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Thread: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

  1. #1
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    Default Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Hello all,

    I'm currently playing a Weber Gallatin but my playing is developing rapidly enough that I'm beginning to outgrow it. I play a wide variety of genres so I'm facing a dilemma when thinking about what my next mando will be. I've done a ridiculous amount of research, probably more than 100 hours all told, musing the cafe and other sites across the internet and going to the closest reasonably-sized music store (TME in Boston). At TME I played the Mowry and it's a stellar bluegrass mando, and if I were only playing bluegrass I would buy that in an instant... but I'm not. I also play jazz. Jazz and bluegrass are my two main genres, but they each beg for very different tones. With jazz I'm looking for a warm tone, whereas with bluegrass I'm looking for a sharp, direct, high lonesome sound. My teacher has an old Gibson A-4 that has a great warm, round, tone, and I would totally look for something that replicates that if I were only playing jazz... but I'm not. You see the issue. An idea that I've tossed around is purchasing one mando for bluegrass and one mando for jazz. Would that make sense? Basically, if you were in my position, what would you do?

    Thanks for your undoubtedly wise words.
    Samuel Acus

    2021 Duff Two-Point
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  2. #2
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Get the tools fit for purpose. Everybody needs another mandolin
    Not all the clams are at the beach

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  4. #3
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    My opinion:

    The Weber Gallatin is a first class mandolin. I cannot conceive of outgrowing it, as it has no drawbacks, no compromises.

    Now, I can understand if it is not as suitable for your purposes or your musical interests as some other mandolin might be, or that you are interested in pursuing some specific musical genre more suited to a different instrument. All this makes sense.

    But the Weber Gallatin is for many folks their forever mandolin, and not hardly a stepping stone model for a developing student.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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  6. #4

    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    My Girouard A5 is a very versatile mandolin. It's also beautifully finished and an easy player. I'm a very satisfied customer and eagerly awaiting my Girouard A4.

    Your Gallatin is a decent mandolin so if you like it, you could find a mandolin that has a different tone (like the Gibson A4) and keep both. If your going for an upgrade and want one mandolin to do it all, I highly recommend a Girouard A5.
    Girouard Concert A5
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  8. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    You might look at the Northfield "Artist" series that was developed with input from Mike Marshall...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/188710#188710

    That is a two bar bracing system but the five bar braced ones are really sweet...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/188639#188639

    As for "jazz" mandolins, you might consider the Apitius "Yorkville" ie J model or the Arrow G model. Of course those would have to be custom ordered with a long wait period.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  9. #6
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    This is one of the two jazziest mandolins that I've ever played. It happens to be for sale: http://www.reverb.com/item/52762666-...-1939-sunburst
    I do not know the current owner and have no financial interest. As with any reverb item, use common sense and care if you consider ordering the instrument.
    The former owner and I used to refer to it as the "Jethro Burns F-4" because of the sound. No, Jethro did not own this instrument, but Mr. Blake did.

    I'll add that this particular instrument sounds quite different than a "typical" teens or early '20's F-4. Good sustain, but a noticeably "fatter" tone. I don't recall playing any other F-4's made that late, so I don't know whether they would have similar characteristics or not.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-23-2022 at 6:31pm.

  10. #7
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    When I think of "jazz" mandolin, I think of hollow body electric. Maybe oval hole vs F holes but, even then, it's more of a different tone with jazz melodies/scales/rhythms rather than a correct tone.
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    And a few electrics

  11. #8
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    You want two mandolins. Period. End of discussion.

    Not gonna find one that has a "bluegrass" sound, and a sound like an old A-4.

    You'll end up with an instrument that compromises both your goals, and satisfies neither.

    And, keep the Gallatin.
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  13. #9
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    You want two mandolins. .....And, keep the Gallatin.
    There it is. The real solution.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Allen nailed it. My Kelley A-5 is a bluegrass hoss and very adept at anything else I play…but my Rigel CT-100 excels at some things the Kelley doesn’t. And, for jazz, don’t forget about sold body electrics and Manndolins…
    Chuck

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  17. #11

    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    You want two mandolins. I don’t think that’s the end of discussion.
    A great bluegrass mandolin can serve an adept player well in other styles.
    Consider the different tones available with different types of strings, thickness and shape picks, pickups etc.
    Last edited by Aurora; Jun-24-2022 at 7:19am.

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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    You might look at the Northfield "Artist" series that was developed with input from Mike Marshall...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/188710#188710

    That is a two bar bracing system but the five bar braced ones are really sweet...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/188639#188639

    As for "jazz" mandolins, you might consider the Apitius "Yorkville" ie J model or the Arrow G model. Of course those would have to be custom ordered with a long wait period.

    Hi Charles, thanks for your ideas. I've played both Artist models but I felt like they did a similar thing to my Gallatin. Pretty good tone for both, Super incredible tone for neither. The jazz mandolins look really cool. If I had all the money in the world I would snatch up a Yorkville... but it costs a pretty penny more than I have.

    --
    rcc56, that's a good idea about the Gibson F4s, I'll check them out. You've played that one exactly?

    --
    allenhopkins, I'm afraid that's probably true. My wallet won't be a fan of that!

    --
    Burtch, yeah, the highlighting of the word want is probably more like it. What I can actually get may be different.

