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Thread: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

  1. #26

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    There is a used Eastman 315 for sale in Onrario. Message me if you want more information. It is almost new, hardly used and in your price range. Message me if you want more information. There is no financial intent on my part!

  2. #27
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Many years ago, 1999 I think, I was in Calgary for a day and a night on business and I wandered across the river to a music shop, probably long-gone now, that had several mandolins for sale, including a Peter Sawchyn mandolin, first I'd heard of him, that was very impressive.

    Pretty sure his mandolins would be out of your price-range but perhaps that is something you can aspire to later - I believe he was based in Regina (I checked, he's still going! https://www.sawchyn.com/index.php/mandolins)

    Meanwhile, a quick look around Calgary music stores throws up this "The Loar" at A Pratte for C$399 which would be a good starter:

    https://apratteguitars.com/collectio...tin-brownburst
    Bren

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  4. #28
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by kdlrd View Post
    I don't want to give everyone the impression that I am living under a bridge, as it would be dishonest - I am lucky to have a decent job. But, right now the cash flow needs to go to things arguably more urgent than my musical development such as, you know, keeping the kids well fed and taken care of :-) Hence, the limited budget.

    Furthermore I am a beginner, with the calluses from my guitar-playing years long gone. I respect that some people are uncompromising on the quality of their instrument, even as beginners. But at this stage, I prefer an inexpensive mandolin I can use to play, practice adjustments and setting up, etc. without worrying too much (also, did I mention I have small kids? They break things).
    Sounds to me like you have your priorities straight. At some point kids will grow up, start their own families and you’ll have a room full of mandolins

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  6. #29
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Peter Sawchyn (Sawchyn Guitars, Regina, SK) has two used mandos on its site right now -- a Kay (probably not for you!), and a blonde-top Seagull S8 for $400 CDN), but you'd have to add shipping from SK to AB. Peter also currently makes two flattop models -- an oval hole Beavertail and an f-hole Hobo, both good beginner choices, but in the $1,100 range. The Eastman 305 with solid woods and carved top and back still remains a top choice for beginners, and these can be purchased/ordered through L&M (free shipping after Dec 2 or delivered to your nearest store for pickup) (NFI).
    Too many instruments...too little time

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  8. #30

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    There's a Seagull S8 in Calgary for $360. https://www.kijiji.ca/v-guitar/calga...ase/1642646193

  9. #31
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Hi from Toronto. If you buy a Seagull (personally I wouldn't) or a starter like Epiphone (there are always a few on Kijiji) you will want a better mandolin in a year's time. If you can wait for a used Eastman 305 in your price range, it will keep you fairly happy for the next five years and so will in the end save you money (and will be easier to resell should you ever upgrade). Just suggesting that you consider the somewhat longer-term cost. By the way, I've bought lots of instruments on Kijiji and had them shipped to me, no issues. That being said, sometimes you can pick up an Epiphone for 100 or 150 and while it won't sound beautiful, It'll do for learning if set up decently.
    Cary Fagan

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  11. #32

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    +1 to Cary in post 31.
    In my view, you should decide whether the purpose for this mandolin is to: (a) serve as a tester to see if you develop a taste for the mando, or (b) be your primary mando for the foreseeable future since you have already decided this is something you want to pursue. If your answer is (b), then I'd spend a bit more for an Eastman. If you know you will be trading it in the near future, maybe you'll happy to learn on any old beater. But I can tell you that IF you do like playing, then you'll be craving a better instrument soon enough (whether you have a Seagull, and Eastman, or a five digit mando).

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  13. #33

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Cary Fagan View Post
    Hi from Toronto. If you buy a Seagull (personally I wouldn't) or a starter like Epiphone (there are always a few on Kijiji) you will want a better mandolin in a year's time. If you can wait for a used Eastman 305 in your price range, it will keep you fairly happy for the next five years and so will in the end save you money (and will be easier to resell should you ever upgrade). Just suggesting that you consider the somewhat longer-term cost. By the way, I've bought lots of instruments on Kijiji and had them shipped to me, no issues. That being said, sometimes you can pick up an Epiphone for 100 or 150 and while it won't sound beautiful, It'll do for learning if set up decently.
    Or a Big Muddy and you'll never need another flat top. They can be found used for under $500 if you look hard enough.

