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

  1. #51

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

    - The Loar 700 w/ needed ca bridge upgrade = 1175.00 range
    The Kentucky km1000 = 1350.00 - 1400.00 range( have seen for 1300.00 recently)
    The Eastman 515 = 1000.00 range, 815v 1350.00 - 1400.00 range

    - Fit and finish quality imho = Kentucky km1000, Eastman, The Loar (in this order)

    - Sound/tone quality= toss up, depends on subjectively what you like. I happen to like all three although the eastman and kentucky's have a more focused tighter sound than The Loar which has a more open sound (probably due to tone bars vs no tone bars).

    All three makes are clearly in the sub 1500.00 range (1175.00 - 1400.00 range). This price range should appeal to the same buyer. The Loar is one of the best values going. Is it better than kentucky and eastman? I don't think so especially if fit/finish is important to you (although I have seen some sloppy eastmans,however kentucky and eastmans overall have better qc in the fit/finish deparment).

    Almeriastrings, again, thanks for the honest and candid review. I knew there would be some resistance to your review...it's just the nature of internet forums. Your analysis is very much spot on and like mine on these makes/models. I don't see where you have said anything negative about the tone/sound of The Loar. Your pictures of fit/finish are worth a thousand words.

    One more thing. I see no logic in comparing quality of an instrument by the number of sales that particular model has had as one poster has suggested. The Loar's have a very attractive price point...nuff said.
    Last edited by pdb; Nov-30-2011 at 9:54pm.

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  3. #52

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

    "Once you get into that $750-$1K range though, I really do think you should expect better than this. Consistently better than this."

    I agree, some flaws are acceptable, but nothing like you describe. Can't wait to hear it though, this is the one I didn't get to play before buying one.

  4. #53
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    The CA bridge has now arrived, so I will get that fitted today. In fact, I am going to give this mandolin its first real outing when I'll use it at a gig tonight to see how it mics up. I'll also get the other mandolins that will be used in the sound files fitted up with new sets of J74's today. Try to keep everything as consistent as possible... give them a couple of days to settle in, then hopefully... this weekend we can get the final part of the comparison done.
    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.

  5. #54
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    I don't care to bash anyone or their product. To address Blueridgeron's question, manufacturers don't generally accept returns due to finish issues. They grade them in their process and if flaws are obvious they will grade them as seconds and sell them off at a discount and sometimes without warranty. If you paid less than map price it was probably a second sold to the dealer with these flaws. If the dealer does not disclose this then that is a problem.

    I've only handled one second. The finish was obviously flawed. I sold it locally and both discounted it and disclosed it. I have not bought any other seconds. I have received two instruments in the last several years. The fit and finish wad fine, but I felt the wood was not as described. They sent replacements even before they sent the return authorization. That was on the Loar instruments. I have had one warranty repair due to a bent tuner shaft.

    I have had a greater amount of Kentucky KM 1000 for repairs of various kinds. Not a lot, but several. Eastman has had a higher rate of needed repairs such as loose glue joints, etc.. None of these brands are bad. Just different.

    One last comment. The Kentucky KM 1000 is about 35-40% more expensive than thr Loar LM 700. That is a big difference and puts these two instruments into different market segments. Most who buy the Loar cannot or don't want to go that much more for the Kentucky. It is not apples for apples. Thank you, and no controversy with me. Both good, just different.
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

  6. #55

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

    I just received my Loar 600 (with CA bridge). Here is my initial take of the fit-and-finish after a quick review

    It is not nearly as bad as what the OP described and pictured above. The flaws/imperfections I see include:

    1. The inside of the scroll (facing the neck) is a bit rough and unfinished.
    2. The inside edge of the F-holes (especially the treble-side one) are a bit rough.
    3. The back doesn't have great flame and does not appear optimally book-mached.

    Thats about it. Otherwise, the finish is really fine. I have seen thicker nitrocellulose finishes on new Martin guitars. It is honestly not bad at all IMO.

    IIRC, the OP bought his 700 discounted. Perhaps Joe is right and it represents a factory second.