    --

    Thanks to all of you for your advice. I will take it all into account!
    Samuel Acus

    2021 Duff Two-Point
    2004 Weber Gallatin F5
    2021 Gold Tone 5-String Electric
    1936 (?) Kalamazoo A5
    1940s Regal Guitar

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  20. #13
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Yes, I played it quite a bit when it lived near me. Bear in mind that this one has a tone that is rather unique for an F-4, quite a bit "fatter" and much slicker than earlier models. An F-4 from the 1910's or 1920's will have a brighter, more "classical" sound.

    It reminds me more of a D'Angelico that was up at Gruhn's some years ago than it does of your typical old Gibson.

    Bear in mind that I do not know the current seller, nor can I vouch for the current condition of the instrument, so if you decide to take a look at it, be sure that he will honor a return if it does not suit you.

    It was in good shape back when Mr. Blake owned it, with a fresh precision fret job by me. I haven't seen it in 10 or 15 years, though.

    Always be extra careful on internet purchases that are not from well known sellers with well-established reputations. Talk to them on the phone, make sure that they sound honest, and that they will accept a return [at your shipping cost] without any nonsense.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jun-24-2022 at 10:04am.

  21. #14

    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    I have found that no matter how stellar your mandolins are, sometimes that thirst for another one just doesn’t go away! There are so many wonderful choices out there and not a bad addiction if you are going to have one.

  22. #15

    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    As for "jazz" mandolins, you might consider the Apitius "Yorkville" ie J model or the Arrow G model. Of course those would have to be custom ordered with a long wait period.
    I have an Arrow G and I think it it a brilliant mandolin. It absolutely shines with any style of music that allows notes to bloom; however, it will still do a passable chop for bluegrass. It doesn't chop as easily as a standard F, but with attention to technique, I believe that it is about perfect as a single mandolin for someone who plays several genres. It is the telecaster of mandolins. Every time I think about getting another mandolin, the M.A.S. goes away because it means that I won't be playing the Arrow as much.

  23. #16
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolinian View Post
    ...allenhopkins, I'm afraid that's probably true. My wallet won't be a fan of that!...Thanks to all of you for your advice. I will take it all into account!
    To paraphrase the Furry Freak Brothers, mandolins will get ya through times of no money, better than money will get ya through times of unsatisfactory mandolins.

    One reason I've accumulated such an oversupply of mandolins, is that they're different, with unique sounds, construction, and histories. There are times when I really want the sound of a bowl-back, or a resonator instrument, or a mandola as opposed to a mandolin. Your preferences vary within a narrower spectrum, but you're really seeking two distinct sounds, associated with two related but distinct types of mandolin.

    Not trying to be a smart aleck, but I feared you'd end up with an instrument that really didn't give you what you wanted in either style of music -- and cost more than the Gallatin you have. (Which, by the way, is a helluva instrument.)
    Allen Hopkins
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  24. #17

    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    TME had an older Girouard A5 when I was there Wednesday. They also have a Smart two point that is styled for jazz. Itís got a bigger, fuller neck and would be perfect for that style. They also have a nice older Gibson oval hole. They were also expecting another Toole oval hole any day.

  25. #18
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolinian View Post
    My wallet won't be a fan of that!
    To paraphrase a famous philosopher: Mandolins will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no mandolin.

    Ummm errr something like that.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    My dad always said, "Buy quality."

    You're playing a mandolin that is no longer giving you the quality of tone that you want from it. Yes, a Gallatin is a great mandolin, but that was the lowest level F-model mandolin that Bruce Weber built. You are playing two musical genres that thrive on different tones, which is why David Benedict plays one Oliver Apitius model and Don Stiernberg plays another. However, you can only afford one higher quality mandolin for now.

    So, with apologies for negativity, I suggest that you think about what frustrates you more: playing bluegrass on your Gallatin, or playing jazz on it. Then, buy a wonderful mandolin for that genre, and play the other genre on your Gallatin with as much joy as possible until you can afford a wonderful mandolin for that genre.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    TME just listed a 2018 Girouard 2-point Cedar over Maple Oval.

  30. #21
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  31. #22
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    If you want to find someone to talk you out of buying two instruments, go to a motorcycle forum!
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  33. #23
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    My opinion:

    The Weber Gallatin is a first class mandolin. I cannot conceive of outgrowing it, as it has no drawbacks, no compromises. . . .
    My thought. Wasn't going to say it. Good someone did!
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    After playing these two ...





    Andy commissioned me to build this new SX.

    Our goals on the build were similar to what you described.

    My current redwood topped SX demo build has a bit more warmth and wood and a bit less of the screaming treble. Definitely a genre-bender.

    Steve

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  36. #25
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    Default Re: Advice on purchasing my next mandolin(s)

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    My Girouard A5 is a very versatile mandolin. It's also beautifully finished and an easy player. I'm a very satisfied customer and eagerly awaiting my Girouard A4.

    Your Gallatin is a decent mandolin so if you like it, you could find a mandolin that has a different tone (like the Gibson A4) and keep both. If your going for an upgrade and want one mandolin to do it all, I highly recommend a Girouard A5.
    I’m looking forward to reading your report on the Girouard A4 when you’ve played it awhile. I have an A4 in mind for my next addition.
    Finished my rookie year and still determined to learn!
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