Crafting an instrument that serves as an homage to the Golden Age while also delivering on the quality and needs that a modern player seeks, is not an easy task. It is a task that the Loar seem to have taken on and proudly delivered on for years. Their guitars and mandolins have been an amazing example of how a good craftsman can chip away at the unnecessary and only leave in the best. With some of the best mandolins like LM-600 and LM-700, the Loar’s reputation is set in stone. Nevertheless, the company innovated and delivers on quality while also catering for beginners and people who cannot afford high prices that most mandolins are at. The LM-500-VS is one of their more affordable models that does not suffer in quality because of the lower price.
The Loar LM-500-VS Contemporary F-style mandolins offer premium solid spruce top coupled with solid highly-flamed maple back and sides. This combination created a very vibrant sound and solid construction that will weather any storm. The flamed maple neck that has an ebony fretboard with abalone M-O-P custom flower pot headstock inlay is a perfection of playability and aesthetics. The neck on this model also has V-profile. This shape is well rounded and comfortable making this model, comfort-wise, a good option for someone with no experience. One of the most interesting features of this model is the scooped fretboard extension. This allows the player to pick close to the joint. This result in better playability and comfort. If I had to pick, I would say one of the biggest issues with this instrument is that the finish is not as consistent in certain spots. Nevertheless, this minor issue can be overlooked because of the great price (it also does not mean that you will receive a model that has issues with the finish). Another issue – well, I would not call it an issue, but still- is that it takes time for this model to fully settle in. In case you play a lot, the process will be pretty quick but in nevertheless you should expect for the mandolin to get better in performance and comfort over time.
Tonewood and construction are pretty damn important but if the Loar stopped at that you would get a pretty mediocre mandolin. Instead, the company seems to have put a lot of thought and effort to match the build of this instrument with similarly high-quality hardware. The compensated adjustable ebony bridge and adjustable truss rod easy to maneuver. Quality bridge along with bone nut (a pleasant surprise) and high-quality vintage-style Grover tuning machines yield a pretty nice tone. The machine heads hold the tune very well so you won’t have issues with slippage. One of the ways you can see how the Loar took the old vintage style and gave it a modern kick is at the headstock. The Fleur-de-Lys headstock inlays beautifully fit with the overall design of this mandolin to celebrate the old and the new.
Loar LM-500-VS Sound
All in all, the sound of the LM-500-VS does not disappoint. What you should expect from this model are a balanced tone, nice bark, and sharp response. The projection is pretty good too. All of this is possible only because of the quality craftsmanship and Loar’s ability to choose the right combination of woods and hardware. While the LM-500-VS might not be equivalent in quality to some of its more expensive siblings but it surely delivers on the sound, making it a hidden gem among mandolins in its price range.
Mandolins don’t come cheap. That’s just a fact that everyone who plans on getting one should get used to. Of course, there are cheaper models that offer okay quality experience and performance but you usually get what you pay for with those instruments. The Loar LM-500-VS Contemporary F-Style Mandolin, for me and many others, is sort of in the middle ground. It does not have an outrageous price that will have you scrambling for all of your life-savings but it is also not a cheap (in cost and quality) model. This is a mandolin that balanced between prices and time periods. It perfectly juxtaposes old and good features of the instrument and, somehow, still manages to deliver on a consistent performance that will be enjoyed by beginners and intermediate players, equally.
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