about the last thing I would want is someone else's opinion. I buy an instrument based on what I like and what sounds good to me.

    In my opinion buying a mandolin is not like taking a poll or a holding a popularity contest. I don't think anyone could intelligently advise me on what I might like to play because they are not inside my head? But for better or worse I am.
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  6. #29

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    Well I've always wanted to own a Gibson Master Model or a DMM -- but they would probably not be enough (or any better) than the regular Gibson F-5s that I currently own. Many people like the Ellis mandolins including some individuals whose opinion I greatly respected -- I've never wanted one myself -- but I have no doubt that they are wonderful insturments.

    I'll add that philosophically I find this thread curious (although) it is certainly not the first of its kind. If I were to buy an expensive mandolin -- one that would bring me pleasure -- about the last thing I would want is someone else's opinion. I buy an instrument based on what I like and what sounds good to me.

    In my opinion buying a mandolin is not like taking a poll or a holding a popularity contest. I don't think anyone could intelligently advise me on what I might like to play because they are not inside my head? But for better or worse I am.
    Really Bernie, no value in other people’s opinions? I can agree that ultimately my own ears are going to be the final judge but you know there’s something a bit unusual about our own perspective on things which is to say it’s not so fixed, it’s malleable and easily changed. I know from experience that this is true because I own both a Stelling banjo and a Yates banjo, both are very different and for whatever mysterious reason I will prefer the one that I’ve been playing and when I hop over to the other one I initially dislike it but then after a while I change and it becomes preferable to the other, this is repeatable as well. I think our brains have ways of filtering things in order to optimize the information that is available. I also enjoy other people opinions as a matter of perspective, in other words I may not appreciate a certain aspect of something that someone else is able to point out and thereby transform my point of view. You probably think I’m way too deep or just crazy but for what it’s worth that’s my opinion and it’s just the way I feel.

  7. #30

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    In my defense it is almost Halloween.....

    And drewbarries, have you played either of these? How did you narrow your search to these two?
    I used to own a Gibson F5G Wide and I also used to own a Collings Fern, bothh were great in their own unique ways, I’ve never owned nor played a varnish finished instrument and also the reputation of Dave Harvey combined with the thought of buying something special led me to the MM, the Ellis interest stems from praise from numerous reviews and its shear work of artistry beauty.
    Last edited by drewbarries; Oct-29-2019 at 8:15pm. Reason: Typo

  8. #31

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by drewbarries View Post
    It would be hard to beat... exactly! Iím surprised itís not already gone except the runout on the one piece back from straight on. I personally love everything about the look of this mandolin, the faux tortoise binding reflects the light in the most beautiful translucent way. The pretty Florette inlays on the buttons and even the abalone choices he used are special. Iíve heard high quality sounds examples of this mandolin and it sounds incredible, so pretty, traditional it is not however but it has a beauty all of its own and a real throaty power mid freq and wonderful highs that are very sweet and donít have any unwanted harsh overtones. The things is this though I really love the warmer woodier tone of a Gibson too.
    Iím familiar with runout on guitar tops, but I donít see anything that looks like what I understand to be runout on the back of that Ellis. Am I missing something?

  9. #32
    Registered User mandomurph's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    You mentioned an Ellis with the highest options, this would be hard to beat........

    https://themusicemporium.com/new-arr...tailpiece-8171

    Yummy!

    NFI
    I'm drooling all over my keyboard!
    mandomurph

    Joyful pickin'!

  10. #33
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    You mentioned an Ellis with the highest options, this would be hard to beat........

    https://themusicemporium.com/new-arr...tailpiece-8171

    Yummy!

    NFI
    Wow, that is one of the most beautiful mandolins I have ever seen. If I was in the market, I would have to give that one a try!
    Purr more, hiss less.

  11. #34

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by AgentKooper View Post
    Iím familiar with runout on guitar tops, but I donít see anything that looks like what I understand to be runout on the back of that Ellis. Am I missing something?
    My bad, poor choice of words, I was referring to the pretty obviously large section on the back where the figuring seems to fade unless viewed from an angle. I understand that itís wood and itís a natural product and all but at that price point Iíd expect the figuring to be more consistent and present from all angles like numerous other examples such as my old Collings which was $5K less. I am not saying itís not beautiful as it is, itís just that it a bit disappointing IMHO.

