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Thread: Used Gibsons

  1. #1
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Used Gibsons

    Actively searching for a used Gibson, I've noticed a dynamic that makes me pause, ponder, and wonder what I might be getting into. Just off hand I can think of two ferns, an F5 custom, and a Goldrush that saw multiple owners in the past few years, three had the third owner selling them off shortly (guessing around a year or so, maybe less) after buying. These were all Roberts/Derrington or Harvey era mandolins, so of good reputation.

    What's going on here? I imagine the reputation of these instruments makes a person more willing to buy online and unplayed. It likely does for me. I'm more inclined to take a risk on a Gibson built in the past 20 years than one built earlier. But why don't these particular mandolins stick? Why do the same ones get sold over and over?

    I love the Gibson sound and know a guy that has an absolute beast in his Gibson mandolin. That's what I want. Haha. And I'm wondering if the sellers also want that rare beast of a Gibson, so while the mandolins being sold sound good enough to survive a trial period, they never achieve the ultimate Gibson beast sound.

    Have you ever bought a mandolin that had seen three or more prior owners (recent owners, Loar era F5s are out of my range. Haha) and had that mandolin knock your socks of and question the sanity of the prior owners for selling it?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    I'm not sure how far you are from Lansing MI but I'd recommend a drive to Elderly and play the mandolins they have. Maybe a Gibson might sound and feel right to you, like this one:
    https://www.elderly.com/collections/...onroe-f-5-1993
    or maybe one of the 60 or 70 other mandolins they have might be right.

    Personally, I'd be interested in trying out this Flatiron:
    https://www.elderly.com/collections/...-5-artist-1998
    Best, Stevo

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post
    Actively searching for a used Gibson, I've noticed a dynamic that makes me pause, ponder, and wonder what I might be getting into. Just off hand I can think of two ferns, an F5 custom, and a Goldrush that saw multiple owners in the past few years, three had the third owner selling them off shortly (guessing around a year or so, maybe less) after buying. These were all Roberts/Derrington or Harvey era mandolins, so of good reputation.

    What's going on here? I imagine the reputation of these instruments makes a person more willing to buy online and unplayed. It likely does for me. I'm more inclined to take a risk on a Gibson built in the past 20 years than one built earlier. But why don't these particular mandolins stick? Why do the same ones get sold over and over?

    I love the Gibson sound and know a guy that has an absolute beast in his Gibson mandolin. That's what I want. Haha. And I'm wondering if the sellers also want that rare beast of a Gibson, so while the mandolins being sold sound good enough to survive a trial period, they never achieve the ultimate Gibson beast sound.

    Have you ever bought a mandolin that had seen three or more prior owners (recent owners, Loar era F5s are out of my range. Haha) and had that mandolin knock your socks of and question the sanity of the prior owners for selling it?
    I think what is going on is that quite a few people have and are unable to shake MAS. If one has the financial ability to live this life they do. Nothing mysterious.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  5. #4
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    I'd also be a little wary about recent mandolins of any maker that have had multiple owners in a short period of time, although that by itself may not indicate a problem... I'd be asking about authenticity, structural problems, repairs and mods that have been done and even about lackluster tone. I'd also be asking about a trial period.

    In my experience, generally if a moderate-cost newer instrument from a well-known builder is great sounding, people will hold on to them, to the point of making repairs and even mods to them so that they better meet their needs. These then become life-time instruments that only go to market under the most dire circumstances.

    This mostly pertains to "player" grade instruments... That's been my experience with my 2002 F-9, and has been the case with a number of my other newer instruments. I have a small collection of nice, but mostly "player" grade instruments from various older time periods -- serious prime collection instruments are different and may be hoarded or traded off depending on the mindset of the collector.
    -- Don

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    My reason for selling off my Goldrush, is as much as I love it, my Duff does more of what I want an instrument to do for ME.
    Although if I only owned the Goldrush, it would be a lifetime mandolin for sure.

    .....I don't NEED to sell it, but it's a shame to let it sit in the closet and not be played as often as it should.

  7. #6
    Registered User Mike Romkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    That’s a good question! There are a lot of great mandolins out there. I went from a Collings MT to a Gibson F5 to a Duff. The Gibson wasn’t in the same class as the Duff and the Red Diamond I’ve also since acquired. I’m sure there are some very good Gibsons. There also are some very good alternatives. Some of the Collings are very nice, as are Ellis mandolins. It’s not as if Gibson is alone at the top of the heap.
    '09 Gilchrist Model 1, “July 9” Red Diamond F-5, '12 Duff F-5, ’24 A2-Z, ’24 F-2, '13 Collings mandola, '19 Pava Player, '82 D-35, Gibson Keb Mo.

