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Links
Dec-02-2007, 1:17pm
My brother-in-law's wife called me yesterday amd asked me to look into an inexpensive ukulele for her husband, whom she said had expressed an interest in learning to play one! #At a party last night she said she had made a serious mistake, and that it was a "mandolin". #So hopefully you get the picture! #He loves music, but I do not know whether he has any talent for playing a stringed instrument!

All of my mandolins are much more expensive than he would need to get started and quite frankly, I do not pay too much attention to entry level beginner mandolins. #I do know if something is not "playable" beginners will get frustrated and give up!

Any suggestions for a decent playable $200 - $400 instrument? #Thanks for your help!

MikeEdgerton
Dec-02-2007, 1:27pm
Look at the Kentucky KM-350's that Dennis has at the Mandolin Store.

OK, I just looked and he appears to be out of them. My next suggestion is the Kentucky KM-340's at musiciansfriend.com

mandomaybe
Dec-02-2007, 2:01pm
there will be no shortage of opinions at the Cafe; here's mine: I have an Eastman and a Mid-Missouri and I like them both quite a bit. Spend 500-600 on a used Eastman, or 300-400 on a Mid-Mo and he'll be happy.

sumibuilt
Dec-02-2007, 2:04pm
I played a new Rogue f-5 this year at Galax and was blown away by not only the price, but the richness in tone and volume. A dealer in a small pop up camper along the main vendor walkway had it. Did anyone else play it?

MikeEdgerton
Dec-02-2007, 2:07pm
He was looking in the $200-$400.00 range. If he can go up I'd suggest he go for a Gibson Distressed Master Model or perhaps a Brentrup. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif

Steve Davis
Dec-02-2007, 2:12pm
I have a Washburn M-ISDL/BK that I like quite well for the money. That should be in your price range.

Caleb
Dec-02-2007, 2:25pm
I cannot recommend anyone to Musicians Friend, but I'd rather recommend Elderly Instruments. Musicians Friend will give you nothing but an instrument in a box, where Elderly will get it setup and ready to play....plus they have actual customer service, where Musicians Friend is seriously lacking. For around 4 bills you can get a nice Kentucky mandolin setup and shipped. Check out Elderly.

http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif

gnelson651
Dec-02-2007, 4:29pm
He was looking in the $200-$400.00 range. If he can go up I'd suggest he go for a Gibson Distressed Master Model or perhaps a Brentrup. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/blues.gif
I'm with you Mike, why is it that a poster will say they have x$ to spend and invariably someone will say..ya but you can spend 2-3X$ on this one...bla.bla.bla. If they had that much money then why say they only have this amount to spend. Not much help in my mind.

Personally, I would get an inexpensive A-style and probably a Rogue RM-100A A-for $50 and pay the extra $30 for a basic setup.

Based on the original post, doesn't sound like the brother-in-law could be serious about playing. Why pay primo bucks for an iffy thing. That way, if he does get serious, he can go out and find his own instrument that speaks to him. Besides, regardless of what $200-$400 starter instrument he gets, he'll catch MAS and will want to upgrade any way.

Paulaedg
Dec-02-2007, 4:34pm
I'd like to up the ante on this thread. #First off, I confess I am not certain where some of these mandolins are made anymore. #I am rather certain, however, that Kentuckys are not made in the good ol' US of A. #So my question is, what is your recommendation for an "less expensive" non-import mandolin? #When I say inexpensive, I guess I mean under $4000.00.[U]

Jim Broyles
Dec-02-2007, 4:57pm
Inexpensive is in the eye of the spender. Not made in USA does not necessarily equate to bad quality. The guy wants a $200-$400.00 mandolin. Nothing else should be on the table in this thread. Maybe Mike's post was too subtle for some, but let's talk about what the guy asked for instead of offering our unsolicited opinion on why he should spend more.

RevRichard
Dec-02-2007, 5:04pm
I'll probably be thrown out of the discussion for this one, but I like my Fender FM-53S. Elderly Instruments lists it for $269.99 sans case, and I think it compares favorably with other entry-level mandos I've played.

