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Thread: My Gibson Master Model Story

  1. #1
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    Default My Gibson Master Model Story

    Hi everyone in Mando Cafe land. I havenít posted for a very long time but have a story that I thought might be fun and interesting for us folks that are bitten by the mandolin bug.

    I bought a Gibson Master Model F5 signed by David Harvey back in June 2010 from The Mandolin Store. Basically this mandolin is or should be near the top of the heap in mandolins except maybe (and I do mean maybe) for an F5 Loar or 20ís F5. Note that I say maybe should be as good as a Loar because with our current knowledge and capability we ought to be able to create at least as good a mandolin as Lloyd Loar did back in the 20ís (ought to is the operative words here). I think Charlie Derrington also believed this. I think he believed we ought to be able to create something even better.
    My understanding is that this MM Mandolin was a special order in a slighter lighter finish than usual that Gibson called Amberburst. It is a little lighter and a little redder than the standard finish. All other attributes of this mandolin conform to the standard Gibson MM. I guess the intended customer didnít like the way the finish looked. Dennis called me from The Mandolin Store and told me about it and we agreed on a deal! I really like The Mandolin Store and Dennis is a real straight shooter so I had no qualms about getting it from him. I had wanted one for quite some time.

    Anyway the mandolin arrived and my first impression was ďwow, what an incredibly nice instrument.Ē Looked great, finish was very cool, color was excellent, workmanship was pristine - a brand new Gibson MM! I never had played one or even seen one, so this was great. One thing I like about the MM is they replicate the dimensions and graduations of the old F5ís so well.

    Then I played it. HmmmÖ a little bit disappointed. It was good but not great. For the price and considering how theyíre made, this mandolin should have been great. However I know there is supposedly a little bit of a break in period especially with varnished red spruce. So I figured OK Ė give it some time, itís new, itíll come around.

    Fast forward about 3 years. The mandolin is still good but not great, although maybe a little better. But this is a MM. Sort of the top of the heap in mandolins. It should be awesome! In addition the bass (G-string) seemed to be off as far as intonation. I could tune it but then when fretted it was sharp. Bridge placement I figured. The placement looked ok and worked for the other strings but not that G string.

    So I contacted Gibson. David Harvey got back to me within a day. He offered to look at it and see what he could do. I thought this sounded great since he was the person that signed it and ought to know. Plus he is a mandolin master and master luthier. Works for me! He did ask how often I play it. Since Iím a working stiff, Iím lucky if I get an hour or two a week of playing time. He did suggest trying a tone-rite on the mandolin to ďplay it in.Ē Hey Ė Iíll try anything. This is a 15K mandolin Ė it ought to peel paint!

    I got a tone-rite and tried it. A few days went by. The mandolin is now being ďplayedĒ 24/7! Awesome! However, the only thing I noticed after a few days was that the mandolin went way out of tune Ė went flat. Sounded the same Ė good not great. HmmmÖ disappointment. Oh well, give it more time. A few more days went by. Mandolin went way flat again. This time though, it was a little louder, rang a little more and was easier to play for some reason. G string still off. OK Ė maybe this *is* doing something, so I put it back with the tone-rite, mandolin being played 24/7.

    A few more days go by. Itís been 2 weeks now. Mandolin didnít really go flat this time. Sound is definitely louder, crisper, lots more ring and sustain. This mandolin is starting to really bark! Cool, I like it. Still has intonation issues, especially on that G string.
    I look up David Harveyís e-mail and let him know the tone-rite made a lot of difference but that the mandolin still isnít ďright,Ē especially that low string. He suggests I ship it to Gibson so he can evaluate it.

    In the meantime Iím using the tone-rite and also playing the mandolin at the occasional gig, practice, jam and the like. Itís changed, since I started with the tone rite, itís a different instrument. The tone-rite must have done something. It doesnít just chop, it WHOMPS. It really rings and sustains. Itís loud, clear and really penetrates. Itís much easier to play and I have no idea why. People comment on it. It can literally hurt your ears if you bear down. People ask me to back away from the mic.

    OK, so back to sending it to Gibson. While itís come a long way, it still is off from the standpoint of intonation. Bridge must be off, somethingís not right. So off it goes to Gibson back in late July. It arrives and David Harvey sends an e-mail that he has it and will look it over.

    Davidís assessment is that the mandolin is really, really good. He said heís played and heard a lot of Loars that donít sound this good. However he said the bridge needs moving and fitting. He said this mandolin has seen humidity and other changes that havenít really helped it. He said the truss rod is loose and that the frets could use dressing. He said the top is really sturdy and that J75 strings would drive the top better than the J74ís I have always used. I have never used J75ís, never.

    Gibson then did all this work on my F5. They said normally they would have to charge for this. They said it really wasnít warranty work because the changes were environmentally driven and not workmanship. Nonetheless they did it for no charge because David said it was the right thing to do.

    The mandolin arrived back here last week (8/20) and the difference is remarkable. The intonation is perfect. The low G string is dead on. The bridge was moved and fitted! It plays so easy Ė seems to almost play itself. I have a backup mandolin I have used especially for the last month or so that is a good mandolin but this MM just crushes it.

