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 my wrist touches the edge of the instrument.  The cloth seems to have kept away any scratching on the back or sweat damage on the bass edge.  The varnish finish is not as durable as nitrocellulose.  As you can see I moved the cloth out of the way to 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 and decided 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.


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