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Thread: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

  1. #1

    Default Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    I'm getting back into playing some mandolin after a good while hacking through the fiddle wilderness. I'm going to get a new mando, and have narrowed it down to a Northfield F5S, a Pava A-5 Player, or a Passernig A-5. I play mostly bluegrass, sometimes in a full group, and often in smaller arrangements (duets, trios).

    I've read some feedback on all of these in various threads, but some updated thoughts from those who have, or have played two or all three of these would be great. I'm not in a location where I can play them before having them sent (on approval), but I might have two of them sent, and pick one.

    I tend to like the way the F5 shape feels on my lap, but tone and playability is of primary importance. Thanks.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    I have sampled Pavas and own an A5 Passernig. Both have very nice warm, complex sound quality and good volume. Either one will be great for bluegrass and other types of music as well. I think both provide excellent quality/price ratio, and they have builders behind them of fine reputation and client satisfaction orientation. I've only sampled Northfields once or twice, and they are fine instruments as well, with lots of fans. All are different as far as neck profile. Hate to repeat what is always said around these parts, but trying reslly is the best way to decide. If you can find some bargain tickets to Austin and combine it with a musical vacation, do it! In any event you have narrowed it down to an excellent group of three, no question in that regard.

  3. #3
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Just out of curiosity, what is it that you hope to find in a Northfield, Pava, or Passernig that is lacking in your Altman F5?

    I would think that the Altman should cover all the mando bases...
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  5. #4
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Of those 3, particularly if you are looking at the offerings at Fiddler's Green in Austin, the Passernig A5 is a great instrument. In my opinion the only mandolin close to it in the shop is the Ellis F5. The Passernig sounds wonderful and plays like a dream. I was very impressed.

  6. #5
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Ne

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Stolkin View Post
    I'm going to get a new mando, and have narrowed it down to a Northfield F5S, a Pava A-5 Player, or a Passernig A-5. I play mostly bluegrass, sometimes in a full group, and often in smaller arrangements (duets, trios).
    I used to own an early (pre-Player) Pava and liked it, only I preferred and continue to prefer the Passernig more. They are similar tonally, but the Passernig offers greater dynamics, along with more comfortable for me (Collings-like) playability.

    Similarly, I once tried to buy a shopworn Northfield F5S from a Cafe sponsor and was dissuaded by a well-intended salesperson. He felt that it would not match up to other mandolins in my experience (like a Collings) and did not want me to purchase an instrument from a distance with which he did not think that I would be entirely satisfied. I have yet to play one firsthand.

    In sum, I would recommend a Passernig enthusiastically. I would recommend a Pava with reservations (depending on your preferred neck profile). And I have no basis on which to evaluate a Northfield.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  7. #6

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by DataNick View Post
    Just out of curiosity, what is it that you hope to find in a Northfield, Pava, or Passernig that is lacking in your Altman F5?

    I would think that the Altman should cover all the mando bases...
    Nuts, it's been so long since I've been here, I forgot to update. I sold the Altman some time ago when I started playing fiddle. Starting back in with a smaller budget.

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  9. #7
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Another nod for the Passernig. The one at Fiddler's Green, as Mark mentioned, is exceptional. Every Passernig I've played there has been so.

    The Pava that I've played there have been great as well, but the Passernigs have just had something extra. There is a considerable price difference between the Pava Player and the Passernig to be considered. That brings up a slightly different discussion.

    I think either would be a great option if you have to buy without being able to play first.

    Let us know where you end up.
    Chris Cravens

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Passernig worked at Collings for a while.

    The Pavas have a darker tonal quality, and the finish seems thicker than the Collings. I have a very early Pava with a James tailpiece and I added Waverly tuners. I've consigned it as I prefer the sound to an MT2 that I purchased, quite unexpectedly. It had "it", at least for me (and at least 5 of my mandolin-playing friends who when visiting take it out of its case and leave their own mandolins in their cases).

