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Thread: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

  1. #1

    Default Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    I am curious about this instrument, and have a couple of questions for discussion.
    First, I see this as very possibly having what later became the Tenor Lute body. I've had three TL's, and it looks spot on to me. However, none of those have, to my knowledge, a maple back and sides. They are birch. Could this be true, and they later became TL's for the simple reason F holed mandolas, or 10 strings wouldn't have caught on?
    Secondly, has anyone ever played this instrument? How would a 10 string sound?? I have toyed with idea of converting a TL to these specs, but, is that a bad idea?
    Third; looking at the archive, the tuning Lloyd used was ADGCF. I am not sure I could make sense out of that. Why that tuning, and not a mandolin/mandola tuning?Click image for larger version. 

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    I have entered some photos of a TL for discussion, but, cannot seem to figure out how to get the real thing from the archives. Can someone help with that?
    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Click image for larger version. 

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    From the Archive.
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  4. #3
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    I really like the inclusion of the saw! He must have "kerf" tuned that, no?

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    F being the 5th BELOW the C - Mandola tuning? You could probably push it up a string to CGDAE... or if going high to low EADGC... and that means adding a peg - so for a 10-string you would double the strings and add 6 pegs?
    I'm missing the whole point of this, am I not?
    So are you thinking the F is the low string? Hadn't looked at it like that...

  6. #5
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    According to Siminoff the tuning was (high to low) Eb, C, F, Bb, and Eb. So, a major third below mandolin tuning, but with the high string tuned to the same note as the bass string.

    There were two mando-violas; the other had an oval hole and AFAIK is lost.
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    I played it. It was tuned down. I tried my best to tune it up as-is to something that felt right and arrived at mandola tuning plus a fret or two in timbre

    I believe it would be good to note, that the instument does not seem to be completely a June '22 experimentation. If so, then we have some of our other thinking a bit out of kilter.
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    Registered User pfox14's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    I really don't know what Gibson was thinking with the TL. Seems like a bad idea from the get go, and sales certainly proved that there wasn't much interest in such an odd instrument.
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  11. #8

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Has anyone taken exact measurements of the Loar 10 string and compared them to the Tenor Lutes out there? And did the TL body share dimensions exactly with the oval hole H mandolas? We should be able to figure this out on this thread.
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  12. #9
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Has anyone taken exact measurements of the Loar 10 string and compared them to the Tenor Lutes out there? And did the TL body share dimensions exactly with the oval hole H mandolas? We should be able to figure this out on this thread.

    Yes, yes and yes.

    And additionally, the FON's on the TL's pre-date their completion and support my theory on the 1925 A suffixed instruments

    | 77282 | 3247 | TL | NULL | 0 | 1924 |
    | 77598 | 11180a | TL | NULL | 0 | 1924 |
    | 77260 | 11177A | TL | NULL | 0 | NULL |
    | 77636 | 11177 | TL | NULL | 0 | NULL |
    | 77637 | 11177 | TL | NULL | 0 | NULL |
    | 77259 | 11177A | TL | NULL | 0 | 1924 |
    | 77290 | 11177A | TL | NULL | 0 | NULL |
    +--------+--------+-------+------+-------+------+


    We can also see that the Mando-viola FON 70321/11729 roughly fits with the serial number. This supports that it was a one-off instrument constructed mainly in the experimental stages of the F5 time.


    70308 11669 L3
    70321 11729 (no model)
    70336 11692 A
    70383 11696 F4
    70409 11693 A2
    70556 11480 H1
    70603 11169 A
    70610 11699 A
    70625 11668 L1
    70660 11634 Ajr
    70669 11667 F2
    70795 11720 A
    70909 11707 H4
    70946 11703 F4
    70982 11698 Ljr
    71069 11609 F5
    71074 11721 F4
    71080 11548 F4
    71234 11711 A4
    71239 11711 A4
    71249 11753 A
    71261 11753 A
    71303 11750 A2
    71458 11755 A
    71462 11755 A

    But look at the FON's and serial numbers in the time frame of the TL FON's (11177)

    46848 11121 F4
    46856 11131 F4
    46977 11090 F2
    47269 11132 H1
    47300 11095 O
    47601 11128 L3
    47641 11144 A
    47897 11164 A3
    48010 11145 A
    48043 11145 A
    48401 11032 F4
    48851 1170 H2
    49171 11200 O
    49190 11163 A3
    49230 11193 A3
    49534 11186 F4
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    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Thanks a lot, Darryl. It all makes sense.

    The "1925 A suffixes" just like the 1924 A suffixes support the idea of a company desperately needing to save money.
    Unlike 1922 and 1923, when Gibson got into financial trouble, 1924 was hardly a year for overproduction. Apparently, lots of hitherto incomplete instruments were completed that year, including at least two H5s. The same year, many F4s were sold, complete F4s with 1923 FONs that is, no need for producing new F4s. Hence, I wouldn't expect many F4 FONs in 1924. In fact, Joe Spann lists only one. Possibly a bad year for producing new models from scratch, especially expensive F mandos... (Sorry Ken, I couldn't resist.)

