Lloyd Loar Mandolin Gibson F-5 # 72211: Tiger
Gibson F-5 mandolin # 72211 was signed by Lloyd Loar on February 26, 1923. The newly designed F-5 was in full production at that time, and I imagine Lloyd Loar stalking the work benches, supervising the master craftsmen, coaxing them to adhere to his acoustical theories. In fact, discovered on the underside of the top of this mandolin is a sketch and note, in Loar's handwriting, "shape to this." (see photo link on the date). It is my opinion that this mandolin represents the Lloyd Loar dream fully executed in all its glory!
F-5 #72211 surfaced at the Skinner auction house in Boston a few years ago and immediately caught the attention of mandolin aficionados all over the world. Never, has there been found such an exquisite mandolin with such amazing, near mint condition! It came with original case, artifacts and memorabilia. Originally purchased by Roy Veiock of New Brighton, PA, Mr. Veiock was a professional musician, teacher, music store proprietor and Gibson agent. The story that has come to us is that Mr. Veiock traveled to Kalamazoo, MI. in early 1923, met Lloyd Loar and went through all the mandolins available at Gibson and choose this masterpiece of the newly introduced Lloyd Loar F-5 for his own personal mandolin. Mr. Veoick must have been the toast of New Brighton with this wonderful instrument, and the fact that so many of these mandolins have surfaced in and around that area of Pennsylvania is perhaps a testament to Mr. Veiock's success as a Loar advocate. This came to a tragic end in the winter of 1928 when Roy Veiock was killed in an automobile accident, and his instrument was silenced for over three quarters of a century... Fortunately, the mandolin was put into careful storage by his family. Consequently, Gibson F-5 # 72211 is in incredible original condition with the slightest bit of wear only in the first position on the back of the neck. The curly maple is the most amazingly flamed of all the Loars were have ever admired; quartersawn and bookmatched sugar maple back and sides are so striped we call this mandolin "Tiger." And the sound? Even though this mandolin literally remained unplayed since 1928, it has all the volume of the cry of the jungle cat on the prowl, both bright and woody, a full sound that rivals the best of the early Loars. Features and appointments on Gibson F-5 # 72211 are consistent with factory specifications for this model and year and include the classic carved top and parallel tone bar construction with f-holes and long, one-piece curly maple neck (which places the bridge in the center of the f-holes); headstock inlay consisting of “The Gibson” and abalone flowerpot; pearl button tuners with notched endplate; hand-engraved tailpiece; pick guard following body points; all hardware silver plated; and a unique Cremona shaded-sunburst varnish finish that has a wonderful golden glow.
So why, when presented with a mandolin with such power and presence, would I play such a delicate and subtle love song as "Secret Love"? To me, there is also an elegance to Tiger that shines through the temporal force, and responds to these chord formations in a wonderful way. My version of "Secret Love" came directly from Doris Day. I do not watch a lot of TV, but while ensconced in a hotel room in Tokyo after a concert, I was too excited to sleep and too timid to go out exploring at that time of night alone in a city whose navigation befuddles long time residents who own GPS equipment. So, I turned on the television. After clicking through many channels of news and Sumo wrestling matches, I landed on a channel with old movies, and there--behold! Doris Day! Starring in "Calamity Jane." Now this is not the historical Calamity Jane of Deadwood. This is Hollywood, 1950s style, in gorgeous black and white film. Beautiful, blonde Doris is squeaky clean in magnificent white buckskin with fringe riding an equally magnificent and white horse with silver saddle with fringe and straped on Doris' waist, matching silver plated pearl-handled Colt 45s. But listen, there's a twist: the movie is overdubbed in Japanese. I am sitting in this little room where the dresser bed and desk are crammed into a space smaller than the sum of the parts and the only way to sleep or shower is in the fetal position. So there I am, my Lloyd Loar mandolin in hand, sitting in the bed, playing along to a sound track of Japanese overdubs watching Doris as Jane, confident beyond belief with her shootin' irons, but too shy to plight her love and woo Bill Hickock. The movie progresses to the crucial scene, the turning point of the story arc. She rides her white horse out to a verdant dell and begins to sing "Secret Love." The Japanese had overdubbed the dialog, but the song was left intact, with English lyrics and full orchestra accompanyment. At this moment I was mesmerized by the convergence of all these ironies into this beautiful song of Cyrano de Bergerac-style love. So, I sat up into the night arranging this song for mandolin based on the inspiration of meeting Doris Day in a midnight Tokyo serendipity, and revisited that moment in the studio with Tiger in my hands.