    As for the Northfields, I made a mistake after playing the Big Mon at TME in playing the Collings MF Deluxe, and then the Campanella............by the time I got done playing the Campanella, the Big Mon was long forgotten. I am currently on a "mando-scaleback" or else the Campanella would be here with me right now.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Regarding neck profiles: The Passernig to me has a fairly distinct V, which is Stefan's personal preference, though it is not as thick and wide as say, a teens Gibson. Had him take the edge of the V down a little, a bit more rounded and comfortable. Both this and the Pava are 1-1/8" wide The Pava has a pretty small radius for the fingerboard, meaning it is more rounded than nearly any other radiused fretboard I've ever tried. Feels a little crampy after a while, IMHO. In any event, they both have some magical sound.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Ben at Fiddler's Green was very nice to make a short comparison clip with the Passernig and the Northfield. Hard to draw as firm a conclusion as I could in person, but instructive, nonetheless.


  13. #11

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Bob, I'll give you my opinion based solely on this clip. I think the Passernig has more "Personality" and more tone coming from the wood as compared to the Northfield which has string sound in it's tone and to me has less "body" and roundness in the sound.

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    Registered User Atlanta Mando Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    That's tough to here a big difference. He's a great player but it sounds like he's using a thinner pick or maybe a pointier pick then I tend to like. Pulls a lot of string sound on both mandolins. Still, often different mandolins sound and feel more different to the player than to the audience.

  16. #13

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I agree that the Passernig seems to have some more depth and overtones, but I need to ask Ben how long each one has been in the shop. If the Northfield happens to be newer, it might just be a little tighter at this point.

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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    I played all these madolins last Saturday at Fiddlers Green. First I'll say Ben is a great picker who pulls very fat and satisfying tone from anything he plays. If you don't like what you hear it's not the pick or the picker. Not trying to stray too far off topic but the two in the shop that I liked the most by far were the Ellis f-5 and the Gibson f-9. The Gibson was stellar and had amazing tone and projection. The Ellis was more complex tone and was beautifully built.
    It doesn't matter . . . I'm going to WINFIELD!!!!!

  18. #15

    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by goose 2 View Post
    Not trying to stray too far off topic but the two in the shop that I liked the most by far were the Ellis f-5 and the Gibson f-9. The Gibson was stellar and had amazing tone and projection.
    Goose, did you also happen to play the Gibson F5G? If so, what did you think?

  19. #16
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Stolkin View Post
    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I agree that the Passernig seems to have some more depth and overtones, but I need to ask Ben how long each one has been in the shop. If the Northfield happens to be newer, it might just be a little tighter at this point.
    It may be newer, but in person, it is light years behind the Passernig. To my ear, there is very little comparison except on price point. I don't remember seeing the F9. I'll have to stop by and check that one out.

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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Stolkin View Post
    Goose, did you also happen to play the Gibson F5G? If so, what did you think?
    I did play the F-5 G and I thought the F-9 was far superior in tone and feel. To me, that F-9 just has it. Cool minimalist vibe, kinda like a good D-18. I like the gibson sound (I own a Master Model) and I have come across some F-9s and A-9s that knocked my socks off. This is one of those. Get Ben to pick one on it for you. He makes sound so good!
    It doesn't matter . . . I'm going to WINFIELD!!!!!

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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by goose 2 View Post
    Get Ben to pick one on it for you. He makes sound so good!
    Could this be the one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nion8VuaIgw

    Sounds really good.

  22. #19
    Registered User houseworker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    The Ellis:


    and (thanks to Clement) the Gibson:

  23. #20
    Registered User TEvans's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield, Passernig, Pava...Input Needed

    That Passernig A is awesome. It's got my vote!! And that Passernig mandola. I sit down with that thing for at least 20 minutes every time I make a string run over to Fiddlers.
    Austin, TX

    Ellis A5

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