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Thread: Did Lloyd Loar reject any mandolins?

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    Bill Healy mrbook's Avatar
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    Loar didn't build the mandolins that bear his name, but is supposed to have checked them over and signed the labels. Is there any evidence that he rejected any during the testing process, or sent any back to be redone? Is an "unsigned Loar" one that didn't meet his approval?

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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    I'm not aware of any proof either way.. but it's sure fun to think about. There are a couple of F5s with all the right features and the right serial number that don't bear a signature label
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    Registered User kudzugypsy's Avatar
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    "unsigned loar" is a term used to describe the post loar instruments that left the factory in 25-26 that have all the specs of loars with the exception of lacquer finish and gold hardware and fern inlay - what this means is that these were under construction during loars employment, but he wasnt there to sign them when completed.

    it doesnt have anything to do with a "rejected" F5.

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    "Unsigned Loar" and "indoor yard sale" are among the modern terms that I find amusing.

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    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (sunburst @ Dec. 05 2005, 06:47)
    "Unsigned Loar" and "indoor yard sale" are among the modern terms that I find amusing.
    Yeah, goes along with these...

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    I think two of the unsigned Loars still had varnish....if I'm not mistaken.

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    That really is a great question that I have been asking for some time. Were all the F-5's from the Loar era, signed? I think not, but the question is, where are they? If Lloyd only signed the ones that met with his approval, what about the ones that did not? Hmm. Kenc
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    Registered User kudzugypsy's Avatar
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    they probably did exactly what gibson has continued to do - they sawed them in 1/2. when i worked at gibson in the early 90's, it was rare, but i do have a nice set of super 400 book ends that came from sawed up necks that didnt meet QC.

    i've also heard on here (the cafe) Charlie D say that they would do so today if a mando didnt fit gibson QC.

    i will say this, that when i worked at gibson, as i'm sure it is today, QC was very high - you would be surprised - at that time we were making 180+ instruments a day (that was up to 240 per day by the time i left) and we were very serious that everything that went out the door was perfect. we had to stay til whenever to make that number, sometimes near midnight if enough stuff got sent back. i think if people could spend time at the factory, they would come away with a far different view of the gibson product.

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    I was at the Nashville factory a few years ago now. It was after the workers had gone home but the store was still open. I walked up to the Master Model booth where they varnish them. It was in the middle of the store. There on the counter was the completed lower half of a mandolin body as if it had been cut apart. I being the curious cat picked it up to look inside it. IT HAD BEEN VARNISHED!! And it was stuck to my hand, talk about being caught red handed. I peeled it off and got away from there. I bet the Varnish guy came in next day and looked to see how many "flies" he had caught the previous night.

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    Ok, now I know who grabbed that mandolin:angry: . Actually, it was just one we cut up. If they can't pass the mustard, they get cut up by the band saw. I believe that one we used for awhile to show what was inside the mandolin body.

    There were certainly some Loar era instruments that did not pass inspection and had to be set back till they could be made right or whatever. That would be impossible to imagine they would make everyone without a flaw that required reworking or replacing. It is very possible many of the parts for later mandolins were from those that were rejected but not redone till later. Quite a few Ferns had very loar characteristic materials in them and they could have been the parts that were usuable from earlier ones.

    They did not send them out without Loar's signature if they did not pass his inspection. If they did not pass, they could not ship. There are a few unsigned Loars. Charlie has one from Jan 4 25. It is a varnish and certainly a Loar without question. It would have to have been completed before Loar left on Dec 31 04 but not shipped or the label applied till Jan 4. I doubt Loar expected his firing and when he was let go the instruments that were ready had not had his signature but were Loar instruments in every way.
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    I did a search!

    But I am curious... why was Loar fired?

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Cetecea @ Dec. 07 2005, 11:37)
    I did a search!

    But I am curious... why was Loar fired?
    Here is one recounting that is similar to others I have read/heard. Basically, he made great instruments but the music scene took the market other places.
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    He was interested in getting involved in electric instruments and the then current Gibson management thought it was a waste of time and he needed to persue his interests on someone else's dime.
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    Thanks, sorry for the threadjack!

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    "If they can't pass the mustard, they get cut up by the band saw."

    Well, I know lf at least one topless J-200 that served as a potato chip bowl at a Gibson employee's wedding...

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    "Well, I know lf at least one topless J-200 that served as a potato chip bowl at a Gibson employee's wedding..."

    You don't normally hear "topless" in the same sentence as "wedding", maybe with "bachelor party"!
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    Joe,
    If you have your facts straight, you are saying that the production list of Loars reflects all instruments made or just the ones signed? Kenc
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    Registered User f5loar's Avatar
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    There are lots of missing numbers in the Loar serial number batchs. It stands to reason that if a Loar was assigned a starting batch number(FON)that is found under the Loar signature label and then a serial number is assigned later on in the process that some could have gone to the end and not passed the quality standards of Loar and those were trashed. Many were sent back for re-working until they were accepted. Therefore you could have missing serial numbers that will never show up today. To the knowledge of most experts of Loars no unsigned Loars have shown up during this time with Gibson. A few have surfaced without signature labels but it was apparent they just fell out over the years as has been the case in many labels from that time. I guess the glue was not that good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Big Joe @ Dec. 07 2005, 16:03)
    There were certainly some Loar era instruments that did not pass inspection and had to be set back till they could be made right or whatever. #That would be impossible to imagine they would make everyone without a flaw that required reworking or replacing. #It is very possible many of the parts for later mandolins were from those that were rejected but not redone till later. #

    (...)

