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Thread: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

  1. #51
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    [QUOTE=Spruce;1599521]A question I've been wanting to ask for quite some time now....how the hell did you glean so-ooo much knowledge about these instruments considering the fact that you are encamped in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe???
    Not exactly Loar Country...
    Oz is even further away... and there is Gil and Duff....

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    Are we seeing the power of the interwebs here?
    To be honest the naswer is very likely, YES. I must admit that I laid my hands on very few vintage F5 Gibsons to say the truth I could count them on fngers of one hand... Most of what I know comes from 1000's of hours (yes three zeroes) working on my drawings. When I read somewhere about Gilchrist how he traced F-5 shape from bluegrass records or magazine covers I laughed out loud as that was exactly what I did when I became addict - back in 90's internet was accessible to few and all I had was few xerox copies of mandolin instruction material and videotapes. I was even tracing Monroes Loar from TV screen (that was before flat screen TV's) trying to capture the flow of curves. My background is in the Math and computers (I've always liked geometry) and since '96 when I gained good access to internet (at University), I discovered MC and started downloading thousands of pics of F5 mandolins (I still have full archive of pics from most makers from A-Z with at least few pics for each and quite few of those I consedered great) and took them home for "analysis" (no internet at home back then) in Photoshop. During my 9 years of studies and work at University I spent most of my free time studying violins and mandolins and technology of their building. Mostly from pictures and forum posts and later personal communication with folks who knew more than I did. It all boils down to time and selection of information (lots of misinformation on the web).
    I don't claim to be correct all the time but it looks like my impression from this mandolin has been similar to Darryl's (and he is THE master of Loars). I didn't want to sound harsh on Gary, I just described raw technical aspects when compared to Loar.

    "Is it possible to build an F5 copy that would fool the 'experts'?"
    Maybe "no", huh?
    Perhaps yes, but ,IMO, it is HARDER than making fake Strad or other old violin. The violin makers have advantage that they use the same tools that old masters used and same forms, moulds and most of the old ways are well known and copyists use that to their advantage.
    We don't know as much about exact process of making Loars and if you are emulating machine work by hand you're gonna fail in some aspects. Just like you would if you try to emulate handwork with machines...
    Adrian

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  3. #52
    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    I just figured Adrian was channeling his inner Jedi and using the ole tried and true Jedi mind trick! Seriously great work and really Gary's tribute may be a bit off in certain areas but like was said every original Loar was a bit different, inlays too far to one side during certain years/batches. Different thickness of wood/different cuts of wood quarter sawn etc../shading the colors/binding/hardware.
    I still wouldn't balk at owning and playing Gary's masterpiece. Some serious fine work that only a few could replicate. After seeing the photos I don't think, well I know those Distressed MModels don't even come as close as the tribute being discussed! Whoever gets this F-5 should be happy, I know if I could I would and yes be very Happy. Has there been any sound clips or youtube video done of this thing yet? I know it doesn't ever give you the full flavor unless its in your own hand or someone else playing while your there in person but you can still get a taste of the power of any decent mandolin by a video! That's why I went after the 30's F-5 fern I bought because of the few youtube videos I watched!

  4. #53
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    ....glad to see that there's no comments on the tailpiece cover...

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I didn't want to sound harsh on Gary...
    This is how things get dialed in....
    ...or at least that's what happened in the violin world, where copying has made dramatic leaps and bounds in the past 20 years or so....
    And yes, the 'net has a lot to do with that dissemination of quality information...

  5. #54
    Registered User testore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    I promise to chime in on a larger scale when I have time, just really busy. I've enjoyed every comment, even if I don't agree with it. This is a very valuable thread and exercise. I challenge another builder to do the same. More from me later.
    vesselmandolins.blogspot.com

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  7. #55
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    I could not agree more, show me more bench copies! I sense a gauntlet hath been thrown, in good humor.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  8. #56
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by Timbofood View Post
    I could not agree more, show me more bench copies!
    I don't know that this is indeed a "bench copy", technically speaking...
    In other words, I don't think Gary had a Loar sitting in front of him while putting this thing together, which would have been optimum...
    He did get a nice long look at the Flea Market Loar, which i think inspired this build...

