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Thread: Help with my MAS!

  1. #1

    Default Help with my MAS!

    So Iíve been posting questions lately about one model vs. another and one tone wood vs. another because Iím ready to step up to the next level mandolin and have no opportunity to play any; I live in a higher end acoustic instrument desert. I would literally have to fly half way across the country to find stores with any kind of selection and even then Iíd be limited to whatever they happen to have in inventory that day. So Iíll have buy online sight unseen just as I have with every Martin dread Iíve ever bought. So asking questions of all you knowledgeable pickers is the only due dilligence I can do, along with watching vids.
    I play in a trio with a bass player and acoustic guitar player. When he solos I have to hold down a decent rhythm ďwallĒ for him to play against. We play some fiddle tunes but also a lot of sweet, melodic singer/songwriter ballads. So on the more uptempo tunes I try to deliver a thick, beefy chop. But on the more delicate songs I try to play more textured things like arpeggios, crosspicked chords and melodic fill lines.

    So I need a mando that can swing both ways. From watching some Mike Marshall vids, Iím intrigued by the Big Mon Engelman top Mandolins. They seem to be able to deliver a good chop when called for but also have sort of a rich overtone-y higher end for the sweeter more delicate tunes. Thoughts about this or alternate suggestions? If I were only playing bluegrass I might lean more toward the adi top Big Mon or a Gibson F5G but there are only a small handful of bluegrass-ish tunes in our repertoire.

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Default Re: Help with my MAS!

    Quote Originally Posted by mikerofone View Post
    Thoughts about this or alternate suggestions?
    My only advice, from a fellow inhabitant of a traditional mandolin desert, is to buy used and appropriately depreciated so that you can move it along at little to no loss should it at some point not be the optimal instrument for your applications.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  3. #3
    Teacher, repair person
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Southeast Tennessee

    Default Re: Help with my MAS!

    Mike, I understand that you live in a place where there aren't many mandolins. But perhaps if you go to the right places, you can hear a few . . .

    Many of your posts have referred to F-5 style mandolins. Have you ever played an A-5 model or an oval hole mandolin?
    Any place that you can go where you can play a different kind of mandolin might help to give you a better idea of what might suit your needs.
    Jam sessions, festivals, and so on.

    Perhaps you could make it up to Seattle. We have at least one member up there who trades in mandolins:

  4. #4
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    No. California

    Default Re: Help with my MAS!

    Music Emporium posts more mando demo videos than any other store that I'm aware of. If you listen to them through earbuds, you may get a clearer sense of the tone that you are looking for, and possibly the type of spruce that produces it. Even if the mando is beyond your price range, the video can still help you clarify what you're looking for.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

  5. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: Help with my MAS!

    Some more info might help any of us to give you advice. First, what are you playing right now and what donít you like about it? Second, what is your price range. Third, you might tell us your general geographic location. There may even be some folks from these forums who live near to you who have mandolins to sell or at least to try.

    I would guess that you are looking for a more modern sound rather than a strictly bluegrass tone. For me, I look for rounded tone across the range, responsiveness meaning that even playing softly gives beautiful tone, sustain, and fretboard and neck profile that allows me to play what I want comfortably. Your needs may differ from mine, though, so I would hesitate to recommend specific makers.

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  6. #6

    Default Re: Help with my MAS!

    Since you asked for help -
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  7. #7
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Sunny PNW

    Default Re: Help with my MAS!

    I got my Big Mon during the lockdown so didn't get to try any but have been over the moon since Miss Maybelle arrived. If that's the sound you like, I think you'll be pleased but you can always buy from a shop with a good return policy.
    2020 Northfield Big Mon
    2016 Skip Kelley A5
    2019 Weber Bitteroot F17
    2011 Weber Gallatin A20
    2013 Collings Mandola
    2021 Northfield Flattop Octave Mandolin
    2019 Pono Flattop Octave
    Richard Beard Celtic Flattop
    And a few electrics

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