Just to represent the Wesside - I haven't been a Los Angeleno for quite a while, but I'm here for a long overdue visit, and (just) checked out McCabe's out in Santa Monica. #It was very cool, and the selection is quite nice, and ecclectic. #Not up to the stock of Mando Bros. but what is. #They had a bunch of Breedloves -all Quartz- a Hyalite mandola, and a Tamarack mandocello. #I can't imagine how anyone can actually PLAY a mandocello, but how often can you walk in off the street and give it a try! #Three Colllings, and an F5G were the high-end mandos. #The Collings, as many have noted, have a really distinctive tone- and are LOUD. #Extremely woody, brand new. If I played primarily bluegrass, I think an #MT2 -at half the price and 85% of the quality of an MF5- would be the way to go. #My favorite, though, was a 1919 A-4 in very very good shape. It had the lowest action I've ever seen on a vintage isntrument, beautiful filigree tuning knobs, and the tuners actually worked! The tone was really great- not nearly as resonant as other old oval Gibson's I've played - more complexity and great mid-ranges. #If I were in a more secure financial condition I'd have got it on the spot- a good deal I thought for $2500. #Also played a Tomaso bowl back- very sweet, though it would take some getting used to the very short scale- and I don't think it chorded very nicely. But for classical work it would be very nice indeed.
Above all, I found the folks at McCabes incredibly friendly and welcoming. #I had nice chats with 3 or 4 staff, they flattered my lousy technique, and never made me feel like I was being sold anything. #I have no financial interest here - except if somebody grabs that A-4 you'll save me 2500 bucks! #Doesn't feel like there's much of a SoCal vibe on this board, so I thought I'd chime in here.