  12. #35
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Years ago played both at Gruhns and ordered an Ellis F5. Love my Ellis ! To my ears Ellis has the sound I like best . Another maker I would throw in the pot for you to consider is a Girouard ! Workmanship second to none and wonderful sound !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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  14. #36

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    I vote for one of each

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    This is the only answer that makes sense to me. Buy both. If you find yourself playing one or the other 75% of the time, sell the lightly used one and try something else. Do this until itís 50/50.
    Silverangel A
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    This is the only answer that makes sense to me. Buy both. If you find yourself playing one or the other 75% of the time, sell the lightly used one and try something else. Do this until itís 50/50.
    If you can swing it financially thatís the way to do it. Years ago I owned a Gilchrist Model 5, a MM , and a DMM. After a ton of picking I only had the MM and the DMM. After a ton more picking I got down to just the DMM. Each great mandolin I let go was a tough choice but It became very obvious to me which one was my true soul mate. I have no regrets and my mandolin still inspires me every time I pick it up.
    It doesn't matter . . . I'm going to WINFIELD!!!!!

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  18. #38
    Registered User McIrish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    I think for the money you are spending, you HAVE to play them in person. I also would not be bound to just those two instruments.
    I was on tour in 2016 and stopped at Morgan Music in MO to check out some new Northfield mandolins I was interested in getting. I had a huge issue with Gibson and didn't want anything to do with them (stupid non-traditional reasons). Anyway, I had them bring out every mandolin in the shop and I played them all. Spent hours with a couple guys in my band. In the end, I ended up walking out with a 2016 Gibson Fern. Dave Harvey really has something special going on there at Gibson. I played mandolins that cost over twice as much and nothing can touch the one I have. I think at that level, it's going to come down to the exact instrument. You can't make a judgement call based on name. Go play them. You may even find something less expensive that sounds even better.
    Gibson 2016 "Harvey" Fern
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  20. #39

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by McIrish View Post
    I think for the money you are spending, you HAVE to play them in person. I also would not be bound to just those two instruments.
    I was on tour in 2016 and stopped at Morgan Music in MO to check out some new Northfield mandolins I was interested in getting. I had a huge issue with Gibson and didn't want anything to do with them (stupid non-traditional reasons). Anyway, I had them bring out every mandolin in the shop and I played them all. Spent hours with a couple guys in my band. In the end, I ended up walking out with a 2016 Gibson Fern. Dave Harvey really has something special going on there at Gibson. I played mandolins that cost over twice as much and nothing can touch the one I have. I think at that level, it's going to come down to the exact instrument. You can't make a judgement call based on name. Go play them. You may even find something less expensive that sounds even better.
    I would love to have the opportunity to do what you did and you’re absolutely right, hopefully when I am ready I can figure out a way to go somewhere where they’ve got that kind of inventory. I recently played a couple of Dave Harvey built Ferns at my local store and they were either not setup properly or just weren’t very good. They reminded me of the same difference I notice when I compare Sitka to Adirondack on various guitars I’ve played through the years. The Shitka Spruce seems to not be able to handle the harder hitting as well as the Red Spruce and kind of reminds me of a blown speaker, but when played lightly they really did sound wonderful.

  21. #40

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Compounding the problem is my experience with Adirondak tops needing a lot of playing time to open up. How can you decide how something might sound like in a year or two.

    Regarding Gibson, I dislike them as a company, and prefer to view the mandolin operation as a separate little company, though I know it's not. It would be foolish to cloud a decision of this magnitude based on dislike of the management. The two Harvey Gibsons I've tried, both F 9s, were fantastic. The problem is, I don't think there is a new Gibson mandolin dealer in the SF Bay area. Sylvan likes to keep an A style Ellis on hand. I might just grab a flight to Phoenix and visit TMS.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  23. #41

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Compounding the problem is my experience with Adirondak tops needing a lot of playing time to open up. How can you decide how something might sound like in a year or two.

