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Thread: Out of my league

  1. #1

    Default Out of my league

    No, not the hot girl from church. Well, she probably is too. But I'm talking about the $125,000 Gibson F5 Loar era mandolin that my somewhat local shop, Daves Guitar Shop, had for sale.

    A few months back when I was checking out local inventories, I saw the listing for the F5. I recalled the recent article/interview of George Gruhn that I read where he discussed guitar prices and the three classes of guitar buyers (players, collectors, and speculators) and thought that even given the rarity of the mandolin, Dave's would be holding onto that F5 for awhile at the six figure price.

    Wrong. Curious to see if they had gotten any used Gibsons in stock, I saw they had already sold the Loar era F5. This got me curious about who is buying these.

    I've seen the videos where Carter's or whatnot brings in the likes of Chris Thile or Sierra Hull and they then play these six figure $ mandolins. Are they the main market for them-wealthy, accomplished players looking THE tone to record with? Or are they being snatched up by speculators looking to make a profit?

    Frankly, I think it's fascinating and very cool that many people value musical instruments as much as they do.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Out of my league

    I think you answered your own question. Players, collectors, and speculators.

    It is interesting to see players like Andrew Marlin buy progressively more expensive instruments as their careers progress and to them it's a business expense. There are plenty of people around to whom Loar prices represent disposable income, and have an interest in playing. As for speculation, those successful at that game usually can afford to lose, and thus don't.
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  5. #3
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post




    I've seen the videos where Carter's or whatnot brings in the likes of Chris Thile or Sierra Hull and they then play these six figure $ mandolins. Are they the main market for them-wealthy, accomplished players looking THE tone to record with? .
    I kind of doubt that even Chris and Sierra are actually wealthy by the American definition. I know Sierra plays a sponsored Gibson Master Model, not sure how Chris got his Loar, and I wonder if he might not still be paying it off?
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
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    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  6. #4

    Default Re: Out of my league

    I thought Chris Thile got it from a McArthur genius grant.

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  8. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Main answer to "who's buying $125K Gibson F-5's?" -- not me! Not anyone I know, either.

    My house cost $41K, 42 years ago. Probably worth slightly more than that F-5 now, but still...

    Quite a few top-flight pro players that I see, are playing excellent newer instruments from individual luthiers. They're paying a fraction of what Gibson Loar F-5's are going for, and they seem quite pleased with the mandolins they play.

    When I first started acquiring mandolins nearly 50 years ago, the Lloyd Loar F-5's were always just out of reach financially. As my financial resources have increased, their prices have increased even more. The combination of reputation, rarity, and actual quality has kept them unreachable by most musicians -- and so they remain, as far as I'm concerned.
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  9. #6
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by hogansislander View Post
    I thought Chris Thile got it from a McArthur genius grant.
    I think that was his second Loar. Unless I am mistaken, he has two. Good for him!!!
    Purr more, hiss less.

  10. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Wait a minute... You guys don't already own Loar signed mandolins? How did you get in here?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  12. #8
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Wait a minute... You guys don't already own Loar signed mandolins? How did you get in here?
    My Schmergel Devastator proved acceptible for admittance.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

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

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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    There's no "c" in Shmergel
    Oh, no, Bob got taken by the company producing the Chinese knockoff!! Or, perhaps, it was one of those guys in the 70s and 80s who just couldn't quite bear to put "The Shmergal" on the headstock, adding the C to make it just different enough...

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  17. #11
    Registered User stevo58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Fools! The first 23 Shmergels had a ‘c’ in them. He changed the name to hide his German background. A genuine ‘Schmergel’ is worth twice a Loar!
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  19. #12
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Yea, most full-time (and/or travelling) musicians feel good if their 10 year old car or van is working properly, if their gigs pay what they promised to pay, and if they can pay their rent. If they have health insurance and a retirement account going, that's better than most full-time musicians. IF they are paying a mortgage instead of rent, that's truly amazing.

    Unless they have a wealthy sponsor, have received a special grant, or were lucky enough to buy one for $900 35 years ago, most living full time musicians can't afford to own a signed Loar; food on the table gets a higher priority.
    -- Don

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  21. #13
    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Main answer to "who's buying $125K Gibson F-5's?" -- not me! Not anyone I know, either.

    My house cost $41K, 42 years ago. Probably worth slightly more than that F-5 now, but still...

    Quite a few top-flight pro players that I see, are playing excellent newer instruments from individual luthiers. They're paying a fraction of what Gibson Loar F-5's are going for, and they seem quite pleased with the mandolins they play.

