Words By Walter Carter

The First Loar-signed F-5 Mandolin Gets a Second life

"To mandolin aficionados, the sight of the earliest known Gibson F-5 mandolin should have been a gratifying – if not inspiring – experience. After all, it is the first example of a mandolin design that, in the hands of such players as Bill Monroe, Dave Apollon, David Grisman, Sam Bush and Chris Thile (the list is endless), would become acclaimed as the pinnacle of American mandolin design. Instead, this earliest F-5 was a horrifying sight – the most important mandolin in American history, disfigured with ugly top cracks, amateurishly patched together with wood putty."


How To Open a Vintage Guitar Store in Seven Easy Steps

"Step one: Be careful what you dream 

This is the easy part of starting any business. Someone says “Why haven’t you gone out on your own?” And we don’t really have a good answer, other than it’s nice to have a steady paycheck. After more people ask, we start thinking maybe we should. After all, we know the business. My wife, Christie, has worked for one of the best-known vintage guitar stores for almost 25 years. I worked at the same store in two different stints totaling 12 years, and during the interim I was Gibson’s in-house historian. We know how to buy and sell vintage guitars, we know what not to do, we know a lot of people in the guitar business, and as most longtime managers come to believe, we can do a better job running a business than our boss. Yeah, we should open our own business."


The First Burst

"In May of 1958, a worker at the Gibson factory pulled two Les Paul guitars – serial numbers 8 3087 and 8 3096 – off the line and sprayed their bodies yellow in the center, bordered in red.
The result of months of experimentation, Chicago Musical Instrument Company (Gibson’s parent) hoped the look would imply the quality of a finely crafted violin and reinvigorate sales of the Les Paul. Though the guitar sold in modest numbers, that finish, dubbed “cherry sunburst,” would become the key element of the ’Burst – the world’s most collectible production solidbody."