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Thread: Bourgeois Mandolins!

  1. #26
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by milli857 View Post
    That's true but economy of scale helps with costs as you build more stuff. And I'm not saying they should charge exactly what he does, just that they should be able to make mandolins in the US for $2700 for an A style. Plenty of other makers do.
    Name 3, or 5, since 'plenty of other makers do'.
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  2. #27

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Other than Northfield what other US makers are making a playable, presentable A style mandolin in any quantities? And Iím not talking about solo builders who I suspect are not really making money on their instruments. Economy of scale only works at very high output levels.

    Think about it, thereís between $500 to $800 in materials alone on an A build. This includes hardware, wood, binding, case, etc. add in labor and you are well over $1000.

    That doesnít leave room to pay a living wage, at least not in the US.
    Again, I'm not suggesting they charge $1000. For $2700, the costs you stated leave plenty of room for overhead, wages, and profit though.

    I may have been a bit off on the other builders, besides the Northfields, there doesn't seem to be all that much out there for under $3k built in a factory in the US. There are several individual makers though, i.e. Morris, Cross, Dubova.

  3. #28
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Sorry, but a Northfield Model M, their entry level A style, is $2800, with 'Maple and Spruce from North America. Assembled in our Qingdao shop. Varnishing and set up in our Marshall, MI shop.'

    So no US factory made mandos under $3k presently.
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  4. #29

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Sorry, but a Northfield Model M, their entry level A style, is $2800, with 'Maple and Spruce from North America. Assembled in our Qingdao shop. Varnishing and set up in our Marshall, MI shop.'

    So no US factory made mandos under $3k presently.
    I didn't realize Northfield even had an overseas shop.

  5. #30
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    So no US factory made mandos under $3k presently.
    Northfield has produced hundreds of Calhoun mandolins that retail under $1K since this article came out in 2018: Northfield Introduces Three New Michigan-Made Instruments

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  7. #31

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    The problem being that if they retail in a shop for $2800 they have to built for about $1400 or $1800 at the most and still have a profit margin at that price.

  8. #32
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Northfield has produced hundreds of Calhoun mandolins that retail under $1K since this article came out in 2018: Northfield Introduces Three New Michigan-Made Instruments
    Not a carved top A model though.
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Not a carved top A model though.
    Where in this thread prior to your post is it stated only carved tops are discussed? You said no one is producing any mandolins at less than $3K in any numbers. That simply is not true.

  10. #34

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    That detail was left out, but if we are talking comps for the Bourgeois it would assume arched top. If we are talking flat top obviously that brings a bunch more builders to the table in the sub 3k category.

  11. #35
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    I stopped by their NAMM booth again yesterday and while the Bourgeois A model is aesthetically beautiful, it struck me as not offering much beyond the existing Eastman mando line. I also briefly strummed the MDO-605 octave and sonically it's very much in the same pocket as the 305, which is a fine thing. The flamed maple back was unremarkable; in fact it was kinda plain.

  12. #36

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by milli857 View Post
    Again, I'm not suggesting they charge $1000. For $2700, the costs you stated leave plenty of room for overhead, wages, and profit though.

    I may have been a bit off on the other builders, besides the Northfields, there doesn't seem to be all that much out there for under $3k built in a factory in the US. There are several individual makers though, i.e. Morris, Cross, Dubova.
    As Scott said, there is Northfield, which markets the Calhoun at around $1k. There is nothing after that because it is not sustainable. My hat is off to Northfield as they continue to offer this model, along with the others, but from a business perspective the Calhoun is probably not driving in $$$$ profits.

    And yes, there are a few small builders offering mandolins in that lower price range, but there's no real volume coming out of those shops, and to be honest, if you sat down and did a unit cost analysis of these mandolins, there would be some unhappy faces in the room. My guess is that they are giving their labor away, and they can do that because it's there's to give, but if they really wanted to pay themselves a living wage, their prices would look quite differently.

    Companies need to make money and in order to offer the model that Bourgeois proposes to bring to the market, in the quantities that they are probably projecting, they will need to make these overseas.

    And CarlM is right, in order to sell these through shops there has to be enough room in the profit margin to allow dealers to make money on the sale of instruments.

    Doug, I think the model they are using is a higher level than Eastman currently produces, which is the same business model they are using for guitars, which do quite well in Europe (which several dealers have told me is their market). The problem has been producing enough of the guitars for them to enter the market and spur more sales in the US.

    I think this is a great idea, but I am not sure whether the price will stay under $3k by the time they actually deliver the first few batches to dealers. Hiring skilled labor anywhere these days is like the Wild West.

