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Thread: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

  1. #1
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    This has answered a few questions I have been asking myself for sometime. Having never played a $6 figure mandolin I have always wondered if the price is justified on playability or historical rarity.
    I have had two respected builders (often found on this site) of $5 figure mandolins tell me they have worked on some of these and found nothing exceptional about their tone or playability.
    is this a general consensus of other players and builders with more experience than me? Not that I'm ready to go out and buy a $100,000 plus mandolin in this lifetime, just very curious.
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    This (Lloyd Loar built Gibsons) would seem similar to pre-war Martins and even Stradivarius violins. They are in limited and non-growig supply; they have a reputation for greatness, in some way resulting from famous players; they carry a historical cachet unavailable anywhere else; and they fail to consistently surpass modern competitors in blind listening tests. But, if your are a maestro and you've got the money...you go for it.
    I remember that when Chris Thile won his MacArthur Genius prize, he used it to buy his LL. If I won the lottery, I would buy one too.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    I've played several mandolins by some of our best modern makers, such as Gilchrist, Dudenbostel, Nugget, and others; also a few Loars.

    I've never played a bad Gilchrist. All of them were very good, some are better than others.
    I've never played a bad Loar-signed Gibson. Some of them are better than others also.

    Every instrument has its own voice. Gilchrist tends to have different tone colors than Gibson.
    The two most powerful mandolins I've played were a beat-up Loar with a Virzi [which goes against conventional wisdom] and a 2 point oval hole D'Angelico. Sometimes I wish I had bought that D'Angelico-- it had something special, but I let it go. I have a good F-4 that I like so well that I've kept it for 35 years.

    I believe that age can have a strong influence on the character of an instrument. You can't build age into an instrument, time must take its course.

    Are Loars worth $100k - $200k? Despite market fluctuations, people are still paying 6 figures for them, although they are moving slowly these days.
    Are Gilchrists worth $18k - $25k? They're still moving also.

    Value is in the eye of the beholder. I like the old ones better. I also think that Gil has something really good. There are others in that price range that I was not impressed with, but I'm not going to mention names. I also think that Paul Newson has something really good, and he costs a lot less. But I still like the old ones better. Other folks will have different preferences than me.

    My mandolin buying days are about over anyway. If I do buy one in the future, it will probably be a nice old Maurer [those boys had something also]; or a mid-level Eastman if I need something that I don't have to worry about to play in a crowded club.

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  6. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by M19 View Post
    This (Lloyd Loar built Gibsons) would seem similar to pre-war Martins and even Stradivarius violins. They are in limited and non-growing supply...
    That's debatable. They are a bit like bachelor farmers. Even though you think there is no way for their numbers to increase there are more and more of them each year, at least on eBay.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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  8. #5

    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    That's debatable. They are a bit like bachelor farmers. Even though you think there is no way for their numbers to increase there are more and more of them each year, at least on eBay.
    "Cap'n, ya can't change the laws of physics!"

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  10. #6
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    No, but you can say darn near anything on ebay and get away with it [sometimes], also sometimes on reverb.

    Anyone remember this? She's still there. http://www.reverb.com/item/47200281-...idges-2-saddle

    Reduced [for a second time], this time from $8500 to $6250. One offer has been made. I suspect the seller didn't like the offer.
    It does look like they've cleaned up there "restoration" some since the last time I looked at it. If I was feeling generous, wanted a project and didn't need to make any money on it, and just wanted to nurse her back to a comfortable state with a good varnish finish in the right color, I might offer as much as $400.

    Oh, btw, just in case someone wants to make a $400-$500 offer, be advised that it's a plain A, not an A-2.

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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    There are more than enough excellent mandolins out there or that can be built for all of us hobby players and even most gigging musicians. There's a attainable supply of excellent high end mandolins out there for serious wealthier musicians and collectors. There are only handful of Loars or Montes or Brentrups. Will they all have the same cache, likely not because Bill Monroe didn't play them. That's what drives most mandolin building, the American Bluegrass ethos and the Loar shape. Even if I won the lottery, I wouldn't buy one. I'm not good enough to warrant that kind of tool. I'll leave them for others to play.

    As for some luthiers not being impressed, I believe them. 100+year old instruments often are the worse for wear. I personally believe more of them are very good than mediocre or bad. The only one who can answer if they are worth the cost is the potential buyer.

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  13. #8

    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Value is in the eye of the beholder ? get it out with Optrex.

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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Couldn't care less about the price of mandolins, guitars or any other stringed instruments and the accompanying angst and gum flapping about what they cost. What I want to know is why when I go to the grocery store, my ten year old Honda is surrounded by cars and pickups I know start in the $40-50K range and go up--some way up-- are parked in the lot by the dozens. Now add the payments some are making on those and that $55K car with interest is going to keep that bank account hurting. You can't go anywhere in this midwestern town and see the same. And all of those vehicles will be worth a tiny fraction of the original value in a couple of years. Any decent mandolin will hold a good chunk of its original value while you (should) enjoy it. Some appreciate in value. Anyone like to give me my original $5K for my 2001 Nugget Deluxe? Not for sale. Everyone has something they spend money on that is of value to them personally that others scoff at. If the price of a mandolin is something you scoff at, then... so what? I'd bet a lot of people that complain about the cost of musical instruments on this Forum are driving and making 3-4 year interest payments on ridiculously priced cars because it's what they dig. Good for them. I don't need a $50K car to drive a mile to the grocery store or 35 miles east to the big city a few times a month. You might think you do.

