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Thread: Your first great mandolin

  1. #26
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    I have been pretty lucky. First mandolin was a Bowlback traded for a Vega cylinder back and when, in my first band I could not hear myself, traded for a 1919 Gibson A3. Then years later sold and traded for my snakehead A2 which I still have and love. Then bought an early carved '83 Flatiron A5-2 and the others listed in my signature. I have owned owned a few others that didn't do it for me like a 1924 F-4, and a couple of boutique small maker models but pretty much kept most of what still gets me going.
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  3. #27

    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Almost embarrassed to say this and certainly foolish that I don't still have it....early 80's Nugget A5 deluxe. I took out a bank loan as a kid for $1650 to buy my first mandolin. Yup...still wish I owned that 68 Chevelle too:/

    Lots of fun since then though!

  4. #28
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Quite simple question to answer.

    My 10-string Stefan Sobell I got new in 1984, which is still my main instrument.
    When I went to see him, I had no plans to buy a 10 string, but he had just made one for a guy in California and he let me try it, and I made a slightly impulsive decision to order one too.

    It was not my first Sobell, however. I already had an octave mandolin (which was actually sold to me as an eight-string cittern). There were quite a lot of Sobell instruments in Scottish folk bands at the time.

    Stefan hadn't started making guitars then. He did a lot of ten-string citterns at the time.
    David A. Gordon

  5. #29
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    When I stepped into my Silverangel Econo A as an upgrade from an Eastman MD305, I was blown away, and still am at the sound of that machine. I played it at a jam this last week and having been a bit since I played it amongst others and was reminded at the power it has. It really does elevate one's playing!
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  6. #30
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    A 84 Flatiron A5 was my first great mandolin. I did not like the neck profile, but it had the best tone of all my mandolins. I replaced it with a Collings MT2.

  7. #31
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    I owned plenty of good ones before but my first truly great mandolin was my Heiden A5. Had it about 13 years now.

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  9. #32
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Each has exhibited ďgreatness.Ē Silverangel can be booming and assertive while the Girouard is a bit more ďrefined.Ē I love them both.
    Girouard A
    Silverangel A
    Eastman 615-tweaked

  10. #33
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    My The Loar LM220 was my starter mandolin, still have it, it wasn't terrible but it wasn't what I wanted either. Called TMS (NFI) and told them I was interested in a Pava Player F-hole or a Weber Bitterroot oval hole, and they told me I'd be happy with either, so I bought both. They were right, I am still happy with both. I have two distinct sounds that I enjoy, depending on what I am looking for in the piece I am playing. The starter mandolins get you going, and then you go for great!

  11. #34
    Registered User Ash Telecaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jcdraayer View Post
    Last Saturday was NMD for me as my "new to me" Northfield F5S arrived at my door. After letting it warm up from the cold trip across the country, I finally unboxed, basked in its beauty, and started to pick.

    Not only is it my first F5, but it's also my first "pro-level" mandolin after starting out on an Eastman 305 (not to say that the right hands can't play any mandolin professionally).

    To my ears, the tone coming out of this mandolin is both sweet and bright, punchy and delicate. The neck and setup are perfect in my hands. It is truly a joy to play, and I find myself already elevating my playing. Likely a byproduct of the sheer amount of playing I'm putting in, but also the ability to draw out the sound I'm looking for from the mandolin. I can hardly put it down, and with working from home during the pandemic, I have the supreme luxury of picking a tune whenever I have a few minutes between meetings.

    This experience got me thinking, I wonder what other folks first "great" mandolin experience was like? Would love to hear your stories.
    I just bought my first Mandolin, an md305. The Mandolin Store is shipping it today.

    I'm just curious, not to hijack the thread, but how long did you have the 305 before you felt a need to move up in instrument?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Ash Telecaster; Jan-29-2021 at 1:29pm.

  12. #35
    Registered User Jai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    The first mandolin I bought that I considered great was a The Loar LM300. It was my first real carved mandolin and after Iíd had it set up, and a Cumberland Acoustic bridge fitted, it really gave my playing a boost- having really only dabbled in the mandolin before that.
    But really my first great mandolin is my Gibson A9 which Iíve now had for 7 years. Itís everything I ever wanted. I like its plain aesthetics and monster tone.

  13. #36
    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    The first few years after getting into mandolin I bought, traded, and tried out as many mandolins as I could. I fortunately came into possession of my Kimble A-0 oval hole over 5 years ago and havenít thought about another mandolin since. Itís also nice that it probably increased in value over the years

    My son has a Heiden F5 and my wife has a Clark A-5. Both of those are excellent mandolins as well and are keepers for sure. Years ago I had multiple mandolins at once while I was trying to figure out what I liked and wanted in a mandolin. Itís a nice feeling when you find the right mandolin for yourself and your desire for something better, different, or whatever disappears.

    I think that the best instruments fall away from thought when you are playing them and let you slip into the ďzoneĒ easier when playing music. YMMV
    ... not all those who wander are lost ...

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  15. #37
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    When I stepped into my Silverangel Econo A as an upgrade from an Eastman MD305, I was blown away, and still am at the sound of that machine. I played it at a jam this last week and having been a bit since I played it amongst others and was reminded at the power it has. It really does elevate one's playing!
    Yikes! Some violent talk here. First you step into/on your mandolin, then you are blown away. Interesting metaphor of mandolin as land mine. Just kidding, of course.
    Jim

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  17. #38
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    My bought new '02 F9 was Ok, then came the '12 bought new
    KM 1000, again Ok, sold them off and picked up my best Mandolin to date; The Loar LM 700.
    2020 The Loar Supreme LM700 VS

  18. #39
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ash Telecaster View Post
    I just bought my first Mandolin, an md305. The Mandolin Store is shipping it today.