    Maybe we need to define "bench copy" when Gary gets a bit of time on his hands in a few months...

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  10. #57
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by testore View Post
    I promise to chime in on a larger scale when I have time, just really busy. I've enjoyed every comment, even if I don't agree with it. This is a very valuable thread and exercise. I challenge another builder to do the same. More from me later.
    Gary, I have long been an admirer of your work as a builder. I now have an even deeper respect for you as a person. I very much look forward to your participation in this thread.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  12. #58

    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Spruce makes a good observation regarding no comments regarding tailpiece cover.... Lets correct that.... so I'll ask

    How does this tp cover stack up to those we have seen in the past.... they are buggers to pull off with any degree of success.
    John D

  13. #59
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by testore View Post
    I promise to chime in on a larger scale when I have time, just really busy. I've enjoyed every comment, even if I don't agree with it. This is a very valuable thread and exercise. I challenge another builder to do the same.
    I would love to make one some day but I'm sure I would fail miserably. I know how hard it is just to conform to my own specs and not to someone's elses. I don't have easy access to some original materials needed to make exact copy. When Bill Halsey made few mandolins few years back he had to make his own trussrods to the original non-standard thread size of course make nuts to fit and finding binding and tortoise celluloid to fit originals was not easy even for him.
    I certainly have this bug in my head but with my production shedule of roughly one mandolin a year it will take forever till I decide I'm prepared to start such project...
    Adrian

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by JFDilmando View Post
    Spruce makes a good observation regarding no comments regarding tailpiece cover.... Lets correct that.... so I'll ask

    How does this tp cover stack up to those we have seen in the past.... they are buggers to pull off with any degree of success.
    The TP cover on Gary's copy is one I whipped up...
    I found some covers that were engraveable (turns out not that easy to find), had them engraved, and then i antiqued them...
    The general consensus is that they are just OK, although they sure look better in context...


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  16. #61
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    I would love to make one some day but I'm sure I would fail miserably. I know how hard it is just to conform to my own specs and not to someone's elses. I don't have easy access to some original materials needed to make exact copy. When Bill Halsey made few mandolins few years back he had to make his own trussrods to the original non-standard thread size of course make nuts to fit and finding binding and tortoise celluloid to fit originals was not easy even for him.
    I certainly have this bug in my head but with my production shedule of roughly one mandolin a year it will take forever till I decide I'm prepared to start such project...
    You, me, and #75315?
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  17. #62
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    You are right Bruce, bench copy is not quite the right term, tribute might be better.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  18. #63

    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    The TP cover on Gary's copy is one I whipped up...
    I found some covers that were engraveable (turns out not that easy to find), had them engraved, and then i antiqued them...
    The general consensus is that they are just OK, although they sure look better in context...
    That one looks pretty good to me. (Of course I don't know squat besides what I've read on this forum!) You've managed to put just enough "wear" on it to almost obscure the 'squigglies'. Looks authentically distressed.

    I don't remember. Did you make the one that was on Gary V's April Fools mandola?

  19. #64
    Registered User testore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Same engraver but a different tailpiece blank
    vesselmandolins.blogspot.com

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  21. #65
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by testore View Post
    Same engraver but a different tailpiece blank
    Get back to work...

    (I'm in Fresno again, but just about as busy as you are...)

  22. #66
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Eagle View Post
    Thanks, Darryl, I appreciate it; fun thread. Aside from the obvious non-original tuners and the lack of the pick guard, the body scroll would have always made me suspicious (even if placed in a vintage case).
    Yes, I did fail to mention that the scroll is a bit elongated in addition to the inner button being a bit oversized.

    It will have a pickguard when it leaves
    Darryl G. Wolfe, The F5 Journal
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  23. #67
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    From Darryl - "There are also tens of thousands of Gibson banjos in existence bearing no Gibson parts.". The metal 'Gibson parts' weren't even 'Gibson parts' when Gibson made the banjos. The metal hardware had been sourced from 'Prucha' for years.