  7. #56

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

    Before anyone receives the wrong impression that the kentucky km1000 is more problematic and represents a higher rate of repair than The Loar 700, please consider the kentucky has been made since the mid 80's. It stands to reason if one mandolin has been made for 25+ years and the other mandolin has been made for only 2-3 years, you are going to have more of the former in for repair work. To suggest otherwise is an unfair comparison at best.

  8. #57

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

    Some other things as I have been playing the Loar 600 for the past few hours.

    1. The area beneath the fretboard extension isn't finished very well (as the OP pointed out on his 700).

    2. Its really a nice mandolin. With the CA bridge, top-notch set-up by Robert, and a Tone Gard, it has nice volume and a strong chop.

    Honestly, fit-and-finish issues aside (which, while certainly far from perfect, aren't that bad on this individual example), to be able to buy an solid wood, hand-carved F5-style mandolin of this caliber for under $1000 is really remarkable IMHO.

  9. #58

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

    I don't believe Joe is comparing the number of KM-1000's repaired over 25 years with the number of LM-600 and LM-700's repaired in the last 3 years.

    On the subject of a quality finish. I've got a couple Ibanez electric guitars (an AS-93 and an AF-75), all in all they are considered to be great guitars but cost under $500 each and a Goldstar GF-85 Banjo have as close to a perfect finish as anyone could ask for, my great old Takamine Dread is the same. My Epiphone Riviera electric guitar has the worst finish and that is because the red finish stain blead over on the binding, other than that it is smooth and even. So, if they can be produced at a great price point, why is it so difficult to make a mandolin with a similar quality finish?

  10. #59
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Actually I was referring to the last 5 years. The KM1000 currently built (last five years or so) is different from earlier eras, and better in my opinion. I just wish they were more consistent. I have played a couple that were absolutely outstanding. The rest were not as good. I would not buy a Kentucky I had not played in person. I would with the Loar because the consistency has been there. I know what is coming when I order it and have no concern about the product. They both can be great, but I can deal with finish issues more than I can mediocrity in output. Given a choice between appearance and tone I will always chose tone. I rally have no complaints with the finish on the Loar either. I would love a varnish option, but if I really want that I can do it. Oh... That's right. We did that for a friend. Not much will stand up to that Loar LM700 .
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

  11. #60
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by guitarpath View Post

    IIRC, the OP bought his 700 discounted. Perhaps Joe is right and it represents a factory second.
    I can assure you categorically that it is not and was not ever categorised as a "factory second". Do please refer back to the comment by Robert (Folkmusician.com) who stated "This LM-700 looks typical to me". I would also point out that it carried a factory QC "passed" sticker, exactly the same as three others I examined recently. In fact, signed by the same QC examiner.

    I also double checked with the supplier. It was discounted for two reasons:

    1. The case was damaged (there is a small knife cut that apparently occurred when a carton was being opened)
    2. They are no longer going to carry 'The Loar' line (guitars too).

    There is also a thread on the Acoustic Guitar Forum involving an archtop guitar with near-identical problems to this mandolin. What appears to be the case is that their QC on finish is very unpredictable and variable. I have now seen four of them. One was really pretty good, one was "OK" , one was "pretty bad" and the LM-700 is....well... you can see. If I was in their QC department I would have rejected both of them. So, you might get lucky.... you might not. It probably also depends how critical you are, and whether finish is important to you.

    Sound-wise..... used it last night for the first time. It does indeed sound very good. This is purely subjective, of course, but I was very impressed by how it sounded, especially for the price. It miked up well, and has good volume and "cutting power". It is perhaps a bit less focused than a tone-bar mandolin, but I think makes up for that by being very "open" sounding with quite a nice low end. It has a good "chop". Again... getting very subjective, it does not "feel" (to me) as alive as (even a very new) Gibson F5 Fern, but then, there really is a huge price difference there. The Fern is very three-dimensional with a lot more "going on". You would expect that... I used "The Loar" then switched to the Gibson. I did a quick poll after with people in the audience I spoke to and no-one could tell me for sure which was the most expensive mandolin..... so there you go, very positive feedback on it in the sound department. Just to clarify, I can certainly tell the difference! However, over a PA and to an audience, they may well not. A audience of Cafe members probably could! My opinion at this point is that it is a very serviceable "road" instrument, and while not as sophisticated and subtle as a far more expensive instrument, gets the job done.

