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Thread: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

  1. #26
    Registered User ebeja's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    When I intended to buy a Loar 700 I knew that optically it would not be comparable with my Weber, Ratliff, Ellis or Gibson (all A4s). I wanted to have a valuable, good sounding and easy playing mandolin, this time an F5. It should be used mainly for outdoor campfire sessions where the risk of dents and scratches is much higher than indoors and for occasions where I for example never would take my Ellis.
    Knowing the Selling-Plant Thomann (living 50 miles away) I decided to better pay some more funds but get mine from Robert Fear due to his first class reputation with regard to pro set up and included CA bridge.
    I never regret my decision and like and play it as much as my others.
    OK, there are some cosmetical issues already mentioned but they are acceptable for me – some improper binding at the scroll, little bit rough and missing polish under the extention – but the latter I saw also on most Eastmans I had in hands.
    However, as matter of fact the optical issues on my instrument are only known to me, never been realized by any other session participants when handed over the mandolin to have a try.
    Undisputed, an improve of those laxly finish issues would increase The Loars´ reputation on the market considerable. Nevertheless, if I should have to choose again the result would be the same, thump up for The Loar.

  2. #27
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    I opted for the LM-500 and am extremely happy, since I bought it as a workhorse, not a showpiece. It has a fairly heavy poly finish, which was desirable since I use it outdoors in SW Florida during the heat of the summer months, and sweat won't hurt that finish one bit. It did take an extraordinary effort to get that poly finish off the neck, though. I agree with Robert's assessment that finish is not a strong suit where they build these mandolins, but if I'd wanted cosmetic perfection I'd have looked for a Collings. I'm much more focused on tone and feel, and although I don't abuse them, I don't expect my instruments to stay pretty for long once I start playing them regularly.

    Not too long ago, an asian mandolin with all the features and quality found in today's The Loars could only be found in a small handful of Japanese built Iida, Aria, and Ibanez and some Kentucky models, and the good ones among them were even more scarce. We're blessed today with The Loar, Eastman, and higher end Kentucky mandos that run a close race with their pricier brethren when it comes to sound and playability.
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  3. #28
    Registered User dcoventry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    I agree with EBEJA and his comments above. Definitely two thumps up!!

    The LM700 I purchased from Robery Fear back in January 2011 was a great sounding mando, was set up within an inch of it's life, had the CA upgrade and played very well.

    However, I just couldn't look down at all the cosmetic imperfections and be joyous, happy and free. These issues impeded my serenity. Am I shallow? Well, sometimes, but that has little to do with this. I needed an instruments sounded great and looked it, too. That's just me.

    Soooooooo, I got the mando I REALLY wanted and paid 3 times as much. Am I happy? Yes, but that has nothing to do with mandolins. Am I happier with my G5? Oh heck yeah! Am I 3 times happier? Oh heck yeah! But a lot of that has to do with meeting some expectations and the irrational need for something "just right".

    I'd buy another LM700, though, I really would, if the occasion or need arose.
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  4. #29
    Registered User John Kinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    If there are differences between a 5K mando and a 1K mando (and I presume it is), I prefere that all the differnces are in fit and finish rather than sound and playability. That's the right corner to cut. If you buy a pacrim under 1K you can't expect a Ellis...

  5. #30

    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    It's nice to see support for "the Loar" mandolins. It only took a little hand work for me to bring it up to the level I needed to feel satisfied. A bit of hand buffing here, some gentle scraping there and I'm happy. Since then it took an unfortunate spill on a tile floor chipping, the much thicker finish than expected, to a bothersome degree, which needed a pro to "sorta" repair and this weekend the hard case closed when removing the 600 and of course one of the latches hit the top making a couple dings that can be lived with. These love taps are inevitable, so the overall quality of the finish becomes less and less important as time moves on with overall playability and sound quality coming to the front as being most important. My 600 certainly produces in those areas.

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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kinn View Post
    If there are differences between a 5K mando and a 1K mando (and I presume it is), I prefere that all the differnces are in fit and finish rather than sound and playability. That's the right corner to cut. If you buy a pacrim under 1K you can't expect a Ellis...
    I can't agree with that assessment more, but I also want to mention that almeriastring's review isn't about comparing his new The Loar to an Ellis, or a Gibson. He was comparing apples to apples in this case - to another Pac Rim instrument costing just a bit more. The point is - yes we can't expect a chinese made mandolin costing around $1K to look and play like an Ellis. I know that The Loar will always have its supporters and detractors, and they are great sounding mandolins. But as other competition out there shows, you *can* expect more in terms of workmanship and playability as well as tone even in the same price range and from the same continent.