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Stopped by Tom Lee downtown Vancouver BC. On the wall, they have a full line up of mandolins from ~$400 Seagull to ~$900 Eastman. I am sure they will ship to Calgary, but phone to ask if they are cool with returns to your local Calgary store (per their "N days no question asked" return policy. you never know, maybe you do not like the colour). Do take your new mandolin to the bluegrass jam, let other people have at it, they will tell you if action is too high/too low, if strings are okey, if anything else is off. Or stop by the Calgary Ukrainian Orchestra, they should have mandolin-savvy people there. (beware, you may end up with a domra-balalaika instead of a mandolin and play hopaks instead of breakdowns!) https://calgaryhopak.wordpress.com/orchestra/

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  16. #35

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Hi kdird. I am Canadian and know exactly whatyou’re talking about.

    I highly recommend Rufus’ because he used to be in Ontario and is an absolute master at setup, regulation (tweaking) and repairs. Anything you can get from his shop will be in the best possible playing shape. A friend of mine just got an Eastman 304 shipped to Nova Scotia and it was setup bee-yootifully. Don’t know the pricing but if you paid a hundred bucks more to Rufus than some unknown source, it would be well spent.

    Long and McQuade is a complete bust for mandos these days, and since they have muscled out the bricks and mortar competition cross-country, and can’t seem to settle on a decent Mando maker. Sadly the current Epiphone brand is pure junk. $900 Cdn for…don’t get me started, they’re not good, and that seems to be the top line Mando at L&M these days.

    I have a Seagull S-8 natural which I don’t play—it’s OK but not anything I reach for when I have a choice. S-8 might work for you (not bluegrass) (mine is several provinces away so this is not a sales pitch.)

    I strongly suggest looking into the 12th Fret in Toronto. They have the best Mando selection in Canada bar none. They ship tons of instruments and no cross-border costs or complications involved. They only list a fraction of their inventory on their website, and they carry lots of Eastman and Kentucky, which are the brands that may be the most appropriate for you now (moderately priced, quality, not ultra-cheap.) Give them a call or visit if you ever get to TO. (Note: mandos can almost always go carry-on as “extra personal item” on a plane in Canada.)

    I know you’re not looking to spend a lot now, but….The upside of being in Mando-scarce Canada is that if you get a decent instrument and later want or need to sell it, you become the beneficiary of the seller’s market which is so frustrating when you’re a buyer. The family fortune is thus preserved. (You can quote me when discussing this with your partner.) Happy hunting.
    Last edited by Bill Cameron; Dec-06-2022 at 10:59am. Reason: More thoughts.
    2009 Eastman 505
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    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble —The Oxford Companion to Music

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  18. #36
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Cameron View Post
    Hi kdird. I am Canadian and know exactly whatyou’re talking about.

    I highly recommend Rufus’ because he used to be in Ontario and is an absolute master at setup, regulation (tweaking) and repairs. Anything you can get from his shop will be in the best possible playing shape. A friend of mine just got an Eastman 304 shipped to Nova Scotia and it was setup bee-yootifully. Don’t know the pricing but if you paid a hundred bucks more to Rufus than some unknown source, it would be well spent.
    Assuming you're talking about Rufus Guitars in Vancouver, I felt that I got a fair deal when I bought a mandolin there while visiting Vancouver. However, I had to get some work doe to that mandolin when I got back home, nothing major. I don't want to discourage people from shopping at Rufus, but I don't want anyone to have unrealistic expectations either. Your experience was better than mine, Bill
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  19. #37

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    I don't want to discourage people from shopping at Rufus, but I don't want anyone to have unrealistic expectations either. Your experience was better than mine, Bill
    I went to Rufus several times in the 80’s and they treated me with contempt and arrogance. I was a teenager who loved music, but not their type of music and they took every opportunity to let their distain be known. Heard many stories the same from people in the subsequent decades

    I hate it when shops belittle the musically aspirations of their clientele
    They will never get a dime of my money.

  20. #38
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Jellwoo View Post
    I went to Rufus several times in the 80’s and they treated me with contempt and arrogance. I was a teenager who loved music, but not their type of music and they took every opportunity to let their distain be known. Heard many stories the same from people in the subsequent decades

