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Thread: pre-1910 F-2 I think?

  1. #1
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    Hi guys,

    I have a mandolin that I'd like your opinions on. #I just found this in my wife's grandmother's house, and I think it's a pre-1910 Gibson F-2. #It is a 3 point. #It originally had a raised pickguard which I can tell by the clamp marks in 2 places in the back of the instrument and the 2 pin holes on the treble side of the fretboard. #It is also missing the tailplate cover. #Should I have this restored, or is it better to just get it to playing condition and leave the aged look alone? #Here is a pic.
    By the way, the scroll on the headstock is also broken off. #I have the loose piece, thank god someone kept it in the case. By the way, the serial number on the label inside is hand written, 8340 if that helps any.

    Thanks,
    Mark



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    Here's another pic:
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    and one more
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    Registered User MANDOLINMYSTER's Avatar
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    What a great find. Sounds like about 1908 by the sn#. I would at least have the headstock scroll repaired.String her up and play some sweet melodies.
    Michael Lettieri

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    Yep, seems right. #I have a 1910 F2, #8431. #One characteristic which seems unique to this period is the prominent & gracefully carved ridge which leads out of the scroll and into the 3rd point. #A little hard to see on your blacktop, but very evident on my blonde. #Most carved top mandos have retained this ridge, but without a 3rd point there is nowhere for it to go to. This is a nice year for Gibson Fs - a year or two after they stopped inlaying the pickguard and a year before they dropped the 3rd point.
    And the sound is wonderful - mine was professionally recorded several times by Skip Gorman, its previous owner.

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    I am so glad to find this forum. I wish I were still a kid with unlimited free time to use the internet to learn music. There is so much help nowadays. Maine Michael, could you tell me what the string heights on your 1910 are at the 12th fret? I think the action is too high on this one. Maybe I need to shim the nut, and lower the bridge. Or maybe I'm just a SISSY and have soft fingers.... I am used to a guitar with a low action. My fingers are about to bleed after today. I just put new strings on it today, and have pretty much messed with it all day.

    Mark

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    Mark - I don't have a set of feeler gauges, so this may be off a bit; at the 12th fret the midpoint of the G (heaviest) string is 4/32 above the fret, 5/32 above the fretboard.

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    Maine Michael,

    That's exactly where mine is. How do you get used to pushing so hard on the strings? I can play my guitar all day long and not feel a thing, but this little dude is kilin' me...

    Mark

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    Mark,

    Keep in mind that the mandolin has a lot more tension on the strings in comparison to the guitar. So it takes a little force to push down the strings. One suggestion might be to try some lighter strings, that will probably lower the action too. Great find! Enjoy it!

    Flip
    Philip Halcomb

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    Thanks flip,

    I am already in love with it, even though it's makin' me bleed

    I will try some lighter strings, if I can find some in this town. Probably have to order them online. What is a good fast brand for mando?

    Thanks,
    Mark

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    Well, I just ordered some Elixir Nanoweb Light strings from amazon.com. I have elixir's on my Guitar, and I love them. They are soooo slick.

    Mark

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    Mark - Although the instrumentseems to be in good shape and working fine, I'd suggest that you have a competent repair person check it out. If it's been sitting idle for decades, there could be a loose brace or seam that would be a simple repair now but that might get worse under string tension. You could get the scroll repaired at the same time. I'd urge you not to get any refinishing done. An original finish, even with the unavoidable scratches and dings, is more valueable than a refinish. Also, I'd definitely try some light gauge strings. they'll be easier on your fingers and you might find that they are actually better balanced tonally than heavier strings intended for later-style instruments. What you have is a really nice and fairly unusual instrument. Enjoy it!
    Bob DeVellis

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    Thanks Bob,

    I figured I probably shouldn't refinish it, and I really didn't want to anyways. I think about the original owner every time I look at it. He obviously loved this instrument and played it hard. I just wonder what he was like, what times were like in 1908. I will get the scroll put back on, and have a repairman look it over. I may see if the action can be lowered at all. I set the intonation on it yesterday, but I don't have a strobe tuner, just a software tuner. It sounds 100% better than it did before I did it, but I'm sure it's not perfect. I did order some light elixir strings for it. Hopefully they will help stop my fingers from throbbing...

