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Thread: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

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    Default 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Hello!

    I'm mostly a Banjo and guitar player and I'm new on this forum and I got my first mandolin today after years of wanting one. Unfortunate thing is that it is an old broken Gibson F9 from 1996. Head stock has been broken off, but the breaking point seems pretty clean. The veneer on top of the head stock is a bit loose on some points and is missing a small piece. And some of the frets need to be replaced thanks to the notches in them....

    I need some opinions whether this instrument is worth repairing and should I get the whole neck replaced or should I just get it glued back together. I'm kinda on a "small budget" and pretty much want the best "bang for the buck" option. The Gibson logos and such really mean nothing to me and the sound and playability are the most important things. Here are some pictures of the instrument: Click image for larger version. 

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    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    To my relatively inexperienced eye, that's a pretty bad break. (Only dealt with a couple on guitars a long time ago, and they were clean and simple.) Looking forward to reading some pro opinions on this!

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    It can be fixed, but it might cost more than you want to spend, especially if you want it to look good after the repair.
    Simply gluing it with hot hide glue would probably hold for a while, but there would be less strength than there was before the break because of wood loss and inevitable imperfect alignment, and obviously there was already insufficient strength for whatever impact caused the damage.
    A new back strap would add a little strength to the repair and of course would add some cost.
    Well fitted splines could improve strength with even more added cost.
    The finish of 9-series Gibsons it less than high gloss and is very difficult to match, so finish touch up to the repair would add significant cost.

    Dowels will not help (splines are not dowels), screws and/or bolts will not help, and those things will weaken the neck and make subsequent repairs nearly impossible.

    So, I'd say take it to a good repair person, one with experience in this sort of thing, and get estimates for repairs ranging from simply glue it back on to properly reinforce it and make it minimally visible, then see if you want to spend the money or not.

  4. #4

    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    I think this is probably a 2006 not a 1996. It probably would be worth $3000 if not broken.
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    I'm pretty much with John on this. Glue-and-go might hold for a while, but . . .
    Adding a backstrap would be much more reliable, and I strongly recommend it.
    I might even grind down the face of the peghead about 3/32", either from the nut to the center of the head, or all the way to the end, and install a new 3/32" thick dyed hardwood faceplate to make a nice strong sandwich.

    If you're on a tight budget, I would forego any intensive cosmetic repairs which are not essential to the structural integrity of the instrument.

    Frets are usually no big deal. Most of us would charge somewhere around $150 +/- to replace the first seven frets.

    I don't know if re-necking an F9 is practical. New necks are expensive, and I'm not sure what kind of neck joint Gibson was using at that time. Depending on how it was built, it might be quite a bit more work to pull and replace the neck than it would be on a Martin guitar. Unfortunately, there's no way to know what they used until you take it apart, unless someone who worked for Gibson at that time can enlighten us. Expect a neck replacement to cost over $1000 even if you use a simple peghead design rather than a scroll design.

    I believe Carles is right about the instrument being made after 2000. I don't believe the model was introduced until after the 1990's. That's good-- it's more probable that the neck joint is some sort of dovetail rather than the odd paddle joint Gibson was using on some instruments during the 1990's.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-16-2022 at 6:19pm.

  6. #6

    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Part of the arithmetic is what else is good or bad. If you got this from someone who played it, you might have an idea about other problems, or how good the sound was. If the history is unknown, that trip to a luthier to estimate the neck might include looking over the rest of it. Other than that, it certainly can be stuck together adequately, and possibly stronger than new - that truss rod pocket may have been the weak point. My experience, as an amateur, though, indicates that an invisible, very clean repair probably wouldn’t ever return the cost or bother in terms of resale. Unfortunately, as a nominally higher priced instrument, buyers are unlikely to tolerate any cosmetic issues. Even a refinish is objectionable. So just get it operable and enjoy it.

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    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Is it me, or is that a BIG truss rod pocket; 'looks like you could get a sparkplug wrench in that hole....hence the break location.....

