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Thread: IV F5 kit

  1. #1

    Default IV F5 kit

    I've seen a lot of posts about IV build kits, most were older posts. Are they worth the money, and what I should look out for, or is the stew mac kit a better choice for $200 more?

  2. #2
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Of all the kits I've tried, Stew Mac's have the most consistent quality.
    2020 Northfield Big Mon
    2016 Skip Kelley A5
    2011 Weber Gallatin A20
    2013 Collings Mandola
    2021 Northfield Flattop Octave Mandolin
    2019 Pono Flattop Octave
    Richard Beard Celtic Flattop
    And a few electrics

  3. #3

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    and I think they are out of stock at the moment have you played, or built an IV kit mandolin?

  4. #4
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    I'm not familiar with them myself.
    2020 Northfield Big Mon
    2016 Skip Kelley A5
    2011 Weber Gallatin A20
    2013 Collings Mandola
    2021 Northfield Flattop Octave Mandolin
    2019 Pono Flattop Octave
    Richard Beard Celtic Flattop
    And a few electrics

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    The majority of the IV kits built here have been the A style and that is a Saga AM-10 mandolin kit. It is partially assembled. Ken's F style kits are something he sources independently and I only remember one or two people building them over the years.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
    --J. Garber

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  7. #6
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    I built an IV F5 kit about 15 years ago when I was first learning to build mandolins. It produced a very, very good sounding and playing mandolin. I pulled it out last week and decided to use it this weekend for an extended bluegrass gig, because it has "The" sound.

    That said, if you are new to building mandolins, there are a couple of things about kits to be aware of. This kit came with the "V" style neck joint, not a dovetail joint. In many ways I prefer it, but there is a strong preference these days for the dovetail neck joint. Look carefully at the photos, or call Ken to find out what you are getting. Second, the word "kit" is a bit of a misnomer. The stage of completion can be very different from one seller to another. The IV kit came with the fret board attached to the neck, the frets and position dots already installed. Not so with the StewMac kit. There are reasons you might want it one way or the other, time and experience being the main reasons. There are other important differences. The big issue is the idea that "kit" means everything just snaps into place and presto you have a mandolin. Often kits contain wood pieces that were not cut properly at the factory, or that otherwise require extra clean up or shaping to make them work - pieces that were not worth the factory's time to meet their price point. I understand that Ken is exceptional in seeing that all the pieces are good.

    I took the time to further graduate the top and back and voice the tone bars. I don't know how it would have sounded otherwise. The F5 style is a huge learning curve, and this kit was a good way to get a lot of the education. Being a novice, it took me almost 2 years to complete it, but the result was worth the time and money.
    Tom

    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain
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  9. #7

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    I built an IV F5 kit about 15 years ago when I was first learning to build mandolins. It produced a very, very good sounding and playing mandolin. I pulled it out last week and decided to use it this weekend for an extended bluegrass gig, because it has "The" sound.
    Yep, I've played that mandolin and it does sound about as good as a mandolin should.

  10. #8

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Thank you that is what I wanted to hear!
    Last edited by Dconaway; Aug-09-2022 at 7:43am.

  11. #9

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    nice interments on your web site!

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  13. #10

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    I built an IV F5 kit about 15 years ago when I was first learning to build mandolins. It produced a very, very good sounding and playing mandolin. I pulled it out last week and decided to use it this weekend for an extended bluegrass gig, because it has "The" sound.

    That said, if you are new to building mandolins, there are a couple of things about kits to be aware of. This kit came with the "V" style neck joint, not a dovetail joint. In many ways I prefer it, but there is a strong preference these days for the dovetail neck joint. Look carefully at the photos, or call Ken to find out what you are getting. Second, the word "kit" is a bit of a misnomer. The stage of completion can be very different from one seller to another. The IV kit came with the fret board attached to the neck, the frets and position dots already installed. Not so with the StewMac kit. There are reasons you might want it one way or the other, time and experience being the main reasons. There are other important differences. The big issue is the idea that "kit" means everything just snaps into place and presto you have a mandolin. Often kits contain wood pieces that were not cut properly at the factory, or that otherwise require extra clean up or shaping to make them work - pieces that were not worth the factory's time to meet their price point. I understand that Ken is exceptional in seeing that all the pieces are good.

    I took the time to further graduate the top and back and voice the tone bars. I don't know how it would have sounded otherwise. The F5 style is a huge learning curve, and this kit was a good way to get a lot of the education. Being a novice, it took me almost 2 years to complete it, but the result was worth the time and money.
    thank you! I kind of knew what I was getting into, but still need the advise. on your back and sides were they matched at all? I sent an email yesterday, though I may try to call today.

  14. #11
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    My avatar on the left is the back of that mandolin. A kit is just a collection of all or most all of the parts you need to build a mandolin. The parts are chosen by someone else. You get what you get. Kits are great for initial learning to build. But you are better off to start with an A model. If your goal is to have a higher-quality mandolin right away, then you are better off to just buy a decent mandolin. If your goal is to have a mandolin that sounds and plays like a Gibson F5, then you should buy a Gibson F5. I could be wrong, but I assume from your questions that you are recently getting into mandolins or looking to upgrade and are looking for a way to avoid the high cost for a decent mandolin. I decided to build a mandolin to see why they are so darned expensive, so that I could eventually purchase wisely. I learned why after building and designing quite a few mandolins and related instruments, but I was also lucky that my carpentry and related musical skills were good enough to produce competitive instruments. I encourage anyone to take that path if they want to test their skills. Most of the folks I've talked with who have built mandolins said their first one ended up in the trash.

