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Thread: Gibson sound

  1. #51

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Great post, Trevor, and dead on.

  2. #52

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Trevor,

    You might recognize these descriptions.

    "...Its got bucket loads of that magical vintage Gibson F4 tone,..."

    "...It's in great shape and has the typical deep and bassy sound of a nineteen-teens Gibbo..."

    "...Bags of that vintage Gibby oval hole sound, great for folk and old time not really the beast for the bluegrassers..."

    "...Loads of that characteristic teens Gibson sound, big and fat basses and sweet mids and trebles..."

    "...its got the typical Vintage Gibson woody bass..."

    Of course not all Gibsons produced over more than a century sound the same. But I believe your argument in the two active threads on this topic amounts to hairsplitting over semantics. Old oval hole Gibsons apparently have a characteristic sound, as seen in the quotes above. Old Loars might not all sound exactly alike but based on what I've read on the Cafe and other places, they have a certain something in common. All of the Gibson F5 mandolins I've played (all built since 1978) have some common tonal characteristics. Some just have more than others.

    As has been stated by others with more credibility than me, the typical discussion these days about the "Gibson sound" revolves around the bluegrass sound of the Gibson F5 mandolin. Do they all sound exactly the same? Of course not. Do most builders strive for that old vintage Gibson F5 sound? Not sure, but I believe at least some of them do. Do most mandolin players have some idea of what you're saying when you describe something as having some kind of "Gibson sound" of a particular type or era? The quotes above seem to say yes.
    Last edited by mandotrout777; Jun-12-2012 at 4:24pm. Reason: clarity

  3. #53
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Hi Jeff,

    If you dig around further I think you will also find examples where I have said such things as at the bassier end or brighter end of the range. Though I don't think I claimed there wasn't any commonality within types of Gibson. I certainly have a sound in my head that I think of as the typical snakehead sound.

    I don't believe I am splitting hairs or being semantic I am just challenging those that talk about the Gibson sound as though it was some magic attached to all Gibsons be they Loar, snakehead, 70/80s etc., which is commonly claimed by some, and the commonly held idea that all Gibsons sound great.

    "Do most mandolin players have some idea of what you're saying when you describe something as having some kind of "Gibson sound" of a particular type or era? The quotes above seem to say yes." The quotes above say the teens oval holes have a commonality of sound, nothing more.. which is one of my points, I don't see (hear) a Gibson sound common to all Gibsons.
    Last edited by trevor; Jun-12-2012 at 4:27pm.
    Trevor
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  4. #54

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Quote Originally Posted by trevor View Post
    ...The quotes above say the teens oval holes have a commonality of sound, nothing more.. which is one of my points, I don't see (hear) a Gibson sound common to all Gibsons.
    Also my point. When you say "the Gibson sound", in whatever context, bluegrass, teens oval holes, snakeheads, whatever, folks know what you're talking about. Hence my "hairsplitting" comment; you're taking it out of context and trying to apply it universally. As I said, it's obvious that not all of the Gibson mandolins ever made sound the same. That's kind of ridiculous.

    Being as you accept the idea of a teens oval hole Gibson sound, perhaps you would accept the notion of a Gibson bluegrass sound? This is what I think is most frequently discussed. It more or less equates to the sound of a Gibson F5 as built in the 20s - 30s and as attempted since about 1978? Within the admittedly small circles I run in, this is the only Gibson sound that matters.

    Oh, and I think everybody agrees that, overall, the early 70s period can be accepted as Gibsons that are uncharacteristic of what we're discussing here (although I've never played one...and now I'm getting dizzy)

  5. #55
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    "you're taking it out of context and trying to apply it universally." No, my point is that some do this..
    Trevor
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    www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk.

  6. #56

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Quote Originally Posted by trevor View Post
    "you're taking it out of context and trying to apply it universally." No, my point is that some do this..
    So if I make a post on the Cafe, within the context of a conversation about bluegrass mandolins, and I say xxxx mandolin has "a Gibson sound", you're going to feel compelled to tell me there is no such thing as a Gibson sound. But if I say it has a "Gibson bluegrass sound", you're okay with that?

    In my opinion, that's hairsplitting over semantics; taking it out of context, etc...

  7. #57
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    This is getting out of hand I don't know who is being semantic. You're welcome to your opinion. I also think the 'bluegrass sound/Gibson sound' can be found in many mandolins which I think you acknowledge above. The point is, at the risk of repetition, all Gibson's don't have this sound and all Gibsons don't sound great. I think you agree with that so I don't know why we are going round in circles. Its late here so I'm signing off.
    Trevor
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  8. #58
    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    When I hear a recording of say an old-time band or someone like for instance Norman Blake I'm always listening for the mandolin because like everyone here I love the mandolin. And when I hear the unmistakbly oval hole sound or tone of the mandolin it's hard for me to think that this is not a "Gibson sound". It is to me. Maybe not all Gibson's sound the same but the Gibson sound is what most great builders were trying to achieve for many many years IMHO
    Last edited by woodwizard; Jun-12-2012 at 6:47pm.
    I Pick, Therefore I Grin! ... "Good Music Any OLD-TIME"

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  9. #59
    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    me too.
    "A sudden clash of thunder, the mind doors burst open, and lo, there sits old man Buddha-nature in all his homeliness."
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  10. #60
    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    My mandolin sounds just like a mandolin, even though it is a Gibson!!!
    I never fail at anything, I just succeed at doing things that never work....


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  11. #61
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Well that's good.
    Trevor
    The Acoustic Music Co (TAMCO) Brighton England
    Over 100 mandolins in stock.
    www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk.

  12. #62

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    "Alot of those Gibson mandolins had lousy second frets, I have had frets moved on a bunch of old Gibsons and the one's from the Loar period were the worst of all ....."

