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Thread: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

  1. #1

    Default What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Hey All,

    Long time lurker first time poster.

    I'm a guitarist and sufficient banjoist who's been playing more Mando during the pandemic. And lo and behold, now that live music opportunities are opening more and more, I'm actually getting some gigs that call for the Mandolin around town. I played one last night in fact using my Eastman MD315. Gig went great and I like the Eastman fine (especially for the price), but I think I'm ready to spring for something a bit nicer.

    My target zone here would be something in the $2k range, ideally used, though of course that's not essential. I'm playing mostly folk/old school country with some bluegrass aspirations, and would like F-holes over an oval, but am not super picky beyond that.

    Some options on the current used market that caught my eye include:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/191577#191577
    https://reverb.com/item/58320906-nor...-mandolin-2021
    https://reverb.com/item/54186939-web...style-mandolin

    Anyone have any tips for me one where my best bang for the buck is gonna be in this arena? I know I should just take a trip down to nashville and try some out... but that's probably just not realistic for me in the short term.


    Incidentally, I made an almost identical post as this on the BanjoHangout when I was getting my first USA-made banjo a year or so ago and ended up with a Banjo I absolutely love based on their advice. Lets see if the MandoCafe can best that crew

  2. #2
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    There is a slightly used Silver Angel Econo A in the classifieds for under your budget....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/190995#190995

    A lot of bang for the buck from an individual American maker.



    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  4. #3
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    There is a slightly used Silver Angel Econo A in the classifieds for under your budget....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/190995#190995

    A lot of bang for the buck from an individual American maker.

    Or this Northfield M+ in the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/191163#191163

    NFI

    That Weber looks good too, good hunting!



    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Quote Originally Posted by danoverb View Post
    My target zone here would be something in the $2k range, ideally used, though of course that's not essential. I'm playing mostly folk/old school country with some bluegrass aspirations, and would like F-holes over an oval, but am not super picky beyond that.
    As you probably know from guitars and banjos, prices for mandolins have climbed the last couple of years, but ~$2500 used to be a great price point for used A5 mandolins from independent builders. I’d be looking for something like the linked which was offered recently by a reputable shop for $2750:

    https://themandolinstore.com/product...andolin-beast/
    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

  6. #5

    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Aside from the higher end Eastman and Kentucky [new] models, and maybe some 'A' in that middle tier, you might be on the lookout for a used Northfield F5S. I got mine in the lower half of the $2K range before the MAP went up, so you'd likely be pushing your limit. Couldn't hurt to call around to some of the sponsors here that sell new ones and let them know you're looking for something "only used in church on Sundays" or such, and your price. Things like that can go quickly. Good luck.
    2009 Eastman MD815/V
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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Welcome to the forum, danoverb! Note that I sent you a private message. And I would invite you to check out the Newbies Social Group.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    I'd stay away from the Weber Absaroka unless you find one with an oval hole. I found one and thought it might play in but ended up selling it. It just did not have the tonal characteristics I'd hoped it would. It sounded dead and dull. We have an oval hole that is a champ and twenty years later it sounds better than ever.

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  12. #8

    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Thanks for the input, all. Now I'm thinking I may just need to sell one of my guitars to finance a Northfield F5

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    Registered User webber's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    I've got nothing but good things to say about my Northfield F5S. I will say that all the ones I've played sounded different to each other, and I would highly recommend playing an instrument in person before you buy it.
    1913 Gibson F2 (Blacktop)
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Because I prefer a flat fingerboard I bought an Kentucky KM-1000B, used for $1600 ( before the recent price increases.) I also found a KM-900 on line for less then a thousand. I'm really impressed with the sound and and quality of workmanship.

  16. #11

    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Heller View Post
    Because I prefer a flat fingerboard I bought an Kentucky KM-1000B, used for $1600 ( before the recent price increases.) I also found a KM-900 on line for less then a thousand. I'm really impressed with the sound and and quality of workmanship.
    I got me a KM-1000B, too, but a new one. They sell in the low to mid 2000s. Absolutely love it.Click image for larger version. 

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    Roger

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    Don MacRostie designed Stuart MacDonald A-style kit I built myself.
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    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Might I offer for your consideration . . . this Weber F5 currently in the ads. From an iconic American luthier -- one of Gibson's greatest craftsman. No stretch to say that Bruce Weber and his instruments are a revered name in the mando world.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/191577#191577


    Click image for larger version. 

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  18. #13

    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolin breeze View Post
    Might I offer for your consideration . . . this Weber F5 currently in the ads. From an iconic American luthier -- one of Gibson's greatest craftsman. No stretch to say that Bruce Weber and his instruments are a revered name in the mando world.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/191577#191577


    Click image for larger version. 

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    I was actually looking at this one earlier. Seems priced way under other F-style Webers... was thinking of giving that shop a call this week. Seems like a great deal to me.

