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Thread: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

  1. #26
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    nice clip Dawg

    A couple notes to add.. I reckon A TL -> 10-string would work just fine. The birch back would probably sound different on a TL than on the Mando-viola.

    This one with the F-holes was not the first 10-string of this type.. not even the first Gibson. Loar is pictured with an oval-holed H2 (we think) that obviously has 10 tuning pegs. Where's that one, I have often wondered!

    I owned a couple Vegas at one point that were 10-string.. one mandolin-scale, one mandola-scale. I currently have a sobell "Cittern" (also called "large bodied mandola" for disambiguation purposes) that has a 20 3/4 scale, and is tuned GDAEA bass to treble.

    Having 5 courses in 5ths seems to result in a shrill top string (as Dawg says, a .009 that is very easy to snap too!), or a floppy bottom string that gives intonation problems from not enough tension. It looks like Lawrence Smart has worked around this very well with fanned fretted 10-string instruments.

    There are some Monteleone 10-string Grand Artists about.. I've never been in the right place/right time to get my hands on one though.

    My personal suggestion for these would be to go with a ~21" scale, and work roughly in the range of OM + a top A to get best results. Myself and other Irish bouzoukist pals have tried all sorts of tunings with different positive results- mostly finding that drones, open tunings, old-timey sawmill/dead man's tuning/irish bouzouki GDAD etc all have very nice synergies and a truly great haunting tone.

    I reckon I'll go down this path too at some point, seeking an F-holed 10-string OM + top A
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  3. #27
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    a couple photos showing the older 10-string
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  5. #28
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawg View Post
    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!
    My guess would be 16"-17" -- prob same as a Gibson mandola. Some of the more engineering types here can prob extrapolate from your PSL.

    Quote Originally Posted by danb View Post
    This one with the F-holes was not the first 10-string of this type.. not even the first Gibson. Loar is pictured with an oval-holed H2 (we think) that obviously has 10 tuning pegs. Where's that one, I have often wondered!
    I remember seeing at least one 12-string A-oval at We Buy Guitars in NYC back in the early 1980s. I don't recall any 10 strings tho.

    Quote Originally Posted by danb View Post
    I owned a couple Vegas at one point that were 10-string.. one mandolin-scale, one mandola-scale. I currently have a sobell "Cittern" (also called "large bodied mandola" for disambiguation purposes) that has a 20 3/4 scale, and is tuned GDAEA bass to treble.

    Having 5 courses in 5ths seems to result in a shrill top string (as Dawg says, a .009 that is very easy to snap too!), or a floppy bottom string that gives intonation problems from not enough tension. It looks like Lawrence Smart has worked around this very well with fanned fretted 10-string instruments.
    I had the short-scale Vega and the c-string just didn't make it. I think it would have to be either super heavy or super floppy. I was going to say that the fan-fret idea might be the best solution, tho, personally I would prefer the least amount of fanning, in other words, the minimum for allowing optimum string gauges.

    Quote Originally Posted by danb View Post
    There are some Monteleone 10-string Grand Artists about.. I've never been in the right place/right time to get my hands on one though.
    I played a Monteleone 10-string prob at Mandolin Brothers many decades ago. I don't know if John has built any recent 10-strings but I recall that I thought that that one also had the same problem with string gauges.

    I know that Sobell made 10 string citterns and I believe that those were pretty successful. What scales did those have?
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  6. #29
    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I know that Sobell made 10 string citterns and I believe that those were pretty successful. What scales did those have?
    Lots of different ones! Here's an old ascii chart I did of some variations Stefan Sobell used at the time compared to some other more common things like fiddles, guitars, etc
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  8. #30
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    This is the coolest site on the internet!

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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    [QUOTE=Dawg;1282570]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.
    Thanks, David. I too would have tuned it that way until I looked at the note on the archives. I figured it would have doubled as a mandolin/mandola all in one instrument, but, I don't believe that's what Lloyd was thinking.
    BTW, it really sounds great, with nice tone. It pushes all my Loar buttons!
    Dan, where did we get that tuning note from? Didn't Roger have a different idea of tuning the mando/viola?
    My guess on scale length would be 15 7/8, like an H5.

