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Thread: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

  1. #1

    Default Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Recently posted this on another thread.
    Was probably out of continuity with the thread subject, so am trying refocus here.
    --------------------------------------------
    I play many different mandolins when the opportunity presents. I recently played a Tacoma M1. I was very impressed. Flat back and soundboard with a bolt on neck. The fretboard was perfectly straight, and the action was very well adjusted.
    Flat back and top yielded a somewhat muted tone, but still very intriguing.
    The unusual feature about which I'm seeking commentary, was the string setup.
    I haven't actually measured it (I don't own it) but the individual courses were much tighter
    together than any I have ever seen. The tight spacing of each pair gave it an ease that is hard to describe. Much narrower than anything I've seen.
    It had very light gauge strings along with the narrowed courses, and was very playable.
    Builder's books roughly suggest a much wider, conventional spacing as follows.
    And this is the course spacing I am most familiar with.
    --------------------------------------------------
    2.5mm, 2.5mm, 2mm, and 2mm at the nut.
    And 4mm, 3.5mm, 2.5mm, and 2.5 mm at the bridge.
    --------------------------------------------------
    The Tacoma M1 courses I am referring to were much narrower than this.
    Design variations are of course, highly subjective and a matter of taste and preference. Conventions usually result from collective preference and mechanical requirements.
    Possibly other builders also set up in this manner, but my experience is admittedly limited.
    So if anyone is familiar with this tight spacing, any advantages and or drawbacks, all comments are very welcome.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    I owned and loved a Tacoma M2 for many years. I would describe it as being a mandolin designed to appeal to guitar players. A lot of guitar players transitioning to mandolin perceive mandolin fretboards as being "tiny" and the doubled string courses as being "weird". So I suspect the decisions about fretboard width, fret spec, fretboard radius, etc. were made to alleviate some of those perceptions.

    It really does work very well, ergonomically, just feels a little different than a traditional mandolin setup.

    I don't remember my M2 having especially narrow spacing between strings in each course, I wonder if yours was set up narrower after purchase.
    Here's a factory setup:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The tone does feel like it has more to give, I'm sure these instruments are way overbuilt. Though very nice in terms of fit and finish.
    But the tone has a kind of "firmness" to the tone that is appealing. It's not a juicy peach, sure, like a teens Gibson oval A. But it's like a nice crunchy carrot, haha. And sometimes that's good, too.

  4. #3

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Hi,
    This is great info! I had some reservations about that setup. An experienced builder got back to me last night.
    Mechanically, there are problems. 1st, you can only get strings so close until they buzz into each other.
    2nd, the tiny areas between the notches on the nut and the bridge are subject to become compromised.
    Possibility of these weak little areas crumbling.
    Not being familiar with Tacoma, I was given to thinking they designed some of them that way.
    That being said, the playability was a definite PLUS. ...For me anyway.
    I liked the feel of the thing. It was heavier. That bolt on neck/body join had some meat to it.
    Kind of like the 1st time I picked up a Les Paul .... "Man its So Heavy".
    The paisley hole was very interesting. I guess it doesn't disrupt the compressions that naturally occur
    across a soundboard, like f holes or a central sound hole does.
    Its a shame that Fender bought them out from Young Chaing. It would've been interesting to see where
    they would have taken things.
    Thanks for the feedback! ;-))

  5. #4
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    I agree with the builder on their observations (but, I'm no builder myself so take that for whatever it's worth).

    Jamie
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  6. #5
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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    I played this one a couple weeks ago, didn't pay attention to string spacing but I thought it was very good tonewise for its price

    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Tacoma/M1-Mandolin.gc
    Kentucky km900
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    Stage 1 pedal steel (highly recommended); banjo, dobro don't get played much cause i'm considerate ;}

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  7. #6

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Well Iíll be doggoned! In my searching around I spoke to the guitar center that had this one. In Rhode Island I believe. They told me this one had been sold long ago. They said sorry it hadnít been removed from from the website.

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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    It was in Seattle 2 weeks you can call them at the 206 number
    Kentucky km900
    Yamaha piano, clarinet, violin; generic cello
    Stage 1 pedal steel (highly recommended); banjo, dobro don't get played much cause i'm considerate ;}

    Shopping/monitoring prices: marimbas, Roland drumsets, Yamaha brass and single/double reeds

  9. #8

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    No way is it worth $700 though. $400 maybe.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    No way is it worth $700 though. $400 maybe.
    Yes I called them.
    Last edited by stipple; Jul-16-2021 at 9:57am.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty Jacobson View Post
    No way is it worth $700 though. $400 maybe.
    Yes I called them in Seattle & got the scoop. Seems a customer bought it in the Rhode Island GC
    and then returned it to the Seattle GC (within the 45 days allowed) giving no specific plausible reason.
    This rings true with what gtani7 said.
    I am interested, but not drooling over it.
    Mainly I'd like to play it awhile ... maybe keep it.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    xx

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    My very first mandolin was a Tacoma M1, in 2001 (was that really *20* years ago?!). It had fantastic playability, and an equally fantastic smell. I moved on to different sounds and sold it. I am pretty sure $700 was more than I paid for it new at that time.

