Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 32

Thread: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

  1. #1

    Default Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    I'm bumbling along on the mandolin. I had a cheap Rogue, now I have a Copley CFM-150, which is -- okay, but I don't love it. My difficulty is that although I play poorly, I have a very strong sense of what I like. I have a 1915 Gibson mandola that I got from the Classified here, and I love it. I have a 1973 Geronimo Pena Fernandez guitar that I adore. What I like is the darker, more resonant sound. I'm looking for a mandolin that's in what I would call the same "sound family" as my mandola. I play classical, folk, some blues, some rock. No bluegrass; I am not looking for that brightness (what I think of as sounding shrill and "plinky").

    I want an A-style with an oval sound hole. There's really nothing here in Memphis (which seems weird to me, but there it is), so I'm stuck with web searches. I guess I can go to $1,000 including s/h, so I'm hunting for a bargain. Obviously, a pre-war Gibson would do, or maybe an Eastman, but those don't so much come in the bargain bins. The Big Muddy M11 looks like a possibility. I'm also seeing people selling from Greece, Russia, and Ukraine -- some new, some Soviet-era vintage. And many older American brands, that seem to have catered to a mandolin craze. I see Kays, Daytons, Washburns, Goldtone, Martins, Washburns, etc., etc.. I do have a preference for old instruments that have settled in, but I'm not wedded to vintage.

    Can anyone tell me what I should avoid? So many of the ads for bargains seem to have been written by people who don't know the difference between selling a musical instrument and selling a toaster.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Lewiston NY
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    I was lucky to snag a Mid-Mo about two years ago through the MC classifieds. Model M2 spruce top over maple. Flat top round hole. A new Big Muddy (same builder Mike Dulac)is within your budget. Not for bluegrass but great for Celtic, Old time, etc. Can't go wrong IMHO.
    I would avoid the bargain brands you describe. You'll probably be disappointed. Stick around the forum and I'm sure you'll get some more well educated opinions.
    Ratliff R5 2007, Capek A5 2003, Washburn M5S-SB Jethro Burns 1982, Mid-Mo M-2, Epiphone MM 30 Bk mandolins, Harmony Batwing 1970's


    "Don't cloud the issue with facts!" Groucho Marx

  3. #3

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    A Mid Mo(Big Muddy) or a Weber Hyalite or Aspen might fit the bill. American made as well.

    I have a Hyalite oval and a Mid Mo mandola. They are both fine instruments and did not break the bank.

  4. #4
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Co. Mayo, Ireland
    Posts
    3,131

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Yeah, what Bob said - avoid those "bargain" options - they're only going to be a sideways or even possibly downwards move in quality. One affordable option suggested a lot here is Strad-o-lin, but finding oval hole models of them can be tricky, as you mainly tend to see the f-hole models for sale. An old Gibson A could be got in your price range if you're patient, but bear in mind that in that price range they may need some work done to them so you'd want to budget for that - I got a great old Gibson A-jr. a few years ago that needed a refret and new tuners from the get-go. A Northfield Calhoun could be got new in your price range (while not "old and settled in" they do get good reviews from folks who have them) and I second the recommendations for Mid-Mo/Big Muddy, or Weber Aspen (Haven't played a Hyalite).

    If you like a "darker" sound, string choice can help facilitate that. I had a very bright sounding Collings MT-O and putting Curt Mangan Bluegrass medium strings on it helped warm the sound up and tone down the brightness.

    Best of luck in your search!
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel
    Blog: rural.trad.punk

  5. #5
    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Fox River Grove, IL
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    It’s interesting how places where you would expect mandolins to be pretty readily available, they just aren’t. I live in the Chicago area and even the higher quality guitar shops have very few mandolins. I am a perpetual beginner returning for another go at mandolin having begun the pandemic with an 1980’s Washburn A model.
    In my many past failed attempts I owned a Weber Y2k and a flatiron performer A. I had been aspiring to play Bluegrass in those periods
    Lately I’ve been concentrating exclusively on Irish Trad. For Christmas I got myself a Northfield Calhoun on the strength of the Emory Lester , Nate Roberts and Marla Fibish videos.
    Granted, those are amazing players who could make even a MSO sound good but the videos do a good job of capturing the range of tone. Anyway I bought directly from Northfield and I couldn’t be happier. Good luck

  6. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,586

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Well, could you stretch to $1,200? The Guitar Center in East Brunswick NJ as what they describe as a Gibson A-1, but which may actually be an A, on sale here. Supposedly they'll ship it to the GC nearest you and you can check it out -- I believe that's their policy, though I've never tried it myself.

