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Thread: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fern

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    Smile New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fern

    I am wondering if anyone can offer a comparison of these two types of mandolins. I have a chance to purchase either. I have heard the the new post flood Dave Harvey Ferns are awesome but haven't got a chance to try one yet.


    Regards,

    Morris

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Yes, they are awesome. However, I really think you will have a hard time doing a direct comparison, unless you can get both in your hands.....there is always going to be individual variation. I can only say that my own post-flood Fern is wonderful, and I have never played a finer new (non vintage) mandolin.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
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    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Even with these two side by each, the '98 is likely to be more "played in" and the post-flood to be newtight. All the post flood stuff I've seen was very, very good. Tough decision between two desirable instruments.
    Mike Snyder

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    You may want to check the neck joint in the 98. I believe it was not until 1999 that Gibson re-adopted the compound dovetail. If the 98 is indeed a bolt on neck, I would most likely choose the recent model.

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Can we just start referring to Gibsons as "antediluvian" and "postdiluvian?"

    They're two great words that don't get used nearly enough.
    PJ Doland
    1923 Gibson Snakehead A

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    Registered User Kevin K's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    I've played about four, maybe 5 post flood F5G's and everyone was excellent. Two were brand new, I was in the store when owner brought them in from just being delivered. Excellent sounding and playing.
    "Can I have a little more talent in the monitors please?"

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by barry View Post
    You may want to check the neck joint in the 98. I believe it was not until 1999 that Gibson re-adopted the compound dovetail. If the 98 is indeed a bolt on neck, I would most likely choose the recent model.
    Personally I would not make my decision on the basis of the type of neck joint.

    According to luthiers who have had familiarity with both necks (such as Joe Vest, formerly of Gibson) the bolt on neck used by Gibson was a perfectly stable neck -- the decision to return to the dovetail was done in the interest of being faithful to the Loar recreation effort lead by Derrington and others. It was not due to issues with the bolt on neck joint.

    I very much doubt that the neck joint will be much of a factor in the tone/projection of the mandolin.

    The most important thing it to, if at all possible, play them both before you buy. Chances are you will no go wrong with either of these two possibilities.
    Bernie
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Let's let Charlie's words speak for themselves in this March 3, 2003 interview........

    What is your opinion on neck joints, dovetail compared to the bolt on.

    A - I have re-set too many bolt-on necks to be happy with that system. As many old Gibson mandolins as I have worked on in my lifetime, I have never, NEVER, had to reset a neck on one. NEVER !!!! Loose backs, headblocks, tailblocks, tops, etc. etc. but never a neck joint. That is a huge testimonial to the stability of the compound dove-tail neck joint on a mandolin. There is also a definitive tonal difference between the two. If it ain't like a Loar, don't build it.

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    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    All of the '90's Montana Gibsons I played (about 10, I believe) were fine, some even very fine instruments. (Owned a '93 for a while.) An early Derrington F5 from 2000 had great response, but sounded too bassy for my taste. I own a Harvey signed shortly-before-the-flood varnished Fern (Dec. 2009) with a very, very nice, balanced and complex sound. (Hard to describe, bright, but still woody, great e-string.) In other words, I would trust David Harvey.

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by PJ Doland View Post
    Can we just start referring to Gibsons as "antediluvian" and "postdiluvian?"

    They're two great words that don't get used nearly enough.
    Great idea.

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    It amazes me to see how many folks post on here asking for advice on what mandolin to buy due to the way some sound....Most folks don`t enjoy the same tones as everyone else so you will always get a difference of opinions...Like it was stated earlier, play them both and then make up your mind, check to see if the `98 has a bolt on neck ( I have read where the bolt was only used to secure the joint until the glue dried), if you them make up your mind you will have only yourself to blame if it doesn`t turn out to be what you wanted....I believe either one of those mandolins would satisfy most of us on here and I`m also sure that they will not sound the same so try and play both of them to see what you are buying....

    Willie

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by barry View Post
    Let's let Charlie's words speak for themselves in this March 3, 2003 interview........

    What is your opinion on neck joints, dovetail compared to the bolt on.

