Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lloyd Loar Mandolins

May 3rd…Really? 

We have been engulfed in a series of house renovation projects and spring festivals.  The workshop has been quiet…much too quiet.  We hope that changes soon, of course that is after we get the garden and flowers planted by Mothers Day. 

Since I really have nothing new to report from the Bass Monkey workshop (though there are plenty of projects piling up) I thought I would share a short video from a recent festival where we were in the presents of seven Lloyd Loar mandolins.  Our love of vintage instruments does not stop at basses.   

The more I know about the other instruments in bluegrass and jazz music the more I want to know.  I love learning about the iconic instruments of the early bluegrass origins.  The Martin guitar, Gibson banjo, Gibson mandolin and of course Kay basses are “THEE” instruments that are highly sought after by bluegrass musician for the classic sound of the early days.   

Lonnie has been watching the resurgence in arch top banjos…which of course, he is totally in love with his Stanleytone arch top banjo…as the arch top has that high treble ring for that classic bluegrass sound.  Extensive research has been completed on the classic Gibson banjo tone ring. Well known banjo maker Steve Huber has spent thousands of hours testing and document the tone rings of pre-war Gibson banjos.   

This past weekend we sat in a workshop for Lloyd Loar mandolins with Tony Williamson of Siler City, NC an authority on Loar's.  It was totally fascinating to have seven Loar’s spread around in a circle and to hear Tony play and explain the differences in each mandolin.  While it was hard to not be overwhelmed by the potential of $100,000’s of thousands of dollars that lay before us, I really listen closely to the differences in the tone of the mandolins.  The back stories that go with each instrument were thoughtfully told by Tony and were just as fascinating.  While my research has been focused on the upright bass I am beginning to broaden my horizons to better understand the big picture of bluegrass music and the important role each instrument makes with every other instrument. 

I hope you enjoy the seven minute video which is a very short portion of the hour long workshop.  Enjoy and we will get back to basses real soon.  We have acquired some interesting project basses in the past few months.  Some are quite rare and from the pre-war era of 1937-1941. 

Super cool stuff!