    If it was your great granddaddy's mandolin or another with irreplaceable sentimental value, by all means get it fixed. If it is just a random player instrument, they were designed as budget friendly instruments. Sell it on ebay as is and move on to a better mandolin.

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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    Is it me, or is that a BIG truss rod pocket...
    Not just you, I thought the same thing.

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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Me three.
    But we repair instruments.
    So we don't know anything . . .

    Me, I'm in favor of solid reinforcements in mandolin necks.
    The OP's instrument is just one reason.

    But I don't know anything . . .

  11. #10
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Now that the break is clean wood gluing it together is simple and addition of a backstrap looks like a must in this case to hold long term. OP doesn't care about appearance so replacing missing splinters of black veneer on front and spraying headstock with simple black (semi?)gloss lacquer wouldn't be too expensive (even rattle can lacquer in skilled hands can result in good enough job for OP). This finish looks like the off-the-gun with no polishing.
    As I have worked on two of these (one very extensive restoration), I would closely check the neck joint. On the ones I had in my hands they were not fitted with as much care as I would like to see and after smashing the head the joint may become loose.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Thank you all for your answers.

    I estimated the year this instrument was made by tracking the serial number and if those serial number trackers are accurate, it would date January 11 1996 and would be 10th instrument that day. Then again, I don't know enough about those things to know if it actually is accurate.

    With all the information I gained from your answers, I contacted a luthier couple of towns next to me who has a very good reputation of repairing stringed instruments. He looked at the pictures and was pretty sure he can fix the neck with couple of hundred euros. I'm going to take the instrument to the shop some day soon and I'm going to negotiate about adding the backstrap to the instrument as well. It will add a little bit of cost, but I bet it's worth the money.

    For me this project is more about giving a new life to an old abandoned instrument than getting the most high quality and prettiest instrument in the world. I like objects with a story rather than brand new instrument from the factory. I don't know the exact origin of this instrument, but I found it at work, laying on a box of junk (we sell objects that insurance companies send us after the insurance claim and then we sell them with a cheap price tag). It had been laying there since 2016 and nobody knew it's origin. If I get it playable and it sounds good enough that I'm happy to play it, I really don't care about all the "battle wounds" on the body of the mandolin.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    The on-line serial number trackers are not necessarily accurate when it comes to Gibsons. Gibson used [and continues to use] too many serial number formats and it confuses electronic brains. And human brains also.

    Sounds like you got the instrument at a low price, and I suspect mandolins might be somewhat scarce in Finland. So fix it strong [if possible], don't worry about making it pretty, and enjoy the instrument. I think I'd go for the "sandwich" repair I mentioned earlier, maybe give the head a couple of shots of black lacquer, and not worry about a fine polishing job.

    Adrian, did the F-9's you worked on have standard dovetail joints?

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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Very realistic approach to getting the instrument playable. As someone once said to me, "You can't hear the inlays when you play it." Same with the headstock veneer on this one. If you can obtain pro repairs at a realistic price, the cosmetics are irrelevant. And even if you end up deciding to sell it; you'll be competing with all the other Gibson F-models available in Finland, probably a modest number.

    Wonder how it got to where it ended up -- and how it got so damaged. Ah, if all our instruments could talk and tell us their histories...
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    They started making F9/A9 after they quit making the Flatiron line in Nashville. That would have been early 2002. I believe they replace the Flatirons and started making the F9, so it would have been made in 2002 or later. I can't give advice on repairs, and you have gotten some good advice from top notice luthiers. But I would second getting the neck checked carefully. early F9/A9 seemed to have some mandolins structural issues.

