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Thread: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

  1. #1
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    Default Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    i know very little about Gibsons, the timelines, the good years, the other years.

    in another thread this used Gibson was mentioned to me and i have been considering that i would very much like to have one to experience, but i don't have the $ to drop into the $8000 range and upward.

    i know Bob Smakula's shop work well. i would feel no hesitation in getting anything from there and wonder if it was structurally good. he will tell you what he knows about anything he sells. the shop does excellent work.

    the use wear of this mandolin doesn't bother me in the least, in fact, it helps to have an instrument like this so you have a whole lot less to think about taking places or handing it over for somebody to play. and, at the end of the day, if it doesn't do it for you after a good while you should be able to get your $ worth back vs buying a new or near new used one.

    appears to be a large "S" some letters, then "Carl" on the label. i'm assuming that would be Steve Carlson, but you Gibson people will know for sure. in the write up Bob mentioned the well worn fretboard(which i suppose would have been flat). he replaced it and put on evo frets, put a radius and scooped the FB end(thats all good imo as a player and definitely i am not a collector). the case is cool.

    were these 1991 year builds typically good to own? anything to be aware of?

    Bob is holding it for me until we talk tomorrow. He will give me the radius and nut width tomorrow as well. I told him if this was being sold by Fender it would have an additional charge of around $2500 because of the stage 3 relic-i have no idea if Gibson will do relic builds if you order a custom.

    this would be an interesting "study" for a mandolin luthier to have to actually see the natural use patterns in the event they wanted to do different levels of relic work. i know, thats an expensive "workbook", but its the real deal. I'm sure Bob knows the previous owner of this, and more than likely played some banjo with the man while he put some of these use marks on this mandolin.

    if the neck specs do not work for me, i'll put another post here tomorrow so you have the radius and nut width, and if you want it, there you go.

    Here's the link to the write up-first paragraph after "JUST IN":
    https://www.smakula.com/Mandolins.html
    if you don't want to go to the website-here's the write up:

    <1991 Gibson F-5L. From 1991 until about 2016, when the original owner passed away, this mandolin was played hard and player a lot. Though relatively well cared for (no cracks in the wood) there are many signs that this F-5L has had a lot of fun. When I received it, I looked carefully at the original fretboard and decided that the 4 or 5 previous refrets did not do the original ebony board any favors, so I replaced it. With input from several respectable Bluegrass mandolin players, I installed a radiused ebony fretboard with a scooped fretboard extension (to prevent pick clatter). And if the EVO frets I installed had been around in 1991, this mandolin would have never needed a refret let alone 5. The other parts are original and conform to what you would expect. Maple back, sides, and neck, spruce top, grained ivoroid binding, and a fern inlaid peghead with Schaller tuners with mother of pearl knobs. At the price of $4,800 you also get the original rectangular hard case and the original pickguard in the case pocket. Photos>

    and the picture link (you can zoom to a degree if you go to this next link to see some of the use/wear marks)
    https://www.smakula.com/images/Mando...n_F5L_1322029/

    and the pictures if you don't want to click the above link:
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    Last edited by darylcrisp; Jan-25-2022 at 12:06am.

  2. #2
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    It seems to me that even if itís from the bad period, and I think 90s ones are well regarded, generally the great filter applies. They either get fixed or chucked out leaving only the good ones. Others with more knowledge will kick in no doubt.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Lo-Fi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    I have a 1988 Carlson signed Gibson F5L and it is a wonderful instrument. It has a nice full "rich" sound and it's easy to play. I know these things are all subjective and your results may vary, but I love mine and would buy it all over again if I had to. The one you're looking at has the original case and some documents, that's a nice touch. I like some honest play wear on my instruments so it wouldn't bother me at all if there were some scars on it and because you say you're a player and not a collector it likely doesn't bother you either. From the pictures it's definitely a good looking mandolin. Good luck.

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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    1991 F 5l from the Montana era will be about as good as you’ll find at that price point. That was most definitely not a bad time period for Gibson. All the flatirons and gibsons I’ve seen/played which came out of Montana were great builds with great sound. My 93 F5L is just really really good.

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  8. #5

    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Dale, I think you are going to owe me lunch for this find. I hope it works out.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Specs:
    1.135” at nut (a slightly big 1-1/8””


    Radius at the first fret; 7.25”

    Radius at the 12th fret; 10”


    String height at the 12th fret with the bridge lowered all the way; Skinny 1/16” at the E, slightly large 1/16” at the G. That is to say you can just #see the 1/6” line above the E string and just see it below the G string when the precision ruler is on the top of the 12th fret.

