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Thread: Savannah mandolins

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    i've recently become fascinated with mandolins after playing a friends. I'm on a pretty low budget, and these are right in my price range. It's an oval hole, with a solid top.I know it's made in china, but i was just wondering if this could be a good cheap-ish beginner mandolin? This is my first mandolin cafe post, and i'd just like to say that this place is awesome!! Thanks for any feed back.
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    Hi - Welcome aboard.

    I am not clear on this one. I have a Johnson Savannah F-100 which I started with a little over a year ago. It is an F hole, not oval. I learned on it, but after 6 months it was retired as the tone was poor, it did not keep in tune, and the frets were wearing out. Perhaps mine is not equivalent to the mandolin you are looking at.

    I would suggest looking at other mandolin makers or at least get a specific model # on the Savannah so other board members can better assist you. Many on this board recommend low-end Kentuckys.

    Good luck.
    Lee Oliver

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    this is i believe#a savannah SA-110. i know next to nothing about mandolins but i am really excited to learn. and hey, thanks for replying to my first post!



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    Josh,
    Does it look like this


    If so, this is like my Johnson MA110 and is all plywood. Not a solid top. Johnson has recently changed names to Savannah brand (I guess my "vintage" one will go up from being worth $60 to $65.

    These are very inexpensive instruments that are not ready to play out of the box. Buy from a dealer you talk to and ensure they do a full set up for nut and bridge action and height. The strings on them from the manufacturer are pretty awful and you'll want to have them or change them first (I recommend you start with D'Addario J74 strings (nice and inexpensive). Here's a good restringing tutorial that I use. If you get it off e-bay, it very likely will be dropped shipped and not set up. If so, expect to spend $40-80 to get a decent set up done on one of these with a new set of strings. Sometimes these inexpensive ones have bad fingerboards stat will never intonate correctly, be sure you can send it back (at their expense) if required.

    All that said, mine intonates well enough and holds tune. It doesn't sound like mandolins 10X or 100X as much but I only spent about $90 all together on it. You can learn to play on it.

    Welcome to the Mandolin Café.
    Jamie



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    that would be the one! Thank you very much for all your information. If it's decent enough to learn on, i guess i'll go forward with it. I can't spend too much, and i wouldn't want anything more than to jam with a few friends (Yet!). Thank you once again!
    --If i come without a thing, then I come with all I need--

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    I get a used lower end Eastman or Michael Kelly before I got a Savannah/Johnson.

    It's not that much more and your going to plat it a lot long. You'll out grow the Savannah quickly if you get it.

    I started out with a plywood Rover which is about the same quality of instrument and I had to UNlearn some bad habits I picked up on the mandolin .

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    My $.02 from a beginners viewpoint......

    If you go ahead and purchase the Savannah, the most important thing you can do for yourself to keep you from becoming discouraged is get a pro setup. #Even if it comes out of the box with the bridge installed, it won't be setup properly......you'll be discouraged in no time. #A proper setup wiil allow you to get a better sense of what the instrument should feel like.

    If you decide you enjoy it, you will, at some point, want a better instrument. #The worst case scenario is you'll end up with an decent playing, well setup, beater mando and you won't have to worry about taking your good one to the beach/camping/boating, etc........

    Good luck and enjoy!!!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by (lapetrarca @ June 16 2008, 09:18)
    My $.02 from a beginners viewpoint......

    If you go ahead and purchase the Savannah, the most important thing you can do for yourself to keep you from becoming discouraged is get a pro setup. #
    You are assuming that they instrument will even be playable. I have seen seen so many imports new and in stores hanging on a wall and unplayable even with a set up.

    Had a friend who owns a small music shop call me recently and ask me to look at three mandolins he bought to sell, for some reason he couldn't tune them up.

    And no wonder he couldn't the frets were not spaced right. I think the brand was New York Pro.

    And guess what even though they are junk they still went on the wall for sale. I didn't agree with this but it's not my store.

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    I know this is totally off subject, but where do you guys think i should begin? Should i learn some songs by using tabs and practice them, or should I start learning and memorizing chords? I have a lot of musical ideas in my head, i just don't have the skill yet to get them out on an instrument. also off subject, this could possibly be the greatest website ever!
    --If i come without a thing, then I come with all I need--

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    I bought a Savannah on a lark for a wall hanger. I tuned it up and put a new bridge on it and beleive it or not, it sounded great. It is NOT hanging on the wall, it is my travel mandolin. Not bad for under $100.
    Treetopper

