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Thread: Education (trip to Carter's)

  1. #1
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Education (trip to Carter's)

    Hey y'all! It's been a while since I've stuck my head in here... Been busy with life and stuff, but I've still been playing plenty of music!
    I had the privilege of volunteering at Banjo Ben Clark's cabin camps this year, and had so much fun! Anyway, the second week was banjo only week, and one of the events was a field trip to a couple different places, including the Nashville Banjo Company workshop, and Gruhn Guitars. But, Gruhn was only letting students and instructors in for the shop tour because of capacity restrictions etc. So, while they were there, I went to Carter's!
    I have never played so many nice instruments in one place! I played mostly mandolins for a half hour, and was quite surprised by several mandolins.
    I will say, most of them had dead strings, and would sound better with fresh ones. But several mandolins I expected to be blown away by were just ok, and a couple that I wasn't expecting much from were awesome. I particularly loved one Gibson H1 mandola, and if I had a spare few thousand laying around might have bought it. I also was really impressed by a couple of Webers.

    While I was at the mandolin wall, I noticed a guy pick up a mandocello (eastman) and took note because he seemed like he knew what he was doing.
    I then went and played some dobros, which was cool because I'd only played a couple to that point. I noticed the cello dude at the mandolin wall while I was playing dobro, and he was playing with a Giacomel 10 string that I had been rather disappointed by.

    A little while later, I'm back at the mandolin wall, and I hear two mandolins jamming, but I didn't know where from. That's when I saw the door.... The door to bankruptcy and discontent lol. I walk into this room and notice that it must be the high end room. There, the guy I'd seen playing mandolins and another dude are jamming some tune I know, so I ask "can I join?" they didn't hear what I said, just that I said something, so they stopped and said "what?" (oops) I repeated my question, but sorta like, "it's a moot point now cuz y'all stopped" and the dude I'd seen asked me to introduce myself, saying to his buddy "this kid's pretty good, I heard him playing everything in the store" So I introduced myself, and asked his name, he said he was Mason Via, and that he plays mandolin with Old Crow Medicine Show. I refrained from offering my opinion of the band, as a job is a job, and I don't judge people for making a living. His friend turned out to be James Kee, from the East Nash Grass, whom I've seen on Instagram a lot, and is a good friend of Banjo Ben. We conversed for a while, and he was trying to justify buying a dudenbostel or if it was too expensive to tour with. Then Mason gave me his card and said if I ever wanted to pick send him a message. I told him that I don't live in the area, but that next time I'm around I'll drop him a line.
    They then went to lunch and I played some high end mandolins. I don't remember exactly which ones I liked, but I remember playing a Ricky Skaggs DMM that I really liked, and a blonde that I liked, but I can't recall the maker.

    My main takeaway from the whole trip, surprisingly, was that I really like my Kentucky KM 150, And don't really need an upgrade. And that it would take a few thousand dollars to get something noticeably better.

    I did also discover that I like Radiused fretboards. Several of the mandolins felt easier to play, and they all were set up well, it was just the fretboard curve.

    All that to say, my passion for music has been freshly stoked, and I am quite content with my mandolin. Which isn't to say that I don't still look through the classifieds regularly, and stalk mandolin builders on facebook......
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/
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  3. #2
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    A couple of years ago I helped one of my students get a KM150 from The Mandolin Store... they were still in AZ at that point. I can honestly say that this particular, entry level ($350) Kentucky mandolin was just amazing... I mean if I had to use this instrument for the rest of my life it could serve me well!

    Which is to say this... when they're good, they're good! No matter who made them or how much they cost.

    Play what you like... and pay what you like. If you like it that's all that matters.

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    I can’t wait for the chance to visit someplace with multiple mandolins to try! Thanks for the story.
    FWIW, one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve ever attended was a few years ago seeing Old Crow Medicine Show at Taos Mesa Brewery. So I’d have been thrilled to meet Mason Via.

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  7. #4
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Walter Carter runs the coolest shop in the country!

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  9. #5
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    ''My main takeaway from the whole trip, surprisingly, was that I really like my Kentucky KM 150, And don't really need an upgrade. And that it would take a few thousand dollars to get something noticeably better.''

