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Thread: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

  1. #1
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    Default Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    This is a question I suppose everybody on the 'Cafe knows. But somehow, I don't, so to keep up my street cred concerning mando-geekdom, I thought I would ask. Did Bill Monroe's mandolin (the 73987) have -- or ever have --Handel tuners? I didn't think so, but looking at the famous tribute picture in the wallpaper section (the one with the brown background, and the dates September 13, 1911 - September 9, 1996 inscribed on it), they look like they might be Handels. Of course, that was the pre-repair, c. 1979 version, with part of the scroll missing. I don't know what the original barber shop version had, what Gibson did to it in any of the repairs they made, or what it now has (may peace be upon it). Does anyone know??? My wife just read this question looking over my shoulder, and said (1) she couldn't believe I was asking this, and that I even knew the details that I DID know (which makes her think she should have married someone else), and (2) that there would be anybody out there who would know this and would bother to write. I think she is wrong on both counts. After all, as I told her, the folks on the 'Cafe are pretty knowledgeable, and someday all my mandolin may be hers. (Big yawn).

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    I'm pretty sure no Loar era F5's had these tuners.

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Ken Culver, former head honcho of the Portland Mandophonic Orchestra, has a Loar with Handels and the famous headstock break. I will, however, lay dimes to doughnuts that they are not the original tuners.
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    Registered User evanreilly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Bill did have Handel tuners on #73987 for a while.
    He was pretty hard on the hardware and replacements were whatever was handy, sometimes Handels.
    I do believe this pic shows the Handels in place.
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    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Franks Wakefield had them on his for a long time, but obviously they were not originally on there.

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    I saw a picture once from a time when he had Handel's on one side and something else on the other.
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    Registered User Santiago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Quote Originally Posted by evanreilly View Post
    Bill did have Handel tuners on #73987 for a while.
    He was pretty hard on the hardware and replacements were whatever was handy, sometimes Handels.
    I do believe this pic shows the Handels in place.
    He did tend to play the heck out of his mandolin, didn't he?

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    Registered User Jim MacDaniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?
    As far as I know, Rafaelle Calace didn't use Handel tuners.
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    I always understood the Handel tuner buttons stopped on Gibsons around WWI, well prior to Loar signed F5 mandolins.

    Jamie
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Quote Originally Posted by JEStanek View Post
    I always understood the Handel tuner buttons stopped on Gibsons around WWI, well prior to Loar signed F5 mandolins.

    Jamie
    Jamie and others,
    Yes, that is what I always thought, too, by the way. But some of those pictures ... they sure do look like Handels. (Thanks for all of your responses).

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    It's documented here someplace that he had a mismatched set on at one time (as mentioned above). It was probably easier for him to find an old F2 or F4 to take tuners off when he needed a set than it was to find an F5 in those days.

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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    He sure had them for a long while and likely more than one set. As Evan said finding parts for a Loar F5 in the 1940's,50's and 60's even the 70's was pretty tough and Monroe was wearing them out pretty regular. Since he did not send it back to Gibson for repair after the 1951 riff which Gibson Co. likely would have drilled new holes and plugged the old ones so it would fit the newer Klusons of the day, Monroe just used what he could find that would fit the holes and still turn from most any source he could find it. I know in addition to using the Handel F4 style he also used 20's F4 waverly's too. The practice continued until 1980 when Gibson repaired the peghead to fit the new tuners of the day.
    Last edited by f5loar; Jul-26-2010 at 8:49pm. Reason: add

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    He surely had them, they just weren't original to the Loar signed F5 mandolin. There's not too much original left on The Mandolin after all it's been through.

    Jamie
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fretbear View Post
    I saw a picture once from a time when he had Handel's on one side and something else on the other.
    I found this LP at a thrift store. I already had most of the songs on various CD's, but I thought it was a nice picture of Monroe and his Loar. Easy to see the mis-matched tuners, one side being Handels.............Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Factory installation of Handel tuners ended by 1919. Any set of Handels on Monroe's F-5's would have been installed after the mandolins had been around for a while.

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    I thought the bushings on the album cover looked a bit large, also.................

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I found this LP at a thrift store. I already had most of the songs on various CD's, but I thought it was a nice picture of Monroe and his Loar. Easy to see the mis-matched tuners, one side being Handels.............Click image for larger version. 

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    I have that album, never checked out the tuners before but sure enough.

    Great album, definitely a candidate for "if you could have only one ..."

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    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    The non-Handel side of tuners look like worm over to me. Really?
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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    And those photos show one side is Handels and the other side reverse turn. He simply put on there what he could find that worked. After all by this time he sure was not concerned about how it looked. In the new book on Monroe by Tom Ewing, due out late this year, will be more detail about Monroe's repair work. Ira Louvin worked on it for him a lot after the fall out with Gibson. It's also be found the fall out with Gibson didn't last as long as first thought and he did use them for repairs after the 1951 botched repair job. Early photos of when he first got it in Jan/Feb of 1945 show it had normal Loar tuners with pearl buttons and regular sized bushings.

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    Default Re: Did "the" mandolin have Handel tuners?

    Great point F5Loar. I've had this album for a long time but I never noticed the plain vs. Handle buttons, let alone the worm over/under mismatch. This is comical by todays standard of easy access to parts and information. This also highlights Bill Monroe's utilitarian view of his mandolin at least in the first 20 years he had it. It was a tool to make [I]his[I] music, with no thought of having a showy mandolin. As long as it worked it would do.
    This also reminds me of the missing binding 'thing'. When he would hook the string over it or the fret end and use it as a kind of split string technique. There are pictures of that missing binding on some albums I believe. Maybe even this one, but if so,it's covered by his hand. During a refret, I've had thoughts of asking for a long fret to try this.

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