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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    In the first photo of A. Loar above, it appears that he is whipping it like a mule.

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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawg View Post
    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!
    Then you were 70.5 inches Mr. Dawg? Has all the picking taken a toll on your scale length? Thanks for the great mp3 -- WS has always been one of my favorites tunes and the best version is the one on the Mandolin Extravaganza project with you and Mr. Sam --IMO.
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  13. #34
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Love this!!
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  14. #35
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Ken- I had older notes of Eb Bb F C F too! If it's mandola scale, CGDAE makes the most sense to me. I have scans somewhere of the Vega catalog describing the 10-stringers (though I lost my originals somehow!).. I will also hunt for those.

    I let Roger know about the thread as I'm quite curious to hear his recollections too
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Back in 1992 I got Oliver Apitius to build me a 10-string mandolin. Loar's 10-string, which I believe was mandola scale length, as that is what I believe he played for the most part, was at least partly the inspiration for it. As I was a mandolin player, it was built to mandolin scale length. Oliver called it a mandalto. It's been GREAT as is really the only mandolin I've played for 22 years. And now I finally have a good 5-string fiddle to match it. I realize this is just slightly off topic but add it for interest to people thinking about 10-string mandolin family instruments.

  16. #37
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    This thread has obviously passed the way-cool stage, but back, for some unknown reason, to Ken's original picture. The wood-topped tenor or 5-string banjo seems to crop up from time to time, and I'm not sure why. I had one from the turn of the century, possibly a Buckbee, which was one quiet instrument but cool to look at. Far from being an extinct species, here's a recent sighting from Romero banjos:
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    My question: did no one try to register as Dawg prior to February 2013 or did Scott have the foresight to reject Dawg- wannabes until the real one came along? What a great site!

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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    You're correct. Only one person was ever going to get that user name.

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  20. #40

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Regarding the Monteleone 10 string Grand Artist hybrids (mandolin/mandola). I played several in John's shop circa the late 70's, early 80's. The C notes seemed compromised. While the high notes sound good, judgmentally, you can hear similar (less then ideal) C note tone in this recent video being played at Carter's in Nashville:

  21. #41
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    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!


    First off, Thanks Dawg for posting

    Regarding Brad's comment....what I am suggesting is that FON 11177 started life intended to be a 1918 era H1 mandola. There probably are some. But left over sides and backs eventually became TL's in the Loar era of 1924/1925. The carving form for the Mando viola top was likely used and simply paired with a banjo neck.

    Mr. Waltham (or someone with access to a TL) could likely solve this piece of the discussion by looking through the end pin to verify that there is an FON on the headblock in addition to the readable 11177A (or what ever it is) under the f-hole
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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by danb View Post
    Lots of different ones! Here's an old ascii chart I did of some variations Stefan Sobell used at the time compared to some other more common things like fiddles, guitars, etc
    Excellent! But your middle C is an octave too low - it should be the C above the mandolin G string (261.6Hz).

    Nitpickingly yours, John.

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  24. #43

    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Thanks again, Darryl. It's just hard for me to imagine that any part of the TL was fully shaped as early as 1918. And if they had assembled H1 bodies, it's hard for me to imagine Gibson deciding to de-top and re-top them! And hardest to imagine is back and side assemblies sitting around for years with no tops, warping out of shape.

    I can report that TL#77289 has an FON#11177A stamped on its back, but nothing visibly stamped or written on what appears to be a mahogany neck block. Seems to also have a maple neck and quite modest 2 piece plain-sawn birch or maple back.
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Thanks for the great clip of Wayfaring Stranger.

    I'm an engineer wannabe. But, I need to know if the 5' 10.5" is including the semi-afro?