    I hate it when shops belittle the musically aspirations of their clientele
    They will never get a dime of my money.
    Let's keep within the Forum guidelines. My experience with Rufus Guitars was much better than yours. The staff were courteous and helpful. I was there the year before covid. The 80's were forty years ago.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  21. #39
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by kdlrd View Post
    First, I apologize because I should have clarified that my original post is based on where I live, which is the Calgary area. I should also have specified that my budget is limited; $500 is a stretch, $1000 definitely above budget :-( From a brief online search, there are a few local stores with little inventory, and Long&McQuaid which also does not have much. I could always order online, but again I am very uneasy in doing so. There is more in Edmonton, but it is quite a drive and it is hard to take time off.
    Although I'm in Kansas I make pretty frequent trips to Calgary because I have family there as of the past few years. This might not be the kind of thing you'd want to do but my advice given your rightful hesitancy to buy online and across country boundaries is to befriend someone in Calgary that gives mandolin lessons and knows the local acoustic music community. These are the kind of people that might know of a quality/affordable instrument owned locally that's for sale, and you'd probably get a better deal and possibly make friends in the process. The Foothills Acoustic Music Institute calls Calgary home and I've met a few of the people at their concerts, including their president. They have a surprising number of mandolin instructors on their lessons page and might be a good idea to get on their mailing list (see their Contact page). Least you could do is contact some of those instructors and ask. All of them have phone numbers or emails on that page. As far as retail availability, what I've seen lines up with your experience: little to nothing going on there it appears. But there is quite a bit of music happening there and I see a surprising number of Calgary IP addresses using this Forum and the Classifieds so I know there's a community there. FAMI also put on a few nice concerts, workshops, camps, etc. There's nothing like establishing a bit of community if you're going to want to learn and play with others.

    Go Flames!

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  23. #40

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    Assuming you're talking about Rufus Guitars in Vancouver, I felt that I got a fair deal when I bought a mandolin there while visiting Vancouver. However, I had to get some work doe to that mandolin when I got back home, nothing major. I don't want to discourage people from shopping at Rufus, but I don't want anyone to have unrealistic expectations either. Your experience was better than mine, Bill
    Hmm, I was confused about Rufus Stewart vs Rufus Guitar Shop. . His personal shop (if still active, he is getting on) is or was most recently Rufus Island Guitars on Vancouver Island, now specializing in repair not retail if still active. I knew him in the 90s when he was in Kingston, before that he was in Montreal and Halifax. His interesting bio states that the Vancouver shop is named for him but doesn’t say how or why that happened, he doesn’t seem to be involved with it. http://www.rufusguitars.com/history.htm
    I haven’t personally had any dealings with the Vancouver shop, but they did a great setup on my friend’s 304.
    I generally take my most challenging instrument repairs (Martin) to his former apprentice Gord Mylks, mentioned in the bio.
    2009 Eastman 505
    2011 Collings MTO GT
    2008 Toyota Sienna
    2018 Sawchyn mandola

    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble —The Oxford Companion to Music

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  25. #41

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    Duplicate deleted. I’m all thumbs today.
    2009 Eastman 505
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    2008 Toyota Sienna
    2018 Sawchyn mandola

    Mandoline or Mandolin: Similar to the lute, but much less artistically valuable....for people who wish to play simple music without much trouble —The Oxford Companion to Music

  26. #42
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Although I'm in Kansas I make pretty frequent trips to Calgary because I have family there as of the past few years. This might not be the kind of thing you'd want to do but my advice given your rightful hesitancy to buy online and across country boundaries is to befriend someone in Calgary that gives mandolin lessons and knows the local acoustic music community. These are the kind of people that might know of a quality/affordable instrument owned locally that's for sale, and you'd probably get a better deal and possibly make friends in the process. The Foothills Acoustic Music Institute calls Calgary home and I've met a few of the people at their concerts, including their president. They have a surprising number of mandolin instructors on their lessons page and might be a good idea to get on their mailing list (see their Contact page). Least you could do is contact some of those instructors and ask. All of them have phone numbers or emails on that page. As far as retail availability, what I've seen lines up with your experience: little to nothing going on there it appears. But there is quite a bit of music happening there and I see a surprising number of Calgary IP addresses using this Forum and the Classifieds so I know there's a community there. FAMI also put on a few nice concerts, workshops, camps, etc. There's nothing like establishing a bit of community if you're going to want to learn and play with others.

    Go Flames!
    Thanks for the advice! I could use some lessons with a proper instructor anyway, regardless of whether they lead to a good deal on a mandolin or not :-)

    FAMI looks like a great resource, I had no idea such a community existed in Calgary.

  27. #43
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    To the gentleman with bad experience 40 years ago. Vancouver's Rufus Guitar had a change of owner/manager a number of years back. New blood, etc. They opened the well stocked Rufus Drum Shop (*the* place to buy ear plugs), the guitar shop on commercial drive (where all the customers are) and kept the West side store open (where all the money is). The nice people working there know and like mandolins, can play a few licks on them and do not seem to mind me stopping by to play every mandolin without buying any. Mandolin repair and setup is done by MISHA UDOVENKO http://mishaudovenkoluthiery.ca/ He saved my Bruce Weber octave mandolin from imminent collapse. I took it in for cosmetic work, he says "look, it is folding across the sound hole, and also it needs new frets". Bruce Weber confirmed (by email) "yup, this is an early model, newer ones have additional braces around the sound hole" (as others commented here recently). Braces, new frets, still going strong, my main work horse. I recommend. YMMV. NFI.

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  29. #44
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    I just came across this Canadian site, with a few listings from Edmonton but none from Calgary. It might be worth checking out. However, it's showing my Espana that I bought before covid, so... Still, it says that it's gone, which it doesn't say about any of the others.

    https://reverb.com/item/25350192-espana-mandolin
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  30. #45

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Scott's advice in post #39 is of course excellent. Lots of instruments get sold without ever going on the market. I just checked out kijiji.ca and searched up to 200km around Calgary and the mandolin situation there is as grim as anywhere I have seen in Canada--unless you want to pay almost full price for an old Epiphone mm-30. Then you are in luck. I have noticed that many people have moved from kijiji.ca to FB marketplace to sell instruments, so you might look there.

    If for whatever reason anyone is buying new but on a tight budget, Baron Collins-Hill just posted a very useful video with his recommendation for a ~$300 (USD) mandolin. I absolutely love my Kentucky KM-150, and have played a number of Eastman MD 305s over the years and think they are a very good mando for the money, but in Canada these are now ~$850 (CDN) plus tax!

  31. #46

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by doc holiday View Post
    Dave, Going to Nashville is always a good idea, but with an instrument budget of $375USD/$500 Cdn.....you can't even get a plane ticket from Calgary....

    It's 180 miles to Edmonton & Mike McLeod's shop in Calgary has moved to Victoria. Myhre's music in Edmonton is the shop with knowledgeable (pro ! staff) in Alberta..... & they will ship to YYC if you can't make the drive.

    Unfortunately you're unlikely to find a well set-up instrument at a big box guitar store like Long & McQuade or Tom Lee.

    I'd suggest contacting the Calgary Bluegrass Club https://foothillsbluegrass.com/ and asking if someone has a beginner's mandolin for sale.
    "Mike McLeod's shop in Calgary has moved to Victoria"

    Do you have any more info on that? We've lost a few shops & some good luthiers in Victoria. I've been quite concerned about where I'm going to take my mandolins for work in the future.

  32. #47

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    Some of you folks have a rather loose grasp of economics. The OP told us "my budget is limited; $500 is a stretch, $1000 definitely above budget" and you're suggesting that he spend $334 to fly to Nashville for a vacation, where he'll being paying for meals, lodging, and taxis to and from the airport in American dollars, apart from a mandolin there. Unless good mandolins cost $25 in Nashville, give the poor soul a break. If he or she had that kind of money, they wouldn't be asking us about where to buy inexpensive mandolins in Canada.
    Even more pertinent considering the exchange rate, which is hovering around 35-37 percent. If you ever want to feel like a Canadian, use a currency converter on some of the prices you see for mandolins. You can feel our pain as you watch five grand turn into almost seven.

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  34. #48
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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Thanks for everyone for the advice! First, following the advice of some folks I decided to stretch the budget as far as I could to get a nicer instrument (on the reasoning that it will prevent me from having to upgrade again soonish in the future). Based on that, my first target would have been the Eastman MD-305. However, in a surprising (for me) plot twist, I had a positive interaction with Mike Dulak of Big Muddy Mandolins and I ended up purchasing one of his "entry-level" models. I thought a lot about the pros and cons and I think I am OK with my choice.

    It seems that flat-tops are not everyone cup of tea... what can I say, I quite enjoy my new mandolin. I was very stressed about buying online, but so far the instrument holds scrutiny. Action may need a small tweak, but the mandolin came with bridges of different height, so that could be fixed if it becomes necessary. Alberta is dry as bones right now (that's what happens in -25F weather), which probably does not help.

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  36. #49

    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    I don't even know which street Canada is on. [ Al Capone ]

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    Default Re: Purchasing a good beginner mandolin in Canada

    Congrats on your Big Muddy, kdlrd. I think you made a great choice. Mike Dulak seems like a really good guy. I have one of his older (Mid Missouri) instruments and it is very fun to play. I feel like most people that have them really like them.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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