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Thread: New vs. Used Economics

  1. #1
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    Question New vs. Used Economics

    Hey Gang,

    I am turning 50 soon, and I was considering taking the plunge on a new mandolin for my milestone Bday. I have been lusting after Collings -- I played a really nice new MT the other day locally, but the MF's are calling to me too.

    My problem is with the economics of buying a brand new mandolin. The MT's new go for about 2300-2400, but it seems like the used going rate is around 1800. The MF's are in the $4500 range, but the used ones I have seen recently in the classifieds are in the $3000 range.

    Now, I know that brand new mandolins, like brand new cars, are a joy to own. But I am having trouble swallowing the idea of spending essentially an incremental $500-$1500 for that pleasure.

    Am I missing something? Is this a case of "Well duuuuuuuuuuuuuuh"?

    Thoughts?

    Thanks

    Rob
    Last edited by RobP; May-01-2012 at 2:40pm. Reason: spelling
    2012 Collings MT, Honey Amber Gloss

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  2. #2
    Registered User Justus True Waldron's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    Buy used. As long as you know it wasn't smashed and rebuilt or something, and looks in good shape, I'd go for it. This is especially true if the mandolin is set up well... if it's not you're going to have to get it set up, but depending on where you get a new mandolin you might have to pay for a good set up there as well.

    I bought my mandolin used, albeit from the guy that made it. In fact, in the 30 years he's been making mandolins, it was the only one that had ever gone back on the market, every other one had been kept as far as he knows. The original owner had hospital bills to pay and asked that he sell it for her. He listed it for it's original purchase price, but since that was 8 years ago the price had gone up, and I saved about $1200 over a new one. In my case the instrument was largely unplayed - I don't think the lady that had it played it very much or very hard, I could tell it needed to be played in. Within a few months of me playing it the thing opened up DRAMATICALLY. I saved $1200 and still had the joy of watching my instrument open up.
    On the other side of things, my friend and guitar player recently bought a used Gallagher guitar. He got it from a friend of ours who plays on the road for a living. Originally I think it was something like a $4000 guitar, but he got it for $1800, needing a re-fret and with heavy pick rash on the top. After a re-fret and some cleanup, the thing is amazing, with years of played in sound and vibe, and $2200 saved.
    My take home lesson from these? Unless you are a collector, used instruments are the way to go. Is it worth the extra $1200 for an instrument that's never been scratched? No matter how careful you are, you're always going to ding it up yourself. Why not let someone else do it for you, and save you the money and heartache! Unlike your example, instruments are not like cars. Even with proper care, cars depreciate and wear out over time. A properly made high quality instrument, if cared for, will actually improve!
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  3. #3
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    The fact that you're "having trouble swallowing the idea" of buying new tells me where your mind is at.

    I agree with everything Justus said. I think you should buy used.
    Chris Cravens

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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I'll take the other side of this choice, since I just bought a Collings MT new. I couldn't begin to afford an MF new or used, and when a new MT runs between 2250-2400, it's hard for me to justify $1,800 for a used one. Some do pop up online for $1,600, but I still think the additional cost is justified for this maker. At (only) age 50, with so many years to play, you'll soon forget the extra cost and get absorbed in your own brand new Collings (with warranty). Your word: milestone...I'd say treat yourself well.
    ----------------------------------------
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  5. #5
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I would make the decision on the basis of the individual instrument. If the new ones you can afford are not as good as the used ones you can afford, get the used one.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
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  6. #6
    David Mold OldSausage's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    Oh get a new one, what the heck. Who wants to buy a mando that wasn't good enough for its previous owner.

  7. #7
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    As long as there are no structural problems (sunken top, neck in need of a reset) or major wear issues (heavily grooved frets, fingerboard divots) or cosmetic issues you can't live with (major dings, heavy scratches, serious pinky gouges), then there is no down side to buying used, and it can have the advantage of possibly giving you a better sense of how the instrument will sound after it has matured and been broken in a bit (if you believe in that phenomenon--which I do). For me it's all about the sound, the feel, the structural integrity, and the ineffable "vibe" of the instrument. Wear-and-tear isn't an issue. The brand-new look doesn't bother me, but certainly it isn't a purchasing factor.
    Just one guy's opinion

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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I bought a new MT in February. I don't regret it at all. Funny, but my wife keeps asking "Is that the Collings?" from the other room. I say "Yeah, it is". She goes "I just love the way it sounds. I'm so glad you got it." I think I'll keep both her and the Collings.

  9. #9
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    life doesn't begin at 50 - no - it just feels that way. sooo ... think "waifs" - they get sold down the river for a variety of reasons but saving one by taking into the bosom of your home is very cool.

  10. #10
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    AFA a Collings MT, I'd also say "go new" (which is what I did...) I agree that, at that price point, the extra money is worth it for the warranty and the sheer joy of having a new, good, instrument. Especially to ease the transition into the second hemi-century.

  11. #11
    Certifiable Patrick Sylvest's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    You could buy a used one from a reputable dealer and have the best of both worlds!

