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Thread: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

  1. #1

    Default Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    I'll ask the historians for a little help here. I did some quick Googlin' and read that only one A-5 was produced during the Loar Era. Is this mandolin known today? Owned by somebody? On display somewhere? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I'll ask the historians for a little help here. I did some quick Googlin' and read that only one A-5 was produced during the Loar Era. Is this mandolin known today?
    It is famous, yes. Probably the second most valuable mandolin on the planet...

    EDIT: Mike beat me to it...

    Oh, and don't confuse the A5 designation with the later two-pointers from the 60's--like the one Jethro played, for instance....

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Quote Originally Posted by Spruce View Post
    ...Probably the second most valuable mandolin on the planet...
    And it is my favorite actually. There is only one.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    And it is my favorite actually.
    +1...
    Ever get to play it, Mike?
    It lives up to the hype...

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Nope, never. I've never even seen it. It's funny though, the mandolins built as copies have a certain beauty that the later A5 copies don't have. That high bridge position just appeals to me.

    Crud, I'm getting that itch to buy me an A style mandolin again.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Some people that have played it says that the Kentucky KM-900 comes close to sounding like the A-5 Loar, I wish I knew if that was true as I own a KM-900 and like it a lot, it is touted to be an exact copy but since there is only one original A-5 who knows?

    Willie

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    I've actually been looking at those online for a while. They look pretty good.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Thanks, guys. I have actually heard of the Griffith Loar, but didn't connect the dots. (to being the holy grail)
    Interesting stuff!

  12. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    The Ms. Griffith is the A model, her husband owned an F model as well. That would be the Griffith Loar.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The Ms. Griffith is the A model, her husband owned an F model as well. That would be the Griffith Loar.
    What about Melanie Griffith? (Working Girl, etc......)

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Not sure, but you might find an Andy Griffith.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Its sounds pretty good on Tone Poems. Others do as well..

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    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post
    Some people that have played it says that the Kentucky KM-900 comes close to sounding like the A-5 Loar...

  18. #15
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    there's Griffith Park in LA

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griffith_Park

    but it's no MacArthur park https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T70goVPkKrc
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  19. #16

    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    George Gruhn sold some Japanese made A-5's in the late 70's that were said to be very close copies of the Griffith A-5. If I remember correctly some had "GTR" on the headstock and others had "Gruhn." The one I played had the 'high bridge position" that Mike referred to. The local consensus, at the time, was that that was a very nice sounding mandolin.

  20. #17
    Luthier Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Playing one in the white now that is based on what I could find about the Griffith A5. Six degree neck angle resulted in the need for a high-boy CA bridge. Graduations close to what has been posted. Built for a customer, but she may have to get the next one.

  21. #18

    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    I have played it
    If I could have any Loar that would be the one
    danny
    Danny Clark

  22. #19
    wood butcher Spruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    ...and not a Kentucky KM-900?

  23. #20
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    From what i've read on here,the Kentucky KM900,is modelled directly from the A5 Loar dimensions - which are freely available,i know because a luthier friend of mine built one. I've also read many posts from players who own a KM900,but who also own other very high quality instruments including genuine Loars,& who testify to just how very good the KM900's sound. Cafe member F5Loar is one person who owns & rates the KM900 very highly indeed.
    It would be very interesting indeed if the person who owns the 'Griffith' Loar would allow a back to back comparison between it & a KM900 (or any other make of "A" style for that matter). I think that we might get a shock regarding just how good a KM900 mandolin can be,& maybe in 80 years time - who knows ?,
    Ivan
    - KM900
    - Griffith Loar
    Given that there is a difference in the acoustics of the rooms,IMHO,the KM900 gives a good account of itself.
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  24. #21
    Registered User ferrousgeek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Sam Bush really wanted the Ms. Griffith's Loar A-5. He had asked Tut for first dibs if he ever sold it. For whatever reason, Tut never contacted Sam when he eventually did sell it. Sam has been quoted as saying "That's the one that did it for me!"

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Does anyone have the timeline as to when the modern A5 body shape and subsequent bridge placement change took place in Gibson production? There was a thread that was that explained it but for the life of me I can't find it. I can find some other great details provided over the years but that one is escaping me.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  26. #23
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    So the part about the cake melting in the rain was a lie too? Always wondered about that.....

    Back to the topic the Gibson A-5's made in the wonderful 2001 - 2004 period in Nashville were really excellent mandolins too and there were a fair number made.
    Bernie
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    Due to current budgetary restrictions the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off -- sorry about the inconvenience.

  27. #24
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    One interesting detailed thread about the original A5 design can be found here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  28. #25
    Registered User ferrousgeek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Gibson A-5 mandolin history

    I know most of you know this, but for those who don't I'll throw it out there. Tut Taylor loaned the Loar A-5 to Norman Blake to play while they recorded the AereoPlane sessions with John Hartford. Those recordings give a good representation of the sound of that mandolin. To me, the take that really shows the power and tone of that mando is "Ruff and Ready" from "Steam Powered Aereo-Takes" which features Tut's, highly underrated mandolin playing.

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