  16. #15
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Adrian, did the F-9's you worked on have standard dovetail joints?
    Yes, it was pre-flood made in the Nashville with standard dovetail, albeit very poorly fitted one.
    Here is the old thread...
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...total-overhaul
    Adrian

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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    (mumblings from the alligator dentistry dept) I purchased a similarly decapitated 1890-ies mandolinetto (for CAD$4, from the "every item for $2" table). It was semi-professionally repaired (epoxy with metal rod reinforcement). This permitted stringing it up to discover the very loud, lively and lovely tone. Tuning was unstable and repair failed within 1 year. Wood fractured next to the glue joint (epoxy is stronger than wood). Reason of failure: very bad wood and cavities in the glue joint (epoxy did not flow well). I reglued it using marine-weld epoxy, this time making sure it flows well and fills all voids. Result is functional success. Tuning is stable, plays well, etc. But also an esthetic disaster. This grayish epoxy makes a mess, it is very hard to cleanup (I can work it with a big file, but forget about fine sanding). If this repair fails again (very bad wood), I will reglue it again the same way. (until neck is all epoxy).

    Bottom line, I gained a very nice and unusual working mandolin and learned 1st hand why professional luthiers do what they do they way they do it.

    That said, looking at OP's F9, I see two problems - (a) there is barely any wood there for metal rod reinforcement, (b) epoxy will flow and glue the truss rod dead solid.

    If these problems can be overcome and "epoxy it together" repair is functionally successful, as other have said, result will have $0 value as a Gibson product. maybe some value as a working mandolin, but who knows if the repair will hold for 1 year or 2 or until the first hard knock. so still $0 value unless you unload it on somebody P.T. Barnum style.

  18. #17
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Metal rods or dowels won't add any significant strength. Backstrap overlay of wood will add tremendous amount of strength exactly where needed. Epoxy has poorer adhesion than most wood glues so it is the last choice where no wood glue will work and large voids need to be filled.
    This break looks quite clean and undisturbed so should glue just fine with HHG.
    Adrian

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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    Metal rods or dowels won't add any significant strength
    In the context of this repair, I am curious why it is so. At the truss rod pocket, we have a designed-in
    weakness - transition from along-the-grain neck to across-the-grain headstock. One expects any kind
    of strengthening to be helpful here.

    If I take a very long (say, 5 cm) metal rod and glue it into very deep (2.5 cm) pockets in the neck and headstock,
    I do not see any obvious way for it to fail. The rod will bend? The neck or headstock wood will split at the pockets?

    Of course, one assumes rod diameter chosen carefully (big diameter pockets weaken in the wood, small diameter rod will bend),
    two metal rods for symmetry, rod metal selected correctly (not soft copper), appropriate glue/epoxy applied correctly, etc.

    This apart from other very valid considerations - "no f. epoxy in my workshop!", "wood and hide glue only!", "wood backstrap is faster and easier!", "*you* make this repair invisible!", etc.

    I personally prefer pure-wood solutions, but the workshop I have access to is tooled for metals and plastics (but not carbon-fiber, alas).

  20. #19

    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocello8 View Post
    In the context of this repair, I am curious why it is so. At the truss rod pocket, we have a designed-in
    weakness - transition from along-the-grain neck to across-the-grain headstock. One expects any kind
    of strengthening to be helpful here.

    If I take a very long (say, 5 cm) metal rod and glue it into very deep (2.5 cm) pockets in the neck and headstock,
    I do not see any obvious way for it to fail. The rod will bend? The neck or headstock wood will split at the pockets?

    Of course, one assumes rod diameter chosen carefully (big diameter pockets weaken in the wood, small diameter rod will bend),
    two metal rods for symmetry, rod metal selected correctly (not soft copper), appropriate glue/epoxy applied correctly, etc.

    This apart from other very valid considerations - "no f. epoxy in my workshop!", "wood and hide glue only!", "wood backstrap is faster and easier!", "*you* make this repair invisible!", etc.

