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Thread: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

  1. #1
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    Default Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    Hello.

    What are some of the earliest known photos of Bills Loar? Every photo or video Ive seen it is pretty beat up. According to George Gruhn it was in pristine condition when Bill purchased it. Are there any photos from when he first bought it?

    Also, since we are on the topic, are there any clear photos of Loars from
    when they were new?

    Best,
    Dem

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    The vast majority of photographs before the 1970s were black & white as color photography was cost prohibitive. Without color, it's very difficult to discern the much about the finish, which is what one would want to see I assume. For example:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    That said, I've spent countless hours pouring over the Loar signed mandolin photos in the Mandolin Archive F5 Journal which has a lot of examples in far closer to factory condition than Bill's.

    Here's 73747 from July 9th, 1923 (same Loar signed date as Bill's):
    Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #4

    Default Re: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    In Neil Rosenbergs book Bluegrass A History, in the photo section between pp. 124-125, is a 1945 photo of Bill holding his newly acquired Loar. The mandolin looks new, complete with pick guard and an intact peghead scroll. Its the best picture I have ever seen of the Loar when Bill first had it.

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  8. #5
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    Here's a 1946 pic of Mr. Monroe with his F5, that is at least one year after purchase. Looks fine to me. Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Hendrik Ahrend; Nov-01-2021 at 4:59pm.

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  10. #6
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    Here're more pics of Monroe's F5 in, as far as one can tell, pristine condition and the pick guard still mounted. We have to understand that the later weird finish (or the lack thereof) was not a result of wear & tear, but of Monroe deliberately having scratched off the finish in the early 50s. As for the pics, the first outtake (with Flatt & Scruggs in the band) is the newest of the three, after the HS scroll had broken off, which happened several times throughout the years. The other two outtakes are from the earlier band prior to Earl Scruggs joining and yet with Wilene Forrester on accordion. Click image for larger version. 

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  12. #7
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    Here's MC member f5loar on Monroe's F5:

    Okay you guys are all over with these Monroe repair dates.
    Let's get it right if you are going to discuss it. To start the date bought for $150 in the Barbershop in FL has been misprinted many times mainly due to Monroe's memory when he was first asked the question in the mid 60's. Tom Ewing got to the facts and with his excellent research could prove Monroe was indeed only in a winter in Florida in Jan. 1945 which also coinsides with the first recording with the Loar on Feb. 13, 1945. In late 1951 he dropped it breaking the neck at the heel. The scroll had also been off by this point many times. It should be noted that Monroe housed the Loar in a Gibson shape case not a Loar case which may have been the case it came with. In 1951 I suspect the only way to get a neck back on a Loar F5 was to send it back to the factory. He did that and also asked for a few other things be done like a refinish. He also expected them to give him top priority in get it back quickly. It came back in the summer of 1952. I would suspect he was presented a heafty bill at the time too as he was not the original owner. How do we know this? Sonny Osborne has long told the story that when he was a BGBoy he was there when Monroe pulled his pocket knife out to scrape the finish off. Sonny was with Monroe the summer of 1952. Why he did it we don't know other than Monroe says Gibson only put the neck back on and did not do the other things he wanted done like frets, refinish, new tuners. It is possible that they did overspray it with lacquer. A practice common back then. Maybe or IMO he didn't see evidence of a total refinish and in anger/protest of being charged, keeping too long he removed the "Gibson" name and the overcoat finish. Add to that the fact that Gibson did not endorse Monroe as a Gibson user while they did endorse Scruggs by this time. Do we need to go down the Monroe/Scruggs feud? I suspect Monroe knew by 1951 he was selling F5s for bluegrass use not classical although they only produced 44 F5s by 1952 since Monroe got his in 1945. That would explain going from near mint to very worn quickly leaving traces of the original Loar varnish. After all it only had 6 years of wear at this time since we do know by the photos like Darryl says it was near mint when he first got it in 1945. Gibson gives Monroe the new F5L when it comes out in late 1978(Monroe got No. 1 dated June 1,1978).
    Later he accepts their free offer for repairs and in Sept. 1980 Dick Doan headed up the team to replace the scroll with a totally new veneer headstock, new tuners and a new fretboard. Nothing was done to the finish at this time. The vandal does her thing to both Loars on Nov. 13, 1985 while Monroe is out in town for lunch. CD returns the repaired July Loar on Feb. 25, 1986. The other Loar much later. I welcome any disputes of these dates.

    Here's the link: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-the-Day/page3

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  14. #8
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroes mandolin and other Loars.

    Hey Dem, here's a vintage near mint F5 (#73673), which I checked out a few years ago and thought it was super sounding, despite apparently not much on the milage counter: http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/73673Click image for larger version. 

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    BTW no financial interest it's for sale at Schoenberg Guitars.

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