    Cheers,

    Rob
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    Listen to original tune "When You Fly" by my old band The Kindreds

  14. #13

    Post Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    My very first mandolin was a Tacoma M1, in 2001 (was that really *20* years ago?!). It had fantastic playability, and an equally fantastic smell. I moved on to different sounds and sold it. I am pretty sure $700 was more than I paid for it new at that time.

    Cheers,

    Rob
    Thank you for the thoughts,
    I have something to play, but was interested anyway.
    "Smell"?
    Now THAT is a new angle.

  15. #14

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    My very first mandolin was a Tacoma M1, in 2001 (was that really *20* years ago?!). It had fantastic playability, and an equally fantastic smell. I moved on to different sounds and sold it. I am pretty sure $700 was more than I paid for it new at that time.

    Cheers,

    Rob
    Hi there,
    Really like the "When You Fly" composition/arrangement! Very nice!

  16. #15

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    My very first mandolin was a Tacoma M1, in 2001 (was that really *20* years ago?!). It had fantastic playability, and an equally fantastic smell. I moved on to different sounds and sold it. I am pretty sure $700 was more than I paid for it new at that time.

    Cheers,

    Rob
    I almost mentioned the smell of my Tacoma as well.. fond memories. Got mine in 2001 as well.

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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by stipple View Post
    Hi there,
    Really like the "When You Fly" composition/arrangement! Very nice!
    Thank you!
    Follow the Flatt Stanley Incident on Facebook

    Listen to original tune "When You Fly" by my old band The Kindreds

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Well you can order it and return it within the 45 days (make sure the refund period is 45 days) and if you return it you'll be out the shipping cost, they quoted me $17 to ship it 13 miles between stores

    RobP, yes also liked "When You Fly" a lot.
    Kentucky km900
    Yamaha piano, clarinet, violin; generic cello
    Stage 1 pedal steel (highly recommended); banjo, dobro don't get played much cause i'm considerate ;}

    Shopping/monitoring prices: marimbas, Roland drumsets, Yamaha brass and single/double reeds

  19. #18

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Well yes, I am just in the discovery stage regarding this Tacoma. Seems consensus is $700 is a little steep for the one in Seattle.
    I'm off tomorrow and think I'll check out the other Tacoma (the one I started the thread about). Its at a local shop close by.
    I'll ask questions and post some info.
    I want to thank everyone for all the kind and helpful thoughts and ideas!
    Peace to all ;-)

  20. #19
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    I have a Tacoma M3 I bought new, before the merge, in dark sunburst that's a beautiful sounding and almost untouched in it's total setup. String spacing is AWESOME and the only other mando I have with the closeness and accuracy of spacing is my MT2. I just don't seem to play it though, since I got my Pava and Collings. But I still love it and will likely keep it forever.

  21. #20

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Shucks, they sold the M1. Oh well.
    Isn't the M3 the one with maple sides & back?

  22. #21
    Registered User jefflester's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by stipple View Post
    Shucks, they sold the M1. Oh well.
    Isn't the M3 the one with maple sides & back?
    Yes. I coveted the natural one for a long time, though the -E model assuming it would only be worthwhile in plugged setting. They generally had some beautiful figure.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  23. #22
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    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by stipple View Post
    Well yes, I am just in the discovery stage regarding this Tacoma. Seems consensus is $700 is a little steep for the one in Seattle.
    I'm off tomorrow and think I'll check out the other Tacoma (the one I started the thread about). Its at a local shop close by.
    I'll ask questions and post some info.
    I want to thank everyone for all the kind and helpful thoughts and ideas!
    Peace to all ;-)
    I stopped by the Seattle GC to check out used cabs/heads and remembered... the smell. So i sniffed that Tacoma, didn't seem that fragrant or anything... sorry! (Oh, and I do still have my sense of smell, it's not wine connoisseur quality nose but it finds food ok)

    Aaaand also the chain has 2. If they've had it for 90+ days you could ask about price reduction, and I think managers have more leeway to knock price down if it's been purchased and returned

    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Ta...#narrowSideBar
    Kentucky km900
    Yamaha piano, clarinet, violin; generic cello
    Stage 1 pedal steel (highly recommended); banjo, dobro don't get played much cause i'm considerate ;}

    Shopping/monitoring prices: marimbas, Roland drumsets, Yamaha brass and single/double reeds

  24. #23

    Default Re: Tacoma Mandolin Course Spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    I stopped by the Seattle GC to check out used cabs/heads and remembered... the smell. So i sniffed that Tacoma, didn't seem that fragrant or anything... sorry! (Oh, and I do still have my sense of smell, it's not wine connoisseur quality nose but it finds food ok)

    Aaaand also the chain has 2. If they've had it for 90+ days you could ask about price reduction, and I think managers have more leeway to knock price down if it's been purchased and returned

    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Ta...#narrowSideBar
    Yep I've got to say, since I found this M1 my interest has peaked. The M1 with the interesting spacing is sold, gone. But I've managed to get my hands on 3 others since then. 2 M1s and an M2. None of the others had unusual spacing while one needed work. Action was way off.
    But one detail was consistent, none of these Tacomas had any kind of unusual smell. Pleasant or otherwise. Its possible that
    someone doused some of these -other- models with cologne, or something. Or its possible some of the brothers are yanking us a little. But ... all in good fun.
    The upside is that I've discovered a nicely made flat top mandolin in a low price range. I will continue to search and certainly acquire one eventually.
    Cheers to all

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