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Thread: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

  1. #1
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    Default FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    I'm researching some threads, but there's a lot of info and its starting to bleed into one another.

    I'm interested in buying/experiencing a FlatIron F model. Budget around $2500-2800.
    1)What is considered the good years for tone/build quality.
    2)Do they typically have names on the interior labels, and if so, are there particular names to be more alert too.
    3)were there particular years for flat and radius fretboards(did they use radius fretboards?)
    4)prefer nothing less than 1 1/8" nut widths, particular years/models for that?
    5)I may be wrong, but didn't some of these have nonelevated fretboards-what years to look out for those
    6)neck profile shapes-did they vary? are they usually a soft V(or what)?

    any other thoughts highly appreciated.
    is my budget realistic?

    thank you
    d
    Last edited by darylcrisp; Aug-14-2016 at 12:29pm.

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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Hey Mr. D. There are two just today in the classified, both in your price range.
    Billy Packard
    Gilchrist A3, 1993
    Stiver Fern, 1990
    Weber Fern, 2007
    Gibson F4 Hybrid #1, D. Harvey 2009
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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Packard View Post
    Hey Mr. D. There are two just today in the classified, both in your price range.
    yea, saw those and sent both a PM.

    I've been watching for one in my price range for the past month.

    thanks for heads up
    d

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Be careful of the Festival models. Those are the ones that can have an integrated fretboard. Not all of them. But some years. Best to ask the seller or have them send a pic.

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Your budget is realistic, they can be a great value. I really don't understand the price difference between them and the F5g's as they both wer made in the same shop but the same luthiers and have Gibson Master Model labels. I own a Flatiron Festival 2001 and paid less than your budget including shipping, replacing the first 6 frets and setup. Mine is near mint except for a few marks a on the edged on the back (snaps or buttons)? The tone guard covers them. The fretboard is elevated, flat and the neck is a soft V. It is very comfortable to play, for me at least. The sound is terrific to my ears. It was initially setup with J74's and it was almost to loud on the G and D strings but seemed to lack some on the A and E. I have been using GHS 270's and they are nice and even and a little less in your face. I will probably try a couple of others. They started making them in Nashville in the late 90's through 2001 or maybe 2002 until they started making putting out the Chinese version. For some reason 2001 seems to be a good year. I played a near mint 1999 recently. It had a slightly smaller neck/nut (felt like it anyway). I like mine better and so did the owner, but it was a nice mandolin. I know someone who has played several and is a Collings fan, he thinks they are fairly inconsistent? I don't think they were signing the Festival at that time but Sim Daley and at least one other luthier (mentioned in another thread) signed the top of the ones they carved. Problem is you need a mirror or flexible camera snake to check. So if you find a good one you should be happy, at least for a month or two. Patience as they do show up from time to time.

    I am not much of a player and this is way more mandolin than I deserve so it will be with me until I stop playing or am 6 feet under.

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    You'll also get mixed opinions on which years are the good ones. Some will say the Nashville made Flatirons are the best because they are essentially a Gibson. Others will say the pre-Gibson Montana made are the best (with the Carlson-made being the best of the best - and these are the most expensive). I think you'd need to play them to see which you prefer because they are different.

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevo75 View Post
    Be careful of the Festival models. Those are the ones that can have an integrated fretboard. Not all of them. But some years. Best to ask the seller or have them send a pic.
    almost purchased one a month ago and remembered this and sure enough, it was flat on top of the soundboard once the guy sent me the requested picture from the side. The pictures were taken in such a way that area could not be seen, and he didn't seem to know what I was asking about.

    thanks for bringing that up
    d

    good info in this thread:
    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...tiron+festival
    Last edited by darylcrisp; Aug-14-2016 at 12:30pm.

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    thanks folks, great info.

    someone dial up Datanick, he's the Flatiron Dr here.

    d

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    This will not answer every question you posed but will give you the specs on the older Montana Carlson era models:

    http://www.bradleylaird.com/blog-art...tiron-bro.html
    Last edited by bradlaird; Aug-14-2016 at 1:38pm. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    I'm researching some threads, but there's a lot of info and its starting to bleed into one another.

