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Thread: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CANADA

  1. #1
    Shayan Givehchian
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    Smile Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CANADA

    Hello good folks

    I've been playing the mandolin for about 2 years now and have a Eastman 514 which I adore.

    I'm thinking of picking up something to play on the side. I tried the ukulele and it just wasn't my thing so I'm leaning more towards more similar in style of playing instruments and have narrowed it down to the Octave mandolin and the Russian balalaika.

    Does anyone know of any good OCs I could find for a descent price? The 12th fret in Toronto has Trinity college that goes for about 1000 cad but I'm looking for something sub 800 region or any cheaper if possible . Don't mind used ones or buying online but wasn't able to locate any. Mostly wall hangers and long scale bouzoukis.

    Also if any help you could provide for balalaika in canada specially toronto would be great. I've tried the Hora balalaika in person and enjoyed it so that would probably have to be purchased direct from factory off eBay.

    Thanks for your help
    In love with the mandolin since Feb 2016
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    People in the CBOM subforum may have better information, but in my search for an OM, the only instrument I'd have considered in your price would have been a used Trinity College. Since then I've seen the occasional used Pono that might be worth looking at. Eastman apparently is making one that would fit your budget but my understanding is they haven't yet been shipped to stores or to those who preordered them.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Yes, the Eastman octave would fit your requirements perfectly. They sell for 699 us. The only problem is, as stated above, it is a unicorn. It was introduced last February at Winter NAMM, they had at least one prototype that people could play. Then they allowed their dealers to accept pre orders. They promised delivery in June, then July, now they say "Fall". And if and when those instruments finally arrive, they will have to fill the writing list of pre orders first. Personally, I have my doubts that they will be able to deliver at all. They may have bitten off more than they can chew.

    For inexpensive octaves, some have said the Romanian made Hora instruments are ok for the price. They do need some work though. At the minimum they need a new, better quality properly compensated bridge installed, a new set of proper strings to replace the horrible ones they ship with, and of course a set up. But they are solid wood and could be made to play reasonably well. They are easy to find on eBay. Also, some have been happy with the APC made in Portugal instruments they have purchased from Moloney Music in Ireland. He will ship internationally, I think, but you have to investigate and be responsible for import fees, taxes, etc.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Is it possible to save up for something better, or will $800 always be your limit? In the $1,000-to-$1,500 range, there are luthiers here in Maine (and, I'm sure, elsewhere) who could accommodate you handsomely with a no-frills, great-sounding and -playing workhorse.

    Everyone's different, but I always end up happier if I save for a year or two to get an instrument that really works for me. And since you have a mando already, it's not like your hands and ears will be idle.

    If you'd like a name or two, send me a private message.

    PS - Those Horas sound like they're worth investigating, too.

  5. #5
    Shayan Givehchian
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Yes, the Eastman octave would fit your requirements perfectly. They sell for 699 us. The only problem is, as stated above, it is a unicorn. It was introduced last February at Winter NAMM, they had at least one prototype that people could play. Then they allowed their dealers to accept pre orders. They promised delivery in June, then July, now they say "Fall". And if and when those instruments finally arrive, they will have to fill the writing list of pre orders first. Personally, I have my doubts that they will be able to deliver at all. They may have bitten off more than they can chew.

    For inexpensive octaves, some have said the Romanian made Hora instruments are ok for the price. They do need some work though. At the minimum they need a new, better quality properly compensated bridge installed, a new set of proper strings to replace the horrible ones they ship with, and of course a set up. But they are solid wood and could be made to play reasonably well. They are easy to find on eBay. Also, some have been happy with the APC made in Portugal instruments they have purchased from Moloney Music in Ireland. He will ship internationally, I think, but you have to investigate and be responsible for import fees, taxes, etc.
    Thanks for the reply.
    I've tried the balalaika from Hora and it was descent and definitely not a wall hanger. But I figured an Octave mandolin is something you want to be slightly higher than a beginner instrument since you won't upgrade it as regularly and easily as you would with your mandolin.
    In love with the mandolin since Feb 2016
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    Shayan Givehchian
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Haha yeah saving always works. But I usually live out of town and going to be in the city for short time so I get to try them out myself if possible. And also you you know how to new instrument fever aka mas gets you is. The thirst must be quenched lol
    In love with the mandolin since Feb 2016
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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Don't know if Ashbury are available in Canada but I'm very pleased with my E Style which would be in your budget.

