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Thread: Loar

  1. #1

    Default Loar

    Hey everybody, having read At last, a Loar to play I was wanting to ask the esteemed experts of the mandolin cafe message board a possiblly irreverent question. What is truly the difference in sound between a Loar Mandolin and today's top notch productions. Loars should be valued for their history and such but has their sound been matched or even outdone?

  2. #2
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Oct 2004
    Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
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    Default Re: Loar

    I don't know why I answer cause
    1. I've never played a Loar
    2. I've never played other higher end instruments
    3. I've never played either on TV

    But... I've read alot over my time here. It seems to me there are a couple of things.

    1. There is variability in the Loars
    2. No two people agree completely on what makes great tone

    I think Loars should be valued for their history (same goes for other quality vintage instruments). Loars are special because we've made them so and there's a very small number of them to be had. I feel this way because I love Mandolins.

    On a personal note, I remember a thread from several years back where a group of mandolins were played (mp3s linked to the Café forum and since taken down) that included a Loar F, Arches A and F, a Gilchrist A and folks were invited to connect the sounds to the instruments. Few got them correct and there was a broad range of opinion on the quality of all of them (nothing bad in the lot of them). So, I personnaly feel that a) Loars should be valued because of the huge influence on how mandolins are built and look to this day and b) that there are people out there making instruments that sound great to me.

    I also really happen to like builders who make great sounding instruments that depart a little or a great deal from the design aesthetic of the Loar F5. It is a very exciting time to play, listen to, and admire the mandolin given the w i d e variety of choices we have.

    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  3. #3
    The Forrest Gump of Mando Rob Powell's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
    Reston, VA

    Default Re: Loar

    Loars are collectible because of the signature. The signature represents a change in the way mandolins were built - namely to the specs of a mandolin player with some instincts about the physics involved. I have a Weber which is NOT built to Loar specs and it sounds great. I have a "The Loar" which was built to Loar specs and it sounds great, very different from the Weber but great nonetheless. In fact, I've come to prefer it's tone and feel over the Weber which cost over 3 times as much and is much easier on the fingers. The Loar specs will generally produce a certain kind of sound and that sound appeals to a lot of people.

    Buddy Woodward of the Dixie Beeliners plays an LM-700VS like mine and endorses them. He bought his from Big Joe Vest just like I did. Only I got serial number 001
    "If you can make it to 50 without growing up, you don't have to..."

    Rob Powell AKA The BeerGeek

  4. #4
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Bellingham, WA

    Default Re: Loar

    [QUOTE=Rob Powell;715214]Loars are collectible because of the signature.

    What about all the other American string instruments that are highly collectible and valuable (including mandolins) and do not have signatures? How about "unsigned" Loars that have sold in excess of $100,000? Loar's signature is part of it but only that... part of it...

  5. #5
    Registered User jim_n_virginia's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    North East Carolina

    Default Re: Loar

    I have played 3 of them and one of the owners I consider a friend and ALL have had fantastic tone while each one had it's own personality per say.

    They just have this and I hate to use an old cliche but they have this mojo about them. I don't know if it's because of the way it was put together or the aged woods or even just knowing they are worth $200K+ each! Probably ALL of the above! LOL!

    In any case ... I wish I had one ...

  6. #6

    Default Re: Loar

    Ah, ye olde familiar subject matter...

    Too many variables. Probably boils down to how any given instrument feels in your hands; and your own ears and what pleases them.

    I can only speak for myself when I say that, having played #72207 since 1986, I rarely find other fine mandolins as pleasing to the my ears as the better quality Loars.

    But more than that, very few mandolins have the 'feel' -- almost a "heartbeat" of sorts -- in these old beauties when you play them.

    There is most definitely a difference in the feel & sound of the better quality Loars when compared to modern made mandos...regardless of your personal like or dislike in various sound qualities.

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