    Regarding Gibson, I dislike them as a company, and prefer to view the mandolin operation as a separate little company, though I know it's not. It would be foolish to cloud a decision of this magnitude based on dislike of the management. The two Harvey Gibsons I've tried, both F 9s, were fantastic. The problem is, I don't think there is a new Gibson mandolin dealer in the SF Bay area. Sylvan likes to keep an A style Ellis on hand. I might just grab a flight to Phoenix and visit TMS.
    I agree with you and what is generally known about the time it takes Adi to open up, still though I’d rather have Adi then Shitka ��

  24. #42
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    I'll offer what will be a pretty contrary opinion. I don't feel it's essential to play an instrument before buying it. The usual caveats here: my own opinion, experiences, tolerances, and other subjectivities. . . key is to start with a quality builder.

    - if the builder has a great reputation and you talk and correspond with the seller and people who've played it, maybe several times, about sound and action I've found it pretty accurate
    - you will adapt to the instrument, and its sound will change, over time. Sometime greatly. You can't know how much you'll like or even love an instrument in a year by playing it for a short time
    - you can often return, or sell, them
    - I have mandolins, a banjo and a guitar that I'm very happy with and think sound great that I bought without playing first
    - Somewhat similarly, when you order an instrument custom built you're not playing before you buy, and again, relying on a quality builder
    - Flip-side to ordering a build, if you order and instrument that you haven't played you can benefit by asking questions about it, and even hearing a sound clip, before you buy. Fortunately I'm also very happy with the banjo and mandolin I've had made.

    Just offering a counterpoint here, not trying to start a debate.

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  26. #43

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Luna Pick View Post
    I'll offer what will be a pretty contrary opinion. I don't feel it's essential to play an instrument before buying it. The usual caveats here: my own opinion, experiences, tolerances, and other subjectivities. . . key is to start with a quality builder.

    - if the builder has a great reputation and you talk and correspond with the seller and people who've played it, maybe several times, about sound and action I've found it pretty accurate
    - you will adapt to the instrument, and its sound will change, over time. Sometime greatly. You can't know how much you'll like or even love an instrument in a year by playing it for a short time
    - you can often return, or sell, them
    - I have mandolins, a banjo and a guitar that I'm very happy with and think sound great that I bought without playing first
    - Somewhat similarly, when you order an instrument custom built you're not playing before you buy, and again, relying on a quality builder
    - Flip-side to ordering a build, if you order and instrument that you haven't played you can benefit by asking questions about it, and even hearing a sound clip, before you buy. Fortunately I'm also very happy with the banjo and mandolin I've had made.

    Just offering a counterpoint here, not trying to start a debate.
    You make some excellent points that I happen to agree with, especially if you know someone that you trust that has played it. My last, a Collings for example, was recommended to me by my excellent sales rep, he knew what I liked and what he thought I was looking for and recommended one, unfortunately I had to sell it and now I’ve got an empty Hoffee case, tone guard and strap.... SAD
    Last edited by drewbarries; Oct-30-2019 at 7:06pm. Reason: Typo

  27. #44
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    The problem is, I don't think there is a new Gibson mandolin dealer in the SF Bay area. . . .
    As far as I can tell, the only dealers of new Gibson mandolins are The Mandolin Store, and Morgan Music [if they haven't cancelled their dealership], plus whatever Gibson decides to ship to Guitar Center/Musician's Friend.

    As we approach the second year of new management at Gibson, they are still not listing mandolins as currently available models on their website.

  28. #45
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by drewbarries View Post
    Really Bernie, no value in other people’s opinions? I can agree that ultimately my own ears are going to be the final judge but you know there’s something a bit unusual about our own perspective on things which is to say it’s not so fixed, it’s malleable and easily changed. I know from experience that this is true because I own both a Stelling banjo and a Yates banjo, both are very different and for whatever mysterious reason I will prefer the one that I’ve been playing and when I hop over to the other one I initially dislike it but then after a while I change and it becomes preferable to the other, this is repeatable as well. I think our brains have ways of filtering things in order to optimize the information that is available. I also enjoy other people opinions as a matter of perspective, in other words I may not appreciate a certain aspect of something that someone else is able to point out and thereby transform my point of view. You probably think I’m way too deep or just crazy but for what it’s worth that’s my opinion and it’s just the way I feel.
    That's fine too! I was just giving my perspective. Good luck with your search!

