View Full Version : 10 Questions for Mick Buck

Feb-25-2010, 4:37pm
10 Questions for Mick Buck

Residing a few hundred yards from Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium, the birthplace of country music, Bill Monroe's July 9, 1923 Lloyd Loar F5 mandolin rests in the care of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and more directly under the watchful eye of curator Mick Buck.

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Denny Gies
Feb-25-2010, 6:20pm
Nice article Scott, thanks.

Feb-25-2010, 6:24pm
I think it's a damn shame the leather case is not displayed with the mandolin. Kind of ridiculous actually.

Feb-25-2010, 6:44pm
Excellent questions and concise answers.

Feb-25-2010, 7:52pm
It'd like to think it'll play on a recording again.

I enjoyed learning more though, that's for sure!

Feb-25-2010, 8:29pm
Scott, thanks for the article. I am happy to report that I know who bought that artifact (headstock overlay) and they are thrilled with it. I am hoping that someday I can do an interview with this person(s) and reveal why they bought it. I will say I think it's in the right hands... Again, thanks, Kenc

Hal Loflin
Feb-25-2010, 10:53pm
What will happen to this mandolin (a mandolin) if it goes for long periods without being played. Shouldn't it really be played from time to time? I have just read a lot of threads about mandolins opening up and was wondering if one can "close down" (opposite of opening up...I just made that up, maybe...ha, ha) from not being played.

Feb-26-2010, 3:33am
I read that for proper storage the strings are tuned down one whole step. While I presume it is common knowledge that string tension is important to keep the instrument from getting a bowed neck, Iīd be tempted to know why it is "one whole step" that makes the difference in helping the instrument keep in shape.

Furthermore I read that it is highly unprobable to hear the Monroe mandolin (and like instruments) in a recording project. Now thatīs a crying shame. I donīt expect a museum to let a passer by (like me) handle suchlike instruments. But Ricky Skaggs, Doyle Lawson, Dave Harvey etc. will not damage Monroeīs mandolin when you let them play it. Also it is necessary to keep the instruments played in order to not kill them and reduce them to "wall hangers". Check the Beethoven museum in Bonn where the Guarnieri fiddles etc. are played (regularely) by pros for special purposes. Let special ocasions happen and it will bring the CMHOF forward enabeling them to spread the word about good music. Restrictions like the one mentioned will setback the preservation of the music.

That the case is not displayed is a shame also as it is fundamentally connected with the mandolin and the musician Bill Monroe.

Feb-26-2010, 5:18am
Nice story, Scott. As for the preservation of the instrument, I wouldn't be too quick to second guess the curators. Storing it tuned down a step seems like a good decision for structurally sound instruments, particularly for those that will be brought up to pitch and played from time to time, as I'm sure many of them will. As for the case, it may well be that archival storage for a leather case is not the same as for the mandolin, so it may not be as simple as just sticking it into a vitrine.

Feb-26-2010, 12:49pm
What if all the violins from the Cremona golden age were to be put in a museum,? seems the very thing that made that mandolin so very important is it's voice,,a shame

Mandolin Fan
Feb-26-2010, 5:33pm
"In general, our museum policies prohibit the mandolin and other instruments being taken off display or removed from the museum for such purposes. Our concerns about security, insurance, and preservation make such a scenario highly unlikely."
How many Loars are in this group? I know there are a few...a shame they can't/won't be used...

Feb-26-2010, 11:03pm
No need to lose sleep over all the great old instruments ending up in museums. Some will, but most will stay in the hands of players and investors. And even those that end up in museums will be played now and then as priorities shift over the decades among curators at those institutions. Some museums make a point of lending their instruments to players, others don't. Policies change.

Feb-26-2010, 11:04pm
Seems to me a concert or CD with several various star players playing some of Monroe's tunes on his mandolin would be a good fundraiser for the museum to pay for the bill's instrument.

Feb-26-2010, 11:14pm
Seems to me a concert or CD with several various star players playing some of Monroe's tunes on his mandolin would be a good fundraiser for the museum to pay for the bill's instrument.


Bill Halsey
Feb-27-2010, 1:16am
It's all been said before: If it weren't for museums and collectors, there would likely be precious few Strads, etc. left in fresh condition, if any.

In such items as Nicolo Paganini's Guarneri "Cannon", Bill Monroe's '23 Loar F-5, the "Messiah" Strad, and the U.S. Constitution, we have unique pieces that represent significant cultural developments. There is only one of each, and each one represents the highest ideal of a particular art form or philosophy. The only way to keep any artifact as an example is to preserve and maintain it in the condition it left its creator's or user's hand.

