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Thread: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

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    Question Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    I am new to both this site and to mandolins. I am interested in your opinions about Trinity River mandolins. Because I would be a new student, I don't want to spend large amounts of money (especially in the current economy) on my first instrument, yet I want to buy one that is nice enough to have reasonable resale value.

    http://trinityriverguitars.com/mandolins06.htm

    Do they sound nice? Do they have good action? Do they have solid construction? The description that I read from their web site sounds good but could they really be a lemon?

    I have no experience and value your opinions. I live in the desert, several hours from the big retail stores like the Guitar Center and Sam Ash. So I am trying to learn before I go test drive.

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    Registered User Jim MacDaniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Hi, and welcome to the cafe.

    I myself have never heard of Trinity River instruments, and I suspect they are new to the market, and are likely sourced from overseas factories like most of the less expensive instruments on the market. That doesn't mean they are bad instruments, but if they are truely new to the market, then you might not receive a lot of firsthand feedback regarding them.

    Since you are new to the instrument and are looking for a good value, here are a handfull of recent threads with a lot of good advice in them -- especially the suggestion to buy used in order to get the most bang for your buck. (You can also browse the "Looking for information about mandolins" section of the forum for many similar older threads, some about specific instruments, and others looking for generic suggestions for beginner or starter instruments.)

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=48817

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=48839

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=48877

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=48586

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Don't mean to leave you hangin'...I've not heard of them. Doesn't mean they aren't good instruments, but I have no experience with them...
    Chuck

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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Those look remarkably like the low end Johnson/Savannah brand they are quite inexpensive (perhaps as inexpensive as one may safely go to get a mandolin that with a regular set up could be playable enough to learn on). What I mean is they look and have the same specs as the Johnson/Savannah. I would skip the F model and maybe get one of the others. Be sure you can send it back if the frets aren't cut correctly and the instrument won't intonate. Certainly, don't buy it off e-bay unless you plan on not being able to return it and count on having to spend an additional $50-100 on a set up and new strings.

    I've bought one of the oval hole models branded Johnson (now Savannah) and after I had it set up, it holds tune and intonates fine. The sound is weak but it served as a good beater and now my kids (8 and 6) play with it. If your budget is really under $100 these could be great or not. If you can save up to $250 consider the Kentucky KM150S from a reputable dealer (like the Café sponsors).

    Jamie
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    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Could you perhaps be confusing Trinity River with Trinity College? Trinity College instruments are well made, well thought of, with lower end pricing.
    Jammin' in South Austin with:
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    No, look at the link. Those look exactly like the Johnson/Savannah branded one. Probably came off the shop floor. I bet the Trinity River people are hoping you'll make the mistake of thinking these are from Trinity College (Saga).

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Well, the Trinity River runs through Dallas TX I'm told, and it looks like the distributors of these instruments are in Texas, so maybe they're not guilty of piggybacking on the Trinity College name. (Parenthetically, Trinity College is in Dublin, Ireland; no doubt some smart distributor of Asian-made instruments for playing Celtic music, grabbed the nameplate to suggest some sort of Irish connection.)
    Looks like a pretty standard line of Chinese-made instruments to me, although the website text is rather uninformative as to country of origin. By the way, I would be a bit hesitant to raise "warranty issues" with a person who puts "lawyer" in his e-mail address; sounds like they're prepared to litigate your warranty claim!
    My initial reaction would be to pick a more established brand of "introductory" mandolin -- Rover, Kentucky, etc. If resale value is one of your stated concerns, be aware that resale on a relatively unknown brand of Asian import instruments, is likely to be pretty heavily discounted. And since this is a relatively unknown brand, you probably won't find too many Cafe members with substantial experience with Trinity River mandolins.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    A large portion of the dealers on their list appear to be pawn shops. Mister Money Corp is a multi-state dealer in that business. Amazingly enough two of the three dealers in NJ are pretty reputable. I know nothing about the third dealer. Can these be ordered with the Gibson label already on them?
    "bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeedgerton View Post
    can these be ordered with the gibson label already on them?
    score!!
    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    WOW!!!

    This question has generated a lot of buzz.

    First, I'd like to thank everyone who has replied. I have found a lot of interesting information in your remarks and in the links that were provided for my additional reading. Great stuff.

    Second, I am learning that what makes an instrument good or bad is highly subjective. It requires insider information and experience. I have a Washburn acoustic guitar that was given to me by my mother. It was my late father's guitar. It has an incredible sound. But I had no hand in its selection.

    Third, I found the Trinity River brand when Googling. Since I didn't know where to start, I just searched the Internet and read dozens of hits. That's how I found this group. One such hit was at Target. It was listed as $299 on sale for $199.

    Now, before someone decides to ban me from future posts for stupidity, I would like to say, I was just searching the Internet and asking for opinions. Again, I really appreciate the contributions of all who have replied.

    Does anyone know of a good store in the California Counties of San Bernardino or Riverside, to go experience mandolins and talk to knowledgeable sales people?