    Totally hear ya and I'm not surprised . I keep thinking I must have gotten an exceptional KM-150 but then I hear folks like you saying the same things . And yeah ..I'd also prefer the radiused fretboard but I know I'd sacrifice tone unless I spent another 1000.00 or more .

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  11. #6
    Registered User Lucas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Good to hear from you again Gunnar. Thanks for your trip report to Nashville. I tried to get into Carter's last October but they wouldn't let me in without an appointment.

    Luke

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  13. #7
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. A visit to a store with more than two mandolins to try seems like a rare treat from where I'm sitting.
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

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  15. #8
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Quote Originally Posted by trodgers View Post
    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. A visit to a store with more than two mandolins to try seems like a rare treat from where I'm sitting.
    It was a rare treat for me as well!! I'm used to going into stores with few acoustic guitars, and fewer other acoustic instruments, so I was thrilled to have to decide which one to pick up lol
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/
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  17. #9
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Did you try the Flatiron oval?
    I’m not in the market but I like the idea if a Flatiron oval and wonder what your impression is , if you tried it

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  19. #10
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Carter's is pretty awesome! Glad you had a good time! I certainly hope to go back sometime soon!
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  21. #11
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed McGarrigle View Post
    Did you try the Flatiron oval?
    I’m not in the market but I like the idea if a Flatiron oval and wonder what your impression is , if you tried it
    I saw it, but didn't try it. I'm mainly interested in F hole mandolins right now, so I didn't play many ovals.
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/
    Free backing tracks:
    https://backingtrackers.wordpress.com/

  22. #12
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Hey y'all! It's been a while since I've stuck my head in here... Been busy with life and stuff, but I've still been playing plenty of music!
    I had the privilege of volunteering at Banjo Ben Clark's cabin camps this year, and had so much fun! Anyway, the second week was banjo only week, and one of the events was a field trip to a couple different places, including the Nashville Banjo Company workshop, and Gruhn Guitars. But, Gruhn was only letting students and instructors in for the shop tour because of capacity restrictions etc. So, while they were there, I went to Carter's!
    I have never played so many nice instruments in one place! I played mostly mandolins for a half hour, and was quite surprised by several mandolins.
    I will say, most of them had dead strings, and would sound better with fresh ones. But several mandolins I expected to be blown away by were just ok, and a couple that I wasn't expecting much from were awesome. I particularly loved one Gibson H1 mandola, and if I had a spare few thousand laying around might have bought it. I also was really impressed by a couple of Webers.

    While I was at the mandolin wall, I noticed a guy pick up a mandocello (eastman) and took note because he seemed like he knew what he was doing.
    I then went and played some dobros, which was cool because I'd only played a couple to that point. I noticed the cello dude at the mandolin wall while I was playing dobro, and he was playing with a Giacomel 10 string that I had been rather disappointed by.

    A little while later, I'm back at the mandolin wall, and I hear two mandolins jamming, but I didn't know where from. That's when I saw the door.... The door to bankruptcy and discontent lol. I walk into this room and notice that it must be the high end room. There, the guy I'd seen playing mandolins and another dude are jamming some tune I know, so I ask "can I join?" they didn't hear what I said, just that I said something, so they stopped and said "what?" (oops) I repeated my question, but sorta like, "it's a moot point now cuz y'all stopped" and the dude I'd seen asked me to introduce myself, saying to his buddy "this kid's pretty good, I heard him playing everything in the store" So I introduced myself, and asked his name, he said he was Mason Via, and that he plays mandolin with Old Crow Medicine Show. I refrained from offering my opinion of the band, as a job is a job, and I don't judge people for making a living. His friend turned out to be James Kee, from the East Nash Grass, whom I've seen on Instagram a lot, and is a good friend of Banjo Ben. We conversed for a while, and he was trying to justify buying a dudenbostel or if it was too expensive to tour with. Then Mason gave me his card and said if I ever wanted to pick send him a message. I told him that I don't live in the area, but that next time I'm around I'll drop him a line.
    They then went to lunch and I played some high end mandolins. I don't remember exactly which ones I liked, but I remember playing a Ricky Skaggs DMM that I really liked, and a blonde that I liked, but I can't recall the maker.

