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Thread: gibson f-model mandolins

  1. #1
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    Default gibson f-model mandolins

    I was wondering about Gibson mandolins - are there years that are known or are believed to be better than other years? Is an early 70's better than an early 80's? Just wondering what the consensus is?

    Or is it a dumb question?

    Thanks

    Thomas

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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    If we're talking more modern F styles as opposed to vintage then to me there are very few that were up to the level of what we expect from a mandolin until maybe the mid 80's when Flatiron started making them. There were some 50's F12's that were well built but usually were too overbuilt. The 70's are a total loss as is often discussed here.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    I've had Gibson F models from many years! From the 20's thru the new Millennium! Some of the F5-L's from the early 80's were pretty good-I had one but the original owner had it re-graduated as he was not impressed! I've had some Carlson 5's but the bolt on necks stunk!! Derrington/Roberts era Gibson's I've had were great but personally David Harvey Gibson's are the CREAM! David is the Lloyd Loar of our Generation I think anyway and that's just my honest opinion! David knows his stuff, in every way! He knows tone, volume, playability, overall voice! If I was to get a "newer" Gibson F-5 it would be a Harvey signed Gibson! I know we all have our favorites and I'm into the pre-war F-5 sound as that's what I love and play but yeah man I'd go for a Harvey V-Fern or MM over any other year of Gibson unless its an original Loar! IMHO David is the man, I'm proud to call him a true friend!

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    only to say the Flatirons do not have bolt-on-necks. They have M&T neck joints and the, "bolt" is for the purpose of clamping the glue joint. If you remove the hardware, the neck doesn't come off, in other words. I do agree that they are not conventional dovetail joints. I think them great mandolins; however.

    Knowing full well that William Smith has a lot more experience and I do appreciate his thoughts on bluegrass mandolins!w

    f-d
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    The 60's and early 70's were not golden years for Gibson F5 mandolins. Then this happened. Then in 1987 Gibson bought Flatiron.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    There seems to be a consensus that the "pre-F-5L" F-5's from the mid-1960's to the mid-1970's represent a low point in Gibson's quality. Having never played a Dave Harvey-built F-model, I can only defer to those who have, and who generally praise them. Also, there have been other F-model Gibsons of the period, the F-9, the Jam Master, and a variety of "tribute" limited-run mandolins.

    I would state, however, that generalizations are just that, and that instruments really do need to be evaluated individually. If you are actually getting close to buying one, its build date is only one of the variables to consider. A Gibson F-model of any vintage is a substantial investment -- and, your tastes and preferences in terms of appearance, sound, playing ease, cost, possible resale value, etc. etc. are yours and yours alone. You can start out with some basic facts, and some informed opinions, about Gibson mandolins over the past 50-60 years, but hands-on is the true test of whether any individual mandolin is what you want.
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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    I have an '81 Gibson F5L and favor it over my more modern Fern. They are both very good but the '81 has that something special. My bandmates express their preference for the '81 as well. As others have said, avoid 60's-70's models in general. There may be exceptions but I've not witnessed one myself.
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    Were there enough F5-L's made to really impact the market?
    Yes Carlson's didn't use a dovetail but they got the look down and usually sounded pretty good. And they were the only game in town if you wanted an official "The Gibson" on the peghead.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: gibson f-model mandolins

    I had an 88 F5-l that was a hoss but the neck joint wasn't my favorite and when I told David Harvey I got rid of it for that reason he said good as he has had to fix way too many of those as they fail!

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