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    Quote Originally Posted by (sweaterpoorlyknit @ June 16 2008, 23:31)
    I know this is totally off subject, but where do you guys think i should begin? Should i learn some songs by using tabs and practice them, or should I start learning and memorizing chords? I have a lot of musical ideas in my head, i just don't have the skill yet to get them out on an instrument. also off subject, this could possibly be the greatest website ever!
    Okay, since you asked - do not start by learning songs from tabs. Knowing where to put your fingers to play a song does not mean you: a) know the song, or b) can play the mandolin. Learn chords and scales and learn enough theory to know which chords go together and what they sound like so you can hear a chord and know if it is major, minor, diminished or augmented. Learn the chords which make up the "family" of chords in each key, then if you want help in learning a song look at some tabs.
    "I thought I knew a lot about music. Then you start digging and the deeper you go, the more there is."~John Mellencamp

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    Quote Originally Posted by (jbmando @ June 17 2008, 13:31)
    Okay, since you asked - do not start by learning songs from tabs. Knowing where to put your fingers to play a song does not mean you: a) know the song, or b) can play the mandolin. Learn chords and scales and learn enough theory to know which chords go together and what they sound like so you can hear a chord and know if it is major, minor, diminished or augmented. Learn the chords which make up the "family" of chords in each key, then if you want help in learning a song look at some tabs.
    I couldn't agree more. #I think tab is useful to help you out and point you in the right direction with regards to how to play a song, but if its all your know, well, its all you know. #Music is way more than just the certian notes in a certian order, and the sooner you get comfortable with that the better. #And to be honest if your just starting out and are willing to give it a try, see if you can wrap your brain around standard notation. #Its not as scary as it seems at first, and once you get used to it its far more logical and universal than tab. #On the other hand, learning purely by ear is great too, but it can be frustrating at first. Just make sure your having fun, don't worry too much about sounding good at first. #Sadly, its going to take AT LEAST a month before your going to be sounding like something your even remotely happy with, but THATS OK. #Good luck and keep with it, there is an immense amount of information avalable on the internet, be sure to use it.

    edit: Woo Hoo! I'm at 100 posts!



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    Quote Originally Posted by (sweaterpoorlyknit @ June 16 2008, 23:31)
    I know this is totally off subject, but where do you guys think i should begin? Should i learn some songs by using tabs and practice them, or should I start learning and memorizing chords? I have a lot of musical ideas in my head, i just don't have the skill yet to get them out on an instrument. also off subject, this could possibly be the greatest website ever!
    You've already received some advice on this, but I wanted to provide some input from a fellow beginner. My recommendation is to do a bit of both: learn some songs by tab AND focus on the theory side (chord composition, standard notation, scales, etc).

    I think it's important to learn some tunes so that you have that feeling of accomplishment. While I recall feeling excited because I could play a few scales forward and backward, it pales in comparison to the first time I nailed Blackberry Blossom. Also, focus on chords, because odds are you'll meet better players and be relegated to a supporting role.

    Happy picking!
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    thank you all so much for all your advice and input! all this makes me feel like i could actually one day learn to play the mandolin. Could anyone direct me to a good site for Mandolin scales? Thank you guys!



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    Josh,
    I've posted this in the past and find it helpful for me. You can write your own scales. The notes are
    A, A#/Bb, B, C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab for 12 tones. Each set between the commas is a half step. For a Major scale pick your root note then go whole (2- 1/2 steps up), whole, half, whole, whole, whole, finally up half.

    Your scale would be:
    G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

    The Chords in your series for a G Major scale would be

    I- GMaj, II- Amin, III- Bmin, IV- CMaj, V- DMaj, VI (relative minor)- Emin, VII- F#min, VIII- G

    The Gmaj scale and the Emin scale are the same. You renumber the chords starting at I with Emin for the Emin chords for the progressions I, IV, V for example.

    The sheet I've attached also has a staff and the positions of the open notes of the 4 courses from the mandolin noted on it(1' = open G, 2'= open D, 3'=open A, 4'= open E).

    You also have a key of the fingerboard showing each note on each string at each fret. With standard tuning from going from open to fret 7 takes you up to the next higher open string (e.g., fret 7 on the G course = the same pitch and note as open on the D course).

    There's also space on the sheet to write your own inversions for the Chords in the Key with extra space on the back. A good chord book will teach you how to construct your own chord inversions (hint it's based on the notes in the scales).

    If you can master this stuff, you'll be well ahead of me.

    While I see a great larger world open to you musically by learning standard notation, tab can be a fun way to learn a tune pretty fast. I hate to think of notation/tab as an either or thing. They can both be tools to making music. Tab written for mandolin is mandolin specific. You can't use guitar tab on a mandolin without some serious translating (probably back to notation then to mando tab!). Once you know the notes on a standard notation staff any music written in then mandolins range can become mandolin music.

