View Full Version : The Next Step In the Mandolin World
Just over a year ago I bought an F9 mando, and have played it hours and hours, worn through the stain on the neck etc. And it is pretty good. However, I finish schooling this year, and am going to spend all next year trying my hand at full time musician-ness. So, thinking of upgrading. I can probably scam some money off my parents to help pay for it.
My main problem is that I live in Australia, and I can't go out and try mandolins like many other people can. I just spent about 15mins today on probably the one Gibson Master in South AUstralia - (coudl be wrong), and that's great, but its also expensive. Any ideas people?
Is there anything I can do to beef up my F9?
To me, the sound doesn't "ping" enough when I play it. Fussy I guess.
Oh well, any help woudl be greatly appreciated
There are two great builders in your own country. Steve Gilchrist and Duff. They both make great mandolins and you may find them or access to their product somewhat available. Of course, I 'd recommend a Master Model or Distressed Master Model, but I am a bit biased http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif . In reality, a really good set up and the right strings will give you lots of performance out of your F9.
You'll undoubtedly get a million recommendations. What style of music do you play and how much do you plan to spend? The various Collings offerings certainly merit consideration.
I play all sorts
Swing, bit of bluegrass, heaps of Eastern european- gypsy stuff, and italian, got Grisman's 6 CD learning set, getting to know all his pieces- so Dawg music as well I guess. Its all great fun, any ideas what kind of strings woudl be best? Just got some new D'addario EXP ones to try out as well as the andy statman strings from D'ad as well. HAven't tried either yet- had been using Semi-flat tops ones, which were a little dead.
Albert, Big Joe was off by at least one. Peter Coombe builds great mandolins in Australia. He has a waiting list, but occasionally has something available right away. You might check with him.
Edit Eric beat me to Peter Coombe...
Perhaps closer in price range to your F9 (which is still a great instrument by all accounts) is Peter Coombe (http://www.petercoombe.com/) for around 3,300AUD for very nice looking Gibson A (oval teens and A5 replicas). #I thought I saw an F4 by him somehwere but he doesn't show one on his site.
There are a slew of makers in Australia other than Duff, Gilchrist and Coombe:
Australian mando luthiers (http://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/builders/searchdb.cgi?uid=default&view_records=1&keyword=Australia)
I am working on an A5 right now that has not been sold. It is Red Spruce and Myrtle, and if it sounds anything like the last Red Spruce and Myrtle A5 it will be a ripper. I kept the last one for myself it sounded so good. Are you coming to the National in Canberra at Easter time? I should have it finished by then, and you can try my own A5 as well. Have you spoken to John Liddy? His instruments have been steadily improving. He had a couple of nice, (but not great) mandolins last Easter. He lives in SA. If you already have a Gibson F9, then to upgrade you are looking at high end instruments such as Gilchrist or Duff, or myself if you don't need the scroll. I have a Gilchrist I can show you.
Pity I did not know this 3 weeks ago! I was in Adelaide cleaning out my mother's house for a week.
I WAS VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE LIDDY MANDOLINS AT IBMA.
FAIRLY REASONABLE, TOO IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY.
I tried a Liddy mandolin at Derringers Adelaide the other day, and it was by far the best I'd tried so far. Peter, I bought one of your mandolins 2-3 years ago. It was one you had used for a while. I really like it, but the shape was a bit unhappy to my wrists. I have reasonably small hands, and the F9 has a really thin neck, much thinner than the Coombe one I have, and also, due to the cutaway style of the F9, its much easier to play up high on the fretboard, my had was a bit strained when I did too much on the coombe. For All I know you may have changed design though. The F-9 is pretty good in many ways, just a bit lacking in sweetness. Peter's certainly has much more sustain than the F9.
And I'd love to try out some more Coombe mandolins, and certainly will be at Canberra! Also Woodforde, and some Tassie ones as well.
Can't remember which one that was, but you are right, I normally make wide necks, but can make narrower necks on request. The new A5 does have a narrower neck. Another possibility you might consider is a King Brown. David lives in Queensland, never met him personally, but I played one of his F5's last night and was impressed. Have to confess I did not like this mandolin much when it was brand new, but it is now about 6 months old and the owner has played around with different strings. He seems to have got the right combination and it now sounds great. Tiny neck, much too small for my liking, but might suit you.
I had the chance to keep a Coombe for a few months... nice mandolin. #It was a blonde w/Red Spruce and Walnut. #I got a lot of postive comments when I'd play it. #It had a different sound than my own F-9.. I like them both. #A Coombe would compliment your F-9 well.
I did a quick curiosity search on "Coombe" and found this old thread. It appears Peter's aforementioned A5 is enroute to me. I'm praying to the DHL gods...
I played one of his european Spruce / myrtle A5's a few years ago and really enjoyed the tone. This new one has a smaller neck which is more to my liking. Hence I jumped on it. Here's the specs:
top: Red Spruce
Back and sides: figured Tasmanian Myrtle
Neck: Queensland Maple
Bindings: figured Rock Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony, 12" radius
Fingerboard dots: Paua Abalone
Headstock overlay: Ebony
Headstock name: Paua Abalone
Pickguard: Birdseye Maple
Pickguard bindings: Ebony
Pickguard clamp: Ebony
Tuning buttons: Gidgee
Head and tailblock: Queensland Maple
Linings: Douglas Fir
Tuning machines: Schaller gold
Tailpiece: James gold, engraved
Bridge: Brekke, modified
Neck joint: Tapered Dovetail
Neck reinforcement: carbon graphite
Glue: LMI Luthier's glue. Centre joint of the top only, hide glue.
Finish: Target Coatings brushing varnish, with spirit varnish
overcoat, french polished
I'd like to try a Coombe one day. I have a Paul Duff A5, and love it. It's a great one!
I believe this Coombe A5 is cross-braced. I've never played a cross-braced f-hole mandolin. Next time I'm in Kentucky I'll bring the Coombe along.
Lee: When do you expect it? I'd really like to hear about it onc you get it.
It hit USA customs in Los Angeles. I had to send Customs my personal info (new regulations) and it hasn't yet cleared. It's shipping DHL express so I'm hoping for Friday.
I'll give it a chance to wake up over the weekend. After I have some initial impressions I'll start another thread, maybe next week.
I used to hear about King Brown mandolins and thought they were out of AUS. King Brown (http://kingbrown.netfirms.com/)
just play man. Play the heck out of it. Make you rnext mandolin money by playing music it will mean so much more.