    So thatís my Gibson MM story. I hope you enjoyed it. I am very digitally challenged but Iíll try to post a few photos if anyone is interested.

    I am grateful for the folks at Gibson for putting an instrument in my hands that brings the 1923 F5 into the modern era and for making sure that the mandolin I have does what itís made to do. It has gone from good to great!

    People badmouth Gibson and itís not always fair. That was not my experience. I have to say hatís off to David Harvey et. al for keeping the dream of the F5 alive and for the great work done on mine.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Nice post. Too many people today would not take the time to tell the story and give the credit to the Gibson folks. Thanks.

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  5. #3

    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Thanks for taking the time to post your MM story. Glad to hear that you have a happy ending to report.
    Your observations re the Tone-rite are interesting. Also, it's interesting to me that Gibson (David Harvey) suggested using it.
    I'm somewhat surprised that Dave Harvey suggested trying the heavier (J-75s)strings. Some luthiers I've talked to seemed to shy away from that reccommendation, citing added stress on the instrument etc. Tried them anyway on my Northfield MM and LOVE them.

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Great story! It seems to agree with other stories I have heard, where Dave Harvey provides top-notch service. Kudos to him for being a great representative for Gibson's reputation.

    I have heard too that the Gibson line can be hit or miss on tone and voice. But since the MM is a top-quality instrument in the way it's built, your story shows that they just need some fine tuning, set up, and play time to bring out the Loar sound they were made for. The one MM I played blew my socks off.

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    Registered User Tony Sz's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    My MM story has some similarity. I have a very early Derrington MM (Dec.31, 2000), and after playing it along with some other Gibons that I have, I decided that I liked another mando more, so I was going to sell the MM. It had a deep scratch on the back from an early Tone Guard, and before I put the mando up for sale, I wanted to repair the scratch, so I gave it to Dave Harvey to touch up. When he finally was able to get to my mandolin, he called me and asked if I wanted for him to look at the setup. Looking at this as an opportunity to have the mando in perfect selling condition, I said yes, check out the setup. Well, when I got the instrument back, the first thing I did was look at the scratch repair. He did a great job of filling the scratch, to the point that it was hardly noticeable any more, Then I played the instrument. WOW! I couldn't believe the difference! The mando was no longer for sale. That was 10 years ago. It's a great instrument. What a difference a great setup makes. Dave really knows what he's doing.
    Tony Szczygielski

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  11. #6

    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    i have always said ,unless you have a pro set up ,your not getting the full potential of your instrument ,evertime i have had it done it made a good mandolin a great one !!
    i can think of 4-5 people that i think of when it comes to pro set ups and Harvey is one of them

    its funny you pay $15k for a Gibson mandolin and they still need set up,same as with a high dollar Martin guitar tho
    Danny
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  13. #7

    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Cool story, and the timing is ironic as well, especially for the anti-tone rite crowd who vehemently mock the device. So who do you believe? David Harvey, a master luthier, or some keyboard warriors? The tonerite works. Glad your MM is a master now.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by shortymack View Post
    Cool story, and the timing is ironic as well, especially for all the anti-tone rite crowd who vehemently mock the device. So who do you believe? David Harvey, a master luthier, or some keyboard warriors? The tonerite works. Glad your MM is a master now.
    Certainly ads some anecdotal credibility. Begs the question why Dave Harvey didnt let it sit on a tonerite for 2 weeks before shipping.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Leo.....thanks for sharing this great story.
    Glad to see the MM come to life for you.
    Peace,
    Jim Ferguson

    Kentucky KM1000

    ~Give Blood-Play Hockey

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoR View Post
    I’m lucky if I get an hour or two a week of playing time.
    This is the part of the story that is just not right. Our life span is limited, so time is more valuable than money. Paying so much for an instrument and then not playing it at least one hour every day is definitely not a good deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by shortymack View Post
    Cool story, and the timing is ironic as well, especially for the anti-tone rite crowd who vehemently mock the device.
    For the record, I do not doubt that a new instrument must be played-in to make the parts fit. I just think it's normal to play it myself and have fun instead of letting a machine have the fun for me.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Good. I also had Mr. Harvey reset the neck and a few other little things on my mandolin, not a Master Model, but the lowly F5 Jam-Master. I shipped it to Gibson in April of this year, and received it back in July. The difference in it is a great as night and day. It was a good mandolin when I purchased it in '09, but now it is a great mandolin. Dave is the only one at Gibson that worked on it, and called me 3 different times to talk about it. I would venture to put it up against ANY mandolin. It has everything, woody on the G, great mids with a D that will make you hair standup and high crisp trebles all the way up the neck, balanced and even with great volume. He is without any doubt a master luthier, and a gentlemen with honor and pride in his work. Another thing about my mandolin, Dave said it was a 'great' mandolin that would stand up against any. Gibson is very fortunate in having this man's talent.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Your story only drives home the importance of a set-up by the right guy. Not all set-ups are created equal in the work done or the price. It also drives home the theory a mandolin needs that "wake-up" time and also that "break-in" time for a new one. I remember buying a new car in the 50's they recommend not drive it over 50mpg for the first 1000 miles to allow for the engine to "break-in" and get all the metal parts to seat together. Makes sense to me. Tone-rite helps speed the process and lots easier on your finger tips. And your story also lays testament to the face not all are created equal even if from the same maker. Mandolins are so much like that Sears paint. You can get "good", "better" or "best" but you'll still need that 2nd coat even if you pick the "best". It's when you get the "poor" paint you get rid of the can and get another one!