MikeEdgerton
Dec-02-2007, 5:05pm
Maybe Mike's post was too subtle for some, but let's talk about what the guy asked for instead of offering our unsolicited opinion on why he should spend more.
Too subtle? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Eric F.
Dec-02-2007, 5:05pm
Kentucky 172 for $285 from Gianna Violins, $100 for Mandovoodoo, $28 for shipping = $413.

MikeEdgerton
Dec-02-2007, 5:06pm
I'll probably be thrown out of the discussion for this one, but I like my Fender FM-53S. Elderly Instruments lists it for $269.99 sans case, and I think it compares favorably with other entry-level mandos I've played.
Absolutely not, that's a perfect response.

allenhopkins
Dec-02-2007, 5:08pm
For $2-400 you're talking import. Kentuckys get fairly consistent good marks from people on the Cafe. And I'm with Mike E on the "upgrade" business. Back in the '70's I used to work part-time for Eldon Stutzman, a pretty well-known local instrument dealer. His approach was to find out a customer's approximate price range, then show him/her only instruments in that range. He would say, "If you play a more expensive instrument, you won't like any of the ones you can afford."

Linksmaker is buying an instrument for someone who isn't sure of the difference between a mandolin and a ukulele, and who may not "have any talent for playing a stringed instrument." If he gets a mediocre but playable mandolin, and takes to it like a duck to water, he'll be buying a better one within a year, and hopefully will have a much clearer idea of what he likes and wants. For example, Janet Davis Music has Kentucky 140S's (solid top) for less than $200, and 150S's (all solid wood) for less than $225.

Of course, my best advice would be to find a local store with a decent selection of entry-level instruments. Not every locale has such a place, but it's worth having an experienced player try two or three of the inexpensive instruments to evaluate them. If one has to go on-line or use mail order, there are several vendors with good reputations and broad selections.

Jim Broyles
Dec-02-2007, 5:17pm
That's what I'm talking about.

Look, my mandolin cost me $269.00. If I had waited a few months I could have saved at least seventy bucks. It is all solid wood, F style and it sounds good. I know I'm supposed to say that because it's mine but at least four Cafe members have heard it, at least one other cafe member bought the identical mandolin after hearing and playing mine and this guy's main mando is a Daley, plus my mandolin basically started a Cafe phenomenon of buying one certain import mandolin, and essentially one model (mine) stuck out over the others in the line. All but a couple who bought them raved about them. Unfortunately, they are no longer in production, so when these questions come up they are not recommended. Along with the fact that the phenomenon is too recent to produce any quantity of available pre-owned versions, for right now there is no other mandolin in that range which is as highly recommended as mine was. If you can find a Fullerton Gloucester for around $300.00 bucks with a case, jump on it. I'll almost guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Jim Broyles
Dec-02-2007, 5:21pm
...Linksmaker is buying an instrument for someone who isn't sure of the difference between a mandolin and a ukulele, and who may not "have any talent for playing a stringed instrument."
I would just like to point out that the wife is the one who made the mistake in identifying the instrument. Nothing in the original post indicates that the person desiring the instrument does not know the difference between a ukulele and a mandolin.

lovethemf5s
Dec-02-2007, 5:33pm
Rover RM50 at Elderly Instruments, $149 with free shipping and comes set up. I own one and like it a lot for the price.

JEStanek
Dec-02-2007, 6:34pm
I've played a well set up Kentucky KM140S $186 (A with ff holes 12 frets to body) (or $221 for the 150 all solid wood) and the Johnson MA120 "Richmond" $169(15 frets to body A with ff holes). If the guy takes to it, then he has a beater when he upgrades to a better instrument. These things all sound like mandolins... from the $45 ebay special to the $200K Loar. Some sound better than others but if it's set up and has good intonation (at least in first position) you can learn an awful lot on anything.

I would feel comfortable recommending either of those models listed above with a good set up and fresh D'Addario J74 strings, a good pick and a book with chords and some simple melodies. A case isn't that important nor is a strap at this point. A $10 guitar stand and a hacksaw blade to shorten the tube on it will be money better spent.

This guy can be up and running for a little over $250 from Janet Davis and you'll have a playable starting point. Be sure you tell your brother in laws wife to make sure it's set up with a low action and that it intonates well before and if it doesn't (you ought to check it out before you let her give it to him) she better be able to ship it back.

