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Thread: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

  1. #1

    Default Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Hey there, I'm in the market for a vintage Gibson F4. I came across this 1919 F4 for sale by a private seller. I was wondering if anyone had any information about it. To me it seems like the design around the oval hole is different from other vintage F4s I have seen. The seller also mentioned that the instrument was refretted but having a dot on the 3rd fret is also not original. Anyone have any information or thoughts about this?

    Thank youClick image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    I have seen this inlay on rare occasions before. I reckon it is genuine Gibson alright and the refret job having a dot at 3rd would possibly just be owner's preference. Maybe even the luthier's preference as occasionally a luthier will just do something such as that. Not so sure about the pink case lining mind.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Thanks Jimmy. I very much appreciate the info. Here is a close up of the soundhole inlay. It seems a little chipped up and uneven is this typical of an original Gibson? Thanks.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Teacher, repair person
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    We do see variations in the details of F-4 rosettes. But upon examining the close-up, it appears to me that this rosette has definitely been replaced, and not very cleanly.

    The 3rd fret dot could have been added later, or the fingerboard completely replaced. No way to tell without having the instrument in hand.

    Again, I would have to personally examine the instrument, but I have concerns about the originality of the finish. Most [but not all] F-4's from that period had more red in the finish.

    The bridge is a replacement, and the case is from a later period. Is the original pickguard and clamp available and in good condition?

    As far as what the market value might be, an added dot and a re-fret would not worry me much if the work is nice and clean. But the chewed up rosette does reduce the value. If the fingerboard was replaced, it would also reduce the value; slightly if the work was done very well, considerably more if the work is sloppy. Any extensive finish work has a major effect on market value.

    The bottom line is that this instrument might be worth anywhere from 40% to 65% of one in excellent original condition, depending on how extensive the changes are and how well the work was done. It might be a good sounding instrument. It is not a $6000 instrument.

  5. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Other than the headstock and possible neck, that has nothing to do with Gibson as far as I can tell. The scroll is wrong, the fingerboard is wrong and the rosette is waaaay wrong. I would run the other way.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Take a trip over to Dan Beinborn's Mandolin Archive and see if by chance your mandolin is listed. Many times repairs are listed in descriptions as well. It may or may not be there. The other thing I would do is look through the F4's from the same years to see if you can find a similar model. You can search by serial number or Factory Order Number (FON) although I believe Dan refers to it as a stamp. That's the number stamped inside on the neck block. One of the few consistencies about Gibson over the years was that they were inconsistent.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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  7. #7
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    This is what an authentic Gibson F-4 looks like for comparison...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/187377#187377

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  8. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    This is what an authentic Gibson F-4 looks like for comparison...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/187377#187377

    NFI
    The scroll alone is a dead giveaway. Nothing like the one in the ad above.
    Jim

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  9. #9

    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    The scroll alone is a dead giveaway. Nothing like the one in the ad above.
    Thanks for further confirmation. For those curious, this is listed for sale on craigslist in Burlington, VT.

  10. #10
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Here is a thorough photo documentation of a pretty pristine 1920 F-4:

    https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/19...ce-565421.html

    Without seeing the instrument in the OP up close, hard to know exactly what's going on. Might be a copy, might be some weird repairs. Before the current era of fantastic new instruments, there were quite a few luthiers making "exact" replicas, right down to the artificially aged labels, etc. Some were better at it than others, which could explain what's going on here.
    Just one guy's opinion
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Take a trip over to Dan Beinborn's Mandolin Archive and see if by chance your mandolin is listed. Many times repairs are listed in descriptions as well. It may or may not be there. The other thing I would do is look through the F4's from the same years to see if you can find a similar model. You can search by serial number or Factory Order Number (FON) although I believe Dan refers to it as a stamp. That's the number stamped inside on the neck block. One of the few consistencies about Gibson over the years was that they were inconsistent.
    Thank you, what a great resource. The seller lists the serial number as 51855 which is not indexed on Dan Beinborn's Archive. None of the other F4s from around that serial number resemble this mandolin at all.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kotapish View Post
    Here is a thorough photo documentation of a pretty pristine 1920 F-4:

    https://www.dreamguitars.com/shop/19...ce-565421.html

    Without seeing the instrument in the OP up close, hard to know exactly what's going on. Might be a copy, might be some weird repairs. Before the current era of fantastic new instruments, there were quite a few luthiers making "exact" replicas, right down to the artificially aged labels, etc. Some were better at it than others, which could explain what's going on here.
    Thanks for that link, that is very helpful. Here are more photos of the mandolin. Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #13
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    https://vermont.craigslist.org/msg/d...480715307.html

    I’m glad some experts have responded. From my amateur point of view it just doesn’t look right. If it played well and sounded good I might be willing to spend half of what they’re asking. Maybe 2k. Maybe.

  14. #14
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    I see refinished original back and sides with new (poorly made) top and neck. Inlays are possibly original (removed from original overlay). Fingerboard may be original with added dot at 3rd. Looks like tuners, tailpiece and case is also original.
    Adrian

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Quote Originally Posted by reasonableshirts View Post
    Thank you, what a great resource. The seller lists the serial number as 51855 which is not indexed on Dan Beinborn's Archive. None of the other F4s from around that serial number resemble this mandolin at all.
    The resemblance issue is big. It indicates to me possible repairs, perhaps even by Gibson in later years. I can't imagine anyone would gather the parts and build a fake F4 but I can imagine someone resurrecting one.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  17. #16
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    The scroll alone is a dead giveaway. Nothing like the one in the ad above.
    The back and front views of the scroll look like different instruments to me - strange!

  18. #17
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    That mandolin has been up on CL for a good long time.
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  19. #18
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is there something off with this Vintage Gibson F4?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    The back and front views of the scroll look like different instruments to me - strange!
    That would suggest a replacement top by someone not skilled at recreating a proper scroll. The present top scroll looks like so many amateur builds one sees. It is the first think I look at on a mandolin. The rosette also would indicate the skill level of whoever did this. The sunburst doesn't look so bad as far as sunbursts go just a little bright to me for an F-4.
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