    I think it would be an ideal instrument to use with a pickup.

    Honestly, while I continue to believe that they should do something about their QC (not only finish, but fret work, materials and factory setup), once a bit of work had been done this LM-700 acquitted itself very well in a real, live performance situation. In my opinion, it is an almost ideal second, or stand-in mandolin. It looks very close to a certain well-known model (!), and it sounds very, very acceptable (with a new bridge). Playablity is also fine once it is properly set up. It is good enough to use seriously, yet cheap enough not to have to worry too much about it. That has definite advantages "on the road" these days.

    That is my take so far, anyway.
    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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  13. #61
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by guitarpath View Post
    1. The inside of the scroll (facing the neck) is a bit rough and unfinished.
    2. The inside edge of the F-holes (especially the treble-side one) are a bit rough.
    3. The back doesn't have great flame and does not appear optimally book-mached.
    I just think there is very little consistency with 'The Loar' mandolins. Here you go... two LM-220 VS from the same factory batch:

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    One is really nice for a mandolin at that point. The other is nothing much. This seems to apply to all model levels from what I can see (and have seen reported).

    You might also get a really quite clean extension, as on this LM-300 VS:

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    Which really poses the question, if they can do it on an LM-300 why not on an LM-600 or LM-700?

    Binding too can be pretty neat:

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    There does seem to be a very frequent problem with the binding around the heel, though:

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    The frets and nut on my LM-700 were actually quite reasonable... but look at this LM-200 VS!

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    The bridges on all four I have seen are like this before setup...

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    So, if you are buying one, and are not experienced at setup yourself, it is near essential to use a dealer who is going to sort any such problems out for you.
    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.

  14. #62

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

    Excellent posts, Almeriastrings. This is really a very interesting read.

    How would you compare the tone of your 700 versus your km1000 (obviously taking into account the lack of tone bars in the 700)?

  15. #63

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

    The Loar models with the Poly finish are much cleaner than the Nitro versions. An LM-700 will have more finish flaws than an LM-520.

    Just droppin in real quick, running behind on setups.
    Robert Fear
    http://www.folkmusician.com

    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
    " - Pete Seeger

  16. #64
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by guitarpath View Post
    How would you compare the tone of your 700 versus your km1000 (obviously taking into account the lack of tone bars in the 700)?
    Different. It is not only the tone bars, but the KM-1000 has a red spruce top. It has a lot of "pop" and good headroom but is not as "warm" as sitka or englemann. It also takes more playing in and "warming up". It is definitely more focussed... but whether you prefer it is very much down to your tastes/needs. In a full BG band, I think the KM-1000 would be excellent, though the 700 would handle things pretty well too, I suspect. If guitar + mando, the added "richness/openness" of the 700 might just win though. In short, they are different, and in terms of sound only, I do not feel there is a clear "winner". They both sound very nice in their own way. I'll get them recorded soon, anyway, so see what you think. One thing for sure, both exceptionally nice sounding instruments for not an awful lot more than you could pay for just a high end vintage case... to put this in context.
    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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  18. #65

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

    I owned a new LM-700 wiht a CA bridge and slightly used KM-1000 ( blackface) also with a CA bridge for most of last year. I have since sold the Km-1000. The KM-1000 was head and shoulders over the LM-700 in fit an finish-cleaner edges, finer shaping and the finish almost seemed as thin as varnish-the ridges in the top wood were clearly evedent. The LM-700 finish, while deep and glossy and 3D and pretty, is that way because it is incredibly thick. I gave it a speed neck ( and that was not easy) and the thickness of the finish where it now ends is really evident-I could put a micrometer on it and read out a noticeable difference; easily 1/32". I recall one owner had Big Jim remove all the finish and re-do it with a stressed thin finish and reported a remarkable improvement in sound.