    Condition appears OK, as far as one can tell from the pics thy post. As far as I can see, that's around rock bottom for an old Gibson oval-hole A-model. Might be worth a call, anyway.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  7. The following members say thank you to allenhopkins for this post:


  8. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,308

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Well, could you stretch to $1,200? The Guitar Center in East Brunswick NJ as what they describe as a Gibson A-1, but which may actually be an A, on sale here. Supposedly they'll ship it to the GC nearest you and you can check it out -- I believe that's their policy, though I've never tried it myself.

    Condition appears OK, as far as one can tell from the pics thy post. As far as I can see, that's around rock bottom for an old Gibson oval-hole A-model. Might be worth a call, anyway.
    Even better possibly is this Loar era 1924 Gibson A-Junior, price recently lowered to $1079.00. As usual they have lousy photos and it looks like it has at least lots of play wear on the top. You can contact that store (Huntsville, AL) and have them email you better photos and I would also recommend, if you go that route, to call the store and have someone with the mandolin in hand to answer your questions and describe it.

    I did buy an instrument from them this way and had them ship to my local GC store. I got a great deal on mine and if it wasn't great could have left it at the store and only be out for the shipping—they would refund the price of the instrument.

    On the other hand, for what you are looking for you might be fine with a quality flattop mandolin. Along the the ones mentioned above, I have heard that the Northfield Calhoun is very nice and certainly in your price range.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  9. The following members say thank you to Jim Garber for this post:


  10. #8

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Well, could you stretch to $1,200?
    I could, in the sense that I have the money, but I'd have a hard time talking myself into it, since mandolin is a secondary (tertiary?) instrument for me after guitar and mandola. But thanks for responding.

  11. The following members say thank you to MemphisBelle for this post:


  12. #9

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Can anyone who has played both compare the Northfield Calhoun with a Big Muddy? (From reading their website, I'm thinking the Big Muddy M11, but will be glad to hear of your experiences.)

  13. #10

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Here is a Gibson A-JR close to your budget.

    Howard (Sonny) Morris builds mandolins in NE Oregon. Carved top and back A style with an oval hole sell for right at a $1000 and flat top/back sell for around $600. Used somewhat less and come up once in a while.

    For slightly over your budget and some patience you might could find one of these -
    Ratliff -Audy Ratliff has been a long time builder and has a basic no frills model called the Country Boy. Most are F holes but there seem to be a few oval holes. A used one probably in the $122-1300 range.
    The Mandolin Store had some mandolins made under the name of Lafferty and were made by Paul Schneider who worked for Gibson and has made his own Summit Mandolins for a long time. An oval pops up once in a while for around $1200
    Silverangel made by Ken Ratliff. He also makes a value A style mandolin but they are well appointed. I am not sure if he has made many oval's but his F hole mandolins are noted for being dark in tone. Used in the $1000-1300 range

    Good luck in your search

  14. #11
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,261

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    How about the Kel Kroyden that Bob Page is selling in the classifieds? Definitely under your budget. Pretty much the same as the Kalamazoo KM11. Gibson made and definitely not a bluegrass sound. Musician Howard Rains has a few videos on YouTube playing the Kalamazoo version.

    OTOH it might not be dark enough for you, even with the mahogany back and sides.
    2017 Northfield F5SA, 2008 Weber Gallatin F, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 2018 Eastman MDO-305
    http://ericplatt.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/LauluAika/
    https://www.lauluaika.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/Longtine-Pl...4404553312723/

  15. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,308

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Having re-read the OP post: steer away from old Russian instruments and as for other European instruments—you may pay as much in shipping and possibly with no recourse for returns or nigh have to double the shipping cost of you can return it.