Jamie

gnelson651
Dec-02-2007, 6:47pm
Links, I think Allen H. has the best proposal, go try out some low-end mandolins at your local music store. That way you will have an idea of what a $200-$400 mandolin will sound like. Who knows, you might find one that sounds surprising good in your price range. Atleast it will get you a starting point rather than hear rants from Cafe members whose only main experience is recommending the maker of their mandolin (BTW I don't have a Rogue) to validate their choice.


I'd like to up the ante on this thread. #First off, I confess I am not certain where some of these mandolins are made anymore. #I am rather certain, however, that Kentuckys are not made in the good ol' US of A. #So my question is, what is your recommendation for an "less expensive" non-import mandolin? #When I say inexpensive, I guess I mean under $4000..[

So what the heck that this have to do with anything here? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif #The poster ask for an inexpensive mandolin, #there was no mention of it being US made.

MikeEdgerton
Dec-02-2007, 7:47pm
I think that poster was trying to piggy back a request on this thread as opposed to starting a new thread.

Stephen Perry
Dec-02-2007, 8:55pm
Kentucky KM-505.

mandomick
Dec-02-2007, 9:33pm
Go $500 for the Weber Hyalite in the classifieds. Looks cherry and will probably fetch the $500 back if the guy loses interest. HSC to boot!

Jim Broyles
Dec-02-2007, 9:35pm
Unreal!

MikeEdgerton
Dec-02-2007, 9:47pm
Unreal!
You got that. I'm assuming they aren't reading the entire thread.

MWM
Dec-02-2007, 10:16pm
A couple years ago my 8yr old wanted a mando for his birthday. I played everything Elderly had for under $400. Left with a Kentucky 150-S. It was set up well and no problems to date. Last Christmas my duet partner's husband wanted to buy her a mando. Elderly was sold out of Kentucky's and after playing a bunch of others we chose her a Rover A instead. Solid woods, decent sound and again, it was set up well. I just restrung it for her yesterday and it plays surprisingly good for an inexpensive mando. My advice: Buy in person if you can from a respected dealer who sets up instruments with no extra charge.

Links
Dec-03-2007, 12:23pm
Mike - thanks for the help. I suggested the 150k Loar on Ebay - but only because I was going to charge a 10% finder's fee. She accused me of being very disingenious and mercenary (among other things) and I determined that maybe she could go with something a little less "pricy". I showed her my F-5DMM and she said it look "distressed" for such an expensive mandolin. She finally said she would like to stick with the original $200 - $400 price and "if they ever wanted to look at an idiot and worn out mandolin, they could just come see me"! I resented that remark!

You guys are nuts!

Jamie/Alan, et al (I think that means others) - thanks for the help. I think I will have her contact Elderly/Janet Davis/Mandolin Store/Giannas, etc. and look at the ones that have been suggested. I'll suggest the chord/simple song book, etc. too!

His is just what I needed and thank everyone for taking time to answer (even Mike)!

Nolan
Dec-03-2007, 12:29pm
I learned on a $189 Kentucky KM140s from Janet Davis. It worked great.

You guys should lighten up on the "What part of $200-400 don't you understand!!" comments. It's nice to know what is in your price range and then also what might be on the fringes, especially if it's a huge step up in quality.
I was in guitar center once playing a mandolin when a woman came in and asked what mandolin she should get her husband in the $300-600 range for Christmas. My answer... "If you can swing it, I'd get the Gibson A-9 on clearance for $749!". She decided she couldn't justify $749 and walked out with a $600 ovation but I could tell she really appreciated me telling her why the Gibson was more money and why it was worth it. I have to admit... as a mandolin player thinking of things from the husbands perspective... I was sick. = (

So yeah, $189 KM140s worked well for me.

MikeEdgerton
Dec-03-2007, 12:37pm
Mike #- #thanks for the help. #I suggested the 150k Loar on Ebay #- #but only because I was going to charge a 10% finder's fee.
Good thought. I admire the concept. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jim MacDaniel
Dec-03-2007, 12:57pm
Kentucky 172 for $285 from Gianna Violins, $100 for Mandovoodoo, $28 for shipping = $413.
Is that the amber-toped oval-hole model? If so, that's a real beauty IMHO, and received some nice owner-reviews here on the message boards.