    That being said, the sound quality of the LM-700 had it all over the KM-1000. It is deeper and far more resonant than the KM-1000 which I found thin and whispy sounding ( both with J-75's). The playability of each is far differnet, with the LM-700 neck as thick as the KM-1000 neck is thin. The big frets on the LM-700 lend themselves to much easier playing than the ultra-traditional frets on teh KM-1000, but that is clearly a matter of preference. One caveat-I found that the LM-700 opened up to a point and then sort of stopped. It makes me wonder if that is the effect of no tone bars-open sound from day 1 but does not mature much after that. I also wonder if that Louisville Slugger neck gives some depth to the tone as well.

    So in my case, playability and sound won out over fit and finish.YMMV of course and you get what you pay for. These are both relatively inespensive mando's in the grand scheme of things and IMHO probably the two best choices in the $1,000-$1,500 (new) range. BTW I had an Eastman 915 briefly then as well and although georgeosly made and finished, it was a complete non-starter sound-wise.

    I have since added a Northfield Big Mon (awful finish, awesome sound) and a well-used Gibson Fern to treat my MAS. While I now play these two the most, I always reach for the LM-700 to play fiddle tunes if I have it near me. Something about the tone, the setup and the neck feel mates this mando up to fiddle tunes perfectly. To complete that thought, I find the Gibson Fern is best for big honking driving bluegrass tunes and the Northfield is at its best in open, harmonic waltzes and "wide-strumming" kinds of tunes.

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  20. #66
    Registered User mandopaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Thanks for the review, very interesting so far....

    But no one has mentioned the effect that a poly under / nitro top finished (the Loar)
    (which is why you don't see any finish sink in the grain on the "nitro" models, because underneath there is a layer of poly. Yes, i'm afraid that even the upper end Loar's have poly undercoat. Just because they spray the top nitro doesn't make it a nitro finish.) will age as compared to an all nitro thin finish.
    This may be the reason for the less alive feeling as compared to the Fern.
    Don't know if the Kentucky has the nitro on top of the poly undercoat? Would be interesting to see if the Kentucky if all nitro, has more of an "alive" feeling when played.

  21. #67
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    The Kentucky seems to be nitro all the way. The Loar definitly has poly undercoat. Joe has said that "recently" this has changed, and now The Loar's are all nitro too. Mine is not one of them, however.... just to comment on the "alive" thing, my experience is that this is not directly due to finish, but simply that some mandolins have it - others don't. Its much more likely to be due to either the carving or the materials of the top/back. You can have several 'identical' mandolins, same maker, same model, and some are just, well... better than others.

    Now ready to do the first recordings. I had to change to identical strings on all three mandolins and play them all in a little bit.

    One other thing that did emerge while re-stringing and fitting the new bridge is that the tailpiece fixing on the LM700 was absolutely terrible. The metal underside of the front was in direct contact with the rise of the top. Actually pressing down (hard) on the wood. So much so, it had left an indent in the finish. Meanwhile, the sliding cover (because of the extreme break angle created) was pressing down onto and into the emerging strings. Not good. Furthermore, it made them all ring like bells, creating all kinds of sympathetic overtones... If you have a "The Loar", it might be worth double checking to make sure they have the tailpiece fitted properly. I took some photographs of this which I'll add in shortly.

    I must say that the poor QC of "The Loar" range, from finish to fretting, to setup and stuff like this atrociously installed tailpiece really has me curious as to why, it seems, the basic woodworking should be any different? OK, there are some problems there (mis-positioned F-holes, for example), but nothing as consistently bad as the "fit and finish" issue. So... you have "hand carved" tops? Hmm.... I'd like to know more about that. Are they really? Or are they like the much hyped "nitrocellulose" finish? I do not have a clue, but I am certainly curious.

