Morgan Monroe Mandolins: A Guide to Their History and Features
Morgan Monroe is a brand of acoustic instruments that specializes in mandolins, guitars, banjos, and dobros. The company was founded in 2001 by Morgan Music, a family-owned business based in Lebanon, Missouri. Morgan Monroe mandolins are known for their quality craftsmanship, affordable prices, and wide range of models and styles.
One of the most distinctive features of Morgan Monroe mandolins is their serial number system. Unlike other brands that use a standard format of letters and numbers, Morgan Monroe mandolins have a unique serial number that consists of two letters followed by six digits. The first letter indicates the year of manufacture, while the second letter indicates the month. For example, a mandolin with the serial number AB060200 would have been made in January 2006.
The six digits after the letters are randomly assigned and have no specific meaning. However, they can be used to identify the model and features of the mandolin. For instance, some models have a W suffix after the serial number, which stands for wide neck. These mandolins have a 31 mm bone nut, which is 3 mm wider than the standard 28 mm nut. This makes them easier to play and more comfortable for players with larger hands.
Morgan Monroe mandolins come in various shapes and sizes, but the most popular ones are the F-style and A-style models. The F-style mandolins have a scroll and points on the body, while the A-style mandolins have a teardrop shape. Both styles have carved solid spruce tops and solid maple backs and sides for optimal tone and projection. Some models also have an onboard pickup system for amplification.
Some of the most sought-after Morgan Monroe mandolins are the ones that resemble the legendary Gibson F5 model that was designed by Lloyd Loar in the 1920s. Loar was a master luthier who revolutionized the mandolin by introducing features such as f-holes, longer necks, adjustable bridges, and elevated fingerboards. His signature F5 model was played by many famous musicians, such as Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music.
Monroe played a Gibson F5 model serial number 73987 signed by Loar on July 9, 1923, for most of his career. This mandolin can be viewed in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, where it now resides in their collections[^1^]. Loar also signed a rare subset of F5 mandolins called Ferns, of which approximately twenty are known to exist[^1^]. These mandolins have a fern inlay on the headstock instead of the usual flowerpot.
Morgan Monroe mandolins aim to capture the spirit and sound of these vintage instruments by using similar materials and specifications. For example, the MMS-2W model is an F-style mandolin that has a sunburst finish, gold hardware, an ebony bridge, and an Ashton Bailey high mass tailpiece[^2^]. It also has a wide neck option for players who prefer more space between the strings.
Morgan Monroe mandolins are ideal for beginners and intermediate players who want to enjoy the rich history and tradition of this versatile instrument. They are also suitable for professionals who need a reliable and affordable backup or travel mandolin. With their excellent quality, performance, and value, Morgan Monroe mandolins are a great choice for anyone who loves music. aa16f39245