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  24. #13

    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Awesome story. Thanks for sharing it.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Although, it has to be said that, on the whole, "applies to cars" and "makes sense to me" are not what brought us quantum physics and faster than light travel. What? Sorry, yes, I meant just quantum physics.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    Although, it has to be said that, on the whole, "applies to cars" and "makes sense to me" are not what brought us quantum physics and faster than light travel. What? Sorry, yes, I meant just quantum physics.
    But then of course quantum physics definitely do not apply to mandolins either. Just saying.
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoR View Post
    ....I bought a Gibson Master Model F5 signed by David Harvey back in June 2010 from The Mandolin Store.....I am grateful for the folks at Gibson for putting an instrument in my hands that brings the 1923 F5 into the modern era and for making sure that the mandolin I have does what itís made to do. It has gone from good to great!

    People badmouth Gibson and itís not always fair. That was not my experience. I have to say hatís off to David Harvey et. al for keeping the dream of the F5 alive and for the great work done on mine.
    Thanks for the great story. I can add my voice with more kudos for David Harvey's skills as a luthier/set-up guru.

    I just got my 2001 Sam Bush back for David this week. He re-glued a small seam separation, then worked over the frets, bridge, and truss rod, then he polished & buffed it then set it up with fresh J75's.

    The mandolin plays like NEVER BEFOREit is awesome its magic. He has the touch for Gibson mandolins no doubt! If you can it is well worth having him go over and set up your Gibson. You'll be glad you did it!
    Bernie
    ____
    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Dave Harvey is one of the folks that has "the touch".......he is a set up....repair it.....adjust it....modify it. guru.....and a person with ethics and pride in the product.

    Hmmmm hey Gibson recognize that this is something that your corporation should hold in high esteem......yeah I know its only a "nickel and dime" part of the business and electric guitars rein supreme but still it does harken back to the roots of the company......and David, like Charlie did, have their hearts and heads in the right place.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

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    With any luck this may result in a few photo's of the MM. Thanks to those who expressed appreciation of my experience.
    Leo R
    Burnsville, Mn

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  34. #19

    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Daniel View Post
    But then of course quantum physics definitely do not apply to mandolins either. Just saying.
    Or does it?

  35. #20
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    That is a distinctly different color than any MM I have seen. Vey nice.
    It doesn't matter . . . I'm going to WINFIELD!!!!!

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    rock in rŰle Paul Statman's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    Nice post. Too many people today would not take the time to tell the story and give the credit to the Gibson folks. Thanks.
    Due credit granted to ToneRite, too.

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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Paying so much for an instrument and then not playing it at least one hour every day is definitely not a good deal.
    I guess I agree, though I could never imagine spending more than a few thousand on a mando--and even that's a fantasy right now! But as someone who used to play for at least an hour a day, I'd like to say a word in defense of extenuating circumstances.

    My son was born about four years ago, and I watch him every afternoon, so my fifty-hour a week job (college prof) gets split between mornings (from 6:00) and evenings (till midnight), plus at least one day of the weekend. Add to that some potentially life-shortening health issues that make it imperative that I work out at least five days a week (usually 75 minutes of cardio, then some weights, so two hours total). I'm lucky to find time, most weeks, for a Tuesday night jam and Friday evening with my partner.

    Believe me, I'd love to go back to playing at least an hour a day, but as fulfilling as that was to me, it just can't be a priority right now. I'm cool with that. Point is, I would imagine there are plenty of us whose priorities don't allow an hour a day, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    By the way, glad to hear so many have appreciated the change to J-75s. Been using them for almost two years now, and when I occasionally have to sub out a string and replace it with a J-74, I'm reminded of what a difference that change in gauge makes!

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  41. #23
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    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Great story about Your experience. Dave is a great player, Luthier and ambassador for Gibson. I have seen him adjust and
    put his magic touch on many mandolins over the years. His approach reminds me of that little Granny that cooks in the kitchen without recipes and cookbooks but does it all by touch adding a pinch here and a dab there to make it just right. IMHO David will take Gibson to a level unseen before.
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  43. #24

    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Clark View Post
    I can think of 4-5 people that i think of when it comes to pro set ups and Harvey is one of them
    Danny
    Can you tell me the others? I am going to be needing this service before long and Dave was the first one I thought of. I would like to know some others. Thanks!

    Lance

  44. #25

    Default Re: My Gibson Master Model Story

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    For the record, I do not doubt that a new instrument must be played-in to make the parts fit. I just think it's normal to play it myself and have fun instead of letting a machine have the fun for me.
    A sound philosophy that applies to more than just mandolins.

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