1996 Gibson F5-V
This is a Gibson F5-V mandolin. The V in F5-V stands for varnish
as opposed to nitrocellulose lacquer. It is supposed to have
a better sound. I suppose that it is a subjective call. I don’t
know what part it plays in the sound but this is a great sounding
mandolin. All the hardware is silver plated which gives it
a nice look.
I have a Pick Up the World Custom Powerstrip under the bridge.
It works well when I need to amplify it when playing
Jazz with an archtop guitar player. It has a pretty natural
sound and there is no modification done to the instrument. Just
so you know
what it is you will see a black cotton cloth
that I usually have across the back and bottom bass edge where
the edge of the instrument. The cloth seems to have kept
away any scratching on the back or sweat damage on the bass
The varnish finish is not as durable as nitrocellulose. As
show the instrument.
This mandolin has an interesting story behind it. I bought
it from a man named Virgil. I don’t remember his last
name. Ha! If anyone reading this would somehow know his last
name let me know. He claimed to have played banjo with Sam
Bush at one time or another.
Anyway Sam went out to Montana when Gibson made mandolins
out there and spent an afternoon playing a bunch of F5-V mandolins
and picked two mandolins out. This is one of them. He
sold or gave this one to Virgil. Virgil told me that
he realized that he was not that interested in the mandolin
to sell it
so he could buy some rare Gibson banjo. After I bought the
mandolin I called out to Montana and the now Sound To Earth
Company confirmed that Sam was there and picked out a couple
of F5-V mandolins.
I would say that Sam has good taste in what makes a mandolin
sound right. I had a Gibson Bill Monroe mandolin for a while
#57 out of 200. This F5-V sounds better to me. I also had a
Gilchrist that didn’t sound as well to me. I was a fool
for selling the Gilchrist though because they have really went
up in value. One of the local players in Fort Wayne here said
that he thought my F5-V sounded as good as his Gilchrist. It
has that silky woody tone. It is deep and strikingly louder
than all get out when played hard. It has good sustain and
balanced clean clear highs. Thanks Sam.
I play mostly jazz on it. Because there are so few jazz mandolin
players I am more rare than spectacular at it. There are so
many great bluegrass mandolin players that I would not even
get on the list. But as a jazz player I might be on the list
but I would be close to the bottom.