View Full Version : Bill's Second Loar

Nov-13-2010, 5:05pm
Anyone know where Bills second Loar is?

John Gass
Nov-13-2010, 5:54pm
Not sure about Loar #2 but his Gibson he was given during the July 9's headstock repair is currently on display at the International Bluegrass Music Museum here in Owensboro, KY.

Tim W
Nov-13-2010, 7:19pm
No one knows and if they do, they ain't talkin'.

Nov-13-2010, 9:23pm
It was a known fact Gibson did the repairs on Monroe's Feb. 23 Loar that was also badly damaged during the fire poker incident.
There are photos of before and after on the mandolin archives that I personally took while it was almost finished at the Gibson factory. TMK Monroe was never seen in public with that 2nd Loar after getting it back , using his Monroe models as back ups and his June, '78 F5L Gibson had given him in 1978. Shortly after the funeral son James ran an ad in Bluegrass Unlimited with a list of mandolins that were reported to the Nashville police as being stolen. The 2nd Loar was on that list. Since that ad no one has seen hide nor hair of that 2nd Loar but there is speculation on where it resides in the Nashville area however the 2nd Loar's original oblong Loar case was sold at the estate sale for $250.

Big Joe
Nov-13-2010, 11:02pm
About 1995 James called us and said he wanted Charlie to give him the 2nd Loar. Charlie had given Bill both Loars back at the completion of the repairs and were in Bill's posession the last we had any real knowledge. Charlie always said someone very close to Bill (who will remain nameless) sold the Loar. The entire incident surrounding the damage to the Loars, and the demise of the 2nd Loar are very interesting. I have no reason to doubt what I've been told, but I also have no way to verify the accuracy of any of it. The person who related the story to me and the one who verified it are now both dead. I certainly would not share those kind of stories in a public forum, but like many things surrounding celebrities, it makes great legend.

John Kinn
Nov-14-2010, 1:22pm
What became of the June '78 F5L? One must assume it was better than the average Gibson 70s output..:)

Nov-14-2010, 1:54pm
What became of the June '78 F5L? One must assume it was better than the average Gibson 70s output..:)

Why? ;)

Nov-14-2010, 5:01pm
If it was the one I played at a mutual friend's house, it was not better than average. It got broken in shipping. But that's another story not unlike the missing Loar.

Nov-14-2010, 5:11pm
James still has the '78 F5L. And it is one of the first proto types made (see Simnoff story here about he F5L beginnings).
I saw James in a band 4 or 5 years ago and his mandolin player was playing it. Sounded great to me.

John Kinn
Nov-14-2010, 7:24pm
So that would make Bill's '78 sort of a beginning of a "reneissance" for the "old" Gibson F5 mandolin?

Nov-14-2010, 8:45pm
Here (http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/publish/mandolins_001217.shtml) is the Siminoff F5 article Tom (f5loar) referenced in his post. Be sure to read the messages after the article as there is more information there as well.

Nov-15-2010, 7:54am
Monroe's 'second Loar' was stolen while he was still at home, sick in bed. Not long after, he went to stay with Tater Tate and his wife until Bill needed more care than they could give him. Someone I will not name (a trusted friend whom was almost a daily visitor checking up on Monroe) was asked by Bill to check on that Feb '23 Loar, which he kept in a closet. The guy said as soon as he picked up the case he knew it was empty. He never told Bill that it "went missing".

No reason to believe any other story is true. Was told this long before the rumor was out there that the mando was missing...and this guy is not the one who put the info out there.

There's a good chance it's gone forever, due to some mighty unhappy individual(s) back then. But it doesn't hurt to keep fingers crossed and eyes open.

John Kinn
Nov-15-2010, 9:51am
Here (http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/publish/mandolins_001217.shtml) is the Siminoff F5 article Tom (f5loar) referenced in his post. Be sure to read the messages after the article as there is more information there as well.

Very ineresting! I had read the article before, but the additional messages really give most answers to the questions in this post. The history of instrument-building sure makes for fascinating reading!

Willie Poole
Nov-15-2010, 3:56pm
Roger states that in 1984 Gibson "outsourced" the making of the F-5L to some other makers, he named Flatiron, was there any other builders that they also used for the F-5L1s?...some great interesting reading in that article and it sure answers a lot of questions that people have asked for many years.....Thanks Roger and all of the rest....