    It just strikes me as very strange, really. They clearly cut an awful lot of corners in production/assembly. Poor bridge. Badly fitted tailpiece. Awful setup. Terrible finish. That does not totally gell with a huge amount of time/care being taken over hand carving tops/backs. Are they CNC roughed out and then given a bit of hand carving to finish? Nothing wrong with that, of course, it actually makes sense... but might not be what many people think they are getting... it would be nice to have an answer on this.

    I should have the first recordings up in the next 24 hours now.
    Last edited by almeriastrings; Dec-06-2011 at 1:11am.
    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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  23. #68
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Correctly installed tailpiece:

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    Tailpiece on Loar LM-700:

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    As a quick fix I had to bend up the cover plate to avoid it pressing hard into the strings. It is very soft metal and pretty flimsy. It is not a great tailpiece (even if it had been fitted right). I am sure is is functional, though, when properly fitted. Personally, I think I'll put on something a bit better.
    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.

  24. #69

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

    Yep, that was the first thing I had to do to mine when I got it-bend the tailpiece up and install silencers on the emerging strings.

  25. #70
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    There is one issue we have not discussed. Almerastrings is located in Spain. That means the LM700 he got was sent from China to its distributor that handles Europe. It does not go through the same process for inspection or setup that it would have if it were purchased in the USA. Whether it was a first or second would not be indicated by the inspection noted by Almera. That would indicate it passed the manufacturing inspection in China. Whether it was touched by anyone after that or just delivered as it was from the factory, which is usually the case with international shipments not in the USA. It was purchased through a dealer that is dropping the line for whatever reason. The point is that this would have been sold in the USA as a second after going through the inspection in California. That does not detract from the tone of the instrument by any means. It is just cosmetic and while there are some cosmetic issues that are not considered an issue, this mandolin would have been graded a second here.

    In addition, there was a period when the base coats were poly (not unusual, and many who spray nitro or varnish still use a poly undercoat or sanding sealer to help fill grain...even some very high end builders). The new ones are supposed to be fully nitro. It is easy to test, but you don't want to do that with your instrument. While one can find out very quickly, it will ruin the finish to find out for sure. Please don't do that .

    In another post one was comparing the cost of the LM700 with a CA bridge with a Kentucky KM1000. However, to be apples to apples comparison one needs to put the CA bridge on the KM1000 as well. The bridge put on the Kentucky mandolins is not better than the ones on the Loar mandolins. Still one of the places they can save a bit of money and labor. Eastman is the same. If you want to compare them as original that is fine and a fair comparison, but to compare one price wise with alterations to others stock it is a bit unequal. The CA bridge will help any of these mandolins and to a noticeable degree if properly installed for that mandolin.

    Each of these three brands make reasonable instruments. They each look for a particular market and build the instruments for that market. If you want a good mandolin you can chose any of them. However, there is a real difference in tone from these instruments. Playability can be easily adjusted with a setup and any of these brands need a pro setup from the get go to really see what they can do. Each come from the same part of the world. Each is designed to meet a particular segment of the market. The LM700 is priced for a different market from the KM1000. While some may not think a few hundred dollars is much, it is to the one who can buy the LM700 but cannot buy the KM1000 and in todays world, that is a pretty good number of people.

    If I were going to purchase I would chose the LM700. That is my personal choice. I don't have one, and I never had. I have sold some and set them up, but never owned one. I have also not owned a KM1000. I do like the neck on them. Other than that I have not been impressed that highly with them. I have played two that could compete with any other mandolin period. Unfortunately, the rest were pretty mundane. I have sold a good number, and set them up and worked on them. The same with Eastman. I want to like them, but the tone is just not what I really like. I have owned a couple Eastman's over the years and sold several. I have no real complaint with them with the exception of a few having issues with glue coming loose and having to repair those. That is not unusual with instruments, just seemed premature. I have setup a good number of these.

    Again, each of these are good mandolins. Your taste or reason for picking your instrument is a really personal one. Just because I like one brand over the others does not mean the others are inferior. They each have issues that may make one less than 100% satisfied if you do not know what to expect when you get your instrument. Since I have to work on these instruments on a regular basis I would chose the best sounding of the group for what I want to play. Then I would look at which one seems to perform with consistent outputs, then tone, and finally finish. I have the ability to take any of these, and if they are basically solid, can do whatever I wish to them to make them what I want. Not many have that ability. I do understand that.

