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Thread: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

  1. #1

    Default New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Hi Folks

    just bought a lovely Gibson A5L here in the UK, 1999 and signed by Charlie Derrington.

    It has a big sound and is really nice to play, except for the large pickguard and the fretboard extension, which don't allow much room for your pick.

    I shall take off the pickguard and see if it's any better. Is there enough depth in the fretboard to have it scooped so the fret slots disappear completely ??

  2. #2
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Start with that, easily enough replaced if you don’t see the improvement you are looking for. Typically, the fingerrest is below fingerboard level so it may (or may not) have any impact. Since you own the instrument doing something like that is entirely up to you.
    I don’t know if I would scoop it or maybe save the “original” and have a second one scooped and installed but, that’s considerably more money.
    Start by removing the guard and see where that takes you.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    It is your instrument. But the Derrington signed models are reaching collectible status. I have a 90' A5L that is Carlson signed. I got used to playing it with the pickguard and did not need to scoop the neck. Definitely worth thinking about. Enjoy that A... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  4. #4

    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    I’d scooped my Duff A5 and never looked back. If you are buying it to play than make it playable. While it is a sought after instrument, it isn’t a Loar, so if you aren’t buying it simply for collecting purposes or to flip then scoop it.

  5. #5

    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    The mandolin I started playing on had an intact Florida. The whole time I was playing it, banging the pick into the frets annoyed the hell out of me. A few months later, I got an instrument with no extension. I can't imagine going back to playing one that's not scooped.
    Soliver arm rested and Tone-Garded Northfield Model M with DíAddario NB 11.5-41, picked with a Wegen Bluegrass 1.4

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Davey, to answer your last question, there is enough thickness in the fret board to remove the frets and scoop it. No fret slots will show if the job is done by a pro. I've had mine done and was very satisfied with the result.

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Yes, the extension can be scooped by standard methods without compromising the structural integrity of the instrument.

    There is alternative to scooping or removing the extension, though, which is rarely used, that is reversible and preserves the general appearance of the instrument. The technique is to have a qualified repairman remove the last few frets, insert wooden purfling strips or thin white binding strips into the vacant fret slots, and file them flush. A good repair person can reverse this procedure by using a Dremel with a router base to clean the strips out of the filled slots, then re-install the frets. The tool will tend to cut the softer wood or plastic out of the slots rather than digging into the harder ebony fingerboard.

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Another possibility is to do what Mr. Monroe did - raise the action sufficiently. It just might sound better, too.

  9. #9

    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Okay, many thanks for the replies. I'll take off the Pickguard and see how I get on with it. I'm thinking I'd prefer to leave it original in honour of Charlie Derrington.

  10. #10

    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Hi David. I would have no hesitation in having it scooped. I'm no luthier but have done a few myself on cheaper F5s. If you eventually sell it, the new owner will no doubt appreciate that.
    The binding does come into play and never been a problem on the cheaper Savannahs I've done (as well as The Loar) but discuss with luthier first. Good luck. Jimmy (Uk). Fairly sure it's not the one I was offered weeks ago.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    I scooped mine. I went forth with the courage of the ignorant and took my time. It came out great and I wouldn't want to go back. I started out with a small laminate trimmer and ended up using chisels and files and sand paper. Frank Ford had some directions on his www.frets.com site years back and John Hamlett had directions at one time on his website.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    The mando I started with had a full extension, and I just kind of got used to the metronome click effect, but all of my current mandolins have either truncated fretboards or a scooped extension. I picked up an awesome new Rattlesnake F5 at Lowe Vintage just before lockdown in 2020 that had the full extension. It was insanely annoying at first, but I was able to adapt after a few minutes and minimize that click, and it was worth the effort as that mandolinís new, unspanked, tone was awesome. I often refer to the Tone Poems albums with Grisman and Rice; once you notice the click on the extensions you canít I hear it, but, itís Grisman awsomeness, so itís OK...

    The scooped one I have is a Rigel CT-110 that came to me with a pick guard; itís in the case pocket. It takes me a minute or two now to stop banging on the scooped extension, but I adapt. So, the point: Iíd give it a good month or so. If youíre able to adapt your technique so that you donít bang on the extension, or if you get used to the metronome and donít care, leave it as is. If not, and if you like the tone and playability otherwise, have someone scoop or truncate it for you. Charlie would want you to play the Hell out of it and make it sound as good as you can. Google search Thileís comments on fixing the fretboard issues on his Loars, itíll make you feel better. These things are meant to be played...make it how you want it and play the Hell out of it!
    Chuck

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    ...John Hamlett had directions at one time on his website.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Google search Thile’s comments on fixing the fretboard issues on his Loars, it’ll make you feel better. These things are meant to be played...make it how you want it and play the Hell out of it!
    When asked if his mando's tone changed after cutting off the extension, Sam Bush replied, "Yeah, the annoying clicking went away!"

    I'd be curious to hear if anyone prefers the extension intact. I kinda feel like if Thile isn't using those frets, it's unlikely anybody else is able to.
    Soliver arm rested and Tone-Garded Northfield Model M with DíAddario NB 11.5-41, picked with a Wegen Bluegrass 1.4

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    I've been known to occasionally go up and get an E [24th fret], but not very often. I've also been known to remove the 23rd fret and replace it with a maple strip ground flush so I can get that E clearly.

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  20. #16

    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    When I hear the pick click on my Gibson it reminds me that the pick is digging into the strings too far rather than just skipping over them enough to make noise, I use it as a reminder to clean up my technique.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    I've taken off the pickguard & some of the problem has gone away, but Bigskygirl has a good point. I'm sticking with it for a couple of weeks & I'll see how it goes. I think there's an advantage to not getting the pick too deep between the strings.

  23. #18
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    When I hear the pick click on my Gibson it reminds me that the pick is digging into the strings too far rather than just skipping over them enough to make noise, I use it as a reminder to clean up my technique.
    I find the unscooped Florida is also a good reminder about right hand location, which can move forward toward the nut for richness on the bass courses but must come back toward the bridge for added bite on the trebles.
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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    I've got a '92 A5L with stock fingerboard,if it was scooped I wouldn't have bought it,,I want it all..as for click,I get it once in awhile,but Bigskygirl has it right...

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  27. #20
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    Check out Frets.com to see the process.
    If you pick over the frets and it's a problem then scoop.
    Fortunately, I pick behind the last fret on the treble side, with no noticeable difference in tone, and behind the 22nd frett on the bass side.
    Last edited by J Mangio; May-30-2021 at 11:34am.
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    Default Re: New (to me) Gibson A5L . To scoop of not....

    My mandolin came scooped, fortunately. I actually prefer the look of a scooped Florida.
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