    I've also got a Hora, and whilst that has a nice tone, the Ashbury is nicer to my ears, richer and more mellow.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Quote Originally Posted by OneChordTrick View Post
    Don't know if Ashbury are available in Canada but I'm very pleased with my E Style which would be in your budget...
    Hobgoblin Music USA has an Ashbury available on-line for $725 US. Don't know if it's the "E style" mentioned above.


    Balalaika technique and fingering are so different from mandolin technique, that I would recommend octave mandolin, just for greater ease in transferring your skills from the instrument you already play. Just my 2.
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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    No this is a link to the Style E: http://www.hobgoblin-usa.com/local/s...ctave-mandola/ as it retails at $995 it's more expensive than I thought. My apologies, I'd assumed that, like most instruments it would be cheaper in the US than the UK. Unfortunately not the case in this instance.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Just a comment....

    The octave mandolin is SO much more like your mandolin than the balalaika is, as it is in the same tuning and uses a pick.

    The standard size balalaika is tuned E E A, the E's are nylon and the A metal, you use your fingers not a pick, and you use the left hand thumb around the neck very often.

    It is a whole other thing, so just be aware that the OM is a much easier instrument to double from a mandolinist's POV.

    That said, if you like the balalaika, great! It's a very cool instrument, but it is from a whole other family of instruments than the mandolin.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    I picked up a Pono OM. Its guitar bodied and has guitarish tone (which I like).

    There is a shop worn one in the classifieds here for 950 from The Mandolin Store. That would be a good one to start on.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    A little aside from topic - check out Alexey Arkhipovsky on youtube. The Chris Thile of the balalaika.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MCHL2GJRxM

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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    I have a Hora Irish Bouzouki (it's set up and tuned CFAD as a Greek bouzouki though), for 250$ USD it is definitely a good deal as a solid wood instrument with built in pickup. It has a minimum of ornamentation which helps keep costs down, and the bridge was unfinished, perhaps so the buyer could cut the slots to the preference of wound or unwound string first, or unison pairs. I have a suspicion that maybe the Hora Irish bouzoukis are best suited as a cheaper alternative to Greek bouzoukis rather than being tuned GDAD like an Irish bouzouki. Mine holds tuning well, sounds good, has a few rough areas as far as fit and finish but all in all good, mine gets heavy regular use; I'm sure more expensive instruments would be an improvement, but the Hora can get the job done if you're comfortable doing some basic set up work.

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    Registered User Stainless's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Quote Originally Posted by Ge23ev View Post
    Hello good folks

    I've been playing the mandolin for about 2 years now and have a Eastman 514 which I adore.

    I'm thinking of picking up something to play on the side. I tried the ukulele and it just wasn't my thing so I'm leaning more towards more similar in style of playing instruments and have narrowed it down to the Octave mandolin and the Russian balalaika.

    Does anyone know of any good OCs I could find for a descent price? The 12th fret in Toronto has Trinity college that goes for about 1000 cad but I'm looking for something sub 800 region or any cheaper if possible . Don't mind used ones or buying online but wasn't able to locate any. Mostly wall hangers and long scale bouzoukis.

    Also if any help you could provide for balalaika in canada specially toronto would be great. I've tried the Hora balalaika in person and enjoyed it so that would probably have to be purchased direct from factory off eBay.

    Thanks for your help

    Another approach, one which I have done. Purchase a Blueridge Tenor guitar, change the strings and tuning for GDAE. It will be an octive below your mando, with plenty of volume and sustain. Including case, and new instrument you will be about $500.
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    Shayan Givehchian
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Interesting comment. Will definitely look into it.
    In love with the mandolin since Feb 2016
    Eastman MD514
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Quote Originally Posted by Seter View Post
    I have a suspicion that maybe the Hora Irish bouzoukis are best suited as a cheaper alternative to Greek bouzoukis rather than being tuned GDAD like an Irish bouzouki.
    .
    I used to sell those instruments years ago.

    Yes they are basic, a flatback Greek bouzouki...but I have seen them restrung with light strings to an OM tuning.

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    Registered User Stainless's Avatar
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    When I went this route, I used D'Addario custom single strings 13,20,30,45. A luthier did the setup ($50) including some nut filing, to accomodate the heavier strings. The result is extramely good action.
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Could you tune a Gold Tone bouzouki to GDAE? The scale is longer but they look like nice instruments.
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    Default Re: Octave Mandolin,balalaika as side instrument. Help needed CAN

    Quote Originally Posted by gspiess View Post
    Could you tune a Gold Tone bouzouki to GDAE? The scale is longer but they look like nice instruments.
    Perhaps, with the right gauge of strings.

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