Tony Williamson’s Lloyd Loar Mandolins (Mandolin Central MCP0065) is the ultimate and quintessential mandolin tasting. Featuring solo performances by Tony Williamson, the CD has a baker's dozen of the world's finest mandolins, most signed and dated by the legendary acoustical engineer Lloyd Loar. Brilliant craftsmen built these instruments in the Gibson factory of Kalamazoo, Michigan, in a two-year period beginning December 1922, except for two which were shipped out a few years later with no signatures.
I see that the instruments even have their own endearing names like The Fern, Fred, 22, Cleveland, Gold 'un, Green Hornet, Lloyd, Lloyd's other brother Lloyd, Mon, Short Fern, Crusher, Tiger, and Zeibarth. All instruments on this CD are preserved in original condition except Short Fern (#87367) which has been restored to period correct condition. They were set up identically and strung with D'Addario EXP74 strings. Each mandolin (except #71635: Crusher) was played studio live into a pair of vintage Neumann u47 microphones and delivered through Neve pre-amps. There were no electronic effects or EQ used in mixing and only minimum room placement employed in mastering.
It is Williamson’s hope that you can hear the natural brilliance of these amazing instruments and also that you appreciate the subtle differences in their tonal nuance. Father of bluegrass music Bill Monroe would refer to the "ancient tones" that fiddlers would embrace to get the most vibrations and loudness out of their instruments in a traditional-sounding way. Williamson does the same kind of coaxing with these antique mandolins.
Check Williamson’s webpage at Mandolin Central for photos, history, and details of each individual instrument and stories about the songs. Mandolin Central is an international resource of mandolin lore, vintage instruments and accessories which Williamson founded in 1990.