There are plenty of fine mandolins to play. It wouldn't make any difference to me or anyone else if I played on Bill Monroe's mandolin of choice, because I am not Bill Monroe, and I did not use it to forge a whole musical idiom. That F-5 #73987 represents the culmination of an art form -- it paid its dues when Mon passed.

Feb-27-2010, 10:18am
Right on Mr. Halsey.

Feb-28-2010, 9:44am
Well to me that keeping something like this in a museum where we can't hear it is like keeping a masterpiece painting in a dark room and allowing people to touch the glass case,,you might know it's there but it doesn't get to reach you in the medium it was designed to

Scott Tichenor
Feb-28-2010, 10:33am
It was six years ago today to the day that I had the privilege of being the first person to play the Schultz Loar after it sat unplayed in its case for 52 years. I'll never forget that moment. This was at Wintergrass 2004. During that 52 years it received virtually no care and the strings from the last person to play it--the owner--were still on when we took the mandolin out of the case. Virtually no tension and totally rusted out. After an inspection by a knowledgeable repairman and subsequent restringing, we played Kentucky Waltz first and then I believe Gold Rush if memory serves me. I expected it to sound awful, but it was fantastic with the first note and I remember digging into some tremolo on the Waltz and looking at the guitar player. We were both laughing because it sounded like a million bucks and we couldn't believe it.

52 years of being ignored, sitting in closets, under beds, who knows where, and ready to run at the first note and sound great. So the call that instruments suffer from neglect from not being played is not something I buy. The Schultz Loar, now owned by one of the board members, received no inspection, no playing, no concern of humidity or lack of, no protection from the heat and cold that it inevitably suffered. In contrast, Monroe's mandolin is protected, inspected, played occasionally (everyone knows the curators play them from time to time, this is common public knowledge from other curator interviews I can show you) and receive quality care and attention that will ensure they exist for hundreds of years.

I was really impressed by my experience with the museum staff throughout the process. It included a personal phone call from their Communications head that asked thorough questions about our intention in publishing this article. The word "respect" (in regard to the story and history of the instrument) kept coming up in that conversation and in private communication with Mick. I think Monroe would have approved of that.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I'll side with the gypsies in Europe that pitched a fit when it was announced that Django's guitar would be allowed to be taken out of the museum in Paris to be played in concert. "No one will play Django's guitar!" they cried. I admire that. Personally, I don't need to hear Monroe's faithful play his mandolin. They have their own. When it is called to be played again, the mandolin will be ready. We may not be around to hear it though, and that's just fine with me.

Feb-28-2010, 3:38pm
The point is, though, that truly great instruments are a rarity. Why would someone take them out of circulation and deprive artists of the best tools for the job?

Feb-28-2010, 5:15pm
Any artist that wanted to ante up the money for the mandolin when it was put up for sale the first time could have kept it in circulation. No artist stepped forward.

Feb-28-2010, 5:20pm
Yes, but now the instrument is out of circulation, so no artist will get a chance in the future, either.

Feb-28-2010, 9:24pm
That's the business of antiquities. This one was bound to go to a museum someplace because of the provenance, there are a few hundred more out there that could disappear into private collections and never be played again either.

Feb-25-2011, 7:31pm
I would think one way to get Monroe's mandolin fund increased quickly is for the Museum to produce a CD with invited players doing his instrumentals. Would it sell? Absolutely! Then continue to sell it in the gift shop (or possibly Cracker Barrel's) as a long term income generator. It's called thinking outside of the box unless there is some legal agreement in place that governs how the Loar is managed until it is paid off.

And, one way to pay for it is to use the mandolin to do exactly that. I believe the intended recipients would give serious consideration such a proposal in the absence of cold hard cash. Perhaps even expand further to a DVD documenting the performance with emphasis on close-ups of the players hands. And offer tablature perhaps? Just wondering here!

If there is legitimate concern over removing the mandolin from the Museum premises just do the recording on site! A good time to do this would coincide with the anticipated release of the "Blue Moon of Kentucky" movie.

After looking over this year old interview again I have the impression that "no" seems to be a rote response from staff - in compliance with established policy, of course. Perhaps it is time for the Museum to lighten up a bit, inject some realism and go beyond just letting visitors look at the instrument.

Mandolin Cafe
Feb-25-2018, 10:44am
Noting today's anniversary of this interview with the curator of the Country Music Hall of Fame in regard to Monroe's mandolin.

Mandolin Cafe
Feb-25-2019, 8:15am
Another important interview celebrating an anniversary today.