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Thread: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

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    Default Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Joe Spann shared this with us today and gave us the OK to post on the forum. Larger version available if you click the image below.

    Lloyd Loar obituary

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    VERY cool piece of history! Thank you for sharing.
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    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    The obituary sounds like Lloyd was a nice fellow to know. How sad that he was just 57 a the time of his death.

    Would you think he would have liked bluegrass (not the pre banjo form)?
    Olaf

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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    What is most striking about this obituary is their unawareness of the primary
    reason Lloyd Loar is so remembered today; for his work in the development of the Gibson F5 mandolin which has become the industry standard for nearly a century afterwards. Most people are unaware of his musicianship and we have no recordings of how he actually played the mandolin or what he was like as an instructor in his later years. However, Gibson F5 mandolins with his signature as "Lloyd Loar, Acoustic Engineer" are worth well over 100k today!

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    Registered User Greg Stec's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    I was very fortunate to play a mandocello signed by him for 20+ years with the Baltimore MO. Conrad Gebelien, founder of the orchestra, was its first owner.
    http://www.mandolinarchive.com/gibson/serial/76981

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    And interesting that no mention of the arch top guitar, which had a huge impact on popular music, swing and jazz.

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    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Loar did design neither the mandola nor the mandocello; style 5 okay...

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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    And no mention of the ball bearing head banjo.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Well Loar was a genius with perhaps a relatively short attention span. After he left Gibson he turned most of his attention to implementing electronics in instruments, a 180 from those of us who are primarily interested in his acoustic instrument endeavours. It seems he invented and built possibly the first electric keyboard, and one of the very first wound guitar pickups. (see Siminoff.net) Like the F5, none of this is in his obit because in 1943 no one cared much about mandolins in general, let alone an obscure line from Gibson that had sold in very small numbers, and electric instruments werent in the public consciousness at all. As the obit shows, his most consistent and public career segment had been as a performing musician and bandleader for Gibson mandolin orchestras.

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Cameron View Post
    Well Loar was a genius with perhaps a relatively short attention span. After he left Gibson he turned most of his attention to implementing electronics in instruments, a 180 from those of us who are primarily interested in his acoustic instrument endeavours.
    I would guess that he lost a lot of legal rights to pursue his acoustic innovations when he was sent packing from Gibson. We may never know what his employment contract said, or whether he had non-compete clauses. But it does seem curious that a man with such talent and passion for acoustic instrument designs would suddenly move in an entirely different direction after losing his job.

    The only explanation that makes sense to me is that Gibson claimed ownership of all the ideas he was working on while he was with the company, including all designs, sketches, and concepts that he may have been developing that we may never know about. That has been fairly common for a long time: employers insist that any ideas you had while under their employment belong to them, regardless of whether you worked on the ideas on company time or not. And even to this day, people in design fields are threatened by their employers when they quit or get fired, that they can be sued if they go on to design anything that could be considered the property of the company.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Where your last statement may be rooted in truth Tobin, I would venture that the "business climate" was more honorable, it's was a much less letigious society than today. Now, the "I can sue!" attitude is much more prevalent, then, it was less brittle. There was a greater sense of personal honor which I see eroding away.
    Sorry, that got way off subject.
    But remember both Bill Monroe and A.P. Carter didn't see any difference when the claimed the authorship of so much music white they either may (or may not) have written, arranged, collected, edited, claimed from band members (since they were employees)
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Its a sad but true and unchangeable fact that we have no control of our legacy. Its like bowling. Upon our demise we let go of the ball, and where it goes is out of our control. What you end up being remembered for may not have had much significance while you were alive, and what you really were proudest of may be forgotten in a year.

    I think perspective is highly over rated.


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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    Where your last statement may be rooted in truth Tobin, I would venture that the "business climate" was more honorable, it's was a much less letigious society than today. Now, the "I can sue!" attitude is much more prevalent, then, it was less brittle. There was a greater sense of personal honor which I see eroding away.
    That's a nice thought, but perhaps tinted by a bit of romanticism? Non-compete clauses have been used for centuries, and were common by the early 20th century. Considering the wide latitude Gibson gave to Lloyd Loar, and the investment they made in his instrument designs, I couldn't imagine them firing him and allowing him to walk away to freely take his ideas to a competitor.

    I'm not interested in maligning Gibson's reputation (their current management practices notwithstanding), but we do know that "something" happened which caused Lloyd Loar's abrupt departure from the company. It does not appear that he left on good, friendly, gentlemanly terms. From the little that we know about it, they dumped him with no fanfare. And they continued to sell designs that he created.

    By all measures, he was at the height of his career with Gibson. He had created many innovations, new instrument designs, and was tweaking all sorts of design details to improve their product line. It was a very exciting time, with all the options they were offering. I just find it hard to believe that their letting him go like that was in any way "honorable", in terms of shaking his hand as he left their office and wishing him luck with further designs. The fact that he was so passionate about his innovations, coupled with the fact that he stopped immediately after leaving Gibson, seems to lead to only one conclusion: Gibson made it clear that they owned all the ideas he had been working on, and he was not legally free to pursue them any further. By today's standards, that is the smart business decision for companies, and it likely was back then too.