    I personally prefer pure-wood solutions, but the workshop I have access to is tooled for metals and plastics (but not carbon-fiber, alas).
    I think it’s general advice based on all the stress concentration being right at where the break is, so a short wood dowel or a (stronger) metal rod would break out of the already too thin wood at the break area. That is, the original wood still has to survive the stress. So a backstrap, in wood or whatever can support all the stress, in tension over a very large glue area.
    Splines, as mentioned, also can be strong enough if glued solidly, and are deep enough anchored. Pretty much going to be visible.

    On the other hand, I’m seriously planning a metal rod repair on my one theoretically valuable instrument. Probably titanium, because, being completely embedded far into both parts, needs to have a bend, and remain reasonably light. The intent is to not disturb either side of the headstock, and still move the stress to a wider area. For that reason, not round. I-beam best, but simple square section easily available.
    This may be a winter activity though.

  21. #20

    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    I hope you got this cheap.
    If you want it fixed right, put a new neck on it.

    You might try contacting Dave Harvey at Gibson to see if they'd be willing to do it.
    If they won't, perhaps someone else will take up the job.
    But it won't be cheap.

    I have to ask:
    Why would anyone buy as seriously damaged an instrument as this as their first mandolin...?

  22. #21
    Mandolingerer Bazz Jass's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Sounds like it was just in the junk pile. Probably didn't cost the OP a cent. So that's a good start

  23. #22
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    Someone with the skill set to do all of that broken neck add on surgery should be able to fabricate a complete new neck that is likely better than the factory original with a similar amount of effort.

    Personally, I'd never rebuilt that current piece of junk neck. It is just a tiny mandolin neck, not fabricating the entire front end for a '39 Lincoln Zephyr....

  24. #23
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    I cannot imagine how would someone drill holes for dowels or rods into the parts with any precision so the doweled parts will fit when dowels are inserted. The only imaginable way would be gluing together and THEN drilling with extra long drill from headstock into neck, but that would be just the same as installing splines into routed channel.
    dowels or rods instaleld centered into wood will not add strength where neededd. The strings pull the headstock forward and greatest stress is right at the back of the crack and it will want to reopen or lift and no rods will prevent this, even if they are stiff, the wood they are embeded in will move a tiny bit and allow the lift... splines that would be large and replace much of the broken wood will have larger surface glued cleanly to newly routed channel so they would add more strength.
    The backstrap overlay OTOH may be most invasive on visible side, but adds the strength exactly where it is needed. You can glue it with wood glues that cleanup easily and is easy to match the finish (if desirable). When I think of the repair I can see one hour in gluing the parts back together (if there are no surprises perhaps half hour) another hour in installing backstrap and one or two more hours for cosmetics (just simple replacing missing splinters and some simple spray can finish, not an "invisible job")


    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    Someone with the skill set to do all of that broken neck add on surgery should be able to fabricate a complete new neck that is likely better than the factory original with a similar amount of effort.

    Personally, I'd never rebuilt that current piece of junk neck. It is just a tiny mandolin neck, not fabricating the entire front end for a '39 Lincoln Zephyr....
    I reset F-9 neck and decided to redo and refinish the whole thing and wouldn't want to do it again, that finish was ugly thick plastic of indifferent murky brown to cover all the sins of G. personnel and once you remove neck there will be missing pieces and edges that are impossible to retouch or match with new neck finish.
    Adrian

  25. #24

    Default Re: 1996 Gibson F9 worth saving?

    I would like to think a Gibson is ALWAYS worth saving. I have several Gibson guitars, two of which have repaired pegheads that have held up for over 25 years, each. And these guitars saw a lot of use in night clubs over the years! Fortunately, my Gibson mandolin has never broken, probably due to it being a vintage pre-truss rod model.

    On this mandolin, I would ask does it need to look perfect, once repaired? If it does, touching up this peghead invisibly would be an expensive job. Or, a new neck -- also expensive. If it doesn't need to look perfect, I would simply glue and clamp this peghead. Not much surface area to work with, so a backstrap is a good idea, IMHO. Once completed, it will still show, but not look too bad.

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