    I'm interested in buying/experiencing a FlatIron F model. Budget around $2500-2800.
    1)What is considered the good years for tone/build quality.
    2)Do they typically have names on the interior labels, and if so, are there particular names to be more alert too.
    3)were there particular years for flat and radius fretboards(did they use radius fretboards?)
    4)prefer nothing less than 1 1/8" nut widths, particular years/models for that?
    5)I may be wrong, but didn't some of these have nonelevated fretboards-what years to look out for those
    6)neck profile shapes-did they vary? are they usually a soft V(or what)?

    any other thoughts highly appreciated.
    is my budget realistic?

    thank you
    d
    Daryl, I have a 2001 Flatiron Festival F. I initially bought a Northfield NF5s as I couldn't find a Flatiron anywhere in the UK.

    Had I managed to find a Flatiron before I bought the NF I would have been more than happy to manage with only the Flatiron. It's a fantastic mandolin and handles everything I throw at it. It's not signed on the label (it might be signed on the top but I've never managed to take a peek)

    I paid well under $1000 for my mint example but that was down to pure luck. The last one I saw in the UK went for around $2500 at auction including fees ( prices over here are MUCH more expensive than in the States)

    Flatiron Festival F's are fantastic mandolins that play and sound brilliant. They have (or at least mine does) flat fretboards, medium sized frets, no pick guard, beautifully flamed sides, back and necks and are built to a very high standard. I think the nut is 1 1/8, feels the same as my NF apart from the NF has a radiused board...it's easy enough to swap between the two. Personally I don't feel there is a massive difference in sound between the two. Flatiron may have a little more oomph (technical term). It feels heavier and more robust that the NF without compromising on tone.

    The Flatiron is no longer made so there's only a limited number of them available. Theoretically they should hold (or even increase) their value so if you manage to find a good one, for the right price, I would definitely recommend buying one.

    Good luck in your search and I wish you the same good fortune I had when buying mine.
    Northfield NF5S
    2001 Flatiron Festival
    Epiphone MM-50
    Guild D55
    National Style 0
    1987 Gibson 335
    60th Anniversary Strat

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by bradlaird View Post
    This will not answer every question you posed but will give you the specs on the older Montana Carlson era models:

    http://www.bradleylaird.com/blog-art...tiron-bro.html
    Brad
    that was a neat link, loved the read, thanks so much
    d

  20. #12

    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Just to confuse the subject Jim Triggs was a Gibson luthier and now builds under his own name - this one is one great looking mandolin

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Jim-Triggs-F...kAAOSwARZXirHv

    Paul Schneider who builds Summit mandolins would be another

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    One more thing to be careful of, some of the old ones do not have truss rods. So make sure to ask about that or get a picture. I'm not sure how far back or which models. Some will say that it's no problem to have a neck with no truss rod but if I were buying a used mandolin with no truss rod I'd make sure to have a solid return policy in case the neck isn't straight.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest Steve View Post
    Just to confuse the subject Jim Triggs was a Gibson luthier and now builds under his own name - this one is one great looking mandolin

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Jim-Triggs-F...kAAOSwARZXirHv

    Paul Schneider who builds Summit mandolins would be another
    I have a Summit and it's a great mandolin!

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by bradlaird View Post
    This will not answer every question you posed but will give you the specs on the older Montana Carlson era models:

    http://www.bradleylaird.com/blog-art...tiron-bro.html
    Great info...thanks for the link.
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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Daryl, if it were me I'd be looking at one from 1999-2001. All of the ones I've heard that I thought sounded great are all from that time period, and having owned and played a few from the early to mid 90s (the Montana post-gibson years) made me realize those are not what I'm looking for.

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    So it sounds like there are two categories:

    1) A 1999-2001 Flatiron (Nashville-made Flatiron) because you are getting a Gibson F5G at a good price. But you are essentially buying a Gibson - which may be what you're going for. You can get one of these in your price range, Daryl.

    2) A pre-Gibson, Montana-made Flatiron, preferably from the Carlson era. These are what I would say are a "real" Flatiron, in that it's not a Gibson, it's what Flatiron was making that made Gibson take notice. But you will not get one of these for under $2500 for an F-style (looks more like $5,000 from what I've seen in the classifieds). These really are a different animal than the Gibson Flatirons, especially the x-braced models.

    So that said, are you going to get one of the 2000-2001 Flatiron F's currently in the classifieds?
    Last edited by Stevo75; Aug-14-2016 at 10:16pm.

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    I had a '91 Montana Bruce Weber that I bought new for $1,800. It was in a showcase next to a Gibson, also Bruce Weber for $2,800. I couldn't see/hear any difference. I played it a lot and took care of it. I sold it in 2011 for $3,500 when I got my Buckeye. I couldn't afford to keep both, but it was an excellent mandolin. $2,500 would be a bargain if they are anything like my '91.