Links
Dec-03-2007, 2:21pm
Quote (Links @ Dec. 03 2007, 13:23)
Mike - thanks for the help. I suggested the 150k Loar on Ebay - but only because I was going to charge a 10% finder's fee.

Quote: "Good thought. I admire the concept."

Mike: I knew you would - if you can't make money off your friends (and family), you sure are not going to make it from your enemies!

Thanks Nolan - I think that's what I am going to recommend - but will let her make the final decision!

Jim MacDaniel
Dec-03-2007, 2:22pm
Go $500 for the Weber Hyalite in the classifieds. Looks cherry and will probably fetch the $500 back if the guy loses interest. HSC to boot!
Going used is a good idea, since someone else will pay for the depreciation when he upgrades after MAS kicks-in: HERE (http://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/classifieds.cgi?search_and_display_db_button=on&db_id=26034&query=retrieval) is a link to a Korean-made Kentucky KM-350S with case in VG+ condition, for $350 plus half of actual shipping costs.

Eric F.
Dec-03-2007, 2:58pm
Kentucky 172 for $285 from Gianna Violins, $100 for Mandovoodoo, $28 for shipping = $413.
Is that the amber-toped oval-hole model? If so, that's a real beauty IMHO, and received some nice owner-reviews here on the message boards.
Yep. I think it would make a great starter mandolin, especially with Steve's tweaking, but then I am partial to oval holes.

Links
Dec-03-2007, 5:19pm
It might not be exactly like putting "lipstick on a pig", but a $100 MandoVoodoo on a $285.00 mandolin - well, I don't know about that! How about a MiniVoodoo for about $30 just to make sure it plays and intonates.

If it were me, I'd go used, but for a Christmas gift, I think my sis -in-law will want to go new!

Nolan
Dec-03-2007, 5:33pm
I just thought of something....
I think the KM140 has a little shorter scale if that matters. #They used to make a km150s that was standard F-5 (or A-5?) scale length and it was like another 20 bucks.

MikeEdgerton
Dec-03-2007, 5:37pm
It might not be exactly like putting "lipstick on a pig", but a $100 MandoVoodoo on a $285.00 mandolin - well, I don't know about that! How about a MiniVoodoo for about $30 just to make sure it plays and intonates.
Look, I cannot stress how much of an improvement that Waverly tuners are, really honestly.

Links
Dec-03-2007, 11:21pm
Mike, Waverly's would just be a waste of money using cheap strings. However, I do agree that the Waverly's would look nice - kind of the way a red shirt "sets off" a leisure suit!http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

So far, it looks like a Hondo, with Waverly upgrade tuners, Allen tailpiece, and either a Calton or Price case (not yet decided), with a complete Mandovoodoo set-up. Should we spring for a custom pickguard?

MikeEdgerton
Dec-04-2007, 7:22am
The pickguard is a go but if you don't do Siminoff's de-damping service after the mandovoodoo you're just spitting in the wind.

tnpathfinder
Dec-04-2007, 8:58am
LOL!

powercat
Dec-04-2007, 9:16am
A fullerton with some improvements (bridge, nut, etc) makes a good sounding F-style mandolin for under $400. For a more plain looking instrument, a Mid-Mo / Big Muddy isn't bad.

mythicfish
Dec-04-2007, 9:20am
Just find the best used instrument that you can afford.
In this price range it hardly matters.

CES
Dec-04-2007, 9:39am
Realizing Links has already gotten his answer and moved on (BTW, I'd go for at least a 12% FF on that Loar, with an option to "borrow" it on occasion :cool: ), I'd simply say that set-up is key. In this range I'd resist the urge to buy from a "mando-flipper" on Ebay or similar sites, just b/c of the risk of having structural issues beyond what a basic set-up can fix http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif . Though others have picked up some great finds this way, my experience was not so kind. Now, buying from a store-owner who sells online (ie, Gianna, JDMC, Elderly, etc) has been a good decision on 2 occasions with separate instruments for me, and I wouldn't hesitate to do so again if unable to find what I'm looking for locally.

