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Thread: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

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    Default Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    I bought a Gibson A5-L in 1990. I had misgivings about the neck from the git-go because of its pronounced V profile. A few years ago, when it went to the shop for a fret job and to get the fretboard extension routed down, I asked the luthier to change the next profile to a C, but he said he wouldn't, out of concern that not enough room would be left for the truss rod and the neck's long term stability. I took his word for it.

    Now, I don't know about other A5-Ls, but mine took a long time — years and years —to open up. When it did, it developed beautifully. The shape of the neck, though, kept me from ever really loving that mandolin. Incidentally, I also disliked the thick nitrocellulose lacquer finish on the neck. From time to time, I'd matte it with Scotchbrite pads, but it never really did the trick. It just kept getting shiny again until I finally started hitting wood.

    A few weeks ago, I emailed Steve Carlson, because his signature was in it, and asked him if there was room to safely trim the wood. Steve said sure, even though it might look a little funny. He said I should ask Bruce Weber to do it. I waffled. Even told Steve I was going to leave it. I thought I might be making a mistake by doing something irreversible.

    When I waffled back the other way and emailed Bruce at his Montana Lutherie shop, we spoke on the phone. He said he'd be happy to do it — personally. I was in West Virginia at the time and shipped it to him from a little country post office up in the panhandle.

    Well, Bruce let me know when got the mando on Monday, July 10. By Tuesday he was texting me progress pictures. When the wood was trimmed, he sent another picture to ask if he should apply a touch of tint to bring out the figuring in the maple or leave it blonde. We went with a light tint. And then another photo when that was done. Plus one of his new puppy Ranger playing in the packing material.

    It was looking good. Then Bruce asked if he should replace the original pearl nut, which was done for. My choice: bone or pearl. He said bone wouldn't last as long but would warm the tone up a bit more. I went with bone.

    Today it is Friday the 14th, and the mando arrived TODAY via Priority Mail. I was surprised at how anxious I was when I unpacked it. I mean, I might have asked for something that I might not have liked and could have realized it the second I put my left hand around the neck.

    Holy moly. Just holding it was a revelation. Even with the strings still detensioned for shipping, I knew this was perfect. And though some folks might object to the way the black finish at the heel and top of the neck on any speednecked mandolin might look, it is beautiful to me.

    Steve Carlson had warned me that the neck would look odd where the flat of the back of the peghead meets the neck, but Bruce sculpted that beautifully. He didn't let that happen. The lacquer was also removed from the ivoroid binding on the fretboard, and that looks and feels just like a Loar I had a long time ago. No exaggeration. It changes the feel of quality entirely.

    In case you're wondering just how big a bribe it took to get someone of Bruce Weber's caliber to do the neck, replace the nut, dress the frets a little and swap out the tuners (I sent a set of new Rubners to replace the awful Grover 309s which I really did not like; the Rubners are beautiful and a revelation in themselves) for some average no-name, play-at home hobby player — and to please hurry and do it in two days while he was at it — the entire tab ran $250. It's the best $250 I ever spent. And if that isn't a fair price, I don't know what is.

    All in all, nothing about this whole escapade was less than ideal. Master luthier perfectly enhances mandolin to where I now love it. It sounds, feels, and even looks, better than it ever did. I'm so glad I held off until fate and Steve Carlson steered me to Bruce.

    So, that's my once-in-a-lifetime profile change and speedneck story. The speed part wasn't an issue. The speednecking, though, results in a much more pleasant feel.

    Thank you Bruce and Mary Weber. It's not often that someone does something with such excellence, and in such a friendly way, that ends up making such a big difference in your life. That might sound over the top, but it's how I feel. Getting the right feel out of your instrument is a big deal.

    Hmmm, can't figure out how to add pictures from the phone, but I'll add some later.

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Bruce's text after adding a slight tint to the neck:
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    Rollin' in my sweet baby's arms:

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Congrats Brian!

    While at the Grass Valley Father's Day festival this year, I had Austin Clark (in the Luthier's Barn) gently re-profile and speed neck my 2002 F-9, very similar to your work. My left thumb always hurt while playing that V-profile and the more I played it, the more I wanted this done.

    I had worn though much of the thin nitro finish on the back of the neck with playing, so the speed neck was a natural consideration. Austin french polished the neck for me after doing the re-profiling and speed neck work.

    At the same time, I had him level and re-fret the F-9 fingerboard using "banjo width" Evo-gold frets, and of course he did a setup (including a new nut) for me. Austin did a wonderful job; like you describe, it's like having a new instrument.

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    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "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 many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Nice, I hate V-necks man, I love a small round neck, I've speednecked my F-7 conversions! My first good mando was a 2001 Gibson F5-G and that V bothered me so I hacked it down, was much better, I've been lookin for that thing for years, last I heard it was in Europe,BUMMER.

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Hey it sounds like we live in parallel universes! Cool. I've got the same Tone Gard, too. Looks like a nice setup you've got there.

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Yup. Parallel universe...

    Good instruments deserve good accessories, don't they! If we provide the best setup and config that we can, then all we need to do is worry about improving our playing.

    Again, congrats, that's a great mandolin and great hands have worked on it!
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "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 many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    I suspect many really good mandolins take a long time to open up. Controversial, yeah, I know, but truth. My Gibson has the V neck and my Black less so, but both are comfortable for me. My speed neck took 12 years and all by hand. That lacquer is tough, and it's not a clean edged look, but it looks real because it is real and it is all worn off right where it needs to be. Enjoy!
    Mike Snyder

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Snyder View Post
    I suspect many really good mandolins take a long time to open up. Controversial, yeah, I know, but truth. My Gibson has the V neck and my Black less so, but both are comfortable for me. My speed neck took 12 years and all by hand. That lacquer is tough, and it's not a clean edged look, but it looks real because it is real and it is all worn off right where it needs to be. Enjoy!
    Yes but some have such a thick pronounced V shape that I find it rough to play em, even a thick rounded neck is just uncomfortable to me thats why I've done the mods I've done and traded off my old 82 Gil F-5, the neck on the Gil wasn't a V but huge to me and I sure didn't want to sand that down, I actually talked to Gilchrist and he said when he came to the states this fall to deliver his new batch, he'd take it down and refinish to match the body for a great deal but I had to let it go to get somethin better to me.

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    My A5L took 3 years to open up. It has the V neck as well. And its twisting at the nut due to the pull of the G string. Very little wood in that area.

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Hey guy's I am new around these parts but among my small collection I have an Old Kay that I can't find any info on here is a picture or two. Any thoughts of date round about? It has a few upgrades such as the bridge and the tuners as well as the tail piece. A couple repairs which I feel gives it a little characterClick image for larger version. 

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    JRayClick image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by JRay; Aug-11-2017 at 8:33am. Reason: added picture

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    JRay, you should figure out how to post your own thread with your question and pics. It's not difficult (I rarely start threads, so would have to play around with it to remember how, hence no directions ) and will get many more eyes looking at it. There are some folks on here with a ton of knowledge about Kay's, Stradolins, etc. if you can find a serial number inside or stamped on the headstock it may help.

    Good luck, and welcome!
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Bruce Weber just reprofiled and speednecked my Gibson A5-L

    Thanks Chuck... As I move FWD I hope to get better at this posting stuff. I will take your advice and work this out so I can get the information needed. Appreciate the Welcome!
    JRay

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