View Full Version : Bill's mando

Oct-04-2006, 12:37pm
I was startled to realize today that Bill Monroe has been gone 10 years -- I can't believe a decade can go that fast.

Made me wonder. Who here on this forum got to play Bill's F-5 Loar, and what was your impressions of it when you did?

Oct-04-2006, 2:06pm
Depends on what you mean by "played".
I got him to show the mandolin to me once after a show, sometime in the last couple of years of his performing life. I hit a few chords and part of a melody or two, but I don't really play mandolin, so I can't really say I've played it.
The sound surprised me a little bit. "Clean" is the word I use to try to describe the sound.
There are those here who are very familiar with Bill's mando, and able to play too. It might be interesting to hear what they think of the sound.

Oct-04-2006, 2:10pm
O Taterbug, O Taterbug,
wherefore art thou, O Taterbug.

Oct-04-2006, 2:22pm
I recall an old story of a friend of mine (can't remember who) who asked Bill if he could see his mandolin....
Bill held it up and said "see?"...

So-ooo, I obviously never asked him if I could see his mandolin.... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Oct-04-2006, 2:28pm
I told him I was a mandolin builder, and I'd just bought a boxed CD set from him...

Oct-04-2006, 2:44pm
Looks like John found the pa$$word!

Jamie http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Oct-04-2006, 4:12pm
I just remember asking for an autograph when I was 13.He flipped over his Loar and used it for a clipboard.I thought that was soo cool.

Brady Smith
Oct-04-2006, 4:19pm
He never had it with him on the occasions I had met him.

Oct-04-2006, 5:50pm
Well, here's a story: At Wintergrass 1994 I happened to see Jimmy Gaudreau (who was playing with Chesapeake at the time) showing his Rigel G110 to Monroe, who picked on it a little bit and handed it back to Jimmy. Years later, as a dealer, I took a G110 on consignment that Jimmy had used on the Chesapeake album, reputed to be his first Rigel. I sued it for some recording, played it at a gig or two, finally sold it to a guy in Utah. Was it the same G110 I had seen Monroe trying out? Guess I'll never know for sure.

Oct-04-2006, 7:26pm
I have a good friend who once played Bill Monroe's F5... in fact Bill asked him if he'd like to try it! Well, he sure did... and this he how he described his experience to me: "IT REALLY SOUNDED JUST LIKE BILL MONROE'S LOAR - just like on the records"! Undoubtedly it was one of the most distinctive sounding Loars ever made. As Harry West once said, "All the great Loars sound different and all the others sound pretty much the same".

Darryl Wolfe
Oct-05-2006, 9:49am
"All the great Loars sound different and all the others sound pretty much the same".
I think that is why I like mine, it is different. Ha

I can relate to Spruces "see"..I have seen him do that.

I can relate to Testore with the autograph on back, my nice black and white photo of him from 1964 was signed for me that way.

Glassweb, yes it is different. I have had the opportunity to play it on several occasions and your friends decription is accurate. Bill can make other Loars sound like his when the owner cannot, but his sounds like his with most any accomplished picker. I have seen only one other Loar that has the same sound.

Oct-05-2006, 9:58am
I have seen only one other Loar that has the same sound.

hmmm...let me guess...FW?

Oct-05-2006, 11:33am
Bet he means 70281


Darryl Wolfe
Oct-05-2006, 11:47am
correct Dan# http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

ALAN you may be right, but I've not played his

Oct-05-2006, 12:20pm
Oh yes, numero uno, a fine, fine instrument.

Oct-05-2006, 11:27pm
I played both his Loar mandolins. First time I tried #73987, I thought the action was so high that it was almost impossible to play.
"Manly action" was how he described it. The action lowered considerably in the late '80s, post repairs.
The other one was, well, typical???

jim simpson
Oct-06-2006, 7:24am
Is that wood filler on # 70281?

Darryl Wolfe
Oct-06-2006, 7:55am
Is that wood filler on # 70281?
Yep, a sagged crack just kinda "leveled off"

Big Joe
Oct-06-2006, 9:23am
I've played it several times. When we would pick it up to change string and set it up the action would be so high you could park a Buick under it. He would complain it did not sound good or play good and we had to make it right. We would clean it, restring it, and then drop the action where it should be. It was actually playable then! I was always amazed he could hold the strings down at all when we would first get it. He would call us when he got it back and tell us it played like it was supposed to again. Of course, over the next period of time he would crank the action till it looked like the golden gate bridge again.

Kevin K
Oct-06-2006, 9:35am
Why would he change the height after you guys worked on it?

Oct-06-2006, 1:46pm
Big Joe -- so that's pretty neat -- the Gibson shop would stop by his place and pick up the mando for routine things like string changes?

Cool that Bill and the mando got custom treatment in later years, if that's the case, after all both did for the mandolin world.

Oct-08-2006, 12:43am
Oh yeah... FW - Frank Wakefield. I've played his F5 many times many years ago and it was indeed a stellar F5 mandolin. And yes, it does have that Monroe tone... like bells made of wood. He had it rigged up at the time with a bridge he handmade out of fiberglass and some composite materials. That guy is a genius in more ways than one. And boy, can he bake a mandolin! {:o)

Oct-08-2006, 9:13am
Is that wood filler on # 70281?

Yep, a sagged crack just kinda "leveled off"

I gotta try that on mine!

There's an extensive discussion of Bill's relationship with the Gibson shop on the new Loar pic of the day thread.

Oct-09-2006, 8:15am
FW's mando - is that the one that once belonged to Pee Wee Lambert? #Man, I always thought that thing sounded a lot like Big Mon's, especially in Pee Wee's hands. It just had that edgy, in your face TONE. #No disrespect intended to FW - I'm merely a hopeless Stanley Bros fan and happen to own more of their discs.

Oct-09-2006, 2:28pm
That would have been the Nov. 22 Loar that PeeWee had that had been renecked in the 30's with a modified Fern pattern when PeeWee got it and then Frank W. got it for some experimentation. Harry West had it last and had it renecked again and refinished by David Shepard formally of Greensboro,NC. Not sure who got it from Harry but it's out there still making those ancient tones. It had a real thin top from all that refinishing.

Oct-09-2006, 11:12pm
Isn't Pee Wee's the one that had the spoon repair job on the neck?