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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post
    Actively searching for a used Gibson, I've noticed a dynamic that makes me pause, ponder, and wonder what I might be getting into. Just off hand I can think of two ferns, an F5 custom, and a Goldrush that saw multiple owners in the past few years, three had the third owner selling them off shortly (guessing around a year or so, maybe less) after buying. These were all Roberts/Derrington or Harvey era mandolins, so of good reputation.

    What's going on here? I imagine the reputation of these instruments makes a person more willing to buy online and unplayed. It likely does for me. I'm more inclined to take a risk on a Gibson built in the past 20 years than one built earlier. But why don't these particular mandolins stick? Why do the same ones get sold over and over?

    I love the Gibson sound and know a guy that has an absolute beast in his Gibson mandolin. That's what I want. Haha. And I'm wondering if the sellers also want that rare beast of a Gibson, so while the mandolins being sold sound good enough to survive a trial period, they never achieve the ultimate Gibson beast sound.

    Have you ever bought a mandolin that had seen three or more prior owners (recent owners, Loar era F5s are out of my range. Haha) and had that mandolin knock your socks of and question the sanity of the prior owners for selling it?
    Just an opinion: nothing is going on except you extrapolating a trend on tens of thousands of instruments based on four, unless I counted your references incorrectly.

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    The stores are full of very nice two and three year old instruments whose owners have traded them in. There is, like was said above, a sub class of pickers who just have to try everything, and you really do have to live with one past the honeymoon period to really know. Comparing from a large selection in a store is just the first phase of the process. Living with your choice is the second.

    The alternate is making a good guess online and realizing it will be plenty good and you should focus on playing it instead of chasing dreams. If only chasing dreams weren’t so much fun...
    Silverangel A
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  12. #9

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    The stores are full of very nice two and three year old instruments whose owners have traded them in. There is, like was said above, a sub class of pickers who just have to try everything, and you really do have to live with one past the honeymoon period to really know. Comparing from a large selection in a store is just the first phase of the process. Living with your choice is the second.

    The alternate is making a good guess online and realizing it will be plenty good and you should focus on playing it instead of chasing dreams. If only chasing dreams weren’t so much fun...
    There really is no substitute to playing instruments side by side to get an idea of which you like better. I think the best idea is to travel to a good shop with many to choose from and try them. If that isn't feasible, next best is to buy used and try it at home. If it is great, keep it. If not, resell it. I think that happens quite a bit and is a great way to try out different mandolins without losing too much money in the process. I think it may also contribute to the OP's perception of instruments showing up again and again for sale. There are plenty of mandolin players who don't live anywhere near a good shop and have decided to buy mandolins on the used market and then resell them if they aren't what they were looking for. I personally would prefer to travel to Nashville or Missoula or Lansing and try every mandolin in my price range, but not everyone has that flexibility.
    Best, Stevo

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  14. #10
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    I played in a band where the guitarist constantly bought and sold guitars. He'd have 3 or 4 around at a time, each for a couple of months. He'd be really enthused about them for a couple of months, then one day, they were gone. Some were good, some were bad, but on they travelled. How long they lasted didn't seem to correlate with how enthusiastic he was about them. Trading them on was just what he did.
    -Dave
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  15. #11

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Sheets View Post
    I......... Trading them on was just what he did.
    I'm sure there are more than 2 Cafe members who do that.

    I haven't got the 'release' down yet, just the 'catch'.
    Not all the clams are at the beach

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post
    I've noticed a dynamic that makes me pause, ponder, and wonder what I might be getting into. Just off hand I can think of two ferns, an F5 custom, and a Goldrush that saw multiple owners in the past few years, three had the third owner selling them off shortly (guessing around a year or so, maybe less) after buying. ...

    What's going on here?
    I think there are not enough data points to make any kind of defend-able conclusion. Four transactions out of how many, hundreds at least maybe into the thousands over enough time.

    Even so, a more reasonable explanation is that some folks are addicted to catch and release, or just can't afford to catch without a release.

    And I see now that both of my points above have been covered with other posts so I am done here, so my posts are just "yup" and "yea"
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  17. #13
    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    "Catch and release" are all part of the mandolin "game." Some people catch and release earlier than others, multiple variables going on....
    John A. Karsemeyer

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    There may be an appearance of it, but that's all it is. If you look for used Gibson F models, suddenly it seems there are multiple ones out there.

    As everyone else says, some of us catch and release instruments quicker than others. But if you find something you want, buy it. No guarantee it will be around long.
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  19. #15

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Also, along the lines of catch and release, sometimes life forces someone to downgrade even though the instrument has nothing wrong with it.

