This is the original Lloyd Loar A-5 Mandolin. Here is the story of this
famous instrument. In the early1960's while living in Milledgeville, Ga..
I went to
Atlanta a lot to play music with my friends Ron and Don Norman, along with Walter Butler and lots of others. On one visit Ron told me about an old Gibson mandolin over at a music store in Decatur, Ga. So we go over to look at it. It was a nice old F-5 on consignment. Then Ron told me that it belonged to Dr. Wm. B. Griffith of the Griffith School of Music and had been left on consignment by his remaining sister. We decided to go over and see her about buying the mandolin. Ron had been there on other visits. After we chatted a while the subject of the mandolin came up. I told her I would like to buy it and that I would give her more than the store offered We agreed on the price and she sold it to me. She would go over to the store the following week and pick it up. I returned home on pins and needles, waiting to go back. The time finally arrived and Ron and I went over to the house. She had the mandolin and we closed the deal. She was happy that I paid her more than the store.
While we were standing around talking she remembered having another F-5 upstairs and asked if I would like to buy it. Of course. She goes upstairs and comes down with a strange looking mandolin like we had never seen before. We looked inside and saw both labels and we saw what we thought was F-5. Boy, was I ever wrong. I bought it, also a nice Tenor Gibson Banjo and a very nice spruce and rosewood Martin guitar. She also had a Gibson Banjo Bass that I wasn't interested in. She also had other instruments that I didn't see. Ron had visited her before and she gave him some old Gibson catalogs. I inquired if she had more. She did, and took us out back to a two-room cottage used for storing all the stuff used for teaching etc. It was literally full of sheet music, periodicals, catalogs and other items. My only interest was catalogs and I acquired a lot of them.
The Griffith sister was the remaining family member of the Griffith School Of Music in Atlanta. The school consisted of Dr. Wm. B. Griffith, his wife and two sisters. They taught all stringed instruments and Gibson Representatives for the whole south, selling, repairing and teaching instruments. In those days Gibson furnished a nice well-stocked work cabinet equipped with tools, strings etc. ( I also purchased this ). Dr. Griffith's wife , on occasion, would borrow his F-5 to play or teach. The points on the mandolin hurt her legs so she asked Dr. Griffith to he an F-5 without any points. It arrived from Gibson. It was the A-5. But they all thought it was an F-5. Personally made and signed by Lloyd Loar on Sept.11,1923. This is the mandolin she sold me as another F-5.
I had been going to Atlanta for about a year playing. Everyone at the jam sessions were always commenting on the high quality of the mandolin. One night at the jam session a new picker arrived. Since the A-5 was so loud he asked what kind it was and we told him that it was a special F-5. He looked inside and shouted " this ain't no F-5…..it's an A-5 ". Then we all looked in and saw the " A-5 ". I didn't know whether to be disapointed or not. All I knew was that I was in love that mandolin. It out sounded any mandolin that I ever heard. I played it for several years. I finally sold it due to difficult circumstances. Then I never played much mandolin after that.
Recently the present owner graciously loaned it to me for a while. I immediately composed a new tune " The Prodigal Five ". It had been away over twenty-five years and finally returned home for a while. To honor this exquisite mandolin I am releasing a video of it being played for historical purposes and to honor Lloyd Loar for his greatest achievements in the world of acoustic instruments.
Written by Tut Taylor
(All rights reserved)