    I have always had incredible and immediate help from The Loar people when I have a question or issue. Kentucky was reasonable as well, though not quite as responsive or willing to work with me, but still took care of the problem. I have not had opportunity to work with Eastman with any issues. I would suspect they too would handle issues very well. Well, that is enough rambling from me this morning. Have a Great Day!
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

  26. #71

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

    Thank you for your input, Joe. Great stuff.

    A couple of questions:

    1. You mentioned that some high-end builders use a poly undercoat to help fill grain. Is Collings one of these builders? I know that they use a poly undercoat under a nitro finish on their guitars.

    2. My Loar 600 is dated July 2011 on the label. Do you think this would likely be all nitrocellulose?

    Thanks again.

  27. #72
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Joe View Post
    There is one issue we have not discussed. Almerastrings is located in Spain. That means the LM700 he got was sent from China to its distributor that handles Europe. It does not go through the same process for inspection or setup that it would have if it were purchased in the USA. Whether it was a first or second would not be indicated by the inspection noted by Almera. That would indicate it passed the manufacturing inspection in China. Whether it was touched by anyone after that or just delivered as it was from the factory, which is usually the case with international shipments not in the USA. It was purchased through a dealer that is dropping the line for whatever reason. The point is that this would have been sold in the USA as a second after going through the inspection in California. That does not detract from the tone of the instrument by any means. It is just cosmetic and while there are some cosmetic issues that are not considered an issue, this mandolin would have been graded a second here.
    That is quite correct - however, you will not see this indicated anywhere on "The Loar" website, will you? Which is hardly fair to purchasers OUTSIDE of the US. We do exist, you know... if I could, respectfully, paraphrase you here... "If you buy a Loar brand mandolin in the US it will have been given an extra inspection. Inferior examples we will happily sell as first quality elsewhere, we will call a "second" here and reject it. If you live outside the US, you might get an inferior instrument. Not our problem!".

    I do not see that kind of approach from Martin, Collings, Gibson or any other respectable brand. I do not see it with studio and audio equipment, or with cameras. Why is it OK with mandolins and guitars?

    If this is how it is, then non-US buyers of "The Loar" brand need to be made aware of it. Actually, If I had been aware of it I would not have purchased this instrument, purely on principle. I did not mention this earlier, because I had no first-hand knowledge to verify it, but "sources" tell me that the reason Europe's largest retailer of this brand has ceased carrying them is due to the unacceptable level of complaints and returns due to poor quality. Your comments seem to back that up.

    PS: Had I been a 'typical' buyer, I would have returned this for a refund too. As it is, I have collected, built and repaired instruments for nearly 40 years, on and off, and now I'm (almost) retired, getting back into it again (now I have my workshop together at last). I quite like how it sounds, even though the fit and finish is beyond dire. It will be quite a fun mandolin to experiment on. I'm probably not your typical LM-700 buyer, though....I doubt many have the experience or resources to deal with what they might receive.
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  29. #73

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

    The only other instrument company I have experience with is Ibanez. Over on the Ibanez board they are constantly griping about the different importers to the different markets. The one in Canada does things differently from the one in the USA, some countries in Europe don't have importers specifically for them, other have their own importers, all seem to do business differently from the other and the whole arrangement upsets people. From what I read from Big Joe is that our "The Loar" importer inspects instruments, possibly others do as well, but the one you used may have different standards or doesn't inspect at all. We, the general buying public has no control over any of this.

    I do find exception to this, "Martin, Collings, Gibson or any other respectable brand.". We are not talking about instruments that cost several thousand dollars, we are talking about instruments that cost $1,500 and under. A far different market to say the least, even in this market you find similar complaints though. Imperfect finish under an F-5 curl is a prime example.