Nov-16-2010, 12:28am
Luke Thompson of LA was outsourced to build some F5Ls from the kits sent to him until the finish stage and then Gibson would apply the finish. It was not many about 6 as I recall.

Nov-16-2010, 6:22am
Some of those early F5L's had some serious problems. I think it was neck joint issues? Not sure whose work it was...but several of them were faulty. Dave McLaughlin had one of the buggiest of the bunch. I think he finally unloaded it, once the neck was stablized.

Big Joe
Nov-16-2010, 12:29pm
According to Charlie, Luke assembled 3 mandolins and only 1 of those actually made it through the process. I have no idea what happended to the other two. There were very few that were outsourced that actually got out of the factory. A few were made in house and finally Gibson bought the Flatiron facility to help get the mandolin back on track. There were a LOT of issues related to building mandolins in that era. It was not a high priority in the Norlin era and they certainly had no idea what to do with them. When current ownership took over they wanted to actually build them and do the best they could. It did not take long for them to realize they did not have the means to build them properly at that time. Hence, Flatiron. When they finally moved the factory back to Nashville they decided to return to the roots and had a facility and staff who knew the original Gibson's well enough to build those instruments again.

The Flatiron era was certainly an improvement from the couple decades preceding, and they are good mandolins. However, they were not very traditional in the "Gibson" way. As Henry has continued to go over the product he has made some pretty good attempts to restore the products to what most consider the better days of production. Even the Les Paul reissues and the Acoustic Division has been building far more accurate renditions of the earlier products than was done for a very long time.

I believe this was a deliberate attempt to put the Gibson name back where it should have been in regards to quality and tone. The Gibson acoustics from the last few years have been some pretty good guitars! Of course, this is not about which era was better than another in reality, but what were they built like in the early history of that model, and can they build a good replica of that model.

Gibson has certainly come out with many new models over the eyars. Some have had some success, but most new models failed to get the market share the originals and reissues have held. Whether this is because the originals are superior product designs or nostalgia or ??? is hard to say. Like any company, there are favorites and then there are duds. Those companies who have a well established product, like Gibson or Martin, have a very hard time breaking from the original to make a heavy charge into new area. Martins, even the imports and "psuedo" Martins all look like the old Martins. I seriously doubt there is anything but a clear understanding of the market from that. I often wonder how many models of the same old thing any company can come up with, but they all seem to do it. This is true in most products, and especially musical instruments.

Even our shop has experienced this. We do build custom instruments. We have developed our own body styles and they are pretty good, but so often we would hear, "Man that is cool. Do you build Tele's or Strat's or LP's?" Everyone wants something that is familiar in some way, even if the old is not superior to the new. The same holds true for mandolins. Most builders can tell you that they build what they do because that is what the customers want. They may be able to make some alterations, but not nearly as radical as they may like. There may be a niche market for the "different", but not enough to sustain most builders. I enjoy watching how each builder takes his creativity and puts it to work within the confines of what is considered "marketable".

re simmers
Nov-20-2010, 8:52pm
Good information, Joe.

I'm curious. What happens to the flops......the models that Gibson or Martin feels will do well, but don't? As for Gibson mandos, have they actually sold all the Bush, Steffey, Lawson, Bibey, Benson, etc. models that they built? Are they still building them?


Big Joe
Nov-20-2010, 10:37pm
There are several answers to your question Bob. First, it is dependent upon what era Gibson you are talking about. There was a time when Gibson sold "seconds" to the public for a slight reduction in price. These were not instruments with structural issues, but rather finish blems or some other minor blemish that would not allow it to pass final inspection for first class instruments.

When the current ownership purchased Gibson one of the first things they did was to get rid of the seconds and not allow any instruments that could not pass the inspectors out the door. Some of these, if they were minor blemishes, may have gone to artists as artist deals or other promotional purposes. If the instrument could not be corrected it was taken to a band saw and destroyed. At times even a blemish in the grain line or mineral streak in the wood could disqualify it from being able to pass inspection. These instruments were destroyed and not allowed to be put into circulation.

