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Thread: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

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    Registered User Matt Livingston's Avatar
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    Default Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    I'm a frequent window shopper in the classifieds. I'm curious when non-Gibson F5s started showing up. I can't think of too many I've seen for sale prior to 1970s that are not Gibson. Are the trailblazers the same ones we all know and still see occasionally today (Nugget, Monteleone, Gilchrist, Givons, Ellis, Siminoff)? Who else?

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Livingston View Post
    I'm a frequent window shopper in the classifieds. I'm curious when non-Gibson F5s started showing up. I can't think of too many I've seen for sale prior to 1970s that are not Gibson. Are the trailblazers the same ones we all know today (Nugget, Monteleone, Gilchrist, Givons, Ellis, Siminoff)? Who else?
    While not an authority, i was playing back then, and desparately wanted an F.

    I was in a circle that im fairly certain i would have been aware. I was aware of F7s ans F12s, always on the look out.

    And i shopped/gawked a fair amount, although denver was stilll a cow town in terms of music stores.

    I dont recall seeing anything pre 70's ever.

    I well recall my horror at the early yamaha guitars at the time, being of the adolescent mind set that quality guitars did not come from japan. This was a misconception based on the pervasive 50-60's low cost low quality items that were produced, post war reconstruction.

    Those surviving 70's yamaha have often become great sounding over time.
    I believe the pac rim Fs appeared esrly 80's.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    I remember looking admiringly at F-5 style mandolins from Ibanez around 1975-76. I may even still have a catalog from them somewhere. I was then (and still am) primarily a banjo player and these nice Ibanez Fs were way over my mandolin price range at that time so I went with a Suzuki taterbug instead (which I still have).
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    Registered User Matt Livingston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    Thanks, Don and Steve. Sounds like Pac Rim imports arrived in the mid'70s. What about independent American builders? When did they first arrive on the scene? I guess there was probably more of a regional play for the independent guys before the internet.

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    There may have been others, but Randy Wood was building by '68 or '69.

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    Quote Originally Posted by stevedenver View Post

    And i shopped/gawked a fair amount, although denver was stilll a cow town in terms of music stores.
    ...but there was a gold mine in those downtown pawn shops...
    I lived in Steamboat Springs in the mid-70's, and a trip in to Denver was downright dangerous...


    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Livingston View Post
    What about independent American builders? When did they first arrive on the scene?
    There weren't really all that many before the mid-70's--a handful, really...
    The Morgan and Siminoff F5 plans (both issued in the mid-70's) encouraged a lot of builders (like me)...but even then, not a lot...

    When did Randy Wood start making? Hutto?

    I (along with a lot of others) started building out of necessity.
    We really wanted an F5 mandolin--but couldn't afford one--so building was the only option...

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    It depends on what you consider F-style.

    John D'Angelico built at least one (very ugly) F-style mandolin in the 1940's. There was also the Epiphone Windsor model.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    There were several builders, probably starting in the 1960's but definitely in the '70's, doing conversions, taking F-2's and F-4's and re-topping and re-necking them to make "F-5's." As I recall Jack Tottle was playing a Randy Wood conversion of an F-4 then.

    And there were "quasi-F-5's" like the Epiphone Windsor and Artist models (check this thread and included links) back before WWII.

    But as far as I can remember, the Ibanez and Alvarez F-models that started showing up in the '70's were the first generally available F-5 clones. I bought my first F-model, a 'teens F-2, around 1972 or so, and traded it in on my '50's F-5 sometime around 1980 or so.

    Mid-'70's F-5 copies like this 1977 Randy Wood are still around and being played. And back then, builders had fewer compunctions about inlaying "The Gibson" on their headstocks, so you can't always tell Gibson from independent builder product. Not so much now.
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    I own a 1967 F model mandolin made by David Waltersdorf of Pa. It was copied after the Gibson F-5`s of that era...It is #2

    Although David`s mandolins never became really sought after instruments to my knowledge his fiddles did and were selling for around $8,000 at that time...The mandolin has a great tone but isn`t very loud but when working through a sound system loudness isn`t anything to worry about, just get closer to the mic. ...

