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Thread: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

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    Default Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I currently have two mandolins (Michael Kelly Dragonfly Custom III & Kentucky KM-700) and I'm considering selling them both and getting just one good mandolin. My limit would be $1000. I don't really care if it's an F or an A, I just want it to play and sound awesome and end my MAS. I've seen a lot of Gibson A-40 and A-50 mandos for sale in the $900 range. Are these good mandolins? It seems odd that old Gibsons don't bring a higher price. I know that an Eastman would be a good option, but I kinda of wanted to get opinions from people that know more than I do. We don't have a store within 250 miles where I can try them out, so the "try and see which one you like" option is out. I know the best opinions will come from you guys, so thanks in advance for your comments.

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    three f model mando's come to mind for that price range. The Loar lm 700 new is around that price point. Used would be a couple hundred cheaper . The Eastman 815v used would be around that price point or a little less. I currently have an 815v as a my carry anywhere mandolin and it is a very good mando for the price point. I believe you have to spend substantially more to find a better mandolin from another maker. A third choice would be a used kentucky km1000 but they are becoming harder to find at the $1k price point. Either of these three mando's would be excellent choices.
    On a side note: The Loar and the Eastman both are plagued with subpar barely adequate bridges from the factory. If you purchase used you will still be able to do a cumberland acoustics bridge upgrade and stay at the $1,000 price point.. The Loar and Kentucky are flat fretboards while the Eastman is radiused (if that matters to you).
    For A models, the Kentucky km900 has to be the best mando on the planet for their price point new ($900 or less). Good luck with your search.

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    Registered User MandoSquirrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    As always, and you say it doesn't matter, you'll usually get more for the money in an A than an F. Breedlove Quartz series O models are available in that range; Howard Morris builds them for less, I believe, and vintage Gibson A's can be found in that range, as well.
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    Ad astra per alia porci bjshear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Well, your MAS won't end with the purchase. It will just be satisfied for a short time. It'll only be a number of months, maybe a year, and BAM! you'll have it again. And next time you'll be saying, "My limit is $2K!"

    'A' style mandolins are always going to be cheaper than an F. So, you can get more 'bang' for your buck going with an A. If you don't care either way, I'd say go for the A style.

    Eastman is a great choice, as mentioned before the bridges can be bad. I bought an Eastman new and when I got it the bridge was cracked. I called the place I bought it from and they sent me a new bridge right away, worked perfect ever since.

    You can pick up a Gibson A-Jr for under $1k and those can be great, but it can be hard to know unless you can hear it. If you get one, make sure it's from someone you trust, so you know it's in stable condition ect.

    From time to time there are used Weber's (the flat top ones, I forget the model) for sale used in the classifieds.

    Also, there are a few builders that will build you one for under $1k. Old Woods and Elloree are two guys that make stuff themselves for reasonable prices, but good, solid wood, quality. There are not that many places in North America where you can get an instrument made for under $1k but those two you can. I have an Old Woods octave mandolin and it sounds great.

    You can keep an eye on the classified and you'll see something good before too long

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I have been looking around $1000...

    Used, A-style, you can find: Gibson (A9), Weber, Rigel, Flatiron...

    Also a lot of the smaller builders; there was a used Morris A on here for $700 or $800. How about that Cushman F in the classifieds for only $1250. Make an offer, you might be able to swing it...?

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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I don't like the A-40 and A-50 mandolins. Not even close to the older A's (teens and twenties).

    For group play (i.e., a mandolin with some horsepower), I'd consider the A9 for that price. They're nice. I thought my Breedlove K0 was nice buy really didn't like it. I'd be interested in their f-hole mandolins though. I'm a big fan of my Flatiron 1N "pancake" mandolin (they're like $500). Totally unique. Mine's well played at old-time jams in the area.

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I might add that I'm seriously considering an oval hole. Any thoughts? We don't really have a jam anywhere close so it's usually me and maybe two guitars so not much to cut through.

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    There's an oval hole Breedlove on the classifieds. It's at $1200 OBO, but I bet they'd be flexible on the price.

    The Weber Absaroka on the classifieds looks like a pretty solid deal on a good "A" to me...

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I like my Breedlove, it's a F-hole A-style.

    The neck profile is unique, and it's a wider fretboard ... this may or may not suit you, but they play and sound good.
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I think a used Gibson A9 would be a lot of bang for your buck at that price point. You might also find a Ratliff A a for around $1000, which would also be an equally good option. I also like the sound of the Weber Absaroka's I have heard, and there is one for $950 in the classifieds right now. Lastly, Breedlove delivers some good bang for the buck in their A models. I am not a big fan of bolt on necks, but it would not be a deal breaker for me at that price. Lots of great options.

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Hi djc227,

    I'd be inclined to check out that Weber Absaroka, too. I played one and loved it. I have a different model Weber A or I'd be looking into that one.

    Bob

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Yeah I would jump on that Absaroka if I had already sold the two mandolins I need to sell to pay for it! Also, the closest luthier is about a 4-5 hour drive away, so getting the nut to convert it back to a righty would be difficult. Thanks for the suggestion though, that would be a great option. Just doing the research right now!

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    MAS is an incureable condition. From what I read you may be able to get the symptoms to subside but it will only go into remission for a while. Its like being an alchoholic or any type of addict. you have to take it one day at a time and all that. Perhaps we should start a support group.