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    bird and mando geek Rob Fowler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by M19 View Post
    I remember that when Chris Thile won his MacArthur Genius prize, he used it to buy his LL. If I won the lottery, I would buy one too.
    I think he used the grant to buy his SECOND Lloyd Loar!
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    ...Anyone like to give me my original $5K for my 2001 Nugget Deluxe?...
    No, but I'd be interested in the Honda
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    No, but I'd be interested in the Honda
    Me too, as it is newer than my Freestyle
    I need a new (used) car soon, and the prices are scary. I'd much rather shop for mandolins.
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  21. #13

    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Fowler View Post
    I think he used the grant to buy his SECOND Lloyd Loar!
    Well, that's just not fair!

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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    I was going to let this conversation move forward, but what happened not 10 minutes ago must be shared. I was warming up for my Thursday night gig and realized I had no extra strings so jumped in my near priceless 10+ year old Honda and drove the mile to Mass Street Music, bought three sets of strings. While I'm there I see a guy get out of his car and enter the store with a soft case and what appeared to be a baby Taylor guitar. He's talking about something it needs. I walk out, see the rest of the car, very late model Mercedes C63S with leather seats, tricked out. Prices vary but appear to start around $75-80K. And a $500 guitar in tow. Maybe he has a room full of vintage Martins and Gibson at home. I doubt it. There are two cars parked in front of Mass Music. Mine, and his. The strings will go on a mandolin worth more than both cars in our house and the old clunker my daughter is driving around Canada still.

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    That said, locally people know this. My baby blue Honda once gave the head luthier and owner of Shmergel a ride to the airport. That alone makes it nearly priceless. Mike, if you still want it, I'll trade for any signed Loar (not "The," the real thing with Lloyd's name on the label), straight across.

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Ha! I use a couple of guitars like that. They work for me. Will be playing a gig in a week with my Martin 000-15 Streetmaster. Does what I need it to do. Got rid of my expensive guitars when I started doing Scandinavian music. At that time a Taylor 150e did what I needed it to do and sounded even better plugged in. (And yes, at times I've owned Collings, vintage Gibson and other nice guitars).

    Now, I don't scoff at prices of instruments. Might not be what my priority is, but if you want to spend the money on it. More power to you. There are local fiddlers who use bows worth more than my vehicle (2014 CX-5).

    As my own take, I see the Loar F-5 like a Stradivarius or a sunburst Les Paul. It's become such a part of the fabric of certain styles of music that value exists outside the regular music world. In sports card collecting it's the T-206 Honus Wagner and the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. If you think a Loar is expensive, check those prices.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    ...My baby blue Honda once gave the head luthier and owner of Shmergel a ride to the airport. That alone makes it nearly priceless...
    Got pics or other evidence of that? If not, I call "urban legend."

    My 2010 Honda Element gets me anywhere I want to go, and carries all kinda equipment besides. To me, a car's a tool -- so is a mandolin. You use it to do what you need done. I confess to chasing Larsen brothers instruments based on rep and scarcity, but the two I ended up with filled gaps in my toolbox.

    Someone's apparently gonna buy a Mickey Mantle rookie Topps card for $6-10 million. Stradivarius fiddles can command up to $20 million, according to internet estimates. In our grand and glorious capitalist paradise, folks can spend what money they have on whatever they want to buy, foolish as it may seem to us. What-the-hell makes Mantle's rookie card worth more than not just my house, but most of the houses on my block put together? Dunno, and never will.

    We all know the joke about the musician putting $5K worth of equipment into a $500 car, driving five hours to earn $50. Been there (sorta), done that, and continue to do so. We all have our priorities and peculiarities. It's nice to travel in a luxury car, I guess; it's wonderful to play a Lloyd Loar F-5, I'm sure. I'll throw my Stahl into my Honda and serenade the folks at the assisted living place. Works for me, and I hope that whatever you're doing works for you.
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Although photographed many times, Shmergel is mysteriously never visible. The enigma lives on.
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Aug-19-2022 at 3:54pm.

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  29. #18

    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    When I look at cars in a parking lot, I think of them in these terms:

    That one is two Nuggets and an Ellis

    That one is three Girouards, and a Brock GBOM

    That one is one Heiden and two Campanellas and a Toole octave...

    you get my drift.....but just so we all know where my priorities are.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

  30. #19
    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    My wife wants me to replace my truck ('04 Honda Odyssey with almost 300K miles) with something less environmentally offending . . . but as long as I attend to whatever wears out, it's pretty doggone reliable. Plus, without the removable bucket seats it can hold a twin mattress with lots of room to spare, which is ideal for car camping with my Huss and Dalton DS, Hamlett #32, and Heritage 535 with a tube screamer and a battery powered Pignose, plus extensive cooking and fishing gear.

    That said, I still seek out and drool over Collings electric guitars and every other high end or vintage mandolin, flattop or electric you could name. Maybe if I played out more I'd have a better excuse for owning something really extraordinary but it feels to me like I've already met my needs - which are admittedly different from my wants.

    I've played a few Lloyd Loar signed mandolins and my take was, (based on that limited experience) they are indeed extraordinary instruments. But the actual difference in mojo, touch, and tone between extraordinary and pretty damn good was not even in the same ballpark as the difference in the cost to own extraordinary vs pretty damn good.

    I think most of the difference between extraordinary and pretty damn good is the player.
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  31. #20
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    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    The dollars I have spend on mandolins are nothing compared to the life I have spent on mandolins. Gotta spend it on something.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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  33. #21

    Default Re: Just read "MANDOLIN PRICING"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Although photographed many times, Shmergel is mysteriously never visible. The enigma lives on.
    So now the full truth is out. You had not just the Head Luthier, but actually, really Shmergel himself in the vehicle? Wow! I am surprised you even needed to go to the airport. I would imagine the car itself sort of floated through the air.

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