There was a string about Chinese mandolins, and since I am cheap, I bought a Savannah/Johnson A style on Ebay that had cracks in it so I got if for around $30 with shipping. I removed the poly weird finish over a 3 day period, (terrible stuff), sawed the back off, then regraduated it to Loar type specs, cut the bracing down to be arched as they should be. Turned out this instrument was solid spruce and Maple! I glued it all back together, fixed the cracks, then stained it with Constantine wood stains. I used a Black top and maroon sunburst for the back. The top spruce had "blued" thus the black stain. I used violin varnish (StewMac) and after the finish finally dried in 6 months ( the spirit varnish has a 1 year shelf life!) I strung it all up and it worked! Sounds pretty good, LOTS of volume! Anyway, I think I may try another one. I've regraduated quite a few mandolins, and I think removing half the wood and using a varnish finish really helps! For a $30 cheapy this mandolin souds really nice!