    Gibson seemed to turn a blind eye over the years towards banjos with a ''repro.'' Gibson neck if it had a genuine Gibson 'pot'. Frank Neat made a lot of 'repro.' Gibson necks,i believe that Bela Fleck had John Monteleone make the original 5-string neck for his 1937 Gibson RB-75 banjo pot - the original neck was a 4-string Plectrum banjo neck. As long as instruments with 'replacement' parts are described as having such parts when sold,i see no problem. It's when they're not declared that a charge of fraud or 'attempting to deceive' can be brought.

    My own view is that all F-5 style mandolins are ''in essence'' a 'copy' of the original Gibson F-5 design. They may differ slightly in dimensions & in minor details,but the 'essential shape & design features' are all there. Call them what you ,will copies / 'tribute' mandolins / reproductions - they were all built to ''look like'' Gibson F-5's,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  24. #68
    Registered User testore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    First off I would like to think Darryl for taking time to do me a favor. I know he is in the middle of moving and has just been through the aftermath of a tropical storm. Thank you also to Scott for letting this thread happen. I know it is a potential touchy subject. My first objective was to have an expert look at my latest replica and give me details of things that I had missed. One can't possibly know and replicate these details without fully understanding them all. It is a lifetime of learning and studying and working. These things do not happen by accident. Another objective of mine was to show the mandolin enthusiasts that basically it is impossible to fool anybody. The huge number of details that I missed are a clear indication of that. Quite frankly the materials are extremely difficult to come by. The binding on the fingerboard, for one,is a very difficult thing to replicate. Obviously tuning machines are difficult and expensive thing to find, if at all available. My intentions are never to sell something as authentic. My intentions are almost completely a learning mechanism. Studying details, and failing to duplicate them, is a huge learning process. This instrument is not an exact bench copy, no, but it was inspired by a recently discovered Loar here in California. I have not read everyone of the posts but I do want to point to a few things that caught my attention. February 18, 1924 was a transitional period for the Gibson company. The missed matched binding and two different font styles from that date help a copyist sneak one in. February 18, 1924 was the first appearance of white peghead binding and fretboard binding of in not mistaken. I have noticed two distinct style differences in fingerboard extensions. About this time in 1924 I notice a thinner more squared off version. That is one that I do not particularly care for. Prior to that they were a little fuller and more rounded. That is the style that I prefer and used. The bridge height is tall, but it is the same measurement as Grisman's "Crusher". Odd for Loar, yes, but again, I prefer a slightly taller bridge.
    Darryl is completely right about the lack of femininity in this instrument. One of the very difficult and challenging things about building any instrument is that they look completely different without finish. Once you put a finish on it, especially a dark finish, the character traits jump out. By then it is far too late to make any corrections.
    This is been such an incredible project, and thread. Thank you all for looking, reading, and commenting. I would like to reiterate my challenge to other builders to put forth an instrument for inspection and open discussion. I feel that it makes the industry much better. If anyone would like to ask questions feel free. Thank you again!
    vesselmandolins.blogspot.com

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  26. #69
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Wow. I tuned in to catch a quick look at the classifieds over lunch, and got totally sucked into this thread! Gary, phenomenal work on this mandolin, and what awesome feedback from true Loar experts...now, I can't wait to see how Gary's next tribute turns out

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing. Threads like this are what keep me coming back for more!
    Chuck