  19. #14

    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    I don't know about the Weber or its pricing, but there was a used NF F2S [oval hole] on the Classifieds here that was just there and gone, I'd say in a day. It was under $3k, so, unless it was pulled for other reasons, that's an indication of what happens to stuff that's good and priced right. You don't get a lot of thinking time, it seems.
    2009 Eastman MD815/V
    2019 Northfield NF-F5S
    some home music videos

  20. #15

    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Lots out there right now.

    On Reverb:
    Collings MT 2999
    Northfield Model M+ 2399
    Hard to go too far wrong with these well known models.

    If you're feeling a bit more adventurous there's (also on Reverb):
    Hook F5 by Luthier Chris Shelton $2750
    Ludewig A5 Luthier Dale Ludewig $2900
    Both single luthier handmade mandos. Not as much of a known commodity but definitely worth some research. The Ludewig is at Sylvan music and they would be glad to chat with you about it.

    The Mandolin Store has a beautiful Cedar topped Bitterroot F5 for $2999. I've loved every Cedar topped Weber I've played. Worth looking into.

    Happy hunting!
    Girouard Concert A5
    Girouard Custom A4
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  22. #16
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Just stay in the hunt for a Montana Flatiron A or Weber A. You'll be pleased.
    You can't get there from here.

  23. #17
    Teacher, repair person
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Gruhn Guitars has three in your price range, all A models: a Summit, a Peter Coombe mandolin, and a Kratzer and Gresham mandolin.
    Carter Vintage also has a Summit A.

    I haven't played instruments by Mr. Coombe or Kratzer, but I have played a Summit, and it was a well made instrument with a good sound.

  24. #18
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Quote Originally Posted by danoverb View Post
    Hey All,

    ...... with some bluegrass aspirations, and would like F-holes over an oval, but am not super picky beyond that.....
    Seems if you can get a good F model, might hold value over an A - but lots of factors there. Also the F is the bluegrass workhorse ain't it?

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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Doug Clark makes the best mandolins for that price range. His instruments are amazing, I know several people that own them and I also play mine all the time! If you're interested in getting in touch with him I can PM you his #. His prices are extremely reasonable and you will get an instrument that'll last a lifetime!! Here's a video of me playing mine this last week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_ZT6DmOJNw

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  27. #20

    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    I bought a GREAT (barely) used Girouard A-5 Concert from The Mandolin Store last year for $2750.

  28. #21
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Quote Originally Posted by danoverb View Post
    Anyone have any tips for me one where my best bang for the buck is gonna be in this arena? I know I should just take a trip down to nashville and try some out... but that's probably just not realistic for me in the short term.
    I am surprised that the term “best bang for the buck” didn’t automatically trigger the response of get an A-model. So I will say that. As you may or may not have heard an A-model can sounds just as good as an F. Unless you are completely in love with the look of the points and scrolls in your price range the As would make a lot more sense. Just stick to the f-holed ones if that tone is what you prefer.
    Jim

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  30. #22
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Quote Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
    I don't know about the Weber or its pricing, but there was a used NF F2S [oval hole] on the Classifieds here that was just there and gone, I'd say in a day. It was under $3k, so, unless it was pulled for other reasons, that's an indication of what happens to stuff that's good and priced right. You don't get a lot of thinking time, it seems.
    Yep, someone saved me from that one. Decided to "sleep on it" since I don't really "need" one, and the mando universe confirmed that, lol...

    I have a Skip Kelley A-5 that I bought new from Mandomutt for just under 3K, though granted that was in 2018 and pricing is certainly different now. Great mandolin from an upper crust builder for a great price.

    Good luck! There are a lot of good options out there, especially in the A-style and 2-points. My other mandolin is a Rigel CT-110, also purchased for under 3K+.
    Chuck

  31. #23
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Another vote for Silverangel.
    Girouard A
    Silverangel A
    Eastman 615

  32. #24
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    Keep an eye open for a Ratliff. I’m just finishing my rookie year on mandolin and I’m really happy with the feel and the sound. When other players at pickers fests have tried my Ratliff they’re impressed, too.
    Finished my rookie year and still determined to learn!
    Ratliff F-style Country Boy
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  33. #25
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Are Some Good Options in the $2-3k range?

    As others have said, keep your eyes open. Good deals turn up. Here and on Reverb (and it seems GBase although I don't often search it.)

    And yes, best bang for the buck will be an A model. Used. I think there are a lot of good deals out there if you keep looking. Or maybe one will fall into your lap. (Which is what happened with my Brentrup.)

    Just did a quick check and Elderly Instruments has a used Northfield NFM-A5 Plus that is in your range. (No connection with the instrument or seller).
    2000 Brentrup Model 23 #6, Peter Coombe #248, Gibson A Jr, '82 Flatiron 1SB, Strad-O-Lin, Eastman MDO-305
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