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Thread: The first F5 copy

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    It occurs to me that saying pre war Gibson F5 is redundant. I'm not familiar with anyone making an F5 style mandolin until well after this period. Nowadays the style of construction is so entrenched that we take it for granted. My question is, who was the first to start copying the F5 style, and what is the the history of this developement?

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    I think Randy Wood was one of the earliest. Not sure who did it first.

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    I was talking to Jimmy Gaudreau at a show in Va recently about that same topic and he said the first ones he knew of were Randy Wood, Buddy Davis and Tom Morgan.

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    I would also say Wood, but I am not sure.




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    Registered User Milan Christi's Avatar
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    Interesting question -I've been curious about this fact, too. I'm also curious as to how the law worked regarding the shape and structure. It seems to me that would have been patented. Obviously I'm dead wrong.
    Milan

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    Geaudreau taught me how to tie my shoes...really...true story...

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    I was recently down in Philadelphia for the CMSA conv. and had the good fortune to meet Red Henry. Red owns RW #1(and consequently Bills #3) which was according to him the first F-5 copy ever made. Red also said that the instrument was made from wood from the gibson factory that was originally intended for mandocellos. The mandolin sounds fantastic too, especially in Reds hands...

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    Do you know when RW#1 was made ?

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    A friend of mine orginally purchased number 4, and I believe it was dated February 1970; I don't remember the day but it seems like it was the 21rst or 22nd. He specifically ordered it from Randy Wood, after hearing some rave reviews in mid-1969 of what was apparently number 1. So one would assume that it had been made in 68 or early 69. Bob Givens was also an early builder, but it seems like he was a couple of years later, and I think he only built a few early ones with the Gibson Logo, as ordered by the customer.

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    The last time I posted photo's of one of my mandolins, I got a private e-mail from a man complimenting me on my work. He said he had built 2 mandolins, an A and an F in '68 and '70. Because it was a private e-mail, I don't want to give a name, but I asked what he knew of the earliest builders, since he had built so early, and he told me the names you heard back then were Tom Morgan, Bob White, and Randy Wood. Still no light on who was first and how early.




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    Buddy Davis told me that he started building mandolins in 1957. Hope I am recalling this correctly.

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    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    I understand that the first Monte's had Gibson on the headstock. I had an early Chris Warner copy. It wasn't one of his better accomplishments. I did my best to correct the neck but in the end, it had to go!
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

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    It seems incredible, with the competition and number of people and companies building F5 style mandolins today, that Gibson had the market entirely to itself for all those years. I'm sure this virtual monopoly had a lot to do with the erosion of quality in the 60s and 70s.

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    Registered User BBarton's Avatar
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    Interesting thread, especially about RW F-5s. I believe that Roland White owns (or used to own) RW #2 F-5 copy. Can anyone confirm that? I have a RW A 2-pt myself, and would be quite intetested in their history.
    Too many instruments...too little time

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    When I first became aware of mandolins and Loars, there was a lot of talk about "fake Loars". There's more than one story about someone trying to cash in on the escalating value of the Loars. People were paying as much as $1000 for them. It's possible this is where the whole custom builder market got started and why it's hard to pin point the earliest builders.

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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    I owned a Randy Wood F12 conversion that I bought in the spring of 1968(freshly finished). At that time Randy had not made a scratch F5. Roland and Reds were the first..made just shortly later, both in 1968 I think. Tom Morgan and Bob White had only done F4 conversions (to my knowlege) Bill Monroe played one of Tom Morgans F4 conversions at the Carter Stanley Memorial Concert, Cole Field house shortly after Carter passed away. Bob Givens had a scratch built mando at the Nashville DJ Convention in either 1967...and so did Bob Fowler..these were the first I scratch built mando I had encountered. With no disrespect to Randy, I believe Givens was first ...Tom Morgan and Bob White may or may not have done a scratch mando by then.
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    Registered User Tony Sz's Avatar
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    In a conversation I had with Randy in 1999, he told me that both he and Givens had started their efforts at copying the F5 at about the same time, and that Givens finished his before Randy did. He didn't say if there was anyone that preceeded their efforts, however. So according to Randy, if the finished instrument is what counts,Randy Wood wasn't first.
    Tony Szczygielski

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Scotti Adams @ Dec. 05 2004, 05:18)
    Geaudreau taught me how to tie my shoes...really...true story...
    I think I would have gone with slip-ons and mandolin lessons.

    Fred

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Wow, this is great thread! #In all my years (?) here on the cafe and to the best of my knowledge this topic hasn't come up before.



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    I'm pretty sure that Dempsy Young's (Tone-monster-of-a) Hutto had (has)a Gibson inlay in the headstock. Still one of my favorites.
    Is it really all in how YOU percieve it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by (onlyagibsonisgoodenuff @ Dec. 09 2004, 07:53)
    Quote Originally Posted by (Scotti Adams @ Dec. 05 2004, 05:18)
    Geaudreau taught me how to tie my shoes...really...true story...
    I think I would have gone with slip-ons and mandolin lessons.

    Believe me..when he wasnt watching I was stealing licks..

  22. #22
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Jim Hilburn @ Dec. 08 2004, 08:55)
    When I first became aware of mandolins and Loars, there was a lot of talk about "fake Loars". There's more than one story about someone trying to cash in on the escalating value of the Loars. People were paying as much as $1000 for them. It's possible this is where the whole custom builder market got started and why it's hard to pin point the earliest builders.
    Jim is actually quite correct...the Randy Wood F-12 conversion that I bought was $850. That was quite a sum of money in 1968 for a mandolin. Although that mandolin was technically a Gibson, it was certainly intended to be a "Loar Copy". The scratch built mandolins that Givens and Wood followed with all had "The Gibson" inlay and like the F-12, Loar labels were either installed or were readily available for them. I would like to emphasize that during this period, if the mandolin had f-holes and said The Gibson on the peghead, it was simply assumed to be a Loar...there really wasn't anything else out there meeting the description...having the nice "long scale" as they called it and the "f-holes".
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    There was really no reason to assume this F-12 conversion was anything other than a Loar
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    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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    Registered User evanreilly's Avatar
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    The first Loar I saw for sale had a price tag on it for $800.00; time period probably '67 - '68. I'll bet those ilttle white vintage copies of Bluegrass Unlimited would have info on builders, as well as "read'em and weep prices" for older Gibsons.
    I'd bet that Tom Morgan may be the first 'replicator' of Gibson's F-5 mandolins

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    Wish I knew the exact year but a fellow in Red Lion Pa named Snyder was building copies around the mid to late 60`s...Maybe someone more familiar with his work can shed some light on this...VERY INTERESTING That someone mentioned Loar labels being installed on some copies, I hashed this over with one of the builders afore mentioned and he denied ever doing it but I have heard from a reliable source that it was done quite a few times....Willie

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