Gibson "Fern" F-5 Mandolin (1925)

ALTHOUGH LLYOD LOAR LEFT THE Gibson company at the end of 1924, many of his innovations endured. This Master Model F-5, with the more ornate “fern” peghed inlay design and gold-plated hardware, was made in 1925 and consequently does not have a Lloyd Loar signature label. This particular mandolin was David Grisman’s primary instrument for many years, and may be heard on most of his recordings from Old & in the Way to Home is Where the Heart Is. When David aquired the mandolin in 1969, it had a fingerboard with pearl block inlays, possibly added in the early ‘30s. In the mid ‘70s, David visited with the family of the great mandolin virtuoso Dave Apollon who played F-5s exclusively throughout his long career. At the end of his visit, David was given an original Loar-period F-5 fingerboard that Apollon had kept. That fingerboard was subsequently installed on this mandolin, where it remains today.

Track 10: Dawg After Dark
(from Tone Poems CD booklet , used by permission)

Photography by Eric Harger