    Norman Blake
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  13. #63
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    That's interesting. I had a guy in from the staff at the London Royal College of Music. He said the intonation all the way up on a teens oval hole I had at the time was the best he had ever heard. It just shows how much they vary.
    Trevor
    The Acoustic Music Co (TAMCO) Brighton England
    Over 100 mandolins in stock.
    www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk.

  14. #64

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    No they are all the same......
    Maybe it used to be owned by Blake......
    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

  15. #65
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff May View Post
    ...Of course not all Gibsons produced over more than a century sound the same...[but]... Old oval hole Gibsons apparently have a characteristic sound, as seen in the quotes above. Old Loars might not all sound exactly alike but based on what I've read on the Cafe and other places, they have a certain something in common. All of the Gibson F5 mandolins I've played (all built since 1978) have some common tonal characteristics. Some just have more than others...the "Gibson sound" revolves around the bluegrass sound of the Gibson F5 mandolin. Do they all sound exactly the same? Of course not. Do most builders strive for that old vintage Gibson F5 sound? Not sure, but I believe at least some of them do. Do most mandolin players have some idea of what you're saying when you describe something as having some kind of "Gibson sound" of a particular type or era? The quotes above seem to say yes.
    I agree Jeff. I own or have owned 5 post 2000 f-hole Gibson mandolins -- 4 F-models and one A model. All five have been excellent and they were very similar sounding.

    In addition, like most here I have played many other recently made Gibson F-models - in stores or workshops or what ever. I've never really encountered a bad one and they sound similar to me.

    In contrast I have also played a number of Collings and Weber f-model mandolins and to my ear both brands have their own distinct sound that is simply different (not better or worse) than the Gibson sound. Especially Collings is distinct. To my ear Weber is between the other two brands and can overlap in sound with either (IMO).

    So within limits yes clearly there IS a Gibson sound. But by the same token, a 1920 F-4 will not sound like a 2001 F-5 Fern and generally a 1970 F-5 will be different as well. So clearly there is not ONE Gibson sound -- so to extend the concept that broadly is silly (IMO).

    I wonder how many more times this topic will be discussed on this forum? What is this the 10th time or is it 11th
    Bernie
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  16. #66

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    I own or have owned a 1916 brown face A-2, a 1950s era A-50, and now a 2018 F5 custom wide nut. ALL three have that bright sweet "chirp" (or what I call the round fat "black cherry" Gibson sound) at fret 12 as well as fret 5. Derrington was producing good instruments but since Dave Harvey took over as master luthier / acoustic engineer Gibson mandolins now emulate the best Loar sound. using Steve Smith's Cumberland Acoustic bridges doesn't hurt either. Back in the early 2000s Derrington gave Steve a couple of Loar bridges and asked if he could duplicate them. The rest is history. I've put Steve's bridges on that A-2 and other instruments and the improvement in tone and volume was a pleasant surprise. Point is: Why buy a Gibson clone if you can buy the real thing? The boutique mandolin makers are all trying to duplicate the Gibson instrument. But what improvements in tone and volume have they made? I've heard and played a few of the major boutique instruments and was surprised at sound quality / price differential. At best they had as good a sound as Gibsons but sometimes not as good despite the price tag. Maybe they were prettier and had 500 dollar Waverly tuners but what counts is tone and volume.
    I've heard some Webers that rivaled Dave's Gibsons in sound production, but Bruce was the guy who produced the Flatirons until he went back home to Montana and started building his Webers. So I still have to ask the question: Why buy a clone when you can buy the real thing -- especially if the clone costs more than a Gibson built by Dave Harvey's team?

  17. #67
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Maybe because you think the 'clone' sounds better than the Gibson.

    Not all 'clone makers' are trying to duplicate the Gibson sound.
    Phil

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  18. #68

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    I've had the pleasure of playing only a very few Gibsons. No dealers I know of in the SF Bay area. But I played two F 9s at The Mandolin Store several years ago, and left with that chop tone in my head. Those Harvey mandolins have the Gibson thing going on, and if that's what you want, bite the bullet and buy one. I probably gave the same answer a year ago.
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  19. #69
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Christianson View Post
    ... ALL ... have that bright sweet "chirp" ... at fret 12 as well as fret 5. ...
    Often referred to here as that Gibson bark... In my experience it happens more than just at frets 5 and 12, but that may be due to my alternate tuning. Also in my experience, this bark is pretty obvious to the player, but it may or may not be obvious to the audience. My personal impression is that the tops are tuned for sympathetic resonance with A notes.

    My 2009 F-9 has it. My 2016 MKlfstb backup mandolin doesn't. Both are loud, but the tone of the F-9 is more balanced, nuanced and subtly refined.
    -- Don

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  20. #70
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson sound

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    ...
    My 2009 F-9 has it. ...
    Grrrr, sorry, typo, should be 2002.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  21. #71

    Default Re: Gibson sound

    I've had hundreds of mandolins through my hands in the last 50 years and I don't think there is a Gibson sound. Certainly not in F-hole mandolins. If I hear an old recording, Say Red Rector or Dave Appollon then I know it will be a Gibson or if I hear Sam Bush then I'm thinking it's a Gibson but I'm really thinking 'Sam Bush sound'. Give Sam Bush another make, say Ellis, Northfield, Gilchrist etc and 99% of us wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Maybe a few who are into that finite tone etc may.

    In a blind test of 100 reasonably high end spruce/maple F5s I very much doubt anyone could tell which is which. Good players make reasonable mandolins sound good and great mandolins sound great. My conclusion is that I don't believe there is such a thing as a Gibson sound. I've had numerous Gibsons and I don't think I could tell.

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