CUSTOM BUILT FOR the wife of mandolinist W.B. Griffith in 1923, this instrument is the only known Loar-signed A-model mandolin. It is also the first and only (until recently) Gibson A-style mandolin built with f-holes, a long neck, and an elevated fingerboard. It is finished in the same cremona-brown sunburst varnish, typical of other “Loar” instruments of the period. The “snakehead” peghead is triple bound and inlaid with an abalone fleur-de-lis, also featured on the A-4. The tuners are silver-plated and engraved, and have pearl screw-on buttons. Tailpiece and adjustable bridge are identical to those found on Loar F-5s, and the instrument rests in an oblong F-5 case. This unique mandolin was owned for many years by Tut Taylor, who lent it to Norman Blake when they both played with John Hartford’s group in the early ‘70s. In 1988 Gibson began producing replicas of this rare mandolin, now called the A-5L.
Track 9: I Don't Want Your Mandolins Mister
(from Tone Poems CD booklet , used by permission)
Photography by Eric Harger