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Thread: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

  1. #1

    Smile Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi. I recently bought a 1984 The Flatiron mandolin. It just has F5 on the label but has the triple binding and all the appointments of the F5 Artist. I seem to think that maybe they didn't use the Artist name until 1985 or 1986 and this may have actually been their top model in 1984.

    Anyone know of such a Mandolin Pre 1985. Triple bound body. Neck/headstock bound and all the normal headtsock inlays. Fabulous flamed maple back,neck, sides with gorgeous violin style colouring. Signed by Steve Carlson. Bought from Mandolin Brothers 1984 and looks like possibly November as the number starts 8411

    The rest--Well believe it or not it looks like new and it sounds just great. Lowish bridge but all that dry quality tone that means it sounds great when played on it's own as opposed to so many mandolins which sound a bit thin/trebly on their own.

    Be glad to hear if anyone else has seen or heard of one prior to 1985.

    Jimmy Powells
    England

    email:james.powells@sky.com

  2. #2
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    does it say F5-1 or F5-2? I have an A5-1 and they made an A5-2 at the time also - the only differences being trim level.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  3. #3
    Registered User CTH Man's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    It sounds like an F5-2. Not sure what year they changed from "2" to "Artist". My 83 is an A5-2.Does yours look like this?It is an Artist

    http://www.vintagemandolin.com/85fla...5_8510013.html

    KB
    "The Flatiron" '83 A5-2
    "wires an wood...man that's good!"

  4. #4

    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi lads. It definitely just says F5. Serial number 84110018 so I'm thinking 1984, Made November and the 18th mandolin signed off.
    My curiosity is around the fact that it could be one of the very first F5s (or even the very first one) with the Artist appointments but no doubt someone will possibly confirm otherwise.

    Thanks for input.

    Jimmy

  5. #5

    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi again. Just looked at the one on Vintage mandolin and it looks same as mine.
    Jimmy

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Now, that is indeed an early one. I had 85100106.

  7. #7
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    I have always thought that the Flatiron Artist F-5 was noted for gold hardware, full binding, flower pot inlay and "The Flatiron" logo. I have an 1995 F-5 that has all of that, but with no gold hardware. It is marked as an F5-SB on the inside and signed by Bruce Weber. I have always thought the "SB" stood for "sunburst" and since it did not have gold hardware they did not want to call it an Artist model.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi Pete. Jimmy here. That is a very interesting point because the guy who sold me this mandolin (well it was actually through a collector) said he bought it new from Mandolin Brothers and "had never touched it". I don't know what to believe because it came with original tailpiece which looked like gold but almost all gold faded off so maybe it was nickel, nickel wheels and nut on the bridge and gold reverse gear tuners. I don't think it was sold that way and all I have done is replaced the tailpiece with a nice gold Webber one (obviously without the W) and although it looks fine with the gold tuners but the nickel on the bridge doesn't match but what the heck as it sounds so good I'd be reluctant to change the briidge and it is a lowish one anyway. I don't really like reverse gear tuners so at some stage I'll swap these for normal Schallers which will work Ok.
    It's possible that Mandolin Brothers actually sold this S/H and someone decided to have gold tuners so if it originally had nickel all round, then maybe that's why it doesn't have Artist on. Anyway thanks for your input Pete. They certainly sound wonderful.

    Jimmy

  9. #9
    Registered User Steve Carlson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    To the best of my recollection I do not believe there was ever an F5-2 designation. I could be wrong but don't think so. The early A's . . . prior to the F's going into production . . . were A5-1 and A5-2. The 1st A's were shipped in January of 1983. 1st F's about June of 1984. The 'Artist' moniker was added when the F's started shipping and the A/F model appointments and names were aligned. The carve top brochure shown below was no doubt in print for the January 1985 NAMM show. Hope some of the details are helpful or of interest.

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    Best,
    Steve Carlson

  10. #10

    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi Steve and many thanks for that information. Really fascinating to get the detail you have given. To be honest I'm still not certain what I've got. I think it's a bit of a mixture. I don't have a suitable mirror right now to look inside and see if tone bars or X-bracing. My mandolin has triple binding (F5 Artist), it is a light coffee violin style finish rather than a definite sunburst (F5). I believe it originally had nickel hardware (F5) as the bridge wheels, screws and tailpiece were nickel but I think someone put gold reverse tuners on. The headstock as the fancy fern style (F5 Artist) the nut is bone (like F5).

    I thought that maybe when the F5s were first made, some of them may have had certain Artist style appointments like the Fern headstock, Triple binding but for some reason, nickel hardware and bone nut.