    I will mention one other opinion as it has come up repeatedly in this thread. Again, this is my opinion.

    I think that for one to base a mandolin buying decision on whether the top is Red Spruce versus Sitka (or hide glue versus aliphatic or varnish versus lacquer) is doing themselves a disfavor. I love Gibson but this is a marketing tool pure and simple. There simply is not enough consistent difference between the woods, glues or finishes that it should be an a priori factor in buying a mandolin or any other instrument. Wood experts who have been in the business for decades will tell you that there is huge overlap in the properties of the various species of spruce --some Sitka is better then some Red etc. None of those factors could easily be objectively tested in a double blind study of mandolin tone/projection and if they would somehow be so tested almost certainly everyone would fail to pick out the wood, glue or finish of the mandolin by the sound in a blind test. It would turn out like the great Paris violin double blind experiment. That experiment should have ended such silly speculation but it hasn't and it won't. LOL
    Last edited by Bernie Daniel; Oct-30-2019 at 11:43pm.
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  30. #46
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by drewbarries View Post
    The Shitka Spruce seems to not be able to handle the harder hitting....
    Iím a little offended, amused, but mostly ...

  31. #47

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianWilliam View Post
    Iím a little offended, amused, but mostly ...

  32. #48

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    That's fine too! I was just giving my perspective. Good luck with your search!

    I will mention one other opinion as it has come up repeatedly in this thread. Again, this is my opinion.

    I think that for one to base a mandolin buying decision on whether the top is Red Spruce versus Sitka (or hide glue versus aliphatic or varnish versus lacquer) is doing themselves a disfavor. I love Gibson but this is a marketing tool pure and simple. There simply is not enough consistent difference between the woods, glues or finishes that it should be an a priori factor in buying a mandolin or any other instrument. Wood experts who have been in the business for decades will tell you that there is huge overlap in the properties of the various species of spruce --some Sitka is better then some Red etc. None of those factors could easily be objectively tested in a double blind study of mandolin tone/projection and if they would somehow be so tested almost certainly everyone would fail to pick out the wood, glue or finish of the mandolin by the sound in a blind test. It would turn out like the great Paris violin double blind experiment. That experiment should have ended such silly speculation but it hasn't and it won't. LOL
    Fair enough, I was unaware of any studies that showed an overlap of typical varieties of Spruce, I have heard of this phenomenon between Rosewood species though. Itís been my personal experience on numerous examples of Martin guitars that the Red Spruce was my preference and it wasnít even close. Also recently I came away with a similar opinion on two Ferns I played that could not match the power of my Collings with the Adi.

    I know everyone has an opinion but here Dana has written a article describing the various tone woods and based on my own experience I would agree with his analysis.

    https://bourgeoisguitars.net/tonewoods-htm/

  33. #49

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    I have a an Adi topped Duff and Adi topped Heiden, both fantastic instruments by fantastic builders with plenty of power, volume and great tone. But, my loudest instrument by far is my Sitka topped Ruhland A5. I also have a 50s Sitka topped D18 with fantastic volume and power. I've A/Bed several of Matt's mandolins and have not seen a huge difference between the different species of Spruce and power/volume. Of course, that is just 1 builder and a few pieces of wood, so not a large sample size.

    I can't help but wonder if you've played 2 recent Gibsons and were disappointed in them, why they would remain on your short list, especially considering the fact that you may be buying before playing. That would not make me very confident in my purchase. A few years ago I played a Varnished Fern at the Music Emplorium that was a knockout, killer instrument, but would be hard to know without playing myself or having a real valued opinion play it. Side note, are VFerns Sitka?

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  35. #50

    Default Re: Gibson Master Model vs. Ellis F5 with all of his highest opti

    I believe this is the one:

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