    My main takeaway from the whole trip, surprisingly, was that I really like my Kentucky KM 150, And don't really need an upgrade. And that it would take a few thousand dollars to get something noticeably better.

    I did also discover that I like Radiused fretboards. Several of the mandolins felt easier to play, and they all were set up well, it was just the fretboard curve.

    All that to say, my passion for music has been freshly stoked, and I am quite content with my mandolin. Which isn't to say that I don't still look through the classifieds regularly, and stalk mandolin builders on facebook......
    I have a late 80's or 90's Japan-made black Kentucky KM 140 oval hole (a poor-man's snakehead). It was my first mandolin, and I still have it. It sounds and plays great, and looks terrific, too. You're right, Glassweb and Gunnar. This critter probably could have lasted me forever, if the truth be told. However, unlike you, Gunnar, I have no common sense (or willpower, apparently), and have a significantly lighter bank account because of that. So I commend you on realizing you don't really need an upgrade! So, stay away from the Classifieds. Nothing good will come of it. You'll end up sneaking in to the house, what your significant-other calls "those stupid little guitars." You'll go broke. Your family will disown you. You'll end up living in a box down by the river, using free wifi at McDonald's to communicate with the only friends you'll have left -- us folks on the Cafe. And we'll just say, "You're homeless, Gunnar? Wow, that's too bad. Good thing you bought a Calton. Hey, anyway, did you see that new Gilchrist F5 hot-rod that was just listed??? I didn't even know he made one out of koa! Let me tell you what the ad said ..." (I doubt we will be of much help, or offer much sympathy.)

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  24. #13

    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    I love Carter Vintage, and try to visit every time I go to Nashville, which is not often enough. You guys mentioned the Flatiron oval hole he had. I assume you mean the 2003 model, A-style oval hole? I tried it out once in store last year. Great mando. He had it listed on the Cafe for a while as well. I contacted Walter about it a few times over the last several months. He was selling it on consignment. Well, it is mine now. I bought it almost a month ago. It very much reminds of the Gibson A-9, except with an oval hole. I suppose you could call it an A-2 or A-4 if you want. Ha. The label inside actually has the Gibson name on it and calls the mandolin The Flatiron Model. I would be curious as to how many of these were made, as this was built in the very latter days of the Flatiron name. Sometime soon I will post a video of this mandolin, and maybe some pictures here later.

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  26. #14
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Well, I was back in Nashville a couple weeks ago, and went by Carter's to waste a couple hours...
    Last time one of the mandolins I had expected to like but didn't was a Stanley V5. Well, I played it again this time around and I loved it!! I just saw it on the classifieds, somebody go buy it so I don't have to think about it anymore.... It's a really good mandolin, with a nicely shaped neck (I like fairly small necks, so while I like Weber tone, I probably will never own one cuz they're to chunky for me)
    I also played three different Ricky Skaggs distressed master models, two of which were just ok, but the third was fantastic.

    Later that day I went to Gruhn's, where I was very disappointed by every single Martin guitar I picked up, but one MacPherson there tried to sell all my assets and kidnap me. Fortunately, all my assets are barely worth half of that guitar's price, so I was relatively safe. I also got to play a Beard E model, which was the best dobro I've ever played.
    The mandolin wall was not the best selection, there were several Kentucky KM505s and a couple higher end Kentuckys, and a couple of others. But the best Mandolin I played, possibly all day, was a Crafters of Tennessee A model, that was phenomenal. It had good volume, great tone, and played really smoothly. I could have played that one all day, and another guy who I had also run into at Carter's that day agreed with me. I'm pretty sure he barely managed to not buy it.

    Anyway, I'm still happy with my KM 150, but if any really good deals come along.....
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/
    Free backing tracks:
    https://backingtrackers.wordpress.com/

  27. #15
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Gruhn keeps their more expensive mandolins upstairs. If you had gone up there, you would have seen 3 Loar signed Gibsons, 2 post Loar ferns, several instruments by modern makers such as Gilchrist, Ellis, Newson, and Brentrup, a couple of modern era Gibson F-5's, and 3 new Collings MF's. But since the wooden McPherson's are out of your price range, it's probably better that you didn't go upstairs. Your assets will be safe, at least for the time being.

