Review and comparison 'The Loar LM-700 VS'
I am going to do this review in several parts, as there is quite a lot to cover. This first part really just deals with the condition of the mandolin as it arrived, without any proper setup and without any sound files or photos of the comparison instruments, which include the Kentucky KM-1000.
The LM-700 arrived in a rigid foam case, of similar construction to a 'Travelite':
The case seems adequate for light use. The mandolin had a factory action set extremely high, with the bridge extended fully (and leaning over). There was a protective cover on the strings with a 'QC' label in place:
The first thing I looked at closely was the quality of materials used. The top was quite nice:
Certainly very acceptable on a mandolin at this price point.
This model is described as having an "AAA flamed maple back and sides". On that point, while recognising that such judgements are pretty subjective, I would find it hard to agree. It is certainly "OK", as far as it goes, but there is a lot of runout, with a very uneven grain, and the figure is hardly spectacular, and is not a great match. It is the kind of quality you might see on a better quality student violin. I actually think it looks better in these photos than it does in reality. The neck has very little figure and is rather plain. The neck profile feels quite good to me, however. Neither 'baseball bat' nor too skinny.
The faceplate of the headstock is quite nice, with well coloured abalone and pearl thin overlays under the lacquer. These are not 'real' inlays as such, however.
Now... we come to a few, actually quite a lot, of cosmetic problems. The most obvious include the following. The lacquer, far from being 'thin' is actually layered on with enthusiasm! This has resulted in quite a lot of 'orange peel' being evident, and in a few places, visible runs and buildup. One such place is on the reverse of the headstock, where there is a buildup on the lower edge of the curl, and just below it, a 'spot' in the finish:
Similar thick buildups of finish are present on the insides of the F-holes (including a few runs internally, not shown here):
The poor finish beneath the fingerboard extension is well known. Here, it is very obvious:
The condition inside the scroll is very similar.
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'39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.