    With that being said, I wish it were a different situation for all of us. Music Link branches, especially those with Greg Rich in the chain, and I speak specificaly about "The Loar" and "Recording King" make some increadable instruments as related to the money spent, but they also seem to produce and sell quite a few seconds. I haven't looked lately, but for a very long time it was easy to find Recording King Banjo's sold as seconds on Ebay, as it's easy to find "The Loar" seconds today. All great values as was my LM-600, as written before, a cosmetic/finish second with far fewer issues that the LM-700 your working with. But I must say that I didn't mind spending the few minutes it took to correct a few finish flaws considering the money saved. Some scraping here, a bit of polishing compound there, some black instrument lacquer on a Q-tip for the finish in the F-holes, a strip of felt glued under the tail piece cover, inside the curl needed and still could use some clean up, a fret and the nut needed some attention by a basic set-up guy. None of it took any real time, most of the work was accomplished as normal cleanup at the first string change. But I am a Banjo guy, working a bit on an instrument is expected with a Banjo, I do find that the average mandolin owner seems to be far more timid when it comes to working on their instrument. For me it's a labor of love rather than a chore.

  30. #74
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Nearly all manufacturers have different policies for international sales as they do for domestic. Gibson and Martin certainly do as well as most other. Most companies warranties only apply to domestic sales and any other warranty for other nations are the responsibility of the international distributor if they wish to offer one. Gibson warranty from the factory is only for domestic sales from an authorized dealer. If you live outside the USA and bought it outside the USA you will have to deal with the distributor for that country, and not Gibson. They have nothing to do with it from that standpoint.

    I talked to Greg Rich today. He clearly stated your mandolin would have been a second had it come through the TML warehouse in California. He advised you to send it back for replacement. He would. Of course, the proof is in the tone more than anything. If you are not satisfied, then just return it and have it replaced. They are constantly working with the factory in China to improve things. They are better now that a couple years ago. The instrument you present is not certainly a typical presentation no matter what Robert said. No negatives about Robert, just that I have not seen what you or he express. Anyway, I have no idea to argue with you about anything, but if you are not pleased with what you have then just return it for replacement. You would likely get a much better instrument. You will find out in a hurry at that point if it is a second. Oh... they are not usually marked second.

    Anyway, TML has always worked hard to put out a great product for the money. No one else puts out a comparable product at that price point. Secondly, my experience has been that customer service is excellent. Here the guy who designs them talks to me and tells me to have you return it. That seems to be pretty good backing from the factory side. Any maker can make a less than stellar example of a product. The point is whether they will get behind it. In this example the factory jumped in as soon as they knew of an issue and it was not contacted by the customer. Not many companies speak out to the customer before anyone has contacted them. I can assure you everyone in the management line up to the CEO of the company is now aware of this instrument and wants the customer satisfied. You certainly have the option of keeping it, but the company is encouraging you to return it since you are not pleased with the purchase and wants to ensure you get a good one. Just thought you might want to know.

    Anyway, we will all be interested if you wish to return your instrument for a better one. I don't think you will find any other company getting out in front of an issue before they are even contacted about an issue. Now it is up to you. Whatever you do is fine, but we and the company want to ensure you that we do all we can to help our customers and friends no matter the problem. Thank you and I hope you do whatever you think will serve you best.
    Have a Great Day!
    Joe Vest

  31. #75
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'

    Clearly, the ideal solution would be to improve the primary QC in China. I don't entirely agree that instruments in the $1000 range should have a "get out of jail free" card in this respect, neither is it the case that all Martins cost "several thousand dollars". They don't. They make quite a number that cost less than the Loar LM-700. You can get an all solid wood D-16GT in that same price range for example. Taylor also produce nice quality instruments in the same price range. Yamaha (among many others) also manage to make some well made, nicely finished instruments at lower prices than The Loar. It is a basic factory QC issue.I seems pretty obvious that factory QC with 'The Loar' is incredibly poor.

    I would certainly like to speak to the European Distributor about it. Who are they exactly?

    The store would give a refund, but cannot replace it as they no longer deal with the line.
    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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