View Full Version : Interesting theory on Loars

Jan-30-2004, 7:55pm
I was talking with a guy who collects and works on vintage mandolins the other day. He was looking over the BRW and we were noting some of the ways that my mando differs from the Loar design (deeper body, different arching, etc.).

This guy has played several Loars among many other vintage instruments, and his opinion is that most Loars don't typically sound the way that bluegrass players expect--how they are more refined, classical-sounding instruments that are heavy on sweetness and definition but somewhat light on volume and bite. He compared the sound to an imaginary "F-hole F4" as a point of reference.

We agreed that most players and modern luthiers are somewhat unconsciously trying to achieve not the accurate sound of original Loars, but rather the sound of RECORDED Loars, specifically Monroe's Loar. It's a bigger, barkier, bolder sound that might have been produced by a combination of the recording techniques and Bill's driving style and high action. Thus the deeper bodies, the more pronounced arching, the taller bridges, and at times the more angled necks we see on modern F5's.

What say you fellers?

Jan-30-2004, 10:55pm
An interesting side-bar: which Lloyd Loar mandolin appears on the greatest number of recordings; I'd bet it is Monroe's July 9th. That would perpetuate the the association of 'the Loar sound' with that person's style/sound.

Jan-30-2004, 11:26pm
I would think and have always thought that any Loar or Loar type copy in the hands of Monroe would have the Monroe Loar sound. Put him on an F4 or A50 as some recordings show and there is a difference but any Loar or Fern for that manner would give you the Monroe sound only in the hands of Monroe.
He had a way to pulling his tone out of whatever he had in his hands. Similiar to Doc Watson and the guitars he plays.

Jan-31-2004, 12:04am
My Master Model, which sounds exceedingly similar to a Loar to my ear, does have a very refined sound if you play it a certain way. #But, you can also pound the heck out of it and it sure sounds like a bluegrass mandolin to me. #I think it all depends on how you attack it. #

I would say that the sounds you described (e.g. bigger, barkier, bolder) are all there; it just takes some time with the instrument to learn how to pull those tones out. #And even though this Master Model is only a couple years old, it already has that ancient tone thing going on. #They are incredible instruments. #Hail Charlie!!

Jan-31-2004, 12:28am
While some may be trying to replicate the recorded sound of the Loar, we are producing the very same instrument as Loar did. Exact same body size and graduations. Even the finish and woods are the same. When we compare sounds we compare to actual Loar mandolins. We are blessed to have a number of them available nearly any time to compare our MM with. That is one reason our mandolins are so close. I doubt anyone has worked on more of them than Charlie and we see them on a regular basis. I know, it's a tough job, but someone has to do it! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif .