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Thread: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

  1. #1

    Default New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    Aloha Y'All!
    I'm sure this question has been posted a thousand times, but please allow me to ask it again. I am a professional musician, (vocalist, guitarist, ukulele player, lap steel guitarist and violinist) who is looking to add mandolin to my arsenal. I'm looking for recommendations for a first time mandolin purchase, but with an eye towards something that down the line, can be gigged with. I'm open to mandolins with built in pickups, or not, as I'm cool with after market installation. I'd like to keep it reasonable in price, but don't let that deter your recommendations.
    Thank you in advance for any thoughts and/or suggestions.

    Tiki Dave

  2. #2
    Teacher, repair person
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    I had an older Eastman 505 go through my hands that was good enough to gig with. I wish I had kept it for just that reason. Current price for a used one would be around $600. They go for $850 new if you can find one. Mine was good enough for stage use [after a little set up work], and cheap enough so it wouldn't have hurt too much if it had gotten knocked over or stolen on a job.

    Another possibility might be the right old oval hole Gibson-- they tend to be more mic friendly than most f-hole mandolins. You're talking more money though, $1200 - $1500 and up depending on the model and condition. And most of them are friendlier to play if you install a set of modern frets.

    The best mic-ing mandolin I ever had was a Lyon & Healy style B, but I didn't like to take it on tight stages, crowded venues, or hot outdoor gigs.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    If you’re not looking to play bluegrass the flat top options out there can get you gig ready quality at a more reasonable price. Flatiron 1N, Big Muddy (or Mid MO…same builder, just a name change), Northfield Calhoun, Redline Traveler, Sawchyn Beavertail, and Howard “Sonny” Morris are a few options that immediately come to mind. I used to have a Flatiron 1N that was a pro quality instrument I paid $500 for, and it was great for everything but bluegrass (the flat tops just don’t have the projection and chop to compete with the other instrumentation).

    Eastman and Kentucky are the consistently better import options. I used to own an Eastman 315 that was gig-worthy; had 80% of the tone of a Collings MT I also had then but a sub-$1000 price tag. If I’d kept it I would have probably upgraded the tuners, but they worked fine, just not as smooth as more expensive ones. Sold it in a downsize move a few years ago, though.

    Of course, if your budget is higher, we can give you a lot more options, lol…

    Good luck in the search!

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    Well .... What do you consider a reasonable price? Kentucky mandolins are a quality import from their least expensive model to their "high dollar" models. Eastman IMO does not quite have the quality of build or materials though they produce an acceptable student grade instrument. U.S. made instruments are priced at two to three times the cost of those foreign made. Collings, Weber manufactured in Bozeman, MT and a rather large number of small shops produce lovely instruments. Shop the Reverb site to get an idea of what and where. Carter's Vintage in Nashville is a great place to check out all things and price levels of mandolin. My personal favorite of a reasonable level pro instrument is a used Gibson or Flatiron from the Boseman, MT shop pre-1993. Good luck in your search. Mandolins are great fun ... keep in mind " a bow is not a pick" R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    I think we need far more information about what you’re trying to achieve and how much you want to spend.

    If I were a mandolin player looking for a guitar, would you recommend I start off with a Crafter, a Martin D45, a Strat. copy or a vintage Les Paul?

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  10. #6

    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    Aloha Y'All,
    Thanks so much for the initial replies...lots of good info, and reading my initial question, I probably should have included a little more info on what I am looking to do.

    I really have little initial interest in bluegrass, although I enjoy it and I appreciate it, and i may explore that down the road. My primary performance style is trop-rock and island music, (Buffett, Zac Brown, Kenny Chesney, Bob Marley, Beach Boys) and I would like to use it on some of that music. So, country, with a tropical twist. That being said, I'd also like to explore classic rock and 60's party music transferred over to mandolin.

    My budget? Well, I'd like to keep it on the south side of $1k.

    Again, thanks for the positivity and the assistance!

    TD

    Ps:
    Although I prefer the look of the F style mandolin, will there be a huge difference in sound quality between that and the A style?

  11. #7
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki Dave View Post
    Although I prefer the look of the F style mandolin, will there be a huge difference in sound quality between that and the A style?
    No, an A style will give you good sound for less $. I prefer the A, and while I have had f styles briefly, I have only A styles. Now the question is whether you like an oval hole sound or an ff hole sound. If you can play some of each and decide for yourself.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  13. #8

    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    It’s hard to beat the value of either an Eastman or a Morris in your price range. I have both, and the Morris A4 oval is a lifetime keeper and fits really well for Buffett and old rock/country tunes.

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  15. #9
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    For under 1K an Eastman 505 (f-holes) or Eastman 504(oval hole) will give you a lot of mandolin for the money. They retail at $ 849.oo consistently. For a tad over 1K is the Eastman 605 and it comes with a pickup installed.....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/188054#188054

    Good luck with your search!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  17. #10
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    I thought I remembered this in the classifieds, an Eastman 305 with pickup installed...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/187017#187017

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  19. #11
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    Piezo pickups sense the vibrations . they're simple, no moving parts , so relatively cheap. thus popular
    A preamp that expects such a Hi Z input is crucial ..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  20. #12
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    The LM 700 that just hit the classifieds may be the ticket.
    2021 The Loar LM700 VS

  21. #13

    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    I saw that...but no pics...I'll keep an eye out for them...thanks!

  22. #14
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    Dave, can I assume that you are located in Hawaii? If so, are there any music stores that carry mandolins that you can try?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  23. #15

    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

    Hi...I"m a actually in Las Vegas now...so I'm sure there are a few places...I haven't started the actual search. Just looking for ideas and suggestions now.

  24. #16

    Default Re: New Guy Looking For Recommendations

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