    I hope this helps and I hope if I made any errors someone points 'em out quick.

    Jamie



    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails KeyScale_Chord08.pdf  
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    thank you all so much for taking the time to reply to a beginner. Having so much advice helps me to feel much less overwhelmed, so once again thank you guys!
    --If i come without a thing, then I come with all I need--

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    I know I am waaaaaaaay late on this one but I'm bored so here is my two cents. You can get a Kentucky or even fender mandos for a descent price....but if you are like me, and I think most people have gone through this, you will fall for this instrument. i am a guitar player that purchased a cheapo mando and within one month was bying an upgrade....why? because it is addictive!!!! I even wrote and article in a newspaper about the addiction. So to wrap it up buy one for a descent price and be a happier picker.
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    Here is a good video for some basic info and technique. For more info on technique, etc, read through some threads in the theory/technique section. Maybe type in beginner in the search to see other beginner threads that will have some good info.



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    Hey Jamie was is that a picture of 1997 Gibson A-4 you posted? Just kidding.

    As for the mando. If you like it and can get it set up well, and thats your price then get it. With mandolins you pretty much get what you pay for so if you can scrounge up a few hundred buck I would go the kentucy route. When I first started I got a Rouge MA-100...it was 40$. within a few months i went to the Johnson MF-350, then a few months later to a Michael Kelly Legacy Deluxe...and soon to a another upgrade. Enjoy and have fun. Dont be affraid to ask questions the cafe is an awesome resource!
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    Yeah, ask as many questions as you want, everyone here is very helpful.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (sweaterpoorlyknit @ June 16 2008, 23:31)
    also off subject, this could possibly be the greatest website ever!
    most likely.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Default Re: Savannah mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelee View Post
    Hi - Welcome aboard.

    I am not clear on this one. I have a Johnson Savannah F-100 which I started with a little over a year ago. It is an F hole, not oval. I learned on it, but after 6 months it was retired as the tone was poor, it did not keep in tune, and the frets were wearing out. Perhaps mine is not equivalent to the mandolin you are looking at.

    I would suggest looking at other mandolin makers or at least get a specific model # on the Savannah so other board members can better assist you. Many on this board recommend low-end Kentuckys.

    Good luck.
    I just received the F-100 today. I bought from Ebay Friday. It was set up and just needed minor tuning adjustments. I will be changing string late. I have a set of Martin M400's.

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    Default Re: Savannah mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Treetopper View Post
    I bought a Savannah on a lark for a wall hanger. I tuned it up and put a new bridge on it and beleive it or not, it sounded great. It is NOT hanging on the wall, it is my travel mandolin. Not bad for under $100.
    I have bought a couple of these super-cheap mandolins over the last couple of years and it's really a crap shoot as to what kind of quality to expect. One Rogue RA-100 that I bought for about $25 for my son to mess around with turned out to be the worst mandolin I have ever played. Frets were terrible, intonation was terrible and the sound was terrible. Later, I picked up a Johnson 120 for about $40. It was actually a decent sounding mandolin for the money but it had a loose brace and, eventually, the top started to sink in on the bass side. Just a couple of weeks ago I picked up another Rogue RA-100 on Craigslist for $45. It is surprisingly good. The nut height was very low (which is one of the biggest problems with the super-cheapies). The neck is straight and the frets are even. It plays pretty easily and doesn't sound too bad at all. I'm going to put a new bridge on it and a set of flatwound strings, which I think will make it even better.
    Point is, you never know what you will get out of one of these. (The Johnson MA 110 and Savannah SA 110 are essentially the same as the Rogue RA100 only with a oval sound hole). You can take it somewhere to have it properly set up, but the combined money you would spend on the mandolin and the set up would buy you a better mandolin in most cases. The Savannah you are looking at might be a decent mandolin, but be prepared that it might also be a piece of junk. If it is, it will certainly make learning on it very difficult.
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    Default Re: Savannah mandolins

    My caveaqt with inexpensive mandolins is always buy from a place you can return it to if it is wrong, and always have a set up on them. You're in murky waters and can easily stub your toe with these purchases.

    Jamie
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    Default Re: Savannah mandolins

    After 3 years playing mandolins, I found that paying more for a decent starter mandolin (with proper setup) is a better approach.
    The advantages are:
    1) good sounding and good looking
    2) stay tuned very solidly, at least for hours or days
    3) good feel of the fretboard (easy to play0
    I started with a Savannah mandolin (loaned from a friend) for one month then I decided to buy a good one for myself.
    It was so frustrated to play for 5 mins then the instrument get out of tuned. Beginners would be discouraged to learn with louse instrument to start with.
    If you have a friend who plays then ask him to help choosing and trying the mandolin you buy.

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