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Thread: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

  1. #1

    Smile Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Hello,

    This flatiron Artist from 1998 is up on Reverb?
    https://reverb.com/item/39805787-fla...-1998-sunburst

    I currently have a mid-missouri that I have been playing on but I have been considering getting an A-Style to have both a flat top and one that will be appropriate for bluegrass.

    I don't have as much experience checking out listings so I was hoping the cafe could let me know if this seems like it would be a good value purchase.

    I am kind of concerned about the extension dropping a little and am wondering if something structural might have happened?

    I have not seen any info on Flatirons for 1998, a lot for just after that in 1999 when a different luthier took over and for those before when the Montana based lutheirs were still working on it.

    I could save up for another mandolin later (probably a Collings MT) in the future but if this seems like a good opportunity for a high quality mandolin then I will probably purchase. I have not been able to find what a fair value on these would be or any type of mandolin they would normally compare to.

    Thank you,

    Tom

  2. #2

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    That is a great price! I will say yes.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Also you can contact the luthier and get his feedback. It won't last long at that price.

  4. #4
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Should you get it? I wouldn't presume to tell anyone yes or no. But I'll mention the following:

    I wouldn't worry about the extension dropping. However, I would ask the seller to clarify what he means by "seam sinkage."

    Also, be aware that it is being sold under a no-returns policy. Once your payment clears and it goes in the shipping box, it's yours, whether you love it or don't like it at all.

  5. #5
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Yes, clarification on “seam sinkage” if you look at the pictures there is what appears to be a little distortion in the shine over the top. I have a feeling that seam sinkage is code for top sinkage.
    Timothy F. Lewis
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    I'm usually a trusting soul, but with some unidentified potential issues and a relatively low price, I'd probably pass on this one. The no return policy would certainly be the deal-buster for me.

  7. #7
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    It's only a 7-8 hr. drive from NC to ME, road trip!
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

  8. #8

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Hi Everyone,

    Thank you for the feedback. I am glad to hear that it is probably lower on the price spectrum for similar instruments.

    I did call the lutheir as everyone recommended and he had just recently worked on the instrument. He said that it was in "Excellent condition" and that it did not have any structural issues since he saw it rather recently.

    I am leaning slightly towards "buy" but am relying just on the photos that we have all seen and the luthier's opinion that it is in good condition. If I pass I will let everyone know this evening since it could be a good fit for someone with a higher risk tolerance/knowledge of mandolins. There are some luthiers in my area if I have to provide any updates to it but hopefully will not lose the entire purchase price if it is not a good buy.

    The seller has sent some additional photos of the "seam shrinkage." Name:  mcafe1.jpg
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim simpson View Post
    It's only a 7-8 hr. drive from NC to ME, road trip!
    1000 miles in 7 hours? Jim, you must drive a lot faster than I do!

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  11. #10
    Registered User Isaac Revard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Honestly, sounds like it would be a good idea to pass on this one. A fretboard extension wouldn’t just “sink” because it’s not supported in a well built mandolin like that, something is off. Then there’s the not we’ll explained “seam sinkage” not even sure what that means and the pictures don’t really help. Save another 500-700 buckaroos and buy a nice used Collings MT...just my thoughts.

  12. #11
    Registered User Rob Ross's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    The seam sinkage, whatever that truly is, bothers me. If you could get a luthier you know and trust to evaluate that and come with a thumbs up, I'd recommend buying it. To give you an idea of prices, I bought an unused 1996 Flatiron A-5 Performer in 1998, for $1115, hard case for $85. A used Flatiron A-5 Artist, next tier up in the A-model line with nicer trim, was going for about $1500. My Flatiron was one of the last ones made in Montana; I drug it out to Sound to Earth in Logan, MT and Bruce Weber himself verified that. It is a great mandolin. Me being a less than great mandolin player, I have been quite happy with it. It has great tone and playability, and puts out plenty of sound for an A model. People with far better mandolin skills have been quite impressed with it after playing it. If you don't buy this one, keep your eye out for another one or a similar Weber, I think you would be quite happy with one.
    Rob Ross
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    the 1970 Suzuki-Violin-Sha Bowl Back Taterbug

  13. #12

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    1000 miles in 7 hours? Jim, you must drive a lot faster than I do!
    This isn’t Maine, just across the border from NH. Eastport is in an area way above Portland with two lane highways, very far from i95. Heck it’s about a 5 hour drive for me, and I live in Maine. That said, the mandolin has been living in a coastal area. And it shows. What you are seeing is lacquer shrinkage due to high humidity and then low humidity. And years of it.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Thank you for the feedback everyone.
    It helped me make as informed of a decision as I can given my current level of experience when I purchased late on the 13th.
    With the lutheirs evaluation of it being in excellent condition wihtout any structural issues I did end up deciding to buy it knowing there is a risk involved, perhaps even greater than when buying used via the internet.
    Talking with the lutheir and the guy I did get the gut "trust" feeling so hopefully it turns out well for me.
    I had been sent a few aditional photos via text to where I think that it will be a nice purchase.
    Seems like mandolins of the same style in similar condition were selling for $2,000 typically so I will end up ahead if it needs anything except a sinking top which I think is fairly unlikely.
    I will let you know how it turns out in a few months when I have been playing it a while and had a lutheir evaluate it. Had a really nice sound clip so hopefully will be a good step up intstrument, seemed worth the risk for me at this time.