  15. #11
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    We know the Mando-Viola is a Loar instrument because of the photo of Loar with it in the "experimental laboratory". One thing I've always wondered about the Mando-Viola is if we found it today without any pictures of it from the past would it be considered a "Loar" instrument or would it simply be an interesting one off piece from that period. I say that currently owning another one of these experimental instruments from this period also not having a label directly tying it to Loar. Sure would be nice if I had a pic of him holding it though.

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  16. #12
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Well, you could try PhotoShop but I doubt you'd fool anyone.
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  17. #13

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Eagle View Post
    Thanks a lot, Darryl. It all makes sense.
    I can't quite say the same for me, but I'm happy to thank Darryl even if the nuances of Loar FON and serial numbers elude me!

    So IF I understand correctly, the Tenor Lutes all have an FON that suggest that they were begun as early as the late teens, but serial numbers that place them in the 'Loar years' of 1923 and 1924? And the lone mando-viola also basically conforms to that.

    So does the FON 11177 suggest that there was an idea to create an A-5 style mandolas as early as 1918 (around the time of 48000 serial numbers)? Or would Gibson have roughed out H sized mandola bodies without a sound hole, and then in 1923? after they'd been lying around for a while, decided to cut ff-holes for the tenor lutes?

    Please forgive me if I've completely misunderstood the posts above!
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  18. #14

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Brad; I think that is what we are seeing. I believe..( and I'm not exactly sure I'm getting this data either) is that these were all H1 style mandola bodies that at this point were without tops. Then, during Loar's tenure, and the whole violin to mandolin thing, they put F hole style tops on these incomplete bodies. My guess would be the mando/viola comes first, then, when wondering what on earth to do with the rest of these, and, in the start of the banjo/tango craze, they stick tenor banjo necks on the rest.
    Just my guess.
    Ken

  19. #15

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    So, I want to go back to my original question for a moment. How does the 10 string version, when tuned properly, sound for today's player? Is it a bad idea to convert a TL to Loar's idea of a 10 string??

  20. #16
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    When was the Lyon & Healy pear-shaped tenor guitar first available?

    AFAIK the first commercially available tenor guitars were either the Gibson tenor lutes or the L&Hs. It's possible that one was conceived to compete with the other.
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    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    According to Siminoff the tuning was (high to low) Eb, C, F, Bb, and Eb. So, a major third below mandolin tuning, but with the high string tuned to the same note as the bass string.

    There were two mando-violas; the other had an oval hole and AFAIK is lost.
    I don't even get why "viola" is in the name anywhere, if it's not tuned anything like one.

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    Registered User bluegrasser78's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Waltham View Post
    So, I want to go back to my original question for a moment. How does the 10 string version, when tuned properly, sound for today's player? Is it a bad idea to convert a TL to Loar's idea of a 10 string??
    Convert it Ken, Ya may have something fun to mess around with? Hell I like my F-7 conversions! If ya have one or so that needs work anyway go for it. I've thaught about converting one, I believe ya can also convert the wide bell shaped bodied A models from the 30's to a mandola? Billy Smith

  23. #19
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by bratsche View Post
    I don't even get why "viola" is in the name anywhere, if it's not tuned anything like one.
    And there's nothing English about the English horn. And French fries originated in Belgium.
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  25. #20

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Greetings fellow lovers of Loar lore. I borrowed this unique instrument from it's very knowledgeable custodian (at the time) to see how it would sound on a recording. I tuned the instrument (as I thought it was intended) to CGDAE (low to high) and recall that due to the scale length I had to use the very thinnest of E strings (.009 I believe) and still broke a few during the process. The results were issued on the Warner's LP Dawg Grass/Dawg Jazz (currently out of print) and more recently on Dawg Plays Big Mon. Here are the results of this experience!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  27. #21
    wannabe mandolin wizzard bluesmandolinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    now THAT is a 1. Post !

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    Registered User Ivyguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    I was the first person to say thanks to the DAWG!!!!

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    Edit- Well, I was the second person. Maybe I will get to be a footnote in the unabridged second addtion.

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  29. #23
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Thanks, Dawg, for that wonderful mp3! Do you remember what the scale length was?

    I was wondering if any luthier has attempted to make an accurate copy of that mandolin.
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  30. #24
    Brentrup Evangelist Larry S Sherman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    I have a similar style 10-string, although oval and not a copy of Loar's instrument. Like the Dawg I use a very light E string, but they don't break anymore than normal strings.

    I love it for the extended range and ability to move 4-string chords up and down.

    Larry

  31. #25

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    I wasn't measuring scale lengths back then Jim, however my personal scale length was 5' 10.5" at the time so you might be able to deduce it from the photo!

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