1970s Ibanez Artist 523 F-Style Carved Mandolin

Ibanez (made in Japan) mandolins from the 70s are well-respected and fairly affordable as far as vintage, fully-carved, F-style instruments go. Bill Monroe even sponsored (and played out with) the next model up (524) at the same time that this would've been built. This probably dates to just around 1976-78 but aside from the Ibanez headstock inlay there's no other "data" to go on for verification. Thankfully, though, Ibanez provides scans of all their old catalogs for free (awesome).

This is in for sale in the soontime and it arrived with some stiff relief needing to be adjusted out via the truss rod as well as a necessary light fret level/dress as a number of frets were just "off" from one another. It now plays spot-on with hair-below 1/16" action at the 12th fret and a choppy, barky tone.

Age has yellowed the finish and done a little bit of damage (little cracking) to the binding but there's no actual cracks in the solid, carved spruce top or maple back and sides.

The pickguard is non-original (and I prefer the instrument without it), but for those needing the elevated "pinky rest," it does look nice and tidy.

Overall, the instrument has a handsome look to it with just enough eye candy to call attention to the player.

It seems like there was some fretwork done a while back but by the time this got to me it definitely needed some more light work on the frets. The board, by the way, is rosewood with big pearl block inlay. The bridge, on the other hand, is ebony. Interesting mix.

The scroll looks great and the small amount of "lived-in charm" gives this a warm, old-friend feel right off the bat.

The ebony bridge is well-fit and nicely lightweight.

The Ibanez-branded tail operates and is made just like an old Gibson one.

The arching is pretty steep on this mandolin -- as on many modern takes on F-style instruments. The back is actually arched into a light "v" shape with a distinct ridge down the back.

The instrument has good "heft" and feels like a sturdy companion rather than a delicate fancy.

Can't complain about a bit of flame...

Though the tailpiece has most of its plating worn down, the tuners are awfully bright. I'm not entirely sure if they're original but they do match pictures of other period Ibanez mandos.

An original hard case comes with it! One latch is busted but otherwise it functions as you'd expect... a case... to.

Plus... fun beaver decal!


Unknown said…
Hi! Is this mando for sale yet? thankss
Lisa said…
Hello! Very informative and well-constructed post. Do you know how much this mando is worth? I have one with more detailed inlay on the neck and is in better condition on the edges of the body.