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  21. #16
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    At the price point of the mandolins OP mentions, the owners expect their instruments to be absolutely exceptional, "just what I wanted," lifetime "keepers."

    But musicians being what they are, some owners will find that their mandolins don't quite live up to those expectations; they're excellent mandolins, of course, but they don't have the exact sound, feel, look, that -- in the owners' mind -- justify all that they spend on them. I have a good friend, who plays mando in two bluegrass bands, who played a Flatiron F-5 for years, then bought a new Gibson F-5L through a special "road show" price at a local dealer. He played both the Gibson and the Flatiron alternately in his bands, but never really "took" to the F-5L; didn't like the neck "feel" as well, thought the Flatiron had a sound he liked more (well, he'd been playing it for a decade, and was used to how it sounded). He ended up trading the Gibson on an Apitius F-5 -- and still plays the Flatiron at least half the time.

    So don't look upon multiple ownerships, as necessarily implying some defect in these recent Gibsons. The fact that some owners didn't find them as "keepers," doesn't mean that they weren't top-end instruments. They just didn't meet those owners' preferences -- and when someone lays out several $K for an instrument, that person has the right to be picky.

    Plus, they had high market value as trade-ins or resales, so "renting" one for a couple years didn't result in losing the entire purchase price. As someone who rarely lets an instrument go, I understand suspicion when I see a top-line instrument that's passed through several owners over a relatively brief time. But the only way to be sure, is to play it myself, and decide if it's worth the hefty price. Gibson instruments, to some extent, are sold on the maker's name, history and reputation -- but don't be surprised if some of them get "turned over" and are back on the market.
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  23. #17

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    People also buy instruments beyond their means just to own one for a while, knowing that they will have to pass it on. Maybe it’s the only way to try a Gilchrist or other top mandolin. There really is no substitute for a Carter’s experience.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    I knew a guy that would purchase expensive guitars, radio gear, and/or fishing gear, at full retail prices, enjoy the ownership for a month or two, and then sell them "on the secondary market" for a deep discount. Every purchase he fully intended to keep for ever, and every sale was to raise funds for some other purchase. "I think what I'll do, see, is sell the D-41 and buy a Drake TR22 VHF transceiver." and so on back and forth.

    The other reason he would sell, I always thought, is that his wife would discover his purchase.

    I remember thinking the thing to do was to make a recommendation to him to get something which in reality you really wanted, but for which you could not justify full retail price. "See what you need is a mandolin, a Gibson. And a Thomas & Thomas fly rod. I'm tellin' ya."
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  25. #19
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post

    The other reason he would sell, I always thought, is that his wife would discover his purchase.
    Haha. That sounds like my brother and his wife. He'd always pay cash and never take a box home she might later find in the recyclables.

    Upon reflection I think the question I was looking to answer for myself is how do I avoid buying "the one" only to find myself wanting to move it in a year or so. I think the answer, however, is either a) don't buy anything (because if you don't buy anything you can't then sell anything), or b) accept that even if I extensively auditioned an instrument before buying it, something might intervene and cause me to want to move on from the choice I made.

    Since a) gets me nowhere, I'll accept that even if I do my due diligence there's a chance my next mandolin might later become someone else's mandolin. No big deal. There's a lot worse things in life than deciding to sell off a nice Gibson. Such as having a wife force you to sell it. Haha.

  26. #20
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    I had the joy of standing in Mandolin Bros. and being able to play an entire wall of mandolins before I bought my Gibson. I played more expensive models and kept going back to that same one and honestly I'll never sell it. It's tougher when you don't have that same sort of experience but the process has to move forward or you'll never find anything
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I had the joy of standing in Mandolin Bros.
    Dat Dere...

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  29. #22
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Yup ... still have the worn out hat. I can't bring myself to throw it out. Stan had a fine shop. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  30. #23

    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    if you live out on the edge. like the north atlantic , where maine appears urban. then you have to buy mandolins to try them for a while. and of course, a lot of acoustic players are getting older. (them young whipper snappers are playing them there fancy electric instruments) and they sell of things they valued twenty or thirty years ago.

  31. #24
    Registered User Roger Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I think what is going on is that quite a few people have and are unable to shake MAS. If one has the financial ability to live this life they do. Nothing mysterious.
    This.

    Every time I feel a bit of MAS, I just pick up my Goldrush, and it goes away. The only way your going to separate me from my Goldrush is with a stick of dynamite!
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    Default Re: Used Gibsons

    Kinda like: why does my wife want to redecorate?

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