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Thread: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

  1. #1

    Default Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    I'm researching getting a new mandolin, roughly in the $1000 range. I'm a bit of a newb, but I keep stumbling across "The Loar" products.

    I see they're out of the Bay Area. Are they related to the company that owns the Kentucky mandolin brand?

    Also, how do their instruments compare to Eastman and Kentucky mandos?

    Excuse my ignorance, and thanks in advance for your responses.

    M&M

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    "The Loar" brand name is owned by The Music Link. The Kentucky brand is owned by Saga Music. They are different companies and I know one of the owners of one of the two and I seriously doubt there is any business connection.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    As far as I know all the mandolins you mention are made in China.
    There can be a wide difference from mandolin to mandolin so my advice is play it before you buy it.
    IK that's hard for some people for various reasons but if you can find one that lights you up that's the one to buy.

    Billy
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  6. #4
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    Music Link distributes Asian made instruments under the "The Loar", Recording King, and Savannah brands.

    I have no reason to believe that they have any connection with Saga [Kentucky]. They are competitors.

    "The Loar" mandolins have varied in quality over the years. The last one that I played was a recent issue A model, and was a bit better than those built a few years earlier.

    It's hard to keep track of who is building the best mandolins in the $1000 price range, because each company's offerings vary in quality from year to year. If possible, it is best to try a few from different manufacturers and use your own judgement about the sound and the feel of the neck. Eastman's quality has perhaps been slightly more consistent over the years than Kentucky or The Loar.

    Any of the 3 brands you have mentioned will likely be of better quality than the mandolins that Washburn, Epiphone, and Ibanez are making right now.

    And although this is a mandolin forum, I will mention that the mid and upper-line Recording King banjos are good, solid instruments; and have earned considerable favor among the currently available Asian built instruments.

    And I ditto everything that Billy has just said.
    Last edited by rcc56; Dec-01-2021 at 2:48pm.

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  8. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    I have never played a "The Loar" mandolin that I liked. That said I have owned a few Eastmans and was very happy with them.

    If you can go a bit above your stated price range I would suggest this Econo Silver Angel in the classifieds....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/179580#179580

    Small shop, 100% American made mandolin. Its a lot of mandolin for the money.

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  9. #6
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    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    I've been teaching for over 30 years. For beginning students who show up with a ~$200 entry level instruments, and can afford it, I generally recommend that they move up to an Eastman 505 after they get a dozen or so tunes under their fingers. That will keep them busy for a couple more years. If they continue to advance and are able to upgrade again, I usually recommend that they save their pennies until they can afford a professional grade instrument.

    For those who do not have an instrument when they are ready to get started, I usually recommend Eastman 305 if they're on a budget. That will keep most beginners busy for a year. If they can afford more and think that they will stick with it, I feel that the Eastman 505 or Kentucky 505 are a better choice.
    Last edited by rcc56; Dec-01-2021 at 5:39pm.

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  11. #7
    Worlds ok-ist mando playr Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    I bought a blem The Loar LM170 (solid top, ply sides/back A shape. Flat fingerboard, nice enough v-shaped neck.) in 2015. It's been an OK beater Mando that I bring on long trips, camping, the coast, etc. It lacks volume for loud jams but works well around the camp fire. I'm not sure how it compares to the newer ones as these things change... I think mine was made in '13 or '14. I also think the LM170 has become the LM110 Honey Creek.

    Last I checked The Loar isn't currently producing any nicer A models (all solid). Too bad. I liked the LM220 and LM400 I played, although the finishes seemed a little thick if I remember correctly.
    Worlds okay-ist mandolin player

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    Thanks to all of you for your info and responses.

    I was mainly just curious about the company. I have a J. Bouvier F-hole that I really love, and also a solid backup with an Eastman MD-315. From what I read and hear, Eastman seems to have better quality consistency than the other imported mandos.

    Again, thanks so much,

    M&M

  13. #9

    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I have never played a "The Loar" mandolin that I liked. That said I have owned a few Eastmans and was very happy with them.

    If you can go a bit above your stated price range I would suggest this Econo Silver Angel in the classifieds....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/179580#179580

    Small shop, 100% American made mandolin. Its a lot of mandolin for the money.

    NFI
    Charles, hi. Thanks so much for your response. I'm glad to know about Econo Silver Angel. I guess I gave everyone the impression I was in the market for a new mando. I was mainly just curious about The Loar company because I see them out there more and more.

    I would say my next mando will probably be a Northfield, or maybe a used Gibson.

    Thanks Again,
    M&M

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  15. #10
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    Default Re: Who is Behind "The Loar" Company?

    It may be worth saying the Chinese made and luthier made mandolin market does overlap a little about this price level. A few small makers (certainly here in UK) can make a good quality (probably plain looking, but so what?) hand made mandolin for around 1,000. If you want a local (ish) instrument, though, do check it's not a local name on an instrument made in China. There's nothing wrong with that of course, unless you wanted to buy local so it hasn't travelled half way round the world in a ship. The fittings probably will have and the wood might have, but some make a point of using recycled furniture woods if they can - I have a small travel mandolin made in Scotland from the mahogany back of an old chest of drawers, with a reclaimed spruce top.

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