    Apologies to the OP if I have misread your posts or misunderstood your goals.
    Last edited by Tom Haywood; Aug-09-2022 at 11:32am.
    Tom

    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain
    Luthier Page: Facebook

  15. #12

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    I built an IV F5 kit about 15 years ago when I was first learning to build mandolins. It produced a very, very good sounding and playing mandolin. I pulled it out last week and decided to use it this weekend for an extended bluegrass gig, because it has "The" sound.

    That said, if you are new to building mandolins, there are a couple of things about kits to be aware of. This kit came with the "V" style neck joint, not a dovetail joint. In many ways I prefer it, but there is a strong preference these days for the dovetail neck joint. Look carefully at the photos, or call Ken to find out what you are getting. Second, the word "kit" is a bit of a misnomer. The stage of completion can be very different from one seller to another. The IV kit came with the fret board attached to the neck, the frets and position dots already installed. Not so with the StewMac kit. There are reasons you might want it one way or the other, time and experience being the main reasons. There are other important differences. The big issue is the idea that "kit" means everything just snaps into place and presto you have a mandolin. Often kits contain wood pieces that were not cut properly at the factory, or that otherwise require extra clean up or shaping to make them work - pieces that were not worth the factory's time to meet their price point. I understand that Ken is exceptional in seeing that all the pieces are good.

    I took the time to further graduate the top and back and voice the tone bars. I don't know how it would have sounded otherwise. The F5 style is a huge learning curve, and this kit was a good way to get a lot of the education. Being a novice, it took me almost 2 years to complete it, but the result was worth the time and money.
    the thing that makes me nervous is doing the binding!

  16. #13

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    My avatar on the left is the back of that mandolin. A kit is just a collection of all or most all of the parts you need to build a mandolin. The parts are chosen by someone else. You get what you get. Kits are great for initial learning to build. But you are better off to start with an A model. If your goal is to have a higher-quality mandolin right away, then you are better off to just buy a decent mandolin. If your goal is to have a mandolin that sounds and plays like a Gibson F5, then you should buy a Gibson F5. I could be wrong, but I assume from your questions that you are recently getting into mandolins or looking to upgrade and are looking for a way to avoid the high cost for a decent mandolin. I decided to build a mandolin to see why they are so darned expensive, so that I could eventually purchase wisely. I learned why after building and designing quite a few mandolins and related instruments, but I was also lucky that my carpentry and related musical skills were good enough to produce competitive instruments. I encourage anyone to take that path if they want to test their skills. Most of the folks I've talked with who have built mandolins said their first one ended up in the trash.

    Apologies to the OP if I have misread your posts or misunderstood your goals.
    It's all of what you said I want the experience of putting it together, I do want it to sound nice, and I want it to look nice. I know that what I see in my minds eye and what I'll see with my real eyes might be two different things, so I'm asking questions and getting advise.

    I do some wood working and have some tools, so I kind of want to try it. I built a guitar before (that I'm sure is in the trash by now) and a mandolin, but the mandolin was maybe 20 years ago, but you'd be better off with the cheapest mandolin off amazon than the one I made!

    At this point the things that make me nervous are cutting the binding channel, fine tuning the top, and putting a good finish on it.

  17. #14

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Honestly, I'd say build your first mandolin with no binding. It doesn't change the tone, and it is huge learning curve in and of itself.
    I spent 400 hours on my second mandolin making it look nice, and it collapsed. I wish I'd spent 400 hours building 20 mandolins that had no binding! It would have been a lot more instructive.

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  19. #15

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    I agree it takes some pressure off, and a lot of risk! I could take it to a local shop and pay them to cut the channel, your right.

  20. #16
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Thanks for giving a little background. It looks like that kit comes with the top already glued to the ribs and the top binding channel already cut. Cutting a channel on the back is optional.
    Tom

    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain
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  21. #17

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Haywood View Post
    Thanks for giving a little background. It looks like that kit comes with the top already glued to the ribs and the top binding channel already cut. Cutting a channel on the back is optional.
    that's good to know!

  22. #18

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Dconaway View Post
    I agree it takes some pressure off, and a lot of risk! I could take it to a local shop and pay them to cut the channel, your right.
    A while back I tried to get someone to cut the binding channel and couldn't find anybody that would do it. I finally gave up on binding the mandolin.

  23. #19

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Quote Originally Posted by Rdeane View Post
    A while back I tried to get someone to cut the binding channel and couldn't find anybody that would do it. I finally gave up on binding the mandolin.
    I I'm not sure if he would do it or not, but he's refreted my webber. He repares and sells ventage guitars mainly. It's worth a shot I suppose.

  24. #20

    Default Re: IV F5 kit

    Well I bought it, but they are out of stock at the moment and won't have any for about 3 weeks! I'll try to post my progress on a new thread when I get it started.

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