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Thread: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

  1. #1

    Default Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Hi All,

    A simple question:

    Collings MT2, Northfield A5 Special or Girouard A5 Concert. Which one would you go for and why?

    Looking forward to your opinions.

    Al

  2. #2
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    These are three very different instruments. They are all well made. But only you will know which one feels and sounds better in your hands. If you can get to a store to try them, it is by far the best approach. I know it's not always possible but it is the best way to help you decide.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    If you search through the Cafe archives you will find lots of opinions on these, and even a similar thread with individual observations.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    The simplest answer: When faced with the exact same question this winter, I chose a Girouard Concert A5 and I'm very happy with it.

    Longer answer: All three are great quality mandolins. We're spoiled for choice!

    I was moving up from a very nice Northfield F5S. I was looking for more complexity/sparkle/rain drop and a less focused and fundamental sound. Tone is subjective and hard to describe. But I'm moving away from a bluegrass band and doing more duo or even solo mandolin work. The NF can do all that but to my ear shines in a full band setting. Also it blows away most things at its price range for whatever you want to do. To beat it, I needed to move up in price AND move to an A style. The 5 bar NF Artist really fit the bill. I don't have 6k.

    For me the Girouard tone is very versatile. It can do bluegrass, chord melody, classical, pretty much anything you throw at it. It has the sparkle I was looking for but responds well when you dig in. I like the idea of a varnish mandolin. I think Girouard burst is one of the best in the business. It looks like the sunlight hitting a beautiful piece of wood. This might be my last run up the food chain and I wanted the fancy binding, inlay etc. I owned a Girouard Studio a few years back and I liked the tone but not the wide nut. Max and Lauri seem like really nice folks.

    So it really checked off everything I was looking for.

    I almost bought an MT2. I was a little confused by all the options. You can find MT2s from 4200 to 6500. Most of the MT2s that really appealed to me were over 5k so they needed to be compared with Kimbles, Big Mons, even Northfield Artists. I consistently liked the sound of Italian Spruce and Birdseye maple MT2s. They were consistently out of my budget.

    I love the shape of Northfield necks so I knew the A5 would feel comfortable. At 3500 it was the least expensive of the three. It lacked the bells and whistles (full binding, headstock weed/vase/whatever) that I wanted. It was the hardest mando to figure out. Some reviews loved it. Some liked the F5s better. As I had an F5S that kind of worried me. I liked the burst on the Girouard and Collings better but of course that's subjective. If I saw an Icelandic Brown A5 Special I might have bought it!

    Well that's one humans opinion. I think all three are great mandos.
    Last edited by Chuck Leyda; Mar-23-2021 at 10:04am.
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Best advice I can give is be patient, and play as many as you can. At these price points, I don't think you can go wrong with any of these. For me, the ability to customize the build was key, so I got a Girouard in 2019. Northfield had an A5 special hanging on their wall which was killer, I'd be hard pressed to turn that particular one down it it crossed my path.
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  7. #6
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Quote Originally Posted by NotDoneYet View Post
    Collings MT2, Northfield A5 Special or Girouard A5 Concert. Which one would you go for and why?
    Without being flippant, my immediate answer was "the used one." Mandolins are one of the few things in life that many people believe in quality as they depreciate in price. At the very least, I'd know that I could get my money back out of it and sample one of the alternatives if it failed to satisfy me completely.
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  8. #7
    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Mando Mutt has a great 2011 MT2. Birdseye maple, Adi top. Worth looking at. But in the end all equally great mandolins. Purchase used and s@ve yourself some dough.
    J.Lane Pryce

  9. #8

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    I'm going to make a prediction, pretty soon (within 6 to 8 months) the used ones will be as much as the new ones. I've been buying and selling for over 25 years. I have never seen a market like this for instruments. Never. Inventories are so low, and the demand just keeps growing.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  11. #9
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Quote Originally Posted by NotDoneYet View Post
    Collings MT2, Northfield A5 Special or Girouard A5 Concert. Which one would you go for and why?
    I don't think there is a bad decision here.
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  12. #10
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    I'm going to make a prediction, pretty soon (within 6 to 8 months) the used ones will be as much as the new ones. I've been buying and selling for over 25 years. I have never seen a market like this for instruments. Never. Inventories are so low, and the demand just keeps growing.
    Two Ellis A5 Deluxes showed up in the classifieds today, and I immediately thought of this comment.

