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Thread: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

  1. #1
    Registered User Charlie21.fr's Avatar
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    Default Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    Hi there,
    I’m new here, even if I’ve been reading the forum for several years now
    It did help me a lot with finding information and good feedbacks.
    That’s why I wanted to share (back) to you my experience with my new mandolin and equipment

    I played violon for 10-15 years as a kid and stopped during my studies and I discovered the US mandolin and played it for about 5-9 years. My first one was a Dragonfly from Michael Kelly. A nice instrument for the price, with a clear and warm tone but not that powerful and the frets were not precisely placed so the pitches were wrong when moving up to the bridge, with highs and lows in a random order (not a bridge problem). I sold it.
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    After playing again violin for 2 and half years…. I was forced to stop it definitely because of cervical issues…That was the good time to find an appropriate mandolin and gear.
    I play a bit of everything, trying to move towards ragtime/blues and jazz/swing jazz. I sometimes play a bit of bluegrass, and other folk/popular tunes. I mainly studied classical music until now.

    -The mandolin: I chose to ask Eddie Blevins to make one for me, and I cannot be happier.
    First Eddie is very friendly, answers any questions very quickly, and of good advice. He could build me THE mandolin I dreamt of, in size, color, wood, equipment, inlay etc etc etc
    The mandolin is a F style, No.#48, in Cremona with gloss lacquer. It has Waverly tuners and all gold hardware and MOP. The nut is 1 1/16" which is perfect for my small fiddler player’s hands.
    I received it in November 2020. Just out of the box and still freshly built it did sound amazingly beautiful. I did choose Engelmann top for a warmer sound, and I’m glad I did, the sound is so colorful and rich. After a few months playing it has opened up and keeps enhancing the volume every day, sustain even in the trebles, clarity etc etc! It has a few very small esthetic imperfection, but there you can see that it was entirely made by hand with care and passion. That is a nice master model mandolin, and a lifetime companion Thanks Eddie, I wish you the best!
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    -The case: A Northfield Airloom Recurve, tweed version:
    I received the mandolin in a Travelite case which was very nice and light! But it isn’t deep enough. The lid put a lot of pressure on the bridge even after pushing down the foam everywhere… a pity.
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    I had a budget below 300$ for a new case, I wanted something nice, compact, solid, with a large storage compartment and deep enough for the mandolin (with a Tone-gard!).
    I have a Jakob Winter for my violin and I’m very satisfied, so I went for the Airloom as they made them with Northfield.
    I’m very happy with the Airloom case, it meets my expectations, it is extremely well made, the new latches are just fine and of good quality. Although I may have a few small comments :
    1- For the price I would expect at least a shoulder strap: I use the one from my Winter Jakob Violin case, a nice match. I also use 2 large laptop bag straps for back carrying.
    2- Like most cases I missed the small strap that keeps the lid up. The lid is thinner than the bottom part so that the case falls backwards when opened and put pressure on the hinges. And even if the box closes it cannot damage the mandolin, unlike a violin with a shoulder rest installed.
    —> Problem solved with warm glue, velcro, and a strip of black velvet.
    3- I find the 3 hinges a bit too small: maybe one more would have been better or larger ones. Hope they last long!
    4- Bottom pad would also be a nice upgrade because tweed (and velvet) could be damaged when leaving the box on the floor.
    But overall I really recommend the case, very well made with good quality material. There is plenty of space for the headstock, the F mandolin fits perfectly in with a Tone-gard installed, I can store a set of new strings, a large strap, a metal box with picks, even a small Horner harmonica and some extra things. The inside is very soft (Cats would love it!)
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    -Strap: I found a Klondyke large leather strap at Thomann Europe. Large and comfortable, well made. Not much to say, it’s nice!

    -The Armrest: A Mc Clung Armrest:
    Well, not much to say apart from perfection! The angle really gives a perfect hand position. It is well made and very comfortable. Thanks Doug!

    -Tone-gard:
    Nice option that fits on the mandolin in the Airloom case!
    It gives me consistency in the volume as I play sitting most of the time, and sometimes put more pressure on the back side. I recommend it as well!

    -Picks:
    Bluechip CT55: perfect, this is my daily pick.
    Dunlop Jazztone 207 : nice to play very soft and smooth
    Dunlop Jazztone 208 : same with a pointy shape.
    Dunlop Jazztone 204: too small to play with for me, I actually use it as a tool and hold it between my ring finger and my pinky in order to learn keeping my right hand closed while playing. It works very well.
    I have tried and will try some others.

    -Strings: I currently use the D’Addario XT Medium 1140.
    I’ll compare later with D’addario EJM74 (Monel) , EJ74 (Phosphor Bronze), EFW74 (Flatwound), Elixir Polyweb and Straight Up, to find out the best sounding for my mando and music I play.

    I also use a Hercule stand, small, light and handy.

    I use many books from mandolin and/or fiddle as I had good exercices and methods: Among others I can cite: Bach partitas and sonata, Gypsy Swing & Hot Club Rhythm (complete), Ragtime for fiddle and mandolin, Marilynn Mair’s complete mandolinist, The mandolin Picker’s guide to bluegrass improvisation, Getting into jazz mandolin, Jazz mandolin appetizers, Jazz violin studies (Usher Abell), Mandolin blues (Delgrosso), Grappelli gypsy jazz vioin (Kliphuis), Blues fiddling classics (Duncan), Schradieck (violin technics with some good ones applicable to mandolin), and many other violin method books.

    Well this is kind of complete description !
    I hope that it could help some of you who are also looking for feedbacks.

    Charlie

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  3. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    Very major upgrade and thorough review. I didn’t understand this point about the case:
    4- Bottom pad would also be a nice upgrade because tweed (and velvet) could be damaged when leaving the box on the floor
    Jim

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  4. #3
    Registered User Charlie21.fr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    Thanks, I meant that it would be better to install small pads on the bottom part of the case, like on the Travelite case, so that the case doesn't get scratches when the case lies on the floor with the lid opened:
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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    What a nice story Charlie. It sounds as though you made a great choice and that you'll be happy for years to come. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. Best of luck.

  7. #5

    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    What a beautiful mandolin! Would love to hear it. I've always thought Blevins makes a great looking mandolin at a decent price but I've never run into one live.
    Girouard Concert A5
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  8. #6
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    To quote Frank Zappa totally out of context: ohh, the paraphernalia of it all.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  9. #7
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    I'm just happy his case is suitable for feline comfort >^..^<

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  11. #8
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    Very nice, indeed

  12. #9
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    Welcome as a participating member of the Cafe! Thanks for your detailed description of your rig. Hopefully you will post more about your mandolin journey.

  13. #10
    Registered User Charlie21.fr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    What a beautiful mandolin! Would love to hear it. I've always thought Blevins makes a great looking mandolin at a decent price but I've never run into one live.
    Yes, they would deserve to be seen and heard on stage! I'm absolutely bewitched by this sound, it has such a powerful personality.
    I truly recommend him, for a reasonable price he builds real master models. I could clearly hear the first day that this hand made instrument is way better than "factory made mandolin " or "chain production" from the same price range.

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  15. #11
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    Default Re: Feedbacks on my F Mandolin and complete gear :)

    I met Eddie Blevins and played several of his mandolins at a luthier gathering in Burnsville, NC two years ago this month. He is a fine fellow and his mandolins sounded real good. You got a dandy there.

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