before I start this thread, it's important to point out that I'm NOT ready to splash the cash just yet, but am just in the beginning/planning stages of thinking about the future. Been playing guitar for around 40 years, just started mando in January and am really enjoying it.
I've got a