    If the Crafters of Tennessee mandolin decides to threaten your assets, play it again and check the intonation carefully before you pull the trigger. I had to replace the fingerboard on one a few years back because the frets were mis-located on it.

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  29. #16
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Well, I was back in Nashville a couple weeks ago, and went by Carter's to waste a couple hours...
    Last time one of the mandolins I had expected to like but didn't was a Stanley V5. Well, I played it again this time around and I loved it!!
    This is interesting as it begs for an explanation.

    What made you dislike the Stanley V5 the first time around? What was different the second time that you played it? What made you like the Stanley V5 the second time you played it?

    I have told this story many times. The first time that I played a Lloyd Loar F-5 i was absolutely unimpressed. It sounded tinny to my ears. It was not until a couple of minutes later when the Lloyd Loar owner played my pricey mandolin back to back with me playing his 1923 F-5 that I received a hearing adjustment that is still lasting. The perception of sound was so subjective at the time that I didn't at first understand what an incredibly great sounding mandolin I was playing.

    As a side note. When I visited Gruhn´s (a long, long time ago) I asked if I could try out an instrument. I was told that I could just go and play any instrument that was on the wall. It was almost intimidating. I played several prewar Martin D-28 guitars. The one that I am still thinking of is a 1938 D-28. I do tip my hat to people like George Gruhn, who let people play great instruments even though you might only be a potential customer for such an instrument if you win the lottery.
    Olaf

  30. #17

    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Well, I was back in Nashville a couple weeks ago, and went by Carter's to waste a couple hours...
    Last time one of the mandolins I had expected to like but didn't was a Stanley V5. Well, I played it again this time around and I loved it!! I just saw it on the classifieds, somebody go buy it so I don't have to think about it anymore.... It's a really good mandolin, with a nicely shaped neck (I like fairly small necks, so while I like Weber tone, I probably will never own one cuz they're to chunky for me)
    I also played three different Ricky Skaggs distressed master models, two of which were just ok, but the third was fantastic.

    Later that day I went to Gruhn's, where I was very disappointed by every single Martin guitar I picked up, but one MacPherson there tried to sell all my assets and kidnap me. Fortunately, all my assets are barely worth half of that guitar's price, so I was relatively safe. I also got to play a Beard E model, which was the best dobro I've ever played.
    The mandolin wall was not the best selection, there were several Kentucky KM505s and a couple higher end Kentuckys, and a couple of others. But the best Mandolin I played, possibly all day, was a Crafters of Tennessee A model, that was phenomenal. It had good volume, great tone, and played really smoothly. I could have played that one all day, and another guy who I had also run into at Carter's that day agreed with me. I'm pretty sure he barely managed to not buy it.

    Anyway, I'm still happy with my KM 150, but if any really good deals come along.....

    Hey Gunnar, I ran into you at Carter's and then later that day at Dee's. It was nice to meet you! The Hinde I bought is treating me well

  31. #18
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    The perception of sound was so subjective at the time that I didn't at first understand what an incredibly great sounding mandolin I was playing.

    This has happened to me more than a few times. Also the reverse, an instrument that on first try really impressed me, and next day was OK but nothing special.

    I have learned the lesson and have become very skeptical of first impressions as having much weight in the decision to spend large sums.

    Also, it is a wonderful thing to fall back in love with the mando you already have. Whatever it is.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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  33. #19
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Gruhn keeps their more expensive mandolins upstairs.
    Kind of like the special room at Carter’s. I was there a few years ago, plinking on some mandos in the main room. Despite my obvious modest skill level, one of the sales guys invited me to visit the inner sanctum and sample the good stuff. It was an “I’m not worthy “ moment and I passed on the offer. Next time maybe.
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  34. #20
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    Default Re: Education (trip to Carter's)

    A room full of instruments is also a room full of sympathetic vibrations and overtones

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