    But of course, I should say that this is pure conjecture on my part.
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    That's a nice thought, but perhaps tinted by a bit of romanticism? Non-compete clauses have been used for centuries, and were common by the early 20th century. Considering the wide latitude Gibson gave to Lloyd Loar, and the investment they made in his instrument designs, I couldn't imagine them firing him and allowing him to walk away to freely take his ideas to a competitor.
    +1

    I think you have the right of it. I believe the idea that our current society is so much more letigious is grounded in politics rather than fact. Romanticism regarding the "wonderful way of life - back then" plays into this. Having free employees rather than indentured servants meant that a couple hundred years ago employers relied heavily on the legal system to control intellectual properties developed by employees, and this was a given. It may well have been worse back then in some regards. You find those same sorts of contracts today more often in regards to cutting-edge technology sectors.
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Conjecture is all we have about the "terms and conditions" of Mr. Loars time with, and departure from, the company to be sure. Until someone comes up with the contract (doubtless lost through any number of possibilities) we have no basis for any real idea of what happened.
    I'm not really considering corporate honor at all, I don't think there ever has been any of that but, personal honor. A persons word actually meaning something, more often in today's world it's become a very scarce commodity. People will tell you something and never intend to follow through.
    Sorry, I will refrain from any more of this train of thought on the forum, it does not belong here. I apologize.
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    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    He was a likeable fellow. I don't question that at all but what an odd description. Had the a paper had a rrun of unlikabke fellows pass on?
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    It mentions Chautauqua, is this the closed "rich people" resort close to me, I'm in Sugar Grove, PA , northwestern PA and my property is directly on the border of New York. I can stand with one foot on my property and the other be in New York-funny..Now Chautauqua is close to me as well as Jamestown New York- The home area of Lucille Ball,
    It is a resort that goes back to the late 1800's and there is an amphitheater there were loads of people have spoken and played music, Presidents, influential people of the past and present, a place of learning! I guess it would make sense that Loar played there. I also know that around my area there has been more than a few Loar F-5s found on the cheap at estate sales!

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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    There have been reports from relatives of workmen that were at Gibson at the time of Loar`s departure and they said that he wanted Gibson to allow him to design and oversee the building of electric instruments and they said "No way", so he left to persue that line of instruments....I suppose that he did not develop the magnetic pickups while at Gibson and therefore he could use them on guitars after he left the company...

    What I wonder about is "What difference does it make?" in the mid `20s no one knew that the F-5 mandolin would become the "Holy Grail" of mandolins, had he known that he might have stayed on forever...

    W P

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    Registered User mandocaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    I found an old copy of Loar's contract after an extensive google search.

    Three Tone Rings for the banjo players under the sky,
    Seven Virzis for the mandola players in their halls of stone,
    Nine arch top guitars for Mortal Men doomed to play rhythm,
    One F-5 for the Dark company president on his dark throne
    In the Land of Kalamazoo where the Shadows lie.
    One mandolin to rule them all, One mandolin to find them,
    One mandolin to bring them all, and in the jam sessions bind them,
    In the Land of Kalamazoo where the Shadows lie.

  25. #20

    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    He was a likeable fellow. I don't question that at all but what an odd description. Had the a paper had a rrun of unlikabke fellows pass on?
    Our local newpaper has a person who "writes" the obituaries from info the family gives them and puts it into a standard form with most of them reading quite similar. This depends on the community and the times, of course. Sometimes using code words such as "special friend" for relationships falling outside of marriage -- I'm in the South and they still don't like to push the boundaries too much.....
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Jul-12-2017 at 3:46pm.

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    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    The Chautauqua being referenced was a traveling musical, educational, teaching and fellowship kind of show. They were highly thought of by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The resort near you was a bit different.
    I agree with you Willie, what was the big deal, the craze was fading fast. Cranky corporate America. Sounds familiar.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Quote Originally Posted by JamieJ View Post
    What is most striking about this obituary is their unawareness of the primary
    reason Lloyd Loar is so remembered today . . . .
    That's just what I was thinking.

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    I see this as Loar dies in 1943 with no mention of the F5 because Bill Monroe didn't find one until 1945. So one must ask would anyone really know who Loar was had Bill Monroe not found one? I say no. His electric stuff was okay but was over looked when Rickenbacker, Fender and Les Paul became leaders of the electric guitars. He would be another mention as someone who worked at Gibson in the early 20's for a few years in Gibson's history. Had Monroe not found his Loar F5, it's likely Gibson would have discontinued the F5 after the war. After war even Apollon was not much advertisement for the F5. After all, the Mandolin orchestra was pretty much dead plus they didn't like the sound of the F5 anyway, preferring the round hole models, which after the war, used ones were easy to find.

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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    Not sure who is right, but a search shows that Monroe bought the 23 Loar in 1943. If true, it's an interesting twist of fate. One goes out as the other comes in. Little could Loar have imagined.
    Al in PT

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    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lloyd Loar's Obituary from Fretted Instrument News

    In any case, I'm not sure till it's 1945 that people really start noticing the tone. The music was popular before of course. But I suspect it's that mandolin with earl scruggs banjo that make people stand up and notice.
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