The Classic "Fern"
1927 Gibson F-5

© Frank Ford, 2001; Photos by FF

Still labeled as a "Master Model," this mandolin has the first round of changes imposed after Lloyd Loar's departure from Gibson at the end of 1924. I get the feeling that Loar was planning to move to the "fern" instead of "flowerpot" inlay, because there was one small group of signed instruments made with the fern in March of 1924, and the H-5 mandola had this inlay as a standard feature. There probably was a bunch of flowerpot peghead overlays already made up, so they got used first. No doubt the sales of the original F-5s were a bitter disappointment to Loar as well as to the Company.

Instead of the old style varnish& French polished finish, this 1927 model has a full spray lacquer job. White binding replaced the softer looking ivoroid, and satin gold instead of silver plated hardware complete the new look. The new, larger f-holes are a mystery to me. Later examples would prove to be inconsistently graduated and often lacking in bass response, but this one has all the low end and volume associated with the original Loar series.

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