  7. #32
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by barrangatan View Post
    But as other competition out there shows, you *can* expect more in terms of workmanship and playability as well as tone even in the same price range and from the same continent.
    If I pointed out something that really would bother me, it's the thick and inconsistent finish. Binding imperfections won't affect tone, but poor finish might.

    For that price for an F-style, you can't expect perfect [you can expect better, though]. And, as said above, better imperfect binding than imperfect sound/playability - the end proof is in the playability and the sound once a properly fit bridge is put on there. If we get the report that it sounds like $2,000 and plays above it's price, it's a little less important that it looks below the price.
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  8. #33
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Today, I managed to examine two new LM-220 VS models. What is very strange is that the finish on both of these was considerably better than on the LM-700. It was still rather thick, but even under the fingerboard extension, it was much cleaner. Even stranger was the fact that while the back/sides on one were very plain (as you would probably expect), but on the other there was really nice flame and the overall standard of materials used was far better than you would expect at this price point. That particular one was really a very nice mandolin indeed for around $300. The finish, while not perfect by any means, was very acceptable. In fact, the finish on both of them would be unlikely to disappoint at twice the price.... the bridges appeared to be identical to that on the LM-700. The fret work on both was worse than on the LM-700, however, with quite a few rough fret ends and a others visibly raised.The binding work (body and fingerboard only on these) was also much cleaner and more accurate, though of course, it is also much simpler in an A-style instrument. There is clearly a lot of variability and inconsistency in these mandolins. I don't know what these sounded like, as I as only able to unpack them for a short time. I did get some photos, however. I must say that one of them appeared to be a very impressive instrument for the price. Decent finish and very nice materials.... now, if that had been an LM-700 there would be no reason to complain at all.
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  9. #34
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    My LM-700 has the same issues, poor finish around scroll and at base of neck on the scroll side, and under the fretboard extension, otherwise the finish is thick but OK. Binding is not bad. The fretboard extension was curled down towards the top making it totally useless and odd looking. One F-hole is considerably closer to the edge of the top than the other. I think it has the sound, but the set-up is terrible and I haven't played it much. I bought it new (not a second) with upgrades to a CA bridge, a James tailpiece, and a complete set-up. It had uneven fret issues from day one, the saddle was jacked up high and it still buzzed.
    I think a thorough set-up from a good shop is VERY important on these. I did not have much luck on that.
    Sadly it has become an ongoing project for me, I have replaced the poorly cut nut, scooped the fretboard extension, (it straightened out after pulling the frets) remounted the slightly crooked tailpeice and glued a couple of loose frets. Next is a fret dress and maybe tweak the truss rod and the bridge height. Mostly I play my Rover RM-75.
    There is a lot of potential in the LM-700, but for me, the dealer experience left a bad taste.
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  10. #35
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    I have seen a good number of Loar mandolins, and with the exception of a second sold to me with flaws, I have not seen anything more than minor cosmetic issues. Certainly nothing to fuss about. I do wish the finish was thinner, and I don't like the sealer coats that thick, but it is still better than most imports. I have found nothing that was not acceptable....especially when the price point is in view. The tone, volume, and consistency is still better than any other mandolin anywhere near this price.

    Finish issues can be improved, but at a cost. The Loar company has to make a decision where they want to market this instrument. It has the quality that a few changes, like finish, could be improved. The downside is that raises the price above the market they are aiming for. Many buyers would not be able to get a really quality mandolin if the price were increased enough to deal with those issues. I an thankful they have a product in their price points.

    There are a number of pros playing the Loar. It is a stock mandolin and they seem to find the things they want in a road mandolin. It sounds incredible, plays like they want, respond well to a mic, and is extremely durable. These have been the least problematic instruments I have seen inan instrument even two or three times as expensive. Given the choice of less tha absolute perfection in finish vs. all the issues I have seen with the "pretty ones", I will happily stick with the Loar.

    The others mentioned are good, but consistency is very important to me.
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  11. #36

    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Carefull Joe, I belieie this is a bash "the Loar", especially the 700, finish and parise be to Kentucky thread. We don't want to go against the flow now do we. I'm sure it will come around the other way though. Kentucky hasn't gotten a lot of air time of late where "the Loar" has recieved a fairly steady stream of positive comments. These things balance themselves out in the end. Both seem to be a great value for the money.

    You might have a handle on this, are there many pro's using Kentucky mandolins on stage?