    It's open for purchase. I like it a lot, but I'm trying to hold off because I have other things going on.
    d

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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Dale, I think you are going to owe me lunch for this find. I hope it works out.
    If I keep hanging around you, I'm going to be penniless.
    It is a neat find, hoping somebody buys it so I can walk away,lol
    d

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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Trying to trade some banjos for it

  14. #9

    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    Trying to trade some banjos for it
    That might work.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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  16. #10
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    Trying to trade some banjos for it
    You have too many anyway, right? 11 or some crazy number like that. Maybe that's why you needed them, to trade for a really cool mando.

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  18. #11
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Good point. Leave yourself just the best banjo, and trade the rest. After all, you can never have too many mandolins, but you can easily have too many banjos. Some say even one banjo is too many.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  20. #12

    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Daryl has some really nice banjos. And Bob is a banjo guy. I believe he and a friend (Kevin Enoch) built some quite collectible models once upon a time. Will Seeders also worked or him for a while.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    You have too many anyway, right? 11 or some crazy number like that. Maybe that's why you needed them, to trade for a really cool mando.
    Actually I think there are 14 around here now, they're everywhere, every room has a couple, some hanging from rafters, leaning in corners. There's a strange "going on" where two or three banjo cases have appeared out of nowhere, doesn't make sense, I didn't bring them in.

    Told him to take some time to see if a cash buyer arrives, if not, I have three I would swap out. Been meaning to sell 4 of them, haven't taken the time to post yet.

  23. #14
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Good point. Leave yourself just the best banjo, and trade the rest. After all, you can never have too many mandolins, but you can easily have too many banjos. Some say even one banjo is too many.
    Yea, 14 is..........ummm......time for intervention from friends.
    If I can reduce the banjo concentration and increase the mandolin content, balance will be restored in the household and I will go on record that my lava lamp does work (I jumped at the chance and ordered two for $19.99), both running full power of late.

  24. #15
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    Actually I think there are 14 around here now, they're everywhere, every room has a couple, some hanging from rafters, leaning in corners. There's a strange "going on" where two or three banjo cases have appeared out of nowhere, doesn't make sense, I didn't bring them in.

    Are you sure they haven't been mating when your back was turned?

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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Lava lamps ... love 'em. Got four of 'em. No idea why, just ... because. All were found at yard sales for not much. One band I had - well, duo - I'd set them up around the amps because ... well, because. They are groovy
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  28. #17
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Did someone say banjos??

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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazz Jass View Post
    Did someone say banjos??

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    ohhhhh noooooo. banjo pictures. the thread has now spiraled out of control

    well, since its happened..............introducing my Bishline Danny Barnes woodie. 8 lbs and 25.5" scale of versatile banjo goodness. black powder coated tension band and flange. LR baggs pickup without invasive attachment.
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  31. #19
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    ohhhhh noooooo. banjo pictures. the thread has now spiraled and all control and any sense of forward movement has is gone.................

    well, since it happened..............my Bishline Danny Barnes woodie. 8 lbs and 25.5" scale of versatile banjo goodness.

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    Lovely!

    Getting back on track, Carters have a 1980 F5L for $4500. That's cheap for them, so I guess 1980 wasn't a great year for mandolins...

  32. #20
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Are you sure they haven't been mating when your back was turned?
    with banjos............i think anything is possible!

    (hey, i'm going to submit that phrase to Deering, might get me a big fat "check" for a new marketing tool)

  33. #21

    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by Bazz Jass View Post
    Lovely!

    Getting back on track, Carters have a 1980 F5L for $4500. That's cheap for them, so I guess 1980 wasn't a great year for mandolins...
    1980 is pre-Carlson, is it not?
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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  35. #22
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Yes, 1980 was pre-Carlson.
    Gibson was owned by Norlin in 1980. Juszkiewicz, Berryman, and Zebrowski bought Gibson at the beginning of 1986. Gibson acquired Flatiron, which was Carlson's company, in May, 1987.
    The Norlin years were not great years for any acoustic instruments that Gibson built.

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  37. #23

    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    There was a reason that Gibson bought Flatiron and brought Carlson along to take over the mandolin building. There were some real sweet spots in all their instrument build timelines. Late 80's into the early 90's is one of their better eras.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  38. #24
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    1980 is pre-Carlson, is it not?
    Iíd avoid an 1980 F5L, unless of course you get your hands on it and find itís something special, but thatís unlikely. Iíd bet it suffers from the poor quality 70s era Gibsons all experienced.

  39. #25
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson F5-L 1991, what do i need to know

    Quote Originally Posted by Pjones3 View Post
    I’d avoid an 1980 F5L, unless of course you get your hands on it and find it’s something special, but that’s unlikely. I’d bet it suffers from the poor quality 70s era Gibsons all experienced.
    Might be useful to have your hands on one. Mileage varies and so do mandos.
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