Now, that is not directly what you asked, but it lends to the rest of the answer. If an instrument was a prototype for a model that was never brought to fruition they were usually not sold or allowed to be sold. That did not mean some of them did not get out, but not as a general rule. There have been a couple times when the prototypes or instruments with blemishes were sold to the public. Often they were stamped "Used" on the back of the headstock or "shop worn" or some other similar indication to let the consumer know these were not first rate instruments. In addition, they were sold as is, as shown, with NO warranty.

When the Gibson Custom Shop moved a few years ago they had an auction and sold hundreds of items that had been in the Custom Shop for some time, including parts and materials to clean out the bins and get ready to move. Then last year when they were trying to raise some cash they sold lots of left over or unsold product at a reduced price to the public. Many of these were different prototypes or instruments that may have some minor issues. However, this was not the norm over the history of the brand in Nashville. They would occasionally sell Epiphone products at "yard sales" at Epiphone from time to time, but not the USA made products under the Gibson name.

Now the next question. The Bush and Lawson were standard production mandolins without any pre determined number to be made. The Steffey, Bibey, and Benson were limited to a run of 50 each and no more. All the Steffey models sold. It was the first of the limited runs. I believe the Bibey did as well. If not all the Benson's were sold, it was very close to the entire run. The Skaggs DMM was limited to 30 instruments, and I don't believe they have sold that many. I don't know if any of these will be reissued or what the production line up will be in the future if or when they see production resumed on the mandolins. I have not talked to anyone about future plans so I don't know what they may do in the future.

I cannot say what Martin does with the instruments that don't pass inspection or cannot be corrected before shipment. I am sure they likely destroy them, but have no first hand knowledge. I also have no idea what they have done with any prototypes they make, but they have a fairly stable product line that does not deviate much from its core. The signature models they produce are pretty close to standard production models in design. I have not seen a lot of radical engineering from Martin with the exception of some of the modern low end guitars. I am sure they did a number of prototypes to see how the alternative materials would work and hold up. What they do with those instruments I have no idea.

Hopefully this answers your questions as best I can. If you have further questions I will do my best to respond as best I know.

Willie Poole
Nov-21-2010, 6:10pm
Big Joe....When Gibson sold those "seconds" did they have serial numbers like the "good" mandolins or did they use a different numbering system? If the numbers weren`t any different a person could take a "second" and grind off the words on the peghead and pass them off as top quality, or so it would seem....Very interesting.....


Nov-21-2010, 9:10pm
I can say about Martin that the quality standards are pretty high. Flaws in the wood would usually be caught early on. If it made it to a pattern stage and didn't pass it would likely wind up in the Martin 1833 store and be sold to the public in "kits". I don't know what they would do if they had finish problems. Likely a re finish would take place before it would be sold as a defect. I've not seen an Martin 2nds being sold. I do know that Gibson would stamp a "2" under the serial no. in the 60's if it was sold as a second.
I remember seeing an F12 second but have not found any F5 seconds from the 50's or 60's.

Big Joe
Nov-21-2010, 9:43pm
The word "Second" or the "2" Gibson used in the Kalamazoo days could have been removed, but to do so would require quite a bit of sanding on the back of the headstock. You would also remove the serial number and possibly make the headstock so thin the tuners would not fit. Then the headstock would have to be refinished. The work required to remove the indication it was a second would be quite expensive and would not yield any more money on a sale than it would generate as a second.

As you probably noticed above, they did have serial numbers. It could be possible to strip the finish off the back of the headstock and fill the imprint without a lot of sanding, but again, the cost would be more than any value increase and now your guitar may loose value because it is not original. Hope this information helps.

Nov-21-2010, 11:50pm
I can say about Martin that the quality standards are pretty high. Flaws in the wood would usually be caught early on. If it made it to a pattern stage and didn't pass it would likely wind up in the Martin 1833 store and be sold to the public in "kits". I don't know what they would do if they had finish problems.

When my friend Dave Stutzman of Stutzman's Guitar Center (http://www.stutzmansguitarcenter.com/) was building his line of American Acoustech guitars here in Rochester, all the bridges and fingerboards were purchased from C F Martin Co., whose warehouse contained boxes and bins of "seconds," some with near-undetectable flaws. My old pickin' partner Bob Olyslager used to drive his mini-van to Nazareth and fill the back with rosewood and ebony components. Some needed a bit of re-working, but many just didn't meet Martin's appearance standards and were quite usable "as is."