    Thank you for helping me evaluate!

    Tom

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  16. #14

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    OP:

    The pics you posted in reply 8 above are too small to get an idea of what's going on.

    The price seems good, but I suspect that's because the owner knows it has problems and is trying to unload it.

    I'd suggest you pass this one by, unless you have a luthier upon whom you can rely to fix these difficulties in the future.

  17. #15
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Sounds like you did your homework. I hope you enjoy it.

    Adam

  18. #16

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Congrats! Those Flatirons are built pretty tough. I wouldn't worry too much. Hope you love it. I had a real similar one a few years back. Good mandolin.

  19. #17
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    I just found this thread. I would guess that the dealer/seller would honor an approval period and if you took it to your luthier to check it out and your person pronounced it expensive to fix that you would have the option to return it. Standard is 48 hour approval but you would be responsible for the shipping. At least it assures that you would not be stuck with a problematic. It is so hard to tell but the luthier's name is in the description so I would assume that his reputation is also at stake and it sounds like you spoke to him. I am guessing that this could be a nice mandolin at a decent price.

    I have one of the first carved A5-2—the precursor of the A5-Artist—and it is still an amazing mandolin. That pre-Gibson era ones are actually valued higher than the later eras but still they are nice mandolins. I am the original owner of mine.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    If a Reverb seller lists an item as "no returns," any expectations of him accepting returns is a set up for disappointment.

    The pre-Gibson Flatiron carved mandolins were probably the best factory instruments of the time. I've never played a bad one.

  21. #19
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Ah, I didn’t see that in the listing. OTOH Reverb says they have Reverb Protection. Hmmmmm...
    Jim

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    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    I hope the OP will give us and in hand review. Very curious to here how it turned out.

    Adam

  23. #21

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Hello everyone,

    Mandolin arrived earlier this week so I have had it for a few days now. I did take it to a couple of shops and had a few people look at it. The two "mandolin specific" luthiers were out for the week one for hand surgery and one for another reason. I had three separate music stores look at it and they all thought it was in excellent condition and did not find anything wrong with it except the dipping fretboard at the end and some nitro-cracks at the frets along the fretboard. the one person who had what I would consider the most informed opinion said it was pretty common to have the finish cracking at the frets on gibsons and that is what I have found online as well. They are really not noticeable unless someone is really looking. Mandolin arrived in condition described. There is some "seam seepage" but it looks like it is just the varnish and really hardly noticeable unless a person is looking for it. Nobody used a dental mirror to check inside so that is the only thing uninspected. I looked it over really well and there are some minor cosmetic flaws but it looks and sounds really good for a thirty year old mandolin. The fretboard has a little bend where unsupported that comes to be less than the 0.5 mm pick I have around. I think it comes from the expansion of the ebony vs the binding? Anyways, it almost works like a scoop and is probably the largest flaw on the mandolin.

    I did notice the reverb return and it did give me piece of mind if I was getting lied to by both the seller and the luthier which seems to not be the case at all.

    I have attached some pictures and two videos. The one labeled "flatiron from seller" is the sound clip provided by the seller since he has far more proficiency on the instrument than a beginner. I think it gives a more accurate perception.

    The other video shows the mandolin. I tried to show the hairline cracks in the binding that is apparently common on gibsons but video did not really pick it up. I am not concerned about it. The seam issue looks a lot worse on video than in person.

    Flatiron in hand


    Seller Sound clip:
    https://youtube.com/shorts/9JlLfyDKNvs?feature=share

    If you have any questions let me know.

    I gambled on this one and I am sure I scored. Not sure if I would recommend the decision process to anyone else but I did have a hard time sorting out if it was an impulse buy when I have been looking for mandolins for a while or just excited about the deal. Not a lot of mandolins on racks in the shops I have been to in my area and I have been wanting to start playing sooner.

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  25. #22

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Thank you everyone for helping me understand the risks and benefits associated with this decision. I am very appreciative. Seems like my computer is not letting me upload photos right now but thank you!

  26. #23

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    Looks and sounds good to me!

  27. #24

    Default Re: Flatiron A-5 Artist, 1,500 should I get it?

    I think you did just fine. I had a Carlson signed Gibson A5G years ago that had the dipping fretboard extension. It never caused me any problems. Played and sounded good like your Flatiron.

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