Mike Mullins on the F-5 Style Mandolin

by admin on November 9, 2010

(Strumming the guitar)
Hello! Hello! And welcome to another chapter of Acoustic Snapshots on an earlier episode I talked about where would this shape of this Mandolin originated. And it was, as I said in the early days of the Gibson Mandolin guitar company Orville Gibson came up with this distinctive shape which is endure to this day. Now I’d like to talk a little bit about the F-5 style Mandolin; which is what this is basically and the F-5 is usually defined by an instrument that has F holes like a violin. The F-4 which is the precarved to the F-5 have a noble sound hole and very characteristically different sound because of that particular placement of the cavity.
Anyway the F5 originated in 1922 when Gibson hired a acoustic engineer Lloyd Loar to kind of spruce up the mandolin line which is already top notch. But this was a weaning years of the mandolin orchestra but no really knew it at that time with the mandolin orchestra was pretty much on its way out. What Lloyd Loar was hoping to do was to revolutionize mandolin design and he certainly did that although at the time no one really notice because preview of the mandolin was rapidly come into a close. And his wonderful designs that endure to this day were pretty much just, not considered any big deal, nobody really wanted them. It wasn’t something that was s desired at that time that Mandolin orchestra is kind of closing down and the Hawaiian music is became much more popular.
And people were just kind of putting their mandolins back in their cases and if I may quote George…of Grunge Guitars he liking it to someone have invented the world’s greatest boggy wit right after the invention of the motor car and make it the greatest boggy with in the world, but nobody wanted it. So that was the first F-5 which is the greatest Mandolin ever made was the early Gibson F-5 from 1922 to 1924 that we’re each one was signed by Lloyd Loar maybe in another chapter I’ll get in to Lloyd Loar model specifically and we notice maybe I’ll be fortunate to have one sitting on my lap at some point. But then I’m talking about the F-5 design which you know was Mr. Loar and Mr. Guy Hart another employee of the Gibson company came up with the some departures; which more on violin principles. The fingerboard is elevated does not touch the top and there’s like a F-holes in the top much like a violin and a bridge centrally place on a spruce top for maximum tone. And other than that the body shaped is very much like the previous earlier Gibsons F-styles.
And the F-5 does have the body joining the neck at the 15th fret, a little higher up the neck with the earlier models joined at the 12th and so, you didn’t quite have as much as the neck clear at the body. But as a result these mandolins became well not very popular at first. But when Mr. Bill Monroe pick one up as a use instrument in about 1943 and used it to blaze trails in Bluegrass music, these mandolins became very hot items indeed and everyone wanted one. And by the time in 1970’s world round the humble F-5 mandolin made it in the 1920’s. Early 1920’s which sold from $250 back then was worth went up to $6000. Now it’s not uncommon to find Lloyd Loar signed Gibson F-5 so which were around about 200 made and signed. Now you can see them selling for over $200000, now this mandolin is from 1937 it’s not worth anywhere near that so, don’t get me funny ideas. But once in the 1930’s…it’s highly regarded as 1920’s…it’s still very fine instruments. So the F models into a lot of iterations, different models, but it’s kept the same basic shape and the F-5 remains today to be the kind of the pinnacle mandolin design. Some builders have kind of taking the design and out their own little stamp on it with modified certain features. But to make it kind of improve in perfection and this is the kind Lloyd this is the mandolin basically that I like to play and you know alot of contemporary players like this design. So, the F models continue to be built in varying degrees of quality to the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s were Gibson kind of into a period declined as far a s quality especially as far as mandolins and the ones that were being built them were only shadows have the form themselves; can’t even find the good sounding ones for the most part their not that highly regarded. But F models still made today by Natalie Gibson but a lot of other fine builders, co’z the designs are just so absolutely Ubiquitous now. The way it reach players and hard in prove on, anyway that is the…a little bit of a story of the F-5 mandolin and I will probably get into more other details and maybe some stories about players that have used this instrument to really make there mark in musical landscape. So, here you have it the Gibson F-5 mandolin.
(Strumming the Guitar)

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