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest Steve View Post
    Just to confuse the subject Jim Triggs was a Gibson luthier and now builds under his own name - this one is one great looking mandolin

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Jim-Triggs-F...kAAOSwARZXirHv

    Paul Schneider who builds Summit mandolins would be another
    that Triggs looks gorgeous!
    will check that out tomorrow with that vendor(specs and all)
    thanks for the link Steve

    d

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevo75 View Post
    So it sounds like there are two categories:

    1) A 1999-2001 Flatiron (Nashville-made Flatiron) because you are essentially getting a Gibson F5G at a good price. But you are essentially buying a Gibson - which may be what you're going for. You can get one of these in your price range, Daryl.

    2) A pre-Gibson, Montana-made Flatiron, preferably from the Carlson era. These are what I would say are a "real" Flatiron, in that it's not a Gibson, it's what Flatiron was making that made Gibson take notice. But you will not get one of these for under $2500 for an F-style (looks more like $5,000 from what I've seen in the classifieds. These really are a different animal than the Gibson Flatirons, essentially the x-braced models.

    So that said, are you going to get one of the 2000-2001 Flatiron F's currently in the classifieds?
    sent PM's to both, Kenny (Lakotaleathers) has responded and we are working to get specs and some good pictures on his.
    have not heard back from the other listing.
    both are in my price range and appear to be in the year range of suggestion.
    d

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    The Triggs are usually much "drier" than the Flatiron's.

    The Flatirons I have either owned or played from the 1999-2001 period were all very nice instruments and tone-wise, indistinguishable from Gibson A5's and F5's from the same period. I even had them side-by side and tried to hear a difference, and couldn't.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Can't really add much, I would personally classify Flatiron carved top mandolin eras as the following:

    1. Carlson Era 1983-1987 (mid 87')
    2. Gibson-Montana 1987-1996
    3. Gibson Nashville (Transitional) 1997-mid 1999
    4. Gibson Nashville Derrington Loar Specs mid 1999-2002
    5. EpiFlat - asian factory produced instrument 2005-2009?

    Transitional mandolins were those that were originated in Bozeman, MT. then completed in Nashville, TN.


    The Derrington era Flatirons are essentially the Gibson A5G and F5G of the same period. Many times well documented by the principals here on the Cafe...biggest differences spec-wise between the Derrington era and Carlson/Gibson Montana eras are carving graduations, neck joint, fingerboard, neck profile/angle
    1994 Gibson F5L made by Bruce Weber's team


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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    The neck joint in Montana is different than the neck joint in Nashville.
    Carlson left in early '90s. He remained the shop foreman during that time, but other's signed labels. I think I've seen a Carlson-signed mandolin from '93.
    All Gibson oval-hole mandolins have an integrated fretboard. I think too many folks are disparaging the integrated fretboard without any experience. It's just foisting some impression on the instrument. Not buying it until I know somebody actually has played both.
    Buy what you want though. It's just the internet record on Festivals is being influence by many of these ill-informed posts.
    My '84 A5-1 did not have an adjustable truss rod. I had Lou Stiver add a radius on a refret, but I think all of the Montana Flatirons were flat. Not sure about Nashville, but their Gibson counterparts were flat. The Chinese Flatirons may be radiused - not sure.

    My list:

    Flatiron
    Flatson
    Nash Flatson (I understand the point that DataNick is making)
    New Nash Flatson (there were just a half-dozen of these or so. . .)
    Epi-Flatson

    Big fan of Flatiron!

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

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    My '84 A5-1 did not have an adjustable truss rod. I had Lou Stiver add a radius on a refret
    Like this one?

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/100808#100808
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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    To build a bit on fatt dad's point about neck joints.

    I believe I remember correctly that the Montana built ones had mortise and tenon neck joints glued and supported by two bolts directly into the wood of the tenon through the neck block, while the Nashville ones have a glue only dovetail. If I am wrong about that, correct me please, but that is my understanding.

    The Montana joint is very similar to the modern Weber joint, except that now , instead of going directly into wood, the bolts go into barrel nuts that have been inserted into the sides of the neck wood.

    Both kinds of joints work very well when done correctly, but having one or the other may be important to some.
    Don

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    Default Re: FlatIron F models, help me out with a concise list

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Hmm, It could be my old Flatiron? Likely, eh?

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

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

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