So, are we gonna go with Brazilian Rosewood or Flamed Koa for that Hondo's pickguard?

John Westcott
Dec-04-2007, 9:40am
How about a Johnson F style for $79 on MF's website? It even comes with a case. Spend another $20 on a Mandolin lesson DVD and get free shipping. Then take it to a good shop and have a tech set it up. Or better yet use it to learn how setup a mandolin up yourself.
If he doesn't take to playing it then just put a nail the wall and hang it up. Or if it's that bad, MF will take it back and it will just cost you return shipping. #

Personally I would tell your brother-law's wife to take him to a music store and see what he does. If he's interested in learning to play a instrument He'll show an interest. If not continue your search for another gift. Besides he might want a different instrument all-together or a new set of golf clubs.

Jim MacDaniel
Dec-04-2007, 10:52am
Here is another option in her price-range (overwhelmed yet? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif ): a <a href="http://cgi.ebay.com/Mandolin-Gypsy-Vagabond-Handcrafted-Solid-Wood-USA_W0QQitemZ190180691084QQihZ009QQcategory



Z10179QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem" target="_blank">spruce over walnut Vagabond demo w/ gig bag</a>, built and sold by board sponsor Gypsy's Music, opening at $325 with a $375 Buy-It-Now price. It is handmade in Arizona with all solid woods, and while I haven't played one of their walnut models, I am very happy with my spruce over maple Vagabond, as are many others here at MC who have purchased one of their mandolins, mandolas, or OM's.

Eric F.
Dec-04-2007, 11:21am
A Gypsy or used Mid-Mo would certainly be a fine choice. A new Big Muddy M-0 is only slightly out of this price range. I also don't think a $285 instrument is necessarily "a pig," or that spending $100 more to improve its sound is as silly as putting Waverly tuners on it, or that in this price range it doesn't matter what you get because they all stink. If you shop carefully and spend wisely you can get a mandolin that will serve you well for a long time. Not everyone can afford or even wants a $3,000 mandolin. The Gypsy Jim mentions, the used Mid-Mo in the classifieds and the newer improved Kentuckys could all be good instruments. It requires patience and some bit of luck, but it's quite possible to get a thoroughly enjoyable mandolin without spending a ton.

Mark Sullivan
Dec-04-2007, 12:11pm
Don't know much about the "mandlin hut" but they have a danvile for $199 set up tuned with a gig bag, tuner, picks, dvd & free shipping

mandomick
Dec-04-2007, 12:19pm
Inexpensive is in the eye of the spender. Not made in USA does not necessarily equate to bad quality. The guy wants a $200-$400.00 mandolin. Nothing else should be on the table in this thread. Maybe Mike's post was too subtle for some, but let's talk about what the guy asked for instead of offering our unsolicited opinion on why he should spend more.
Didn't realize you took over as a moderator. The reason I mentioned the $500 Weber later in this thread was that no matter which one of the pac-rim mandos he might buy, he wont get half his money back if he loses interest and if he doesn't lose interest, he'll get the $500 back if he sells to upgrade. I eagerly await Scott's announcement regarding your new position.(perhaps Mike will sign on as your assistant) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sleepy.gif

Links
Dec-04-2007, 4:35pm
Man-o-man - thanks for all of the great ideas. I'll look at all of the suggestions although it's starting to feel like picking out wallpaper - just too many choices. I do think it is important to buy one from a dealer who can set it up. I hope he will become addicted to one of these things, like I have, but you never know, so I'm not sure my sis-in-law will buy the arguement that a better one will be easier to get their money out of. I totally agree with that concept, but this one is not for me. The average non-musical instrument buying person thinks $500 is outrageous for one of these things!

MikeEdgerton
Dec-04-2007, 4:41pm
...perhaps Mike will sign on as your assistant...

You're right, suggesting a mandolin that cost more than the requested range makes perfect sense. How silly of me. I need to sit at your feet and learn the ways of the world as I am simply dumber than dirt.

