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Thread: Good Mandolins for under $700?

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    Default Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Hey guys, I hope this isn't already covered in some other thread, but I couldn't find it.

    My Epiphone mandolin's nut recently cracked (due to an unfortunate drop). I really don't feel like pouring too much money into repairing it as it wasn't that great of an instrument anyway. I think I'd much rather save up and buy a decent instrument. I know $700 isn't much in the mandolin world, but I'm mostly an (electric) bass player and mandolin is more of a hobby for me than a profession (like bass is for me).

    I play acoustic bass guitars made by Michael Kelly and they are great quality for the price and if their mandolins are the same I would consider saving the extra $300 to get one of their products. Any suggestions?

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    Registered User rf37's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    I just got a Morgan Monroe MMS8 from folk musician for 626$ with hard case and strap. it aint no Gibson but still awsome imo. a friend played it and was impressed. I am very happy with it

    rf37

  3. #3

    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Alternatively, if only the nut is broken, you could spend $10 on a new TUSQ nut from here. Fitting it takes about five minutes, it improves the tone of the instrument - and at the very least, makes your broken mandolin a good back-up for when you upgrade.

    br

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    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    LM60VS- The Loar new in the classifieds. $500
    Mike Snyder

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    Registered User Patrick Market's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    First things first, always cut what you have to spend in half! Somehow, "$700" here always ends up being interpreted as $1400.

    Second, look at Big Muddy (A-style) or Shawnee Creek (F-style). I have heard both (very nice!), and own one of the the former (with designs on the latter). Both are made by hand, in the US, and meet your price range. NFI on either.

    I also have a Hohner F-style, which was a good buy for that price range (under $700).

    Good luck!
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Eastman 505

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    I'd probably go for a Kentucky KM505 myself.

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    Registered User Goodin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    You can't go wrong with a mid-missouri/big muddy mandolin. All the punch and volume of a much more expensive mandolin and all solid wood construction, and you can get em for about $300-400 used. Hand made in America.

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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    I would consider the Eastman 505 or Kentucky 505. The used options presented above a great as well. A well set up, solid wood $700 instrument can be just fine and dandy and serve you for a lifetime.

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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    The Mandolin Store has a nice looking Eastman MD 604 (oval hole) for $599 (NFI).

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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    To address our question about Michael Kelly instruments: I own two MK mandolins. If you like their basses, you'll be very pleased with their mandolins. But that said, I'll agree with the others that the Eastman and Kentucky products will easily meet your needs while staying in your budget.
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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    I would recommend, in this order: Kentucky km 505, Eastman md 505. MK would be way down on my list.
    I think TMS has a km 855 for a bargain price, you might check that out.

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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    The last Michael Kelly mandolin I played sounded like a guitar with mandolin strings on it -- not at all unpleasant, just not very high-and-lonesome to my ear.

    If you are into ebay, you can buy a Regal mandolin from the 1930's for a couple hundred bucks. They come up quite often. Others can chime in here on this route. I have one regal and am looking at another. I just think it's a lot cooler to buy a solid wood instrument that is 60-80 years old than to buy something new.

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    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    If you want an F style with a scroll and everthing, go with a Rover RM-75, otherwise the Kentucky KM-505 would be my choice as well with MK's way down on the list. Big Muddy Mandolins (formerly called Mid-Missouri) are flat-topped oval holes and have a different sound than an arch top like the Kentucky KM-505: very popular for general folk, oldtime and celtic. Can certainly play bluegrass, but don't have the particular sound most bluegrass players want. Think Levon Helms. They are fine mandolins, though, made in the USA instead of China like all the others mentioned.
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    How easy would it be to install a pickup system into one of these instruments? I really like the oval hole instruments for whatever reason (I play my mandolin in a rock group).

    I've also been tossing around the idea of going to the bigger members of the mandolin family as it might be easier on my rather large bass-player hands. Are there any options in the octave mandolin or mandocello range under $700 (I know it's probably a long shot)?