  12. #37

    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    How is this a bashing thread? He's giving a review and posting some pics.
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  13. #38
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by hedgehog View Post
    Carefull Joe, I belieie this is a bash "the Loar", especially the 700, finish and parise be to Kentucky thread. We don't want to go against the flow now do we. I'm sure it will come around the other way though.
    It is not about "bashing" anything. I have not even finished the review yet. What I have done is show, using genuine photos from a mandolin I purchased, what kind of finish and detail work you might just end up with. Joe says he generally sees nothing more than minor issues. Robert says the problems shown in the photos I posted are very common. So there you have two dealers in stark disagreement. I have no idea, as I have not seen hundreds of them, I have (so far) now been able to inspect only four of them. One was (in my opinion) very poor. The other three (all cheaper models, incidentally), did have a few issues but were much better. I've also read reviews elsewhere highlighting these same issues, and other forum users have also seen the same thing on instruments they purchased. This is not "bashing". This is simply being honest and highlighting what is clearly a lack of consistency and QC in terms of finish. This will not bother some people, but it might bother others.

    In terms of playability and sound, I am trying to be as fair as possible. I am waiting until the LM-700 has a decent bridge installed, for starters. Then I'll record it, along with a few other instruments for comparison. Listen to it and make your own mind up.

    For what it is worth, my initial impression is that it does indeed sound far, far better than the price tag might suggest it should. I make no excuses for saying that in my opinion, while the finish and detail work (and the initial setup) is very poor indeed, the playability and sound is very respectable, even without a 'good' bridge and full setup. Once you get any fretting/nut problems sorted out (of the four I have seen, two had quite bad fret work, 2 were OK), the neck also feels good. In that context, yes, a properly set up example would make a good "road" mandolin, or a "party" mandolin, for that matter. They look good (from a distance!), and play and sound good too. If it does get damaged, destroyed, stolen or lost - so what? Get another one.They are cheap enough. They are not (as someone else said) the kind of mandolin you are likely to form a deep psychological bond with! As a utility instrument, though, I can certainly see them finding a niche.

    This is not about "The Loar" vs "The Kentucky". The only reason I compared these two is because they are the same basic design, they are both popular choices in the sub-$1500 import F-model market, and because I happened to have both of them here at the same time. It is pretty self-evident that the finish and detail work on the Kentucky is superior to that on The Loar. Which is the best buy overall, though, is down to preference. They are very different. They feel different, and they sound different, as you will hear when I get the sound files uploaded.
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  15. #39
    Registered User d18daddy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    I have a Loar LM 600VS and I used to own a Kentucky KM1000 which I traded for a nice telecaster. The Loar was the replacement for the Kentucky. I think sound wise they are both great mandolins, but I must say I do miss the fit and finish of the Kentucky. Wish I could trade back, but it is what it is. I think the Loar is a good working mans mando and is a fine mando for my abilities. it would be nice to see Loar step up their game fit and finish wise. I also have a bit of finish cracking around the neck joint(hope it's just the finish). Loar instructed me to bring it in to my local dealer, but I don't really trust them with mando repairs, so that kinda leaves me in the lurch.

  16. #40
    Registered User John Kinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Looking forward to the sound clips. If you have the opportunity,I'd like to hear a high end mandolin in the same company.
    Thanks,
    John

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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    No problem. I'll include the Silverangel 'F' and the Gibson F5 Fern. Both exceptionally fine mandolins with strong characters of their own. I'll use a pretty good recording chain, Neumann KM184 into an Apogee Ensemble without any EQ or processing to keep everything as even and accurate as possible.

    Just waiting for the CA bridge to arrive.
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  18. #42

    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    The 700 has no tone bars, so this makes the comparison to a Kentucky that does have them more than just about fit and finish.
    These days the fact that you can get a decent F5 style mandolin for $1500 is good news for everyone. While someone who just bought one new is not going to take any comfort from the following, the fact is that these can always be re-fretted and re-bridged and set-up to a player's specifications, to arrive at something real nice for the money. Realistically, you have to adjust your expectations at these prices.
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  19. #43
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by Fretbear View Post
    The 700 has no tone bars, so this makes the comparison to a Kentucky that does have them more than just about fit and finish.
    These days the fact that you can get a decent F5 style mandolin for $1500 is good news for everyone. While someone who just bought one new is not going to take any comfort from the following, the fact is that these can always be re-fretted and re-bridged and set-up to a player's specifications, to arrive at something real nice for the money. Realistically, you have to adjust your expectations at these prices.
    +1 on Fretbear's comment. For comparison, look at Northfield mandolins. They started out as a bargain at under 2K, then "stepped up their game" and now are priced on a par with some Webers. The Loar mandolins are production grade instruments that are a huge step above like-priced imports, and if they sound and play as good as my LM500, it is unfair to judge them using fit and finish standards set by much more costly instruments. I'd hate to see their prices lurch skyward and a waiting list formed because they tried to remedy these typical production fit and finish flaws.
    Striving for mediocrity and perpetually falling short.