Jim Broyles
Dec-04-2007, 6:46pm
Inexpensive is in the eye of the spender. Not made in USA does not necessarily equate to bad quality. The guy wants a $200-$400.00 mandolin. Nothing else should be on the table in this thread. Maybe Mike's post was too subtle for some, but let's talk about what the guy asked for instead of offering our unsolicited opinion on why he should spend more.
Didn't realize you took over as a moderator. The reason I mentioned the $500 Weber later in this thread was that no matter which one of the pac-rim mandos he might buy, he wont get half his money back if he loses interest and if he doesn't lose interest, he'll get the $500 back if he sells to upgrade. I eagerly await Scott's announcement regarding your new position.(perhaps Mike will sign on as your assistant) http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sleepy.gif
Excuse me, but unless you deleted your posts, you had not even posted in this thread when I made my post, so I was obviously not talking to you. I actually wasn't addressing anyone in particular, and further excuse me, but making a suggestion, as in "let's talk about..." is not strictly the discretion of a moderator. Sorry I put you to sleep. Here, have some coffee. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif

mandomick
Dec-04-2007, 8:59pm
...perhaps Mike will sign on as your assistant...

You're right, suggesting a mandolin that cost more than the requested range makes perfect sense. How silly of me. I need to sit at your feet and learn the ways of the world as I am simply dumber than dirt.
No sense in wasting time sitting at my feet, Just use the search function!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

I'm done guys. Guess I should've just said "lighten up, the poster can take or ignore any advice he chooses" or said nothing at all.

Rick Albertson
Dec-04-2007, 9:14pm
I've got a Kentucky KM-172 (oval hole, amber) in like new condition with a featherlight case that I'm thinking about selling. Any interest?

Rick

MikeEdgerton
Dec-05-2007, 8:53am
...Guess I should've just said "lighten up, the poster can take or ignore any advice he chooses" or said nothing at all.
I'm not sure we're the ones that need to lighten up. have a nice day.

Tim2723
Dec-05-2007, 9:05am
All of my mandolins are much more expensive than he would need to get started and quite frankly, I do not pay too much attention to entry level beginner mandolins. #I do know if something is not "playable" beginners will get frustrated and give up!
Have you considered lending him one of yours just to try for a week or so? #If he takes to it he can get his own and spend what he wants to spend. #I certainly understand not wanting to lend expensive instruments though. Maybe you could give him a couple of lessons to help foster his interest even more.

Just a thought.

Links
Dec-05-2007, 9:48am
Quote; "Have you considered lending him one of yours just to try for a week or so?"

He has not invited me to his beach house nearly enough for me to consider lending him one of mine!

I kinda of look at this like the "badmiton set" that my wife insisted we buy for our yard. I had to buy the nice one (expensive as badmiton sets go) and that very afternoon set it up in the front yard. By five o'clock my kids had lost all of the birdies (or whatever you call those feathered things) (how the heck to you lose them), never to play it again. In the meantime, I had to mow around the posts for the next three months because my wife would not let me take it down (they might use it again). I finally took it down and no one ever said another thing about it. I doubt if this mandolin thing will "stick".

PS: I actually offered to let her borrow one of mine - maybe my Eastman 615, but I don't think she wants to do that. The only real worry is that people who have never owned or played instruments do not know how to take care of them. I had much rather lend it to a friend who has played other instruments.

Tim2723
Dec-05-2007, 9:52am
I thought you might say something like that. Oh well, it was just an idea. Good luck with your search!

Links
Dec-05-2007, 10:03am
Tim #- thanks for your suggestion, as I really had already considered it and would still be glad to lend him one.

PS: #Checked out your web site #- #very neat #- #except it doesn't look like you are having a good enough time??? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Tim2723
Dec-05-2007, 10:12am
LOL! Well, that pic of me playing banjo could curdle new milk! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

CES
Dec-05-2007, 10:24am
I thought you might say something like that. #Oh well, it was just an idea. #Good luck with your search!
Tim,

Like anyone's gonna lend someone with your monniker a nice mando! Keep on destroying http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Tim2723
Dec-05-2007, 10:27am
Yeah, but Chuck, you gotta admit I'm uniquely qualified!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Jim MacDaniel
Dec-05-2007, 10:29am
The average non-musical instrument buying person thinks $500 is outrageous for one of these things!
And once MAS sets in, we often think $500 is too little for one of these things! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Tim2723
Dec-05-2007, 10:41am
You're right on both counts! #Last week as my mandolin hit the deck (again) and the peghead scroll went flying across the floor, the whole place went silent. #I told them "Don't worry, it's only a lousy $700 MK."
They all said "seven hundred dollars!! Oh man!", #as if that were a big deal. #I didn't have the heart to tell them how much you can really spend.

