I've been away from mandolin for several years, and have just come back to the fold. All good. Of course, I had to buy a new mandolin and started looking at what is available. Last mando I bought was in 1992. It was a Gibson F5L, Carlson signed (back then, didn't know that would matter). I paid $2800 new. I thought that was a ton of money for a mandolin.
Fast forward to 2009.
There are so many builders of high end mandolins. Which is great. I enjoy salivating over Red Diamond, Wood, Dailey, etc.
But I have noticed that there is a lot of price variance among high end F-5 style mandolins. The variance far exceeds the $2800 I once paid for my Gibson. If I can buy a Dailey for $7k, and it is good enough for pros such as Adam Steffey, what do I get when I pay an additional $5k to get a Gilchrist? Or more for a Nugget?
I believe that these things are fairly constant across the high end instruments:
-select woods-pine/spruce/cedar top, maple back and sides
-high attention, hand finishing
-Loar design emulation
My question is sincere. It is not a criticism of the market or pricing in general. I just wonder what the difference is and I am looking for something tangible like specific building techniques, voicing decisions, etc that yields a better, therefore, more expensive instrument.
Like I said, I've been away for awhile--but this is keeping me up at night.