  27. #70
    Registered User f5joe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by testore View Post
    First off I would like to think Darryl for taking time to do me a favor. I know he is in the middle of moving and has just been through the aftermath of a tropical storm. Thank you also to Scott for letting this thread happen. I know it is a potential touchy subject. My first objective was to have an expert look at my latest replica and give me details of things that I had missed. One can't possibly know and replicate these details without fully understanding them all. It is a lifetime of learning and studying and working. These things do not happen by accident. Another objective of mine was to show the mandolin enthusiasts that basically it is impossible to fool anybody. The huge number of details that I missed are a clear indication of that. Quite frankly the materials are extremely difficult to come by. The binding on the fingerboard, for one,is a very difficult thing to replicate. Obviously tuning machines are difficult and expensive thing to find, if at all available. My intentions are never to sell something as authentic. My intentions are almost completely a learning mechanism. Studying details, and failing to duplicate them, is a huge learning process. This instrument is not an exact bench copy, no, but it was inspired by a recently discovered Loar here in California. I have not read everyone of the posts but I do want to point to a few things that caught my attention. February 18, 1924 was a transitional period for the Gibson company. The missed matched binding and two different font styles from that date help a copyist sneak one in. February 18, 1924 was the first appearance of white peghead binding and fretboard binding of in not mistaken. I have noticed two distinct style differences in fingerboard extensions. About this time in 1924 I notice a thinner more squared off version. That is one that I do not particularly care for. Prior to that they were a little fuller and more rounded. That is the style that I prefer and used. The bridge height is tall, but it is the same measurement as Grisman's "Crusher". Odd for Loar, yes, but again, I prefer a slightly taller bridge.
    Darryl is completely right about the lack of femininity in this instrument. One of the very difficult and challenging things about building any instrument is that they look completely different without finish. Once you put a finish on it, especially a dark finish, the character traits jump out. By then it is far too late to make any corrections.
    This is been such an incredible project, and thread. Thank you all for looking, reading, and commenting. I would like to reiterate my challenge to other builders to put forth an instrument for inspection and open discussion. I feel that it makes the industry much better. If anyone would like to ask questions feel free. Thank you again!
    Gary: This is a gorgeous instrument.
    ..... f5joe

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  29. #71
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by testore View Post
    I have noticed two distinct style differences in fingerboard extensions. About this time in 1924 I notice a thinner more squared off version. That is one that I do not particularly care for. Prior to that they were a little fuller and more rounded. That is the style that I prefer and used.
    Would you mind to point us to such example? All I have seen was slim support with edges chamfered at approx. 45 degrees like the early '23 on the CT (see pic)

    Quote Originally Posted by testore View Post
    The bridge height is tall, but it is the same measurement as Grisman's "Crusher". Odd for Loar, yes, but again, I prefer a slightly taller bridge.
    Grismans is 27/32" bridge which is unusual, but it also has very thin top grads and likely slightly sunken arch of top that can add 1/16" to bridge.

    I would add for folks that making real "replica" that would fool experts would involve even much more than just outside appearance of parts. They need to work together to make whole picture and hen there is the inside which is as distinctive as outside and perhaps even harder to reproduce.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Adrian

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  31. #72
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by HoGo View Post
    ....and then there is the inside which is as distinctive as outside and perhaps even harder to reproduce.
    ...then, there's that....

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  33. #73

    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    There is also the danger that while it may not fool the experts, it MAY fool many average or even advanced collectors/buyers.....

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  35. #74
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    There is also the danger that while it may not fool the experts, it MAY fool many average or even advanced collectors/buyers.....
    ....it hasn't happened yet, right?

    ...and if it does happen in LoarLand, it would be because they didn't do their homework, or run it past someone who has...a "must-do" if you're plunking out a million bucks for a mandolin, which is what they'll be going for in 20 years...

  36. #75

    Default Re: Anatomy of a fine Loar mandolin "Bench-copy/Tribute"

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    ....it hasn't happened yet, right?

    ...and if it does happen in LoarLand, it would be because they didn't do their homework, or run it past someone who has...a "must-do" if you're plunking out a million bucks for a mandolin, which is what they'll be going for in 20 years...
    I'm thinking it "could" happen if the price was right.....that is if someone was offered such an instrument for, let's say, $30K or so where the guy selling could play dumb and the guy buying was too motivated by the hopes of a screaming deal to due the proper research. Quite possible, IMHO. The deal-breaker would be down the road when it got resold.

    I do know of some actual sales of vintage guitars where a buyer bought 5 or 6 guitars totaling over a million dollars, then several years later found out an issue with one of the guitars valued at $500K or so......and took it to court. So even several years later stuff like that can come back to haunt ya.....

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