MiguelATF
Dec-05-2007, 11:14am
Dear Links--

I will echo what a few other posters answering your question have said. MANY of them have recommended inexpensive KENTUCKY mandolins. And a few have also recommended even more inexpensive ROVER mandolins. What you might be interested in knowing is that not only are Kentucky and Rover distributed and sold by the same folks, but apparently (or so educated rumor has it) they are also, in many cases, made in the same shops or factories. The most popular rumor was that certain of the higher-end Rovers....were really equivalent to the more pricey and higher-end Kentuckys, but that for cosmetic reasons (less attractive wood, less tight grain, etc) they were varnished in a different way (darker to hide the less elegant woods) and sold under the Rover brand. Whether this rumor is true or not is anyone's guess. But I own a higher end F model Rover - the RM-75 - which for the money (they used to sell for around $300 new - now you can get them used for between $175 and $400) are OUTSTANDING (wonderful sounding and very playable) mandolins. I have a friend who recently bought a Rover A model - I think it was the RM50 - for his young son - and it too is a fine (great sound, great resonance, good playability) mandolin - at what some might consider a laughably low price.

Whoever you buy it from - whether new or used - you would be well advised to add on the requisite $50 or $75 or $100 which most good shops or luthiers will charge you to do a good 'set up' of the instrument - money well spent.

Having owned a number of cheap mandolins which played much more poorly than the Rovers I have played - I will say there IS (and ARE) a difference (or differences) between BETTER inexpensive mandos....and less good ones. And it isn't all set-up. I think the Rovers - and their cousins, the Kentuckys - are probably all excellent choices, given your budgetary restrictions.

Good luck. Luck plays a factor too in finding the right instrument!

-Miguel

Jkf_Alone
Dec-05-2007, 11:53am
Don't know much about the "mandlin hut" but they have a danvile for $199 set up tuned with a gig bag, tuner, picks, dvd & free shipping
I bought my mandolin from mandolinhut (kentucky) it was set up for very easy play ( bridge was a hair too low) but the bridge feet were PERFECTLY matched to the top. just a little playing with the intonation, a tightening of the truss rod, and raising the bridge a hair and it was a playable mandolin.

things to watch for:
- poor strings (but they tune up and play)
- they send medium guitar picks (throw these out)
- tuner doesnt work well for mandolin
- they send the Dix Bruce teach yourself mandolin book/dvd, which is VERY good, but on it he posts his pinky, which ended up giving me an RSI in my pinky before i switched to bridge resting and floating.

Jaco5
Dec-05-2007, 12:36pm
Hi to all, I'm new to the Cafe = have patience with me if I'm a bit akward with this forum stuff!!

I was prompted to respond when I saw the post about the Fender fm53s. I started on a Johnson mf100 last year. I played an fm53s 1 month ago and it sent me right to the Kentucky km380s, just because I got the KM at $254.00 w/case and I love it. It's loud and I haven't put my .11-.40 strings on yet. Great intonation. But I will put the fm53s in there too as it sent me right to the km380s. Both are comparable.

Only problem is a slight buzz at 1st and 12th fret...where should I tweak this?

MikeEdgerton
Dec-05-2007, 1:44pm
...Only problem is a slight buzz at 1st and 12th fret...where should I tweak this?
A great way to learn about buzz diagnosis is to go to this (http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Luthier/Technique/Setup/BuzzDiagnosis/buzzintro.html) page on Frank Ford's frets.com (http://www.frets.com).

Links
Dec-05-2007, 10:11pm
I think my sis-in-law should be able to find something from the three or four that I will recommend to her. I'll also mention theset-up and a set of decent strings - just more work for me because my bro-in-law will not have any idea how to change them (or the fact that the would ever need changing)! I'll report back after Christmas!