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I haven't had MAS since I acquired my `98 Rattlesnake in April ... hoping to stay on the wagon ...
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Quote Originally Posted by djc227 View Post
    I might add that I'm seriously considering an oval hole. Any thoughts? We don't really have a jam anywhere close so it's usually me and maybe two guitars so not much to cut through.
    If you really want an oval, a teens Gibson is worth looking at as a great value. I bought mine this year for $600, and got the best set up guy around to work on it. It's now my main player. Not everyone likes the fatter, shorter necks and flat fretboards, but it suits me fine.
    Last edited by Steve-o; Oct-02-2011 at 9:12am.

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I have a late forties Gibson A40 that I prefer over my 2002 A9. Each instrument is individual though, so play as many as you can before buying. The A40 I feel cover more ground closer to oval holes, with more sustain.

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve-o View Post
    If you really want an oval, a teens Gibson is worth looking at as a great value.
    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    I don't like the A-40 and A-50 mandolins. Not even close to the older A's (teens and twenties).
    Quote Originally Posted by John Kinn View Post
    I have a late forties Gibson A40 that I prefer over my 2002 A9.
    Yep! Ask a question you get - well, answers, but you still have to decide for yourself. I am very happy with my 1917 A I got through ebay for a bit under $900 three years ago. This is partly due to my personal music preferences, which run more to blues and rock than bluegrass, so I like the boomier, bassier sound it produces as well as the longer sustain than is considered normal for F style and f-hole models. I would say, keep an eye out for one of these oldies-but-goodies, make sure somehow you are getting something in sound structural shape, and you should be able to own an instrument that will give you lots of pleasure, and still have enough left over for a Rogue. Or two.
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    Registered User Clement Barrera-Ng's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    As many had already mentioned, a used A style is probably the best bang for your buck. You will find a number of used A style, F hole mandolins for under 1K. Some of the ones I would seriously consider include a used Gibson A9, a used 80's or 90's Flatiron Performer, Breedlove FO as well as a number of custom builders such as Bulldog or Silver Angel. And I'm only listing all the US made ones!

    On the other hand, if you are after an oval hole mandolin, then the choices are a bit more limited. A teen Gibson A oval hole would be great, but be sure you know the mandolin before you buy, as well as any issues it may have. Often times they sound great, but need some work to give you the 'modern' playability that some of us have become accustomed to. Others have also mentioned Breedlove OO as well as Eastman 504/604. I'm not partial to the Eastman as I find them too 'thin' or bright sounding, but YM will likely vary.

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    Registered Plucker strings777's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I'll second barrangtan's suggestion...an A style Flatiron Performer is hard to beat for under $1000. Great mandolin!

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    IMHO....What you can get for what you are willing to invest is only a marginal improvement over what you already have two of. Save your money until you have between two and three thousand dollars to spend. The instruments you have are good mid quality instruments. Spend a little money on the one you prefer on a quality setup and bridge. MAS never goes away....... there are always other loves out there waiting to be found..... A's are a bit less expensive true, Weber makes a fine A in it's Absaroka model Gibson Jam Masters and A9's have good tone and playability. I have an A5L I am rather fond of. Early 1900's Gibson A1 models have a lovely ring. Audy Ratliff makes very nice instruments. The road goes on forever and MAS never ends. Keep saving keep looking mandolins are like cats... they find you.. R/
    Cheers . . .

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    This lightly used Morris A5 that just hit the classifieds is certainly worth considering.

    Sonny Morris' mandolins are well made with a no-frills focus on playability and tone. In my opinion they are a great value (maybe the best value in this price range).

    No financial interest on my part.

    Let us know what you decide on.
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    I really like my Silverangel Econo...A style, F-holes, used for 900. A significant upgrade from my Kentucky 675S in tone and playability. It has a good F-chop/sound, but also has a good bit more bass and sustain than my Kentucky. Not as much sustain as my Flatiron 1N, but not far from it, and a bit more versatile as it sounds good on styles ranging from BG to classical. The 1N is awesome (about 500 used), but really isn't a BG mandolin. I play BG on it, but the SA and Kentucky are better than it at that form.

    I've seen a few Morris oval holes in the classifieds lately well within budget...almost nabbed a blond oval hole he had up for sale recently for like 650...check out the Gibson A-3 in the classifieds also...

    For the record, my SA and flatiron didn't cure my MAS, but they have put it into remission...for a while...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Well, the Eastman 504 was already one of the frontrunners in my mind, and I woke up this morning and saw that Steve Perry had one for a great price I jumped on it. I ordered it with the upgraded Cumberland Acoustics bridge and I'm still $400 under budget and got what I believe will be a nice oval hole. It's not used, so I'll be able to earn my play marks and sound improvement . Another plus is that I won't have to sell my MK to finance the purchase, so I can still have an F style F hole mandolin. Thanks for all of the suggestions. Hopefully I made a good decision, and I'll upgrade to a really nice one next time.

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Sounds like a great choice!
    Congratulations!
    Be sure to post a follow-up here once you've received the 504 and gotten to know her.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best mandolin, any style, used, under $1000

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    I'm a big fan of my Flatiron 1N "pancake" mandolin (they're like $500). Totally unique. Mine's well played at old-time jams in the area.
    That is a workhorse of a mandolin. I have the mandola version. Love it.
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