    Thanks,
    Mark

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    Hey Guys,

    Does this bridge look ok. I had to move the bass side back a lot to get intonation. Will this hurt anything?

    Mark
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    Mark - it's hard to see in your photo - the black bridge is difficult to distinguish from the black top - but it appears that you have "cocked" the bridge so that the bass side is closer to the tailpiece than the treble side. #This shouldn't be necessary - there should be notches or steps on the bridge to make intonation correct for each pair of strings while the bridge is parallel to the nut. And of course the distance of the bridge from the nut should produce a note an octave higher at the 12th fret than that string unfretted. #On the other hand, this appears to be the original bridge (mine is a Loar style) and I'm not knowledgable about the early bridges. #Dan B. or Darryl?

    And as to strings, I agree that light gauge are the way to go, at least until your fingertips become accustomed to the pressures required. #But you will find considerable variations in tone from brand to brand and type to type. I #often use GHS silk and bronze for my F-2, though it was used professionally with J 74s, the classic bluegrass string. I think that there is an interaction between any given string type, any given mandolin, and any given player.
    Experiment. #There are numerous threads on strings in the Cafe archives which will help.

  16. #16
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    It's a nice old pre or around 1910 F2. If I were you I'd say have the peghead scroll replaced, have it checked for setup.. but use light-ish strings. You won't get a ton of sound out if it, but it is nice and sweet
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    The bridge angle looks more extreme than I would have expected to be necessary for correct intonation. I find that the bass side often does need to go back a bit but that's more than a bit. If that's where it needs to be, there may be other problems going on. IF the action is really high, that might be part of the problem. In any case, I'd lower string tension until it can get checked out.
    Bob DeVellis

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Mark, do you mind if I post your photos of your mandolin at the mandolin archive?
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    Mark, that bridge placement does seem pretty extreme. One thing is that newer strings tend to "drift" the note so it seems to vary, mainly on the wound strings. So you might not get an accurate reading using a regular digital chromatic tuner. I would say probably where the bridge marks are on the mandolin top are probably pretty close. I would put the bridge back there and then have a shop home it in as close as possible, then mark it. Also, the bridge feet probably don't sit flush on the top with that angle either without fitting it again, and that can make a mess of your top. The best move would be a shop, in my opinion. Good luck!
    Philip Halcomb

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    Dan,
    I don't mind. That'd be cool.

    Thanks,
    Mark

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    Guys,

    I talked with Billy Chapman in Columbia, SC, and tomorrow I'm dropping my Mandolin off at his shop. He's going to fix the scroll on the peghead, and re-fret and flatten the finger board, and set up the action so it doesn't kill me. I can't wait.

    Mark

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    How come I never hook up with the girls who have grandmothers hoarding vintage mandolins?

    That's a very sweet mandolin.
    And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

    C.S. Lewis

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Thanks Mark.

    #8340

    What kind of case does it have, one like this?





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    Dan,

    I don't think the case that's with it is original. It's a flimsy cardboard case like the one's shops give away with cheap guitars. It looks old(at least 50 years, since it's been in the basement that long but it isn't a nice padded case unfortunately. Nothing to take a picture of for sure. After I get the scroll fixed and whatever else Billy does with it, I'll take some more pics and post them.

    Mark

  25. #25
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Hmm, you might have an original canvas case.. those can be somewhat nifty even though yours sounds beat-up. Post a picture if it's easy, we can at least tell you if it's the original or not

    Is there a stamp on the neck block (look up above the label on the inside for an ink stamp)? If so, that's the factory order number.. and if you can read it, I'll add that to the archives too
    The Mandolin Archive
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