    Same color, same appointments, both at The Music Emporium, both with Calton cases. New: $6700. Used, 2016: $6000. That's about 10% less, not much of a savings, much less the 30% or more common wisdom says you can find buying used. You could have said six to eight days, Mandobar, and been dead right.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Louise, you could see the signs coming. Collings has fully booked through parts of 2022 (yes, 2022). They've put new Waterloo orders and case production on hold. Northfield is shipping out mandolins that just disappear, and about ten days ago, TME sold a used F5s for right around $2800, which is right around 10% less than a new one. That $2600 MT2 a few weeks ago, that was an aberration.

    The days of buying used to save 20 or 30 percent off new are coming to an end very quickly, so if you see something you want and can afford it, buy it now. Most of the small builders are booked. TME told me that those are the last two Campanellas that they are getting this year (one sold). To be honest, if I were going to sell one of mine I would be asking at least the same price as a new one. I know, it's hard to get your head around this change, but it's here to stay, at least for the next few years.

    However, some brand's pricing is stronger than others, so not everything will sell at list or above, but you can see the trend starting across the industry. The traditional discounting on Martins and Taylors (guitars) is going to disappear if it hasn't already.

    If anyone is interested in those Ellis A's at TME move now rather than later.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  15. #12
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    I certainly see the same thing as Mandobar. I could no longer buy my Collings MT2-V (which I purchased in the fall used) for anywhere near the same price (or at least it seems that way to me based on recent Cafe ad prices).

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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  16. #13
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    I wonder how many Eastmans, Kentuckys, and other Pac-rim instruments are currently sitting on the wrong side of the Suez Canal. Anything bound for Europe would take that route, and probably shipments to the Eastern US as well.

    I'm glad I'm not in the market right now, having made some swell finds earlier in the pandemic!

  17. #14

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    I'm no expert on differentiating Collings mandos from each other but it seems like that MF5 with Waverlys, a James, and pickguard is pretty discounted as is the MT2 with a Collings case for 4k.
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  18. #15

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    They won’t last long at those prices.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  19. #16
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Louise, you could see the signs coming. Collings has fully booked through parts of 2022 (yes, 2022). They've put new Waterloo orders and case production on hold. Northfield is shipping out mandolins that just disappear, and about ten days ago, TME sold a used F5s for right around $2800, which is right around 10% less than a new one. That $2600 MT2 a few weeks ago, that was an aberration.
    Collings ceased case production cold almost a year ago. They are no longer in that business and have no plans to ever continue, direct quote from Steve McCreary. Great idea by Bill, not a good business model that only lost money. That equipment has been mothballed. Collings as a company is half the size they were prior to the pandemic, not particularly a closely guarded secret, so they can no longer build in the quantity they used to. Those jobs went bye-bye. When you can make an electric guitar that hot selling that's also a lot easier and probably makes more money, building mandolins is not nearly as attractive.

    I don't agree 100% on that assessment of the used market but I'll let others discuss that. The pandemic has crippled a lot of production but it'll resume at some point. When is what we don't yet know.

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  21. #17

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Never mind, misread.
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

  22. #18

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Like almost everything, pandemic changes. For you who track the market, is the demand fueled by more playing at home, as it is in my case, enough to offset the loss of opportunity for performing musicians to get work?
    I’ve been taken with MAS, largely internet, and have added around six in the last year. Instead of doing my usual work, I’m learning repairs and playing a couple of hours a day... all new.

  23. #19
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    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    I've never played a Northfield A5. I've also never played a Girouard A5 Concert, but I have played their Ensembles. I think that the Concert is the same mandolin as the Ensemble, but with more appointments and a correspondingly higher price tag. I could be wrong about that, though. I've also played Collings MT's and MT2's. Those have more significant differences than just appointments. With the MT2, I can hear the higher price tag! I've never played the Girouard and Collings side-by-side, but off of memory, I'd rank the Girouard Ensemble second, in between the MT2 and the MT. (BTW, that's how they rank by price.) They're all well-built, great-looking, easily playable mandolins, so I'm going just off tone --- which puts us in a totally subjective area. If you live near a store that has any of those three, I'd suggest going there to play it. If you like it, buy it and don't look back. If you don't like it, gamble on buying one of the other two from some distant store or seller, based on the info you've gotten on this thread and elsewhere.

    If you decide to go for a used mando, I'd suggest that with Girouard and Northfield, you get something less than three years old, if possible. I think that both of those improved quite a bit during the preceding five years.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

  24. #20

    Default Re: Collings, Northfield, Girouard

    Thanks to everyone for their helpful opinions and advice.

    If you're interested to find out what I decided please see my other thread 'Mando upgrade - opinions sought'.

    Spoiler - I went for a Collings MT2 O Birdseye/Italian in Honey Amber.

    Thanks all,

    Al

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