    Also, if you like the older instruments I would go for the vintage Gibsons as long as they are in good shape. They were built well and there are plants around. I lean toward the later teens/early twenties for the better deals though A-Juniors can be excellent. Or stick to the modern flattops already mentioned. Reputable dealers might charge more but they usually include expert setup so ebay bargains might be cheaper but you also might have to spend $100 more soon after acquisition.

    Third: your mandola is one fifth lower in pitch. All mandolins will be higher. Maybe you should consider an octave mandolin for deeper sound and great for vocal accompaniment if that is what you want.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  16. #13

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    How about the Kel Kroyden that Bob Page is selling in the classifieds?
    Thanks for the suggestion. I've emailed Bob asking for a sound sample.

  17. The following members say thank you to MemphisBelle for this post:


  18. #14

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Hi, Jim. Thanks for the detailed advice, I do appreciate it.

    Yes, I know about the mandola/mandolin tuning difference. That's why I prefer the mandola. I'm keeping the mandolin in the rotation because I'm trying to "learn music". (I started guitar 5 years ago with an instructor who is ex-Navy Band, and plays many stringed instruments.) I find playing multiple instruments improves my ear training, manual dexterity, and grasp of music theory. I may get an octave mandolin sometime in the future. For now, I just want to replace my current mandolin with one I actually like. :-)

  19. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    4,084

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Can’t pass by without mentioning Flatiron 1Ns. Great pancake style mandolins that are selling 500-700 typically. I sold mine in a downsize move a couple years ago because I’ve gone the opposite direction (I found myself only picking up my carved top F hole mandolins), but I do miss it. Redline Travelers are another really good pancake-inspired mandolin, and the 1 Calhoun I’ve played was very good.

    Eastman and Kentucky are building some nice instruments in your budget. I’ve had great experiences dealing with The Mandolin Store. They’ll be honest about their stock and preferences when comparing the oval hole models available, and would probably even play then over the phone for you.

    Lot’s of good choices. Agree with avoiding the instruments suggested to avoid above...too many really good options available otherwise...
    Chuck

  20. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    4,084

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Also, there are a few Rigel A-ovals out there, but they may require more patience, or maybe a want add in the classifieds.
    Chuck

  21. #17
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,308

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    This 1924 Martin mandolin just came on the classifieds today. I think this is a style B which means rosewood B&S and at a very good price. I think this might be one to seriously consider. Possible?

    NFI for me, in case anyone is wondering.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  22. #18
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,284

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    This 1924 Martin mandolin just came on the classifieds today. I think this is a style B which means rosewood B&S and at a very good price. I think this might be one to seriously consider. Possible?
    I thought the Lyon & Healy C was the real deal from the same seller. The asking price is little more than the value of the tailpiece!

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/166707#166707
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  23. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to pheffernan For This Useful Post:


  24. #19

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    This 1924 Martin mandolin just came on the classifieds today. .
    Oh cool! I just emailed the seller. Thanks!

  25. #20
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    5,143

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    +1 for the lyon and Healy!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  26. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    70

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    I'll throw in the Sawchyn Beavertail. I've got one and I love it. They are within budget brand new and I think are real sleepers in the flattop world. I bought mine directly from Peter Sawchyn after communicating with him via Facebook. He was very responsive and a pleasure to deal with, before, during, and after the sale. Make sure that anything you buy is properly setup, it'll make a big difference.

    Rob
    2020 Sawchyn Beavertail

  27. #22
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,308

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    I agree about the L&H but the Martin is also a good deal and maybe more the mellow sustained tone for chordal playing. Nothing wrong with the L&H either. Maybe buy both.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  28. #23
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    5,143

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    I would buy the L&H for the tailpiece alone, the rest is just tonal frosting on the mandolin cake!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  29. #24
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,308

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I would buy the L&H for the tailpiece alone, the rest is just tonal frosting on the mandolin cake!
    If we are only talking only about monetary value yeah you could sell the mandolin separately but then it would be devalued since it would not have its tailpiece. Like parting out a vintage car. Those are nice mandolins in any case.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  30. #25
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    5,143

    Default Re: Need a new mandolin -- too many bargain options

    Jim, I would never separate an original L&H tailpiece from the mandolin! I was just expressing what a good deal this is and my affection for L&H mandolins.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •