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Thread: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

  1. #1

    Default Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Canada finally has a Northfield dealer. I'm going to get one of the two models listed in the title. To those who have experience with Northfields, is it worth hanging on for a while until I can afford a Big Mon or is it not worth the extra money.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Haven't played a Big Mon, but the F5S is a great mandolin. I do have to wonder if the volume of the Big Mon wins a lot of folks over, as we [humans] tend to respond more positively to louder music. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) They're clearly NF's two best selling models, so I don't think you'd make a mistake with whichever one really grabs you. Good luck!
    2019 Northfield NF-F5S, 2018 Kentucky KM-950

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  4. #3
    small instrument, big fun Dan in NH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Pertains to my interests. In.

    Here's a Q:

    I know the Big Mon is available with either an Engelmann or an Adirondack top. Is the F5S only available in Sitka, or is it available with choice of tonewood?

    Edit:

    According to the Northfield web site no Sitka, choice of Adirondack or Engelmann.
    Eastman MD-514 (F body, Sitka & maple, oval hole)
    Kentucky KM-250 (A body, spruce & maple, f holes)

    And still saving my nickles & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops for my lifetime mandolin.

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  6. #4
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Canít go wrong but my vote is for the Big Mon with Engelmann

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  8. #5
    small instrument, big fun Dan in NH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Northfield Adirondack vs Engelmann

    https://youtu.be/d3lBs9QK1rs

    Eastman MD-514 (F body, Sitka & maple, oval hole)
    Kentucky KM-250 (A body, spruce & maple, f holes)

    And still saving my nickles & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops for my lifetime mandolin.

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  10. #6

    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    I have a Big Mon (Engelmann)Ö Itís a fabulous mandolin and a heck of a value.

    Iíve played several of the F5S modelÖ they were all very nice (miles better than an Eastman, etc)Ö. But not really comparable to the Big Mon.

    I think people focus too much on the extra volume that the Big Mon supposedly hasÖ
    I donít really notice that itís louder than any other high-quality mandolin.
    But it has amazing clarity, depth, character, and toneÖ everything that anyone would want in a mandolin.

    The F5S mandolins that Iíve played just didnít have the same quality of toneÖ but every piece of wood and every mandolin is differentÖ Iím sure there are some stellar F5S examples out thereÖ

    FYI - Iíve owned an Ellis, a Stiver, a Brentrup, a Givens, etc etc. The Big Mon is the equal of any of themÖ and itís also wicked easy to play super fast Monroe tunes on it.
    I sold every other mandolin I owned.. never thought Iíd be down to one mando, but Iíve been completely satisfied with just the Big Mon for more than 2 years now.

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  12. #7
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    If you want more woof and puff, the Big Mon with its more modern sound is for you. If you want a flat-out, woody sounding F5 mandolin for Bluegrass I'd say go with the NFF5S - to me the greatest value in a F5 mandolin on the market today.

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  14. #8

    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    I have an Engelmann Big Mon. It has the woof and poof that glassweb describes. Here’s how I’d describe it’s tone:

    - that “woof” makes for a really beautiful sounding double stops; double stops on other mandolins just aren’t as satisfying to play now
    - very strong bass and highs
    - scooped mids
    - great sustain
    - closed chord shapes sound extremely balanced across the courses, especially up the neck

    All of this adds up to a mandolin that is awesome for playing solo or in duets, or for playing backup in a variety of genres. In jams I felt that the scooped mids caused my sound to get lost… but, that’s always going to be a challenge if you’re playing with more than one fiddler like I usually am!

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  16. #9
    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    My Big Mon has exactly the tone I'm looking for. I also have a large bodied A style from Skip Kelley that I love so it may just be me.
    2020 Northfield Big Mon
    2016 Skip Kelley A5
    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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  18. #10
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Quote Originally Posted by nick delmore View Post
    ... is it worth hanging on for a while until I can afford a Big Mon or is it not worth the extra money.
    I think that Northfield has done a great job of giving more bang for the bucks with their three F models. I like the Big Mon way more than the NS-F5S, and I like the Artist way more than the Big Mon.

    So, yes, I think that the Big Mon is definitely worth the extra money, but as you see here and in other Northfield threads on the Cafť, there are plenty of happy NS-F5S owners. However, if it's going to take you a few years to save up for a Big Mon, you might consider buying an NS-F5S now, with the options of either falling in love with it or selling it once you have enough $$$Canadian to buy a Big Mon. The prices of both models will keep going up, which means that a used NS-F5S a few years from now will probably cost about the same as a new one now, and a new Big Mon will probably cost more no matter what you do now. Since "the waiting is the hardest part," you might as well wait for that Big Mon with a better mandolin.
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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  20. #11

    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    If you want more woof and puff, the Big Mon with its more modern sound is for you. If you want a flat-out, woody sounding F5 mandolin for Bluegrass I'd say go with the NFF5S - to me the greatest value in a F5 mandolin on the market today.
    Thanks, that helps clarify things. I'm looking for a mandolin for traditional bluegrass. I think I'll start with what I can afford at present (NF-F5S). I can always trade up later on if I want. Glad Canada finally has a Northfield dealer.

  21. #12

    Default Re: Northfield NS-F5S vs Big Mon

    Big Mon takes some beating. Everything you'd want in an all round very versatile mandolin.

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