    A - I have re-set too many bolt-on necks to be happy with that system. As many old Gibson mandolins as I have worked on in my lifetime, I have never, NEVER, had to reset a neck on one. NEVER !!!! Loose backs, headblocks, tailblocks, tops, etc. etc. but never a neck joint. That is a huge testimonial to the stability of the compound dove-tail neck joint on a mandolin. There is also a definitive tonal difference between the two. If it ain't like a Loar, don't build it.
    Certainly Charlie Derrington had a very informed opinion and lots of experience.

    However, he was not the only luthier in the world who had expertise on mandolin neck joints and it is well known that he was not partial to anything not like exactly like a Gibson Loar -- as you see from the quote you provided. So he certainly was not without bias on that topic.

    But I'm not sure that Charlie's quote even applies here because I do not think that the characterization of the neck joint on the F-5L mandolins as "bolt-on" is strictly true anyway.

    I believe (and it has been stated here in other discussions on the forum also) the Gibson mandolins made in Montana (after they bought Flatiron) were NOT really bolt-on necks in the strict sense. Rather they were "mortise and tenon" neck joints that used two bolts to draw the neck tight but they were also glued -- akin to a dove tail (which is just a type of mortise and tenon anyway). I'm pretty sure this is correct.

    The Weber company uses that same mortise and tenon neck joint now and has built thousands on mandolins. (I sent SoundtoEarth an eamail to confirm that point).

    Bruce Weber discusses this topic in detail on Sound-to-Earth web page and that discussion can be read here.

    But to summarize, Bruce made two important points in this discussion: 1) Weber after building thousands of mandolins (and mandolas etc.) over nearly 30 years has never had a mandolin come back with a neck joint failure. So regardless of Charlie Derrington's experience these necks do not fail. Charlie may actually have been referring to some other bolt on arrangement anyway.
    2) Bruce does not think that the neck joint has an impact on the mandolin tone and volume.

    So in summary I stand by my view and I do not see a risk in buying an early Gibson F-5L (or any Weber or Flatiron either) -- therefore, I would not base my purchase decision on that criteria.

    The important thing is how does this mandolin sound to the buyer's ear. Others can make up their own minds of course.
    Bernie
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post

    So in summary I stand by my view and I do not see a risk in buying an early Gibson F-5L (or any Weber or Flatiron either) -- therefore, I would not base my purchase decision on that criteria.

    The important thing is how does this mandolin sound to the buyer's ear. Others can make up their own minds of course.
    Agreed.
    Chris Cravens

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Thanks all. I think I'll try the new ones. The 98 F5L has a line and some small chips at the neck joint. Other than that it looks very good. It does sound good though. It is priced a little high because it is a Derrington. I did have a Derrington Master Model and sold it last week. Guess I couldn't resist all the money that someone was willing to pay for it.

    Regards,

    Morris

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Morris,
    Would that Derrington now reside in Montana?

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by Morris View Post
    Thanks all. I think I'll try the new ones. The 98 F5L has a line and some small chips at the neck joint. Other than that it looks very good. It does sound good though. It is priced a little high because it is a Derrington. I did have a Derrington Master Model and sold it last week. Guess I couldn't resist all the money that someone was willing to pay for it.

    Regards,

    Morris
    Hi Morris: How would you say that 98 F5L sounds compared to the Master Model that you sold?

    If/when you try a new Fern, it would be interesting to hear what you think of those too.

    I played a MM a friend of mine bought last week, and I thought it was killer.

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    George,

    It does reside in Helena, Montana. It was a killer mandolin. Have you got a chance to play it? I hated to sell it but I just couldn't justify haven't because thats one that should be out there with the pros. I think John will do it justice.

    Regards,

    Morris

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Jeff,

    The 98 F5L sounds good but the MM was a KILLER. I have never played an E string that screamed like the one on that Derrington MM. The tone and the notes were exceptionally clean and clear. That F5L was better than most mandolins that I played but when you play a MM it is a whole different class. That's just my opinion. I believe it is the closet thing to a loar that is currently produced. And it sounds like Dave Harvey at Gibson is going to keep it rolling.

    Regards,

    Morris

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Morris,
    I did play that MM and I agree it was great. His mother owns I believe a 89 F5L with Bill Monroes signature on it. They operate Helena's best music store. I bought my last two Webers from them. You can bet John will do here justice. We have a mini music festival this week-end and I bet alot of folks are going to want to see her.

