This magnificent mandolin was signed by, in my honest opinion, the most influential mandolin maker of our era. Sadly Charlie is not with us now, but he left us a legacy of some of the best mandolins ever made.
For those who are not aware of mandolins. In the early part of the 20th century an acoustic engineer named Lloyd Loar joined Gibson, yes the same Gibson that makes some of the best electric guitars, banjos, resophonic guitars (dobro guitars). Lloyd Loar perfected what Orville Gibson started with taking the European round-backed mandolin and re-designing it with similar construction techniques and the same timbers as the best violins. The epitome of the Gibson mandolin, which has been copied by thousands of mandolin makers ever since, was the 1923 Gibson Master Model mandolin.
In the latter part of the 20th, and early 21st century, a very talented luthier named Charlie Derrington joined Gibson. Charlie first came to notoriety when he restored the 1923 Gibson Master Model mandolin of Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass Music. Bill’s mandolin was almost demolished by a vandal who broke into his home and smashed two of his mandolins into hundreds of very small pieces. Charlie Derrington, in an example of his great craftsmanship and a labour of love, painstakingly restored Bill Monroe’s mandolin to playability. Not only playable, but to deliver an astonishingly brilliant tone and volume.
Charlie went on to oversee Gibson recover its premiere place as the world’s leading mandolin maker. Of all the mandolins made during the Derrington era, Charlie personally signed about 80. I have the very great privelidge to be the owner of one of the best examples of musical craftsmanship. I have played some of the world’s best mandolins including a 1923 Lloyd Loar, and owned other mandolins including a Gilchrist Model 5 and a Gibson F5 fern. I have played for nearly 35 years, known the best that is on offer, and it is the mandolin I play every day.
I hope Charlie is in heaven and is aware of the legacy he has left. Thank you Charlie Derrington.
Please visit my gallery “The Loar According To Derrington” on pBase for further photographic examples of this wonderful instrument.