    When I first started acquiring mandolins nearly 50 years ago, the Lloyd Loar F-5's were always just out of reach financially. As my financial resources have increased, their prices have increased even more. The combination of reputation, rarity, and actual quality has kept them unreachable by most musicians -- and so they remain, as far as I'm concerned.
    Interesting post. Actually in 1972 when I got out of the Army and back to graduate school I was (by my standards at least) relatively "rich" as I had both my GI bill stipend and a my grad school fellowship. It seems to me that Loar F-5s were barely over $1000 then -- something like that? I actually considered trying to get one --because I heard someone in Dayton had one for sale. But NOOOO, instead I spent my "wealth" on a BMW 2002 TI because I already had a 1919 F-2 and did not appreciate the difference. Who knows if the BMW even avoided the scrap pile by now?
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  23. #14
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    I've known quite a few folks who would buy an $80,000 car every two or three years, but wouldn't cough up $2500 for a good mandolin or guitar.

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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    German? Heck no. French. MY Devastator is a «hmergel.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

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  27. #16

    Default Re: Out of my league

    With regards to players, speculators and collectors this is an interesting double blind study comparing new and old violins.
    I would imagine that some of the information is transferable to the mandolin world.

    https://theviolinchannel.com/exclusi...n-instruments/

    Enjoy!

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Its all in what one wants and can afford, I got a 24 Loar almost a year ago, well under 125 and it was hardly played, all original, and since has opened up to be a sweet tone machine, Its something I enjoy and an investment so when I'm gone the wife or kids can sell it unless my boy keeps up the family tradition of playing music? Or if I need the $ in some way? I feel lucky as what 10 years ago I think all clean ones were going for 250G+ and I know of some people that paid that thinking they'll go up and now are for sale but for 250 as they don't want to take a serious loss-if they want to sell they'll have to take a bath! I play it out all the time, wanted one from the beginning and just saved up, sold things, traded up.

    Maybe they'll go up again but I doubt it unless a long time from now? People spend millions on, to me useless art that hangs on the wall and what can you do with that besides look at it! I'd rather have some fine instruments but to each his own.

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    Certified! Bernie Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Canada View Post
    With regards to players, speculators and collectors this is an interesting double blind study comparing new and old violins.
    I would imagine that some of the information is transferable to the mandolin world.

    https://theviolinchannel.com/exclusi...n-instruments/

    Enjoy!
    Thanks. FYI the Paris experiment has been discussed on the Mandolin Cafe in depth a couple of times. You should be able to do a search for it. A couple of the strings were very long. As you might guess there was no consensus of opinion. LOL
    Bernie
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  31. #19
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    You folks be crayzee!
    Zsermagal are really Dutch and the there is one in an undisclosed address in Arizona, one deep underground under Manhattan and, one in an equally undisclosed location in SW lower Michigan.
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  33. #20
    Out of tune HappyPickin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    I got to hold a '24 Loar this week. It has aged much more gracefully than I have. I did not drop it nor drool upon it.
    Out of tune and out of time.

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  35. #21
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyPickin View Post
    '. . . nor drool upon it.
    Pretty sure I'd need a lobster bib.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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  37. #22

    Default Re: Out of my league

    Did you get to play it? That would be such an awful tease if someone said, "Here, wanna hold my '24 Loar? Oh, but you can't play it." I'd have to at least play Old Joe Clark, haha.

    But then again, this reminds me of the question of whether or not it's a good idea to play an instrument that costs more than you or your wallet want to pay. It could solidify your happiness with what you already have, but it could also lead to a bad case of MAS.

  38. #23
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by archerscreek View Post
    Guitar prices and the three classes of guitar buyers (players, collectors, and speculators) .
    Unless I am mistaken, ANY musician who can afford a Loar can claim it as a business expense, and use it as a tax write-off . . . so, it can serve the triple purposes of being a player, investment and a financial business decision.

    A old colleague of mine knew a guy who had a house full of collectible guitars stashed in closets, under beds, etc. - but he couldn't play a lick on them . . . for him they were just an investment. While I fully support anybody who wants to buy anything for whatever reasonable reason that they want to - as a musician I would much rather see those guitars in the hands of players, or at least in the hands of a collector who will truly appreciate them - rather than just have them sit in a case under the living room sofa of some speculator for the next 20 years.

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  40. #24
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    My Schmergel Devastator proved acceptible for admittance.
    Braggart! Not supposed to tell...
    One watch by night, one watch by day...if you get confused, just listen to the music play.

  41. #25
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Out of my league

    Quote Originally Posted by Russ Donahue View Post
    Braggart! Not supposed to tell...
    A momentary weakness. I am sure I will be sanctioned by the owners' association. Don't worry though, I didn't mention that you own one, too.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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