Oct 28, 2013

Loar Mandolins: The Choice of Famous Fretters

On the afternoon of Nov. 13,1985, Della Monroe, wife of Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe, came home to find Bill’s cherished 1923 Lloyd Loar Gibson F5 mandolin and his back-up F5 lying in splinters on their fireplace hearth. Someone with a grudge against her husband had broken into their home and beat the mandolins with a fireplace poker, repeatedly stabbing and hammering at them. The vandal had also destroyed portraits of Bill and other artwork.

Bill was devastated. His primary F5 was legendary for its tone, and he had played it almost exclusively for decades. No one was ever arrested for the crime, but analysts and a few acquaintances theorized that it must have been a woman; most likely a spurned lover. A man, they said, would have grabbed the mandolins by their necks and smashed them against the fireplace.

The damaged mandolins were packed up and delivered to the new Gibson factory in Nashville, where they were examined by Gibson craftsman Charles Derrington. Accompanying the mandolins was a paper bag containing hundreds of slivers of wood from both instruments. Read More

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