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    It's a little bit of a trip but take a ride down to Buffalo Bros. in Carlsbad. The extra hour or two will be worth it.
    "bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    I have a Trinity river F model. Made in China. Workmanship is not the best but for a F model under $200 shipped not that bad. I had to do some set up like new strings, fitting the bridge. It seems to hold tune and plays ok. But it is a $200 F model so don't expect it to be anything more.
    I probably should have held out a little longer and and bought something in the $400-$600 range.
    just my 2 cents I not an expert and only a begining player.

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    "By the way, I would be a bit hesitant to raise "warranty issues" with a person who puts "lawyer" in his e-mail address; sounds like they're prepared to litigate your warranty claim!"

    I think he put "Lawyer" in his email address because that's his name; Marcus Lawyer.

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Borzelleri View Post
    I think he put "Lawyer" in his email address because that's his name; Marcus Lawyer.
    Bob, you're right -- but I'm still intimidated...
    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Correct, the Trinity River runs directly through the DFW area. I cross it each time I go downtown to Fort Worth. These Trinity River instruments are in a few shops around here, and I think the name is owned by someone local; they have been pretty heavily marketed to the folks in this area. I have two friends who own TR guitars, and they are good instruments. If I were in the market for a $300-400 guitar I'd not hesitate to buy one based on what I've seen.

    From what I've seen from their guitar offerings, I'd not hesitate to give one of their mandolins a chance.
    ...

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    I have a Trinity River guitar and IMHO they are good guitars. They are not the top of the line but I think they are good for what they are. Great tone and volume and easy to play. I would defiantly try out a TR mando if I came across one. May need a basic setup when you get it if the shop you buy it from doesn't do it for you. After being setup by a good luther it should be a great starter.
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    Long , Strange Trip Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Desertstrings, in your original post you mentioned resale value, I doubt these would have that. That does not IMO mean you shouldn't get one just don't expect to re sell it for any money to speak of. I have a very inexpensive Chinese Mandolin and it serves me well as a travel/camp instrument but I doubt I could sell it. The warrenty seemed a little unfriendly to me as well, quite a long list of things they won't do. I'm pretty sure if you look at the specs you can get the same thing possibly from the same factory for less money. I guess at this point I should ask what do they cost. If you want resale value you'll have to go with a well known brand name and in lower priced instruments you'll still be lucky to get 50% or even 30% of what you paid. The lesson in this IMHO is buy a used instrument.
    Jim Richmond

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    The TR Summit F-style is $199. Something curious though. the picture of it on the Trinity River website shows it to have a ridge on the scroll while the photo of the same model on Target's website shows it to be flat. I wonder which is accurate.
    Bill Snyder
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    If you just want something inexpensive to learn on, then guitarcenter.com has a Rogue for about under $100. What I was told when I first started playing... I seriously don't know how true this is, but I was told that when it comes to mandolins, all of the inexpensive ones (under $3000) are very similar. Who knows?
    Kim Roulias

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    What I was told when I first started playing... I seriously don't know how true this is, but I was told that when it comes to mandolins, all of the inexpensive ones (under $3000) are very similar. Who knows?[/QUOTE]

    Whoever told you this, make absolutely certain you never seek their advice regarding anything. This is sheer lunacy.
    Steve

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve L View Post
    ...This is sheer lunacy.
    Pretty much.
    "bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"

    --Jim Garber

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Snyder View Post
    The TR Summit F-style is $199. Something curious though. the picture of it on the Trinity River website shows it to have a ridge on the scroll while the photo of the same model on Target's website shows it to be flat. I wonder which is accurate.

    Mine has the ridge on the scroll.

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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Quote Originally Posted by KimRoulias View Post
    I seriously don't know how true this is, but I was told that when it comes to mandolins, all of the inexpensive ones (under $3000) are very similar. Who knows?
    1. It's not true at all, unless you mean they all have a neck, a body and strings.

    2. "Who knows?" The people who frequent Mandolin Cafe do. I would guess that discussions of under-$3K mandolins make up the largest sub-group of topics covered here. You can get the benefit of hundreds of person-years of experience and expertise, as well as some brashly stated opinions...

    3. ...which is why it's very useful to bring up a topic like Trinity River mandolins, a relatively unknown nameplate that seems to be largely sold through pawn shops rather than music stores. Nowhere else are you going to get the perspective you get here.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
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    Default Re: Trinity River Mandolins: Opinions Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Desertstrings, in your original post you mentioned resale value, I doubt these would have that. That does not IMO mean you shouldn't get one just don't expect to re sell it for any money to speak of. I have a very inexpensive Chinese Mandolin and it serves me well as a travel/camp instrument but I doubt I could sell it. The warrenty seemed a little unfriendly to me as well, quite a long list of things they won't do. I'm pretty sure if you look at the specs you can get the same thing possibly from the same factory for less money. I guess at this point I should ask what do they cost. If you want resale value you'll have to go with a well known brand name and in lower priced instruments you'll still be lucky to get 50% or even 30% of what you paid. The lesson in this IMHO is buy a used instrument.
    Good information. Thank you. What do the terms IMO and IMHO mean?

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