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Thread: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

  1. #1
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    Default ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    I've been asked to provide some commentary for an upcoming program at the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, in Louisville, KY. The Museum is next-door to the Kentucky School for the Blind, where the early and influential country musicians Lester McFarland and Robert A. Gardner (later known as "Mac and Bob") first met in 1915.

    I wonder if any Mandolin Cafe experts can help me to specifically identify the mandolins used by McFarland (and, if you know, Gardner's guitars). In the old photos I've found, the early ones seem to show Mac with an "A" model of some sort, and later on (when they were part of the WLS National Barn Dance cast) an "F" model.

    Can anyone help with IDs? And . . . are the whereabouts of these instruments still known today?

    THANKS for any help or guidance you can provide!
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  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    The mandolin in the first picture is indeed an F style mandolin, possibly a Gibson. The mandolin in the second and third picture is a Gibson A model mandolin. Someone may be able to glean more from close examination. The guitar in the second and third picture is a Gibson product as well. I'll be surprised if anyone knows where they are now but that would be cool. In the 1944 shot with the F style mandolin the guitar is most likely a Martin and the mandolin is most likely a Gibson as nobody had started really copying those designs at that point.

    Just did a Cafe search on "Mac and Bob". There are a few hits but they seem to be more like passing mentions. Still looking here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    His F style in this photo is a Gibson F5 with a fern inlay. That will get us further.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    A better shot. The guitar in this picture has changed as well. It's now an arched top f hole model, possibly a Gibson.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    If you're looking for one of their songbooks it can be found here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    Another shot of the Gibson F-5. The tuners appear to be worm over. That brings it further on in years as well.
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    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Jun-19-2017 at 8:38am.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    A better shot of the Gibson A style showing the headstock logo.
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    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    My first impression of the guitar in the first photo. in post #1 is that it was a Martin D18 - black/dark coloured binding - although it may well be down to a poor photograph.

    Mike's photo in post #6 shows a guitar with light coloured binding, which is more likely a D28, but is there a slight suggestion of a truss rod cover in the photo? No Martin has ever had a truss rod cover.

  9. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    By 1925 The Fern headstock inlay was showing up on F5's. There might have been some earlier but with the tuners were still worm under. I'm trying to figure out from the mandolins in the archive when they went to worm over. Hopefully someone can jump in with some information as well.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  10. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    It looks like the worm over tuners started showing up in 1929 (might be late 1928) so Mac's F-5 was most likely made between 1928 and the date of the publication of the sheet music (unknown to me) and the date of the image from the newspaper article you posted that shows 1944. It's definitely post Lloyd Loar at Gibson.

    The A style might be a little harder to nail down.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  11. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray(T) View Post
    .. but is there a slight suggestion of a truss rod cover in the photo? No Martin has ever had a truss rod cover.
    Yeah, I noticed that, that is really confusing.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    If you're looking for one of their songbooks it can be found here.
    Can't be found there any more . . . because I bought it this morning!

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  14. #13
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    I don't see a truss rod cover in the photo in post #6. To me, it looks like shadows from the tuning posts. No doubt they had studio lighting in there for the photo op, and if the lights were on either side of them (left and right), they would cast shadows from the tuning posts like that.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    It's possible to work out where the lights were from the shadows cast by the microphone and mandolin strap; i.e. main light above, to the left and in front wth a secondary above, to the right and slightly behind - pretty standard lighting for portraiture. The top left may give you a tuner post shadow above the "truss rod cover" and the shadow of the cover itself if indeed there was one.

    I don't suppose we'll ever know. I don't recall that we ever got to the bottom of what appeared to be a strange scroll on the mandolin on the top right of the "Cafe" home page!

  16. #15
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    A couple more photos of a Mac & Bob album currently on eBay. It's a fairly good shot of his A-style Gibson, as well as some history & background (if you can read it).
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    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

  17. #16
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: ID instruments of McFarland & Gardner (Mac and Bob)

    I believe that the guitar is a Gibson Nick Lucas model like the one shown on reverb here.

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    Jim

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