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Thread: Advice?......gibson f9 vs gibson a1 (1922)

  1. #1
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    Hi all,

    I have owned a 1922 A-1 snakehead (blackface) for about 3 years and I am considering trading it in on Gibson F-9.

    The A-1 is a fabulous instrument to record on but I would never dream of taking it out into a club setting to play live. Instead, I have been using a cheaper Korean model with a fishman pickup and good preamp, but now I've worn this thing out too!

    So..... I need a mandolin that I can record with, and play with live, and I am really interested in a Gibson f-9. For budget reasons, I am considering trading the older Gibson for a new one.

    However,,,, not sure if I am making a mistake or not. I can handle only owning one mandolin (no MAS here....) but in terms of other concerns,,, anyone have any advice or been in the same boat?

    Thanks....

    musicman709




    considering
    musicman709

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Well, you asked for advice, didn't ya?

    Your snakehead is a sought-after vintage instrument. Assuming you don't jump up and down on it, it's an investment as well as a means of making music. It may not be the "gigging" instrument you need -- not enough volume, not something you'd drill holes in to install a pickup. You apparently do use it for recording, though. While you don't say much about your current "stage" mandolin, the fact that you're looking at an F-9 implies that it's an f-hole model (perhaps a Kentucky F-style?) with more "bark" than the A-1, and also one that you don't mind taking out to clubs and jams and pickin the tar out of.

    By all accounts, F-9's are excellent for the price, and one of them may better suit your performance needs. However, it'll be awhile (if ever) before they become collectors' items. Gibson is cranking them out pretty steadily, it appears, and I see quite a few of them showing up in the used market. They have competition from several domestic manufacturers, and the higher-end Asian imports.

    I may be exactly the wrong person to be offering advice, as you can see by my listing below I seldom get rid of anything. But were I in your shoes, I'd hold on to the A-1. You're not talking about dropping five figures of cash on a Gilchrist, Monteleone, or "distressed" F-5. If you're playing out, you're making a dollar or two through music, and you might devote that income to underwriting an F-9. Then you'd still have the old snakehead for recording, quiet picking in the family room, and "old times' sake." And you could confidently expect it to be increasing in value, just sitting in its case.
    Allen Hopkins
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  3. #3
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    Apples for oranges. It is hard to compare since they are two completely different animals. They may both be mandolins, but they may not serve you in the same way. It is kind of like comparing my minature dacshund to the Great Dane we used to have. They were both dogs, but that is about where the similarity ended .
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

  4. #4

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    What Joe said. You have to evaluate how you feel about the snake. You can buy and sell a dozen F-9's before the credit cards come due, but a blackface '22 snakehead is a nice rare thing to own. I once had and got rid of a '17 A-1, but I never liked anything about it except it's age, so for me it was worth it to trade it away. Having both an oval hole and an F-hole mandolin is always a good thing.
    But Amsterdam was always good for grieving
    And London never fails to leave me blue
    And Paris never was my kinda town
    So I walked around with the Ft. Worth Blues

  5. #5

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    Could you stretch for a used A9? The A9 will perform and sound virtually identical to an F9 and is roughly half the cost. A strap hanger just isn't worth getting rid of a snakehead, IMO.

  6. #6
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    Please do not sell the snakehead!!! It is Loar era. It will be worth a ton in a few years and then you may never be able to buy one again. I own one and I love it. I bet yours sounds fantastic also. Now I know what you mean, sometimes the old A is just not terrific for bluegrass but it would be better to save up a little cash and buy something like a Stonebridge F type in the future. I know some folks may not agree but I think that the Snakeheads are the Loars of the future. Maybe not on the same scale but they will be very collectable. My old 23 A is very well set up and it sounds better than anything on the high end wall of our local guitar shop. IMHO. Nick
    ntriesch

  7. #7
    Registered User OregonMike's Avatar
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    I have a great '24 snake that took me a long time to find and agree that these are far, far easier to sell than buy. At the same time I live on a budget and have found that keeping things just because they are expensive or hard to come by doesn't really make me much happier at the end of the day. Now if you love that snakehead and just can't imagine not playing it no matter how much it was worth I'd re-visit your budget or consider a cheaper F for now.

    Oh, if all problems were this tough, right?

    Cheers and welcome to the Cafe,
    Mike
    1916 A-0 Pumpkintop Paddlehead
    1924 A-1 Blackface Snakehead
    1968 FG-140 Yamaha Guitar
    1992 48K Franz Sandner Fiddle
    www.FreePickin.com

  8. #8
    Tony Bare
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    I am a pack-rat. My theory is if it don't eat and you don't have to pay taxes on it, it don't cost a thing too keep it. I am also cheap and hate to spend money. (comes from growing up poor). If I buy something that I want and enjoy I don't get rid of it for something else that I want and will enjoy. I just save up and look for what I want for what I want to pay for it. There is a down side for my way of acquiring stuff. Over time you wind up with so much stuff. Now I have 1 banjo, 1 home made dobro, 5 ukuleles (3 that I built and 1 in progress), 4 guitars (and 1 I'm replacing the top and fretboard),3 mandolins (2 that I built) and one that I am almost through with. Every one of them has its own feel and voice and I play them all,according to my mood so they are all out of the case and accessable. This leaves me with a wife always complaining about stuff leaning against the walls all over the house. I should and could thin the herd but I will probably pass the collection to my son ,who plays to, and enjoy them while I can. My recommendation would be to keep what you like and enjoy and save (or borrow) to get sonething else to enjoy. You will back up to the butt kickin machine if you get rid of the snake head.
    Tony Bare

  9. #9
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    Thanks so much for the advice folks...! Your thoughts on this pretty sum up everything that's going through my head these days, so it's great to read your thoughts.

    Bye for now.

    musicman709
    musicman709

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up

    Just so you all know.... I ended up keeping the Gibson A-1 snakehead and buying the F-9 without trading.

    So much for owning only one mandolin and avoiding MAS, but it feels REAL good!!

    Have a good weekend everyone........
    musicman709

  11. #11

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    Smart move! lol! You'll be glad ya did and your tonal palette is now doubled!
    Look up (to see whats comin down)

  12. #12
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    Drat! I was going to ask what you wanted for the snakehead until all these do-gooders chimed in

  13. #13
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    Do not get rid of the Snake! Let me say it now, YOU WILL BE SORRY !
    Harry
    Do you feel lucky, well do ya........?

  14. #14

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    all i can say is i just got an f-9 and i'm very pleased with the level of quality and the way it sounds. i'm very happy!
    ***
    2007 gibson f-9
    200X mid-mo [RIP] m1w
    ****

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