    The real question here, especially in the US with makers like Collings and Pava, and other small shops (not solo shops), is if you are going to expend the expertise and effort on building an instrument do you build a $3k instrument which will yield a lower profit or a $7k instrument which requires as much or almost as much labor as the $3k one? It's a question a lot of companies are asking themselves these days.
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  13. #37

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

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    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Jun-06-2022 at 3:49pm. Reason: This post violates Forum posting guidelines

  14. #38
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Where in this thread prior to your post is it stated only carved tops are discussed? You said no one is producing any mandolins at less than $3K in any numbers. That simply is not true.
    Since this discussion started concerning the new Bourgeois Mandolin, pictured as a carved top A style, I inadvertently assumed the thread maintained that discussion, and was focused on 'factory made' mandolins. You caught the lack of style specificity, so the Northfield Calhoun, a flat top model, is USA made and under $3k. The other assumption, ie, the discussion was only 'factory made' instruments, should be expanded to include sole proprietors, such as Sonny Morris and Audie Ratliff, each of whom make carved, A style mandolins < $3k. The lowest priced new Pava seems to be slightly greater than $3k. I suspect there are other less well known makers in the sub $3K price range for an A style. and probably even other makers who make flattops in that price range.

    As I said in the original thread about Bourgeois mandolins, good luck to them.
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  15. #39
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Try buying the $150 A mandolin kit from International Violin that's already got the plates carved, f holes cut, sides bent, and assembled neck including bound and fretted fingerboard and see just how many hours it takes you to glue it all up, sand, and finish it. Then consider how many hours you would have to add to rough out the plates by machine, finish graduating them by hand, cut the f-holes, bend the sides, cut the binding channels, assemble the neck from scratch, etc., and get back to us.

    And make sure you factor in the cost of employer's expenses, such as 7% added to wages for Social Security, many hundreds a month for providing a health insurance plan, and so on. And maintaing equipment. And yeah, there's water, power, and heating/cooling bills for the shop.

    Oh, and remember that dealers have to be able to afford your wholesale prices in order to make a profit. Or if a company limits themselves to direct sales, then they have to hire additional sales staff, and probably an extra man or two in the shipping department . . .

    I don't think Pava will be able to maintain their very attractive prices for much longer.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-06-2022 at 6:54pm.

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  17. #40

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    I believe Northfield made the carved top Model M in the Michigan workshop

  18. #41
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by lgibjones View Post
    I believe Northfield made the carved top Model M in the Michigan workshop
    According to the Northfield website: [www.northfieldinstruments.com/model-m]: "Maple and spruce from North America. Assembled in our Qingdao shop. Varnishing and set up in our Marshall, MI shop."

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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    9 min 13 sec in you will get a sound sample of the new Bourgeois mandolins...

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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Demetrius View Post
    9 min 13 sec in you will get a sound sample of the new Bourgeois mandolins...
    Absolute worst environment to record and determine the tone of an instrument. I especially appreciate the distortion from the mic input being too hot. Listening through the noise, a couple of the guitars sounded good. Can't say the same for either mandolin.

  22. #44
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    I agree completely about the tone of the mandolin and the OM. They sounded tinny and green —- like they were built in late May. The mando may look like $3K, but it sounds like $1K.

    Bourgeois or Eastman should produce a video that clearly lets potential current and future buyers hear the true tone of these instruments, before too many watch this video and rule out a purchase.
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  23. #45
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    We’re onto our second page of this thread about Bourgeois Mandolins -they must be doing something right!
    I think I’d like a mandolin called Bourgeois!

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  25. #46
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    You can hear how a Bourgeois mandolin sounds on rhythm and melody of "Billy in the Lowground" during the first minute of this video. After that, it's all about the Touchstone guitars.

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  26. #47
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Sounds fine to me...
    Last edited by Demetrius; Jul-01-2022 at 1:00pm.

  27. #48

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    The Northfield F5S and Big Mon are both made in China as well and currently retail at $3.5k and $5k respectively. It's understood there will always be those that chose US made instruments on principle even if it means paying a premium, but I think Northfield has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is ample demand for high end instruments that offer a good value regardless of country of origin. The Northfield mandolins I've played and owned were certainly not lacking in quality for their price point. Similarly, I've always felt Eastmans offered considerable value for the price. I see no reason to believe these Bourgeois mandolins will have any issue selling in a market where many folks are looking for a next level mandolin after their beginnner/intermediate Eastmans.

  28. #49

    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    But Northfields are not factory-made instruments. There are no large groups of workers making their instruments.

    From what I understand from someone who was contacted by Bourgeois is that the mandolins will be made overseas and then set up and adjusted in the US. They still have not found luthiers here for those positions, despite advertising for over a year. So, it may be some time before these roll out in any great numbers.
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  29. #50
    Registered User Zissou Intern's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bourgeois Mandolins!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    But Northfields are not factory-made instruments. There are no large groups of workers making their instruments.
    From what I understand from someone who was contacted by Bourgeois is that the mandolins will be made overseas and then set up and adjusted in the US. They still have not found luthiers here for those positions, despite advertising for over a year. So, it may be some time before these roll out in any great numbers.
    Perhaps the Weber mandolin builders now working the Breedlove/Bedell guitar assembly line would want to move from Oregon to Maine to work on mandolins again.

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