Gibson F-5 Mandolin (1929)

MANDOLINS, LIKE DOLLARS, WERE A SCARCE - and becoming scarcer - commodity in 1929. The top-of-the-line master F-5, like its companion L-5 guitar, had already lost some of its earlier refinements, but not the beauty of even more delicate “fern” and “The Gibson” headstock inlays. Perhaps more apparent to players were increasingly thicker tops, producing a more brilliant, but less rich sonority. Although the career of mandolin virtuoso Dave Apollon (who was often pictured with a Gibson “fern” F-5) was just beginning to take off in vaudeville and films, his reputation was more as a funny guy with a thick Russian accent than as an amazing mandolin player. Apollon recorded only four sides between 1920 and 1940. The popularity of the mandolin had fizzled, but Gibson and several other manufacturers continued to build them anyway.

(from Tone Poems II CD booklet , used by permission)

Photography by D. Brent Hauseman