    Willie

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    RL Givens in 70 !

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    From stevedenver - "I well recall my horror at the early Yamaha guitars at the time,...". My very first guitar was a Yamaha FG140,bought around 1970(ish) for 120 UK. It had a laminated top,not what you might think,but thin plies of real 'tonewood' bonded together & it sounded as good as many of the other acoustic guitars around at the time. I think that around the time i bought my Antoria Gibson RB250 'look alike' banjo,mid '70's,that the Asian F5 mandolin copies had also begun to arive in the UK - The Aria ones are the ones that i remember with all the fancy fingerboard inlays - that looked lousy on a mandolin even back then.

    I've been looking for an old '70's FG140 over here for a while now,& if i find a decent one,at a reasonable price,i'll most likely buy it.I've often wondered where my old one is,
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post

    I've been looking for an old '70's FG140 over here for a while now,& if i find a decent one,at a reasonable price,i'll most likely buy it.I've often wondered where my old one is,

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I sold my old FG180 (37-10s in 1970) to Arthur Wakefield (Ivan will know him) for 65 some years after I'd upgraded to a Martin. He left it propped up in his club, somebody tripped over it and snapped the neck.

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    John Duffey converted a few! An F-7 and F-12 for certain then there is his mythical F-2 or F-4 with an F-5 top made from the "Cellar Door" front step that came off an old sailing ship? Whereabouts UNKNOWN?
    Randy Wood was also converting and then don't forget the Cromwell 30's original lump scroll F-hole F-5ish style. But that was a Gibson Budget brand! And there was one that has been in discussion here before an F-5 style made in the mid 30's by? DA DA DA Who?? It's been on ebay and the classifieds here before I almost bought her but wasn't fast enough. I want to say Joe Stewert? But can't remember? Wish I knew where that one was?
    Mr Mike Edgerton pry could help with that one? There were a few threads on it.
    The Epiiphone Windser was already mentioned. That's all I can think of

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    I was playing in a local band with Johnny Hutto when he made his first mandolin. I'm thinking it was the very early 70's. I know he talked to a few builders that preceded his building before starting, Randy Wood for one. Concerning Yamaha guitars, I was playing a borrowed no name guitar shaped object as a teenager when I saw my first Yamaha. My opinion as well as my fathers was here was a "good" guitar that didn't cost like a Martin or Gibson ( about the only good guitars at that time). My dad and I were at a Friday night jam when we saw this 180 Yamaha, dad went out the next morning and bought one. People starting acoustic music today don't know the rarity of decent, reasonable instrument of the sixties and early seventies.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    John Duffey converted a few! An F-7 and F-12 for certain then there is his mythical F-2 or F-4 with an F-5 top made from the "Cellar Door" front step that came off an old sailing ship? Whereabouts UNKNOWN?
    Randy Wood was also converting and then don't forget the Cromwell 30's original lump scroll F-hole F-5ish style. But that was a Gibson Budget brand! And there was one that has been in discussion here before an F-5 style made in the mid 30's by? DA DA DA Who?? It's been on ebay and the classifieds here before I almost bought her but wasn't fast enough. I want to say Joe Stewert? But can't remember? Wish I knew where that one was?
    Mr Mike Edgerton pry could help with that one? There were a few threads on it.
    The Epiiphone Windser was already mentioned. That's all I can think of
    The lump scroll Cromwell was still a Gibson product. Does anybody know when Cliff Sargent started building? I know he was building in the 80's but have no idea if he was building earlier.

    Is this the one you're looking for Bill?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    Luke Thompson threads on the cafe are here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    No Mike the one I'm talking about was from the 30's I do believe and had a neat pearl peg head inlay? It was for sale a few years ago for 2500-3500 If I remember correctly. Yes I said the Cromwell was a Gibson Budget brand mando in my post..

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    You know, I think I remember that.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    Those mid 70's Ibanez F5's- I don't know who made them, but you could put Gibson F'5 from that period next to each other and they were identical except for the name in the headstock. They had that orangy binding and the arrowhead heel. And they weren't/ aren't very great sounding.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Were non-Gibson F style mandolins around prior to the 1970s?

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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