    Anyway, great to hear from you and best regards

    Jimmy
    (UK)

  11. #11
    Registered User Steve Carlson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi Jimmy. I've done a little further digging and found Flatiron's 1st and only 'official' newsletter . . . 'The Flatiron Press'. The timing of this newsletter, it's coverage of changes, and the carve top brochure announcement inside, would revise the date of the brochure to pre-Namm 1986, not 1985 as I previously mentioned. (i.e. winter 1986). Also, if you look closely at the A5 picture in the brochure, you will see those instruments still have the A5-1 and A5-2 designation. (That's what caught my attention and got me digging a little deeper). In short, the transitional "F" period (time from 1st F5's shipping to the 'Artist' designation) seems to be approximately a year.

    The newsletter logo art was inspired by the early original Gibson cartoon ad that pictured the 'New Era' F5 mandoman sweeping the bowl-back 'tater-bug' mandolins off the pier and into the sea. You can picture at the time of this newsletter, the only serious competition for Flatiron was 'Kentucky' mandolins. Richard Kelson, owner of Saga Musical Instruments (distributor of Kentucky), and a good friend, did not think this was very funny. At the Namm show he suggested it was racist. I had to admit that being from Montana I was a bit naive of such things and hadn't even thought of that possibility. We remained friends and competitors throughout the years.

    Inside the newsletter you will see that Ren Ferguson joined us in June of 1985. His 1st job was binding the F's and A's, which freed me up (from this job) to work on the banjo project. Contrary to what is written elsewhere on the web, Bruce Weber did not join us until 1987, during the time of the Gibson purchase. His 1st job was detailing (which consists of scroll-detailing, final sanding, and scraping binding). He told me just the other day this is still about his favorite thing in life to do.

    Shop crew pictured playing hacky-flat are: myself, Debbie Titus, Martha Cook, Helen Wirtz, Dan Cain, and Ren.

    Dan: re-saw/flat necks
    Helen: flats/detailing/sanding
    Ren: binding/spray
    Martha: flats/buffing
    Debbie: final assembly
    Me: carve top necks/neck shaping/fitting/coloring/spray/etc.

    I believe during this era Larry Barnwell worked part time fitting necks and Dennis Balian worked part time sanding out carved tops and backs and fitting tone bars and X-bracing.

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    Best,
    Steve Carlson

  12. #12
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    just great!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  13. #13
    Registered User Rick Albertson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Mandopete
    You might be interested in the 94' Flatiron Catalog pages posted in the photo section of the Flatiron Lovers social group. I have a 94' Flatiron like yours except mine is a F5-CB Chocolate Brown. The major difference between our mandolins and the Artist and Master models is that ours have tone bars, not X-bracing like the Artist and Master. Our models sits between these two higher end models and the lower Festivals and Performers. If yours is anywhere near as good as mine you have a great mandolin!
    "But no well informed person ever called the picking of the mandolin music." New York Times, 1897

  14. #14

    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi Steve and thanks again for all that great info !! I love to read about things "starting"--it's really great when people have ambitions and don't just talk about it all the time--they get up and do it so I'm sure all cafe members who read this will be inspired. I also emailed Key and Cindy from The FlatironArchives website about this forum thread.
    Interesting to read that you did slim the necks down a bit. The one I have (Nov 1984) does have a rather chunkier neck than I maybe would love but I'd be reluctant to touch it although I've no doubt it would stay fine. I think I now feel that the mandolin I have is possibly not an Artist as the nut is not pearl, the hardware would have been nickel and fom what Mandopete says (see above and thanks Pete) mine probably has tone bars. I'll get a tiny mirror tomorrow and check. However, mine does have the fancy abalone fern on the headstock and triple bound, light coloured violin style finish.
    I'll try and put pictures on my website for anyone interested but in the meantime, anyone can email me and I'll sent four photos I have. email james.powells@sky.com
    Thanks again

    Jimmy

    web:jimmypowells.co.uk



    Jimmy
    Last edited by jimmy powells; Feb-05-2012 at 4:07pm. Reason: Forgot email address

  15. #15

    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi again Steve. I meant to ask if the F5 Master and F5 Elite did get into production under the Flatiron name or not. Obviously they sound pretty fantastic but being in the UK, we are unlikely to have ever seen some of these rare mandolins. Just wondered, or did they come out under the Gibson name ?

    thanks again

    Jimmy

  16. #16
    Registered User Mary Weber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi Steve- I just now 'heard' you posted! I believe you (or in collaboration- calling GeorgeG.) need to get the Flatiron history in writing with all of the brochures, specs, price lists (also the David Grisman poster which I have been trying to find ours to post) to the Mt.Gibson plant. In your free time, right? BTW, saw Dennis at a basketball game Saturday night.

  17. #17
    Registered User Steve Carlson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron F5 Artist details required

    Hi Mary . . . man I love that Tuscany video you have posted. That is just great!

    Actually I believe I have dozens of both the Grisman and McReynolds posters around here somewhere. You can see them on the walls in the Pickin' Parlor pics I posted.

    You hit on a point there. One of the reasons I actually posted here was because I accidentally stumbled onto that "spin" site and the blatant erroneous information was . . . well . . . quite ridiculous/unbelievable.

    Best as always,
    Steve

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