  12. #12
    Certifiable Patrick Sylvest's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    Quote Originally Posted by HighWall View Post
    I bought a new MT in February. I don't regret it at all. Funny, but my wife keeps asking "Is that the Collings?" from the other room. I say "Yeah, it is". She goes "I just love the way it sounds. I'm so glad you got it." I think I'll keep both her and the Collings.
    Darn tootin', Bro'!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    One of the nice thing about buying a used (or vintage) instrument with a little honest wear is that you're less likely to obsess over every little pick scratch you might put on it.

    I find that I can be more zen about used instruments. I end up treating them more like a tool and less like a museum-piece demanding the white-glove treatment.
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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    There's no wrong answer Rob.
    Keep looking, and when one grabs you, go for it, be it new or used.
    That said, one advantage of new is that you can get the exact stain and appointments you're looking for.
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  15. #15
    Okay, I'm with you fellas tburcham's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    Buy used. For around $3,200 to $3,400 you can get a used MT2v (when they are offered which isn't that often). These are absolutely phenomenal mandolins for that price point. For around $2,200 to $2,400 a used MT2. Around $1,600 to $1,800 a used MT.
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  16. #16
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    happen to really like my 1922 oval sound hole Gibson A4.

    you can get what pleases you.
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    In my MAS journey, I always bought used, enjoyed the mandos, and then moved up the food chain a tad more. That said, when I finally came through all the trials to the realization that my dream mando for sound, looks, and playability was a blonde MT2, I searched just the right one out and bought it new from a great dealer. I'll never be good enough to justify this mando (it's the exact same one featured on the Collings MT2 website), but filling out that warranty card was pretty special.

    If you decide to buy used, the MT2 is worth the extra $400 bucks over the MT, IMHO.

    Life is short for guys like us north of 50 (and gettin' shorter). More yesterdays than tomorrows, as they say. Treat yourself!

  18. #18

    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I just bought a new Collings MF, you are going to have that mando a long time get you a nice one, a few pic's on my profile page will worsen you "MAS"
    good luck

  19. #19
    Registered User Miked's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    Quote Originally Posted by jdmeyers77 View Post
    Life is short for guys like us north of 50 (and gettin' shorter). More yesterdays than tomorrows, as they say. Treat yourself!
    Life is short, period!

    Every instrument I've ever owned has been used. That said, I'm having a Loar replica being custom built, which will be my first new. I guess it all depends on the instrument!
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  20. #20
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I would suggest you stop thinking about this question as an economic issue. If viewed from a purely economic standpoint, it's probably best not to buy any mandolin. The money you would spend on the mandolin could probably earn a greater financial return invested in some other way. But that's not a very enjoyable way to live your life.

    Instead, view the purchase of a mandolin as what it really is. Unless you are going to make a living with the mandolin, it's a purchase that's meant to bring you pleasure. So, decide how much money you have to spend, and then find the mandolin in that price range that will give you the most pleasure. Finding the mandolin that will do this will make you a happier person, inspire you to play more and in turn, make those around you happier, too. I can think of no better return on "investment."

    Best wishes,

    Bob

  21. #21
    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I bought my MT new, but I was trading in a banjo that I absolutely did not need, so that took a huge part of the pain out of the new price for me. About everything else I have is used. But, I like used, especially old and used. Given my lack of real talent, I figure it pays to buy instruments that already have as much experience as I can afford.

    Seriously though, you're turning 50 (like i'll be doing in a couple of months) buy what you want. Also, remember that some warranties only apply to the original purchaser.
    "Life is too short to wear uncomfortable boots."

  22. #22
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    Here my friends is a post for the ages...
    We should all read this one multiple times.
    Thanks Bob.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    I would suggest you stop thinking about this question as an economic issue. If viewed from a purely economic standpoint, it's probably best not to buy any mandolin. The money you would spend on the mandolin could probably earn a greater financial return invested in some other way. But that's not a very enjoyable way to live your life.

    Instead, view the purchase of a mandolin as what it really is. Unless you are going to make a living with the mandolin, it's a purchase that's meant to bring you pleasure. So, decide how much money you have to spend, and then find the mandolin in that price range that will give you the most pleasure. Finding the mandolin that will do this will make you a happier person, inspire you to play more and in turn, make those around you happier, too. I can think of no better return on "investment."

    Best wishes,

    Bob
    Rain Dance, an acoustic ensemble
    The R.u.B., classic-rock covers
    "I know it's only rock-n-roll, but I like it." - Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

  23. #23
    Grandpapa Jack Roberts's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I've owned a few mandolins, and I have never enjoyed a new instrument as much as the used instruments. Go figure...
    Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
    When time is broke and no proportion kept!
    --William Shakespeare

  24. #24
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    I've done both used and new and haven't found much of a difference internally once they come home with me. It's all good. Me, I can't afford new if it's more than, say, $500 (I always buy used cars, f'rinstance, and then drive them past the 250,000 mile point), but if I had the money, I'd buy used simply because money matters to me. No matter how tempting a mandolin is, if it's out of my price range, I can't justify buying it even for a special event like a milestone birthday. Sad but true.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: New vs. Used Economics

    If you can find a used one in good condition,buy it !. One advantage of buying 'used', is the fact that much of the work of 'playing it in' will have been done already,all you'll need to do is kick start it. It is nice to have 'new',but it's also nice to have 'used' but 'new to you' & you can save a lot of cash as well,
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