Bill Monroe is often referred to as the "Father of bluegrass", with an ever evolving and inspiring career spanning over 60 years, he has had a tremendous impact on bluegrass and most country music we know today. A consummate performer, he was never seen with out his Gibson F5 on stage or off!
In 1938 Bill Monroe formed his famed bluegrass group named the Blue Grass Boys. Around this same time Bill acquired a 1923 Gibson F5 model "Lloyd Loar" mandolin. The Gibson "Lloyd Loar" would become his trademark instrument for the remainder of his career, as well as the inspiration for this Limited Edition F5 Monroe many years later. His original mandolin can be viewed not far from our shop at the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville.
Lloyd Loar was a Gibson sound engineer and master luthier in the early 20th century. Mr. Loar worked for Gibson from early 1919 to 1924, and in that short amount of time he contributed many significant innovations to the world of stringed instruments. One of the many innovations was the introduction of the F shaped holes in the Mandolin, borrowed from the violin family. His instruments were known for their incredible volume, clarity, and master craftsmanship. These instruments from this period are now recognized as some of the most valuable, significant instruments ever made.
This particular limited edition Gibson F5 Monroe was built in 1993, the same year Bill Monroe received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. There were only 200 Gibson F5 Monroes ever made, and you are looking at #64. Each Gibson F5 Monroe Label is hand signed by Bill Monroe as well as Steve Carlson, Founder of the Flatiron Mandolin Company and Head of Gibson's production after they purchased Flatiron and redesigned it as the Gibson Mandolin Company.
Featuring a tight grained Spruce top with gorgeous Flamed maple back and sides, this mandolin is based on Mr. Monroe's mandolin. Why no pickguard?Well Bill Monroe didn't use one! This Gibson Monroe has an incredible tone, as you would expect from such a limited production, hand crafted mandolin. With a warm, woody tone the F5 Monroe has plenty of bite and chop, however don't let the varnish fool you, this one can cut through!
The F5 Monroe also has a beautiful varnish finish and is in excellent condition, with only minor scratches to the finish and headstock that may even be factory made. Varnish finishes are hand applied, and thus, are much more difficult to polish to the level of perfection or shine that a lacquer finish will. Thinner than nitrocellulose lacquer, the varnish finish is more flexible and allows the wood to resonate more. This makes the mandolin sound more "broken in" from the start. The Varnish finish also creates a very warm tone that sounds deep with a lot of definition. As this is an 18 year old varnish finish there is some slight discoloration and hazing on the back as seen in the detailed photos below. Additionally, there are some surface scratches on top also shown below. It includes the original hardshell case with the certificate of authenticity enclosed.