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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Mr. Waltham (or someone with access to a TL) could likely solve this piece of the discussion by looking through the end pin to verify that there is an FON on the headblock in addition to the readable 11177A (or what ever it is) under the f-hole[/QUOTE]

    OK, had a look inside the TL tonight. Stamped FON in the treble F hole is 11180A.
    There are no markings on the neck block, internally.
    The other one I own is not here currently, but, I remember it had no mark on the neck block either, only in the treble F hole. 11177A.
    Ken

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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawg View Post
    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!
    The Wayfaring Stranger mp3 seems to connect to an *.htm file that when opened comes up just as coding.
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Loar's 10-string mandoviola is a wonderful instrument and as mrmando mentioned, Loar tuned it to Eb, C, F, Bb and Eb (treble to bass). When Dawg borrowed it from me for the "Wayfairing Stranger" cut on his Dawg Grass album (1982), he tuned it to the conventional E, A, D, G, C mandola tuning, and as only Dawg could, he brought out the wonderful voice of this instrument and tuning. If my memory serves me correctly, the scale length was 15-5/8", it has a Virzi Tone Producer and a real three-piece neck (I say this because as you all know, most other Gibson instruments of the time that looked like a three-piece neck were actually one piece with an inset dyed pear wood strip to give the appearance of a three-piece neck). Here is another photo of it being played by Nell VerCies (left to right are Loar, Dorothy Crane, (Sally) Fisher Shipp (standing, Loar's first wife), James Johnstone (also head of Gibson's string division), Nell, and Lucille Campbell; all of the Fisher Shipp Orchestra.

    The instruments in the case included a musical saw, and Loar's electric viola from his Nov. 1935 patent (#2,020,842), So while the mandoviola was made while he was a Gibson, all three instruments were not combined in this case until the early 1930s.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  30. #48
    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Brad....my theory does not include de-topping. I firmly believe rims sets and tops and backs layed around unfinished but with FON's to indicate what they were for and for tracking costs and inventory
    Last edited by Darryl Wolfe; Apr-29-2014 at 10:38am.
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  32. #49
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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Quote Originally Posted by siminoff View Post
    Loar's 10-string mandoviola is a wonderful instrument and as mrmando mentioned, Loar tuned it to Eb, C, F, Bb and Eb (treble to bass). When Dawg borrowed it from me for the "Wayfairing Stranger" cut on his Dawg Grass album (1982), he tuned it to the conventional E, A, D, G, C mandola tuning, and as only Dawg could, he brought out the wonderful voice of this instrument and tuning. If my memory serves me correctly, the scale length was 15-5/8", it has a Virzi Tone Producer and a real three-piece neck (I say this because as you all know, most other Gibson instruments of the time that looked like a three-piece neck were actually one piece with an inset dyed pear wood strip to give the appearance of a three-piece neck). Here is another photo of it being played by Nell VerCies (left to right are Loar, Dorothy Crane, (Sally) Fisher Shipp (standing, Loar's first wife), James Johnstone (also head of Gibson's string division), Nell, and Lucille Campbell; all of the Fisher Shipp Orchestra.

    The instruments in the case included a musical saw, and Loar's electric viola from his Nov. 1935 patent (#2,020,842), So while the mandoviola was made while he was a Gibson, all three instruments were not combined in this case until the early 1930s.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Mr. Siminoff - I often wondered about the statement "Loar tuned it to Eb, C, F, Bb and Eb (treble to bass)". Is this something you found in his notes, was it the way it was tuned when you discovered it, or is there something else I am missing? While I have your ear, I also wondered if he had left his stringed instruments you found in storage tuned to pitch, or if he had detuned them to relieve some tension. Must have been quite the afternoon discovering these treasures! Thank you for your time in advance if you have a moment to answer.

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    Default Re: Loar's Mando/Viola 70321

    Wolfbane… The tunings were publicized along with various announcements of his mandoviola, not in his notes. I really don't remember how that instrument was tuned when I got it - I was much less concerned about how it was tuned and more excited that I had found the instrument that was in the "workbench" photo. The electric viola was not tuned up to pitch. His F5 was moderately out of tune when I got it, but not slacked, and a few strings were broken. His August Diehl viola was also moderately out of tune, but not slacked; the bows were slacked but needed re-hairing. (The string tubes with his name written on the side, still have new viola strings in them.) There were actually four discovery times: 1-mandoviola with electric viola and musical saw; 2-August Diehl viola; 3-keyboard instruments/amplifiers/books of notes; and 4-F5 with electric pickup. And you are absolutely right about it being "quite the afternoon" - I still savor the memories, and I'm glad to be able to share the excitement and information with you all. Roger

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