    I'm just curious, not to hijack the thread, but how long did you have the 305 before you felt a need to move up in instrument?

    Thanks!
    The 305 is a fantastic instrument. I had just simply come down with a bad case of MAS

  19. #40
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ash Telecaster View Post
    I just bought my first Mandolin, an md305. The Mandolin Store is shipping it today.

    I'm just curious, not to hijack the thread, but how long did you have the 305 before you felt a need to move up in instrument?

    Thanks!
    The 305 for me was a step up from a cheapie craigslist purchase and I played and was satisfied with that for a while; maybe 2 or 3 years one year of which was raising money for my upgrade. I would have kept it after receiving my Silverangel, but I just didn't ever play it and was aspiring to buy an oval hole to compliment the SA. Md305 is an EXCELLENT instrument that I'm some ways I found equal to if not better than the more expensive Eastmans. You will be happy with it for a long while!
    aka: Spencer
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  20. #41
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Well, could say the first great one is the one most missed. Back in 2009 or so wanted to learn mandolin. Lucked into finding a Rigel A Natural. Great feeling neck and loved the sound. Unfortunately for many reasons it didn't stick, and I felt guilty having something that nice that wasn't getting played. So on it went.

    Since coming back to mandolin, all of what I have at present were "great" at the time of purchase. Lots of hours of practice and even some advancement as a player happened with each one. Then there are times, like now, where it seems I have just middle-brow junk. Nothing really good, and most not even good enough, let alone great.

    FWIW, great is also different for each person. So if you have an Eastman 3xx or Kentucky KM-150 and think it's great, then it is. Only you can judge what's great for you.
    2017 Northfield F5SA, 2008 Weber Gallatin F, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305
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  21. #42

    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    I went from a Kay bought in a pawnshop to an Ovation MM68 to a Weber Fern, and plenty of others along the way.

  22. #43
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Ash-Tele, the 305s are generally well made, good sounding instruments. Your ear will tell you when itís time, and probably when you start venturing up the neck more. The key is not to go to Carterís, Gruhnís, TMS, or Elderly and get into their higher end stock. I owned a 315 for about 4 years. Bought it as a ďbeaterĒ upgrade on clearance at a big box store. If I hadnít had the Silverangel and a Collings MT at the time, I could have been happy with the 315 for years, but it didnít get much play (except on trips or camping) with the other 2 available.

    Iíd had my Silverangel about 4 years when I took a trip to Nashville and got to play a bunch of Gibsons, Gils, Brentrup, Giacomel, Rattlesnake, Collings, and a bunch more I canít remember. I left feeling like the SA held itís own with instruments until I got into the 7500 + range, and, since I play at church and for fun, didnít feel compelled to try to upgrade (though I did pick up my RM-1 on that trip) 5 or 6 years later and in a better financial situation, and I upgraded to a Kelley A5, which doesnít have quite the bass but is a little stronger in the midrange and better up the neck, where Iím playing a little more now than before.

    Oh, and donít browse the classifieds here...MAS will happen...
    Chuck

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  24. #44
    Registered User GreenMTBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    I have had a few pretty good mandolins .....a couple real nice Giouards a F-5 and a A-5 , a killer KimbleA-5 a beautiful Ellis A-5 also a nice BlackA2Z but the mandolin I have now and consider to be Great both in looks and Sound is a2014 David Harvey signed Fern.
    It is a joy to play and look at.

  25. #45
    Registered User Westbrook's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Got my best back in '91 made by our mail man. As it turned out, our mail man builds a heckuva good mandolin...a guy named Paul Newson...check'em out..

  26. #46
    Registered User Andrew Faltesek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    After having exhausted every local resource for a mandolin in my newbie price range I'd saved for ($800) and being very disappointed sorta' gave up for a while. Then after consulting with Dennis at The Mandolin Store purchased a 2006 Weber prototype STE F (Logan, Montana production) which was a very short window of opportunity. It's sorta' like a Gallatin with vintage smoke burst. On the occasion of my 50th birthday this was serendipity as my wife gifted me additional funds for its purchase price of $1500. My idea was to obtain a mandolin of quality enough I'd have no good reason to replace it for some other high-end one in the future.

    It's the one. Have upgraded it over 15 years with Weber arm-rest, K&K Twin Internal pickup, Waverly tuners, new bridge, etc. its nicer; but I surely don't need another as I doubt I'll ever be as accomplished a mandolin player as most on this forum. But it brings me great joy and maybe I'll apply myself more and get better at playing it in the future.

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  28. #47
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    I've owned and own a number of great mandolins but the first one that stood out was a Gibson F5-G. I had a gig for a casual party (no pa system) the 2nd day of owning it. The punch and volume of the notes almost startled me. Perhaps I was used to driving my previous mandolin, it probably required more effort as I had to ease up on the Gibson. Although I no longer have it, I believe it was the gateway drug that eventually led to my current pair of Gibsons.
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  29. #48
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Was a Gibson A 40 . Bought used in Early 1970's ..

    Still not the 'Scroll Envy' type. have one, just don't play it.
    Last edited by mandroid; Jan-30-2021 at 8:02pm.
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  30. #49
    Registered User BBarton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    First good one was a teens Gibson F-2, followed shortly thereafter with a '81 Givens A -- both loooong gone now
    Too many instruments...too little time

  31. #50

    Default Re: Your first great mandolin

    Sounds like the mailman really delivered!

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