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Interesting. When I got the Fern, I was torn between it and a DMM. They were both great mandolins. I played them side-by-side for a couple of hours. It was a tough call, but something about the Fern called to me, and I went for that one. The DMM was around 5 years old, while the Fern was new, and barely a couple of months out the factory. One thought I had was "wow, if it sounds this great new, what's it going to sound like given a bit of time?". I think I made the right choice there because it has gotten better still, and probably will continue to do so. It has those crystal (but still warm) highs and very woody, balanced lows. Heck of a fine mandolin. I don't really think you can go wrong with any of these. The post-flood ones seem to be impeccably put together, and certainly have "that" sound by the truck load. Too bad the Jam Masters are on the back burner right now, as those are some very nice mandos in their own right, and would be a steal if you could still get one.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
    Distressed Silverangel F 'Esmerelda' aka 'Maxx'
    Northfield Big Mon #127
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    '39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by Morris View Post
    Jeff,

    The 98 F5L sounds good but the MM was a KILLER. I have never played an E string that screamed like the one on that Derrington MM. The tone and the notes were exceptionally clean and clear. That F5L was better than most mandolins that I played but when you play a MM it is a whole different class. That's just my opinion. I believe it is the closet thing to a loar that is currently produced. And it sounds like Dave Harvey at Gibson is going to keep it rolling.

    Regards,

    Morris
    Thanks, that's about what I expected. Your old MM is the one I played. George and I have a very fortunate common friend.

    I have a couple of Gibson's made under Dave Harvey's watch; an '08 F9 and an F5G Custom from this year. I wouldn't really compare them to the MM, but both are excellent. I agree the Master Models are in a whole other class, although I do hear some similar characteristics (maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part). I think you'll like the way a new Fern will sound.

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    You can clearly see the cosmetic differences here between a post-flood Dave Harvey signed Fern, and a 2000 Derrington signed F5-L:

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    Key differences are that the 2000 model has grained ivoroid binding, vs. white, the 'burst is more 'cremona' vs the redder colour on the more recent one, and there are also differences (not visible here) in the support under the fingerboard extension.

    If you compare headstocks, there are also differences in the inlays (and bindings):

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    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
    Distressed Silverangel F 'Esmerelda' aka 'Maxx'
    Northfield Big Mon #127
    Ellis F5 Special #288
    '39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.

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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    I finally got the post flood Fern signed by Dave Harvey that I ordered. It is fantastic. I would definitely put it in the same caliber as the Master Model that I previously owned. This will be a beast once it gets played in. Gibson, in my opinion is producing some of the best mandolins in the US. I will credit this to Dave Harvey. If you get a chance to acquire one you will not be disappointed. I just can't put it down.

    Regards,

    Morris

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Buy the New One, you Get The Warrantee ..

    .. still might be worth a trip to pick the best of the litter, .. that satisfies your ear.
    some place with an inventory of more than one.
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    is like dancing,
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    Default Re: New Post flood Gibson Fern versus Gibson 98 F5L Derrington Fe

    Quote Originally Posted by Morris View Post
    I finally got the post flood Fern signed by Dave Harvey that I ordered. It is fantastic. I would definitely put it in the same caliber as the Master Model that I previously owned. This will be a beast once it gets played in. Gibson, in my opinion is producing some of the best mandolins in the US. I will credit this to Dave Harvey. If you get a chance to acquire one you will not be disappointed. I just can't put it down.
    That was my reaction too. Absolutely phenomenally fine mandolins. Right up there with the best I have ever played, by any maker, at any price. Now has about 8 months hard picking on it, and it is getting ever better. The older Derrington-signed example I have is slightly more mid-rangey....the newer Harvey is what I would describe as slightly more "3D" right across the spectrum. A bit more low end in there. Quite subtle, but it's there. Both wonderful F-5's, and I can only concur that the current production is worthy of all the praise it gets. Can stand comparison to just about anything. Congratulations, I hope yours gives you as much pleasure as mine has for me. Like you say..hard to put down!
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
    Distressed Silverangel F 'Esmerelda' aka 'Maxx'
    Northfield Big Mon #127
    Ellis F5 Special #288
    '39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.

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