  20. #44
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cowles View Post
    The Loar mandolins are production grade instruments that are a huge step above like-priced imports, and if they sound and play as good as my LM500, it is unfair to judge them using fit and finish standards set by much more costly instruments.
    Slightly baffled here... who is judging them "using fit and finish standards set by much more costly instruments"? The main comparison is with a Kentucky KM-1000 which is really not much more. You can pay as much as $1,175.00 for an LM-700 or as little as $1,485.00 for a KM-1000.

    Is that really "much more expensive"? I don't think so.

    Those are the only comparisons that have been made and illustrated. If the "fit and finish" comparison was Loar LM-700 vs Gibson F5 Fern, then you would of course be right, but it isn't.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
    Distressed Silverangel F 'Esmerelda' aka 'Maxx'
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    Ellis F5 Special #288
    '39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.

  21. #45
    Registered User ebeja's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    @almeriastrings, don´t get annoyed, please continue with your individual review. In my opinion this is a very interesting thread.

  22. #46
    Closet Banjo Picker P.D. Kirby's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Since both Big Joe and Robert Fear seem to be watching this thread I would like to pose a question that is what I consider to be the real "Last Word" on how much the LM 700 VS finish flaws matter to the customers. In short since we are trying to say a $1400.00 Mandolin and an $1100.00 Mandolin are the same ( I completely disagree with that because if The Loar put the extra $300 in finishing there wouldn't even be a need to discuss this) ok it wasn't short.

    Question: Which Mandolin- KM 1000 or LM 700 do you sell the most of and how many returns do you have for either model for finish flaws?
    I realize my opinion is tainted as I am a BIG fan of The Loar Mandolins and have owned or own the LM 400, LM 520, LM 600, and play my buddies LM 700 quite a bit. I would put my LM 400 up against every F-model under $1000 regardless of builder for tone and playability and maybe I got lucky but none of my current Loars have any of the flaws you describe, short of the support under the Fla. which is butt ugly. I think The Loar has the best Mandolins out there for any Price point south of $2000..
    I also have a hunch the LM-700 out sells the KM-1000 by a bunch and that is all that really matters. Sorry Guy's, too much coffee this morning.
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  23. #47

    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Woah guys. These seems like a "lets bash Almeriastrings party".

    Listen everyone he is just being helpful and honest and here everyone is blasting away at him.
    Maybe we should just sit back and wait till he's done before throwing out judgement on him!
    After all think about how helpful this really will be. It is a fully comprehensible review of a mandolin as-is.

    This will be a phenomenal resource for beginners or for people looking to upgrade.

    Thank you Almeriastrings. I appreciate what you're doing.

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  25. #48
    Registered User robert.najlis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    I appreciate the review as well, and look forward to more.
    It does not seem to be bashing.

    Also, if the The Loar company decides to pay attention, it may help them to decide if they want to address these concerns or not (as previously mentioned, it may or may not make sense for them).

  26. #49
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by almeriastrings View Post
    Those are the only comparisons that have been made and illustrated. If the "fit and finish" comparison was Loar LM-700 vs Gibson F5 Fern, then you would of course be right, but it isn't.
    Sorry if misunderstood, but my only point is that a lower priced instrument (in the $1k range) should probably be expected to have the kinds of cosmetic deficits you've described in the LM700, and if it doesn't it's an even better bargain.
    Striving for mediocrity and perpetually falling short.

  27. #50
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by BLUERIDGEBORN View Post
    I also have a hunch the LM-700 out sells the KM-1000 by a bunch and that is all that really matters.
    Well, it does not matter to me... and to be honest, I cannot see how it matters to anyone else buying one either, with the obvious exceptions of those who own the company or their distributors/dealers. By that logic, I am 100% sure that The Loar LM-700 outsells Gibsons and Collings by a mile.. but not really clear what relevance that would have either. By volume (amount not dB!) cheaper instruments will always tend to notch up the sales over more costly ones, even if the difference is not that great. I'd have liked to be able to compare to at least one other mandolin in the same general price bracket, an Eastman, preferably, but unfortunately don't have access to one of those.

    As for sub-$1K instruments should be expected to have defects like this, I am afraid I simply do not agree with that. A $200 mandolin - very possibly, yes. Once you get into that $750-$1K range though, I really do think you should expect better than this. Consistently better than this.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
    Distressed Silverangel F 'Esmerelda' aka 'Maxx'
    Northfield Big Mon #127
    Ellis F5 Special #288
    '39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.

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