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Quote Originally Posted by powellmacaque View Post
    Are there any options in the octave mandolin or mandocello range under $700 (I know it's probably a long shot)?
    Trinity College octave mandolins $550 here at Elderly Instruments. The TC's get good reviews from players as introductory instruments for CBOM (cittern, bouzouki, octave mandolin) playing. Elderly does some shop adjustment before sending them out. Asian imports, but generally recognized as the "standard" for starter instruments.
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    Okay, I'm with you fellas tburcham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Snyder View Post
    LM60VS- The Loar new in the classifieds. $500
    I'm thinking of purchasing this one and playing it for a few months and then relist it for $600....where it would still be the best Bang for the Buck on the Cafe.
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    Robert Fear Folkmusician.com's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    I really like the oval hole instruments for whatever reason (I play my mandolin in a rock group).
    Jimmy Page!?

    An onboard pickup system is not a problem, just a little expensive for a quality pickup installed internally. If you want an onboard preamp on a standard mandolin, that can complicate matters. With an octave mandolin or larger, you have enough room for some of the readily available preamps.
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Quote Originally Posted by Folkmusician.com View Post
    Jimmy Page!?

    An onboard pickup system is not a problem, just a little expensive for a quality pickup installed internally. If you want an onboard preamp on a standard mandolin, that can complicate matters. With an octave mandolin or larger, you have enough room for some of the readily available preamps.

    Haha, if by Jimmy Page you mean John Paul Jones (I'm a bass player, remember ).

    I also would like to thank everybody for the helpful replies. I posted a similar question when I was in the market for an upright bass, and man... those jazz and classical bassists let me know that $1.5k was just "pocket change" with basses. Scared me away from upright really. Glad to know the mando community is a bit more understanding of a guy on a budget .

  20. #20
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    There's a used Godin A8 [classifieds], (or get an Ovation} get that for your rock group gigs.
    if you are going to use it in that electric rock band environment.

    .. you said [#15] you wanted to play it on-stage too .. good onboard preamps there,
    and feedback resistant designs, to play when off the bandstand with all the amps.

    for playing at home get that one you have patched back together, get the Eastman Oval hole
    or other acoustic, later.


    special tools for the job-site, Decent pickup added to acoustic, + decent preamp, will be half the $700 budget,

    So, why not get what you need to earn money. [tools for the job are deductible]
    Last edited by mandroid; Apr-21-2010 at 2:17pm.
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Save your money, buy a mandolin that sounds good to you at the price you can afford. Don't worry about what others think.
    I'm with you, I love my Kelly Bass.

    In the meantime get yourself a small chunk of Micarta, cow bone, hard plastic or even hardwood(ebony or maple and Make a nut. It ain't that tough.
    Jean

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    Registered User Jim MacDaniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Here are a few nice options in the classifieds within your pricepoint, all of which enjoy very favorable reviews here on the boards:

    1) A very nice looking used A4 built by Howard Morris for $600

    2) Speaking of larger members of the mandolin family, Eddie has his like-new Flatiron Cadet dola listed for $650

    3) A used Gypsy's Vagabond for only $400 (slightly wider and beefier neck, which might feel better to your guitar-playing hands)

    4) A "brand spankin' new" Redline Traveler hand-built by Steve Smith & team, with special 'cafe pricing of only $585

    5) A used Peterson Zouk for $750

    6) A used Arches FT-F mandolin for $700

    7) A used Trinity College Zouk with pickup for $350

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    Mandolin addicted...So? Pete Counter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    I second the Morgan Monroe MMS-8. I have one and its really quite good sounding, well built and looks great. I Highly recommend. Visit my profile and look at my pics.

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    Registered User Steve Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Quote Originally Posted by powellmacaque View Post
    Haha, if by Jimmy Page you mean John Paul Jones (I'm a bass player, remember ).

    I also would like to thank everybody for the helpful replies. I posted a similar question when I was in the market for an upright bass, and man... those jazz and classical bassists let me know that $1.5k was just "pocket change" with basses. Scared me away from upright really. Glad to know the mando community is a bit more understanding of a guy on a budget .
    So... You went to TalkBass.com, huh? Yeah... they don't want to talk to you unless your going to spend $20,000 on an Upright. Come one over to www.bluegrassbassplace.com and anybody over there will be glad to help you... even if your not going to play Bluegrass. You can get a heck of a good Bass for $1500.
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    Default Re: Good Mandolins for under $700?

    Quote Originally Posted by Capt. E View Post
    If you want an F style with a scroll and everthing, go with a Rover RM-75....
    I agree, I just bought my second one as a backup. Swap the strings to GHS silk and steel and you are good to go!

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