Gibson F-12 Mandolin (1934)

PERHAPS THE RAREST OF ALL Gibson Artist’s model mandolins is the pre-war, short-necked F-12. Introduced in 1933 (with similar models F-7 and F-10), the F-12 had an elevated fingerboard, fancy inlays, an attractive red mahogany sunburst finish on its top and deep red finish on its flamed maple back and sides, along with gold-plated hardware. The lightly finished mahogany neck joined the body at the 12th fret (like the earlier F-2s and F-4s), placing the bridge “incorrectly” lower on the body than on the Master Model F-5. One wonders why this was done (perhaps to use up a number of left-over F-4 neck blanks). Discountinued by 1937, this model is quite rare, and this example is one of the very few in existence. The F-12 designation was revived in 1949 and was in production until 1980, but the later version was very different from its predecessor in almost every respect.

Track 12: Morning Sun
(from Tone Poems CD booklet , used by permission)

Photography by Eric Harger