    There are a few unsigned Loars. #Charlie has one from Jan 4 25. #It is a varnish and certainly a Loar without question. #It would have to have been completed before Loar left on Dec 31 04 but not shipped or the label applied till Jan 4.
    What Joe is saying here is supposition, but very reasonable. I can't name an example right now of an instrument that is in the serial number range (70000-80000 roughly) that is an F/H/L/K 5 without a signature label, but there are indeed some with later nubmers that look like they were built in the Loar period. A friend in London has a mandolin with a post-loar serial number that has a finish & other features that match much more closely with Loars than dot-neck ferns.

    It makes sense when you see a flowerpot peghead (the 22-24 style for the most part) cropping up "a few years too late" to theorize that perhaps that was at least partially built while Loar was about, and drilled for tuners later etc. Several other documented examples fit a similar pattern

    I believe that attributing Charlie's f5 to Jan 4 1925 was based on comments from the now deceased Gibson historian Julius Bellson, but Charlie's F5 does not have a date label in it.
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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Big Joe @ Dec. 07 2005, 16:03)
    There were certainly some Loar era instruments that did not pass inspection and had to be set back till they could be made right or whatever. #That would be impossible to imagine they would make everyone without a flaw that required reworking or replacing. #It is very possible many of the parts for later mandolins were from those that were rejected but not redone till later. #Quite a few Ferns had very loar characteristic materials in them and they could have been the parts that were usuable from earlier ones.
    Yes, what Joe says here is very reasonable. There are several examples of mandolins that have earlier features or parts with 1925 or later serial numbers. It's not unreasonable to assume that some of these were either re-worked or completed after Lloyd left the building.

    Charlie's #81250 doesn't have a dated label in the mandolin, but was attributed to that date by a Gibson historian.

    Many records were lost during a fire in Kalamazoo, though there may still be some documentation out there that survived.
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    Cafe Linux Mommy danb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (f5loar @ Dec. 08 2005, 08:09)
    There are lots of missing numbers in the Loar serial number batchs. It stands to reason that if a Loar was assigned a starting batch number(FON)that is found under the Loar signature label and then a serial number is assigned later on in the process that some could have gone to the end and not passed the quality standards of Loar and those were trashed. Many were sent back for re-working until they were accepted. Therefore you could have missing serial numbers that will never show up today. To the knowledge of most experts of Loars no unsigned Loars have shown up during this time with Gibson. A few have surfaced without signature labels but it was apparent they just fell out over the years as has been the case in many labels from that time. I guess the glue was not that good.
    I've always wondered exactly when an instrument was allocated a serial number. When the label was glued on, there would already be a pencilled in serial number below it, but so far all of those are in a position where it would have been possible to write that through the oval or f-hole.

    I think the labels were probably signed outside of the mandolin then glued in over the serial number. There is an example with messier penmanship where someone must have slapped their forehgead and called Lloyd in to sign it through the f-hole!

    The S/N also shows up on parts- some F5 pickguards have a serial number (sometimes not the right one!) scratched on the underside.. bridge bases often have a serial number in pencil with "T" or "B" for treble/bass (this detail showed up on 76547 and my '22 snakehead) too.

    The working theory is that the batch number/FON indicates a group of similar things ordered at the same time(Frank Ford has pointed out from catalog photos that there was literally a cart of parts wheeled around the shop floor). Sometimes that number helps to tell the story on the strange ones.

    Unfortunately, most Loars have unknown batch numbers.. because we can't seem to talk anyone into removing the labels to tell us the stamp numbers
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    Registered User kudzugypsy's Avatar
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    here's a question brought up by the post about CD's appx Jan '25 F5:

    doesnt it seem odd that LL left in late Dec of 24 - and by Jan of 25 gibson had done away with dating/signing the labels and had done away with the varnish finish - it would seem in this case, they told LL to just work out your contract thru the end of the year..... this doesnt sound like a donald trump "your fired" situation.

    were they using new labels for the MM's as of Jan 25?

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    Gibson continued using the same Master Model label that was in the signed Loar F5s on the 1925s and until around 1928. Of course, as always with Gibson of that period, there are exception. After the Master Model label came the Guarantee label.
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    Formerly F5JOURNL Darryl Wolfe's Avatar
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    Food for thought:
    Monroes July 9 has a Guarantee label over the Master Model label

    Fern 84684 Has a MM label
    Fern 84685 has a Guarantee label, and the date 5/27 is written inside
    Fern 85365 has 2 master model labels over each other
    Most Ferns until 87366 had Master Model labels
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    Registered User kudzugypsy's Avatar
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    so what do you think was the decision to NOT go ahead and date the mandos after Dec '24 if they already had the old label with the space for the date?

    i'm thinking from reading a lot of old posts on this subject that its possible they had A LOT of these at the factory as of 24 that werent sold yet - its possible some of these didnt ship out for a while - maybe they thought it would be bad business to have a guy order a F5 in 1926 and get a mando that was dated 1924.

    maybe...just maybe, thru detective work, some of these pieces can be put together. i got out some old FRETS mags dated 79-80 regarding loars and its amazing how the theory has changed over the last 25 years regarding this subject. as a matter of fact, they claimed then that a total of 170 were built - plus, there are a lot of *facts* thus uncovered to be errors. i guess just time will uncover most of the rest of the story.

    from the readings it seems TO ME (no expert) that Loar was just the "promotional guy" and really was not all that much IN CHARGE of the process. he was, so to say, the first "artist model" in that he was probably well known in the mandolin community much the way companies today pick an endorser or artist model to boost sales. it also states, wrongly imo, that Guy Hart (who was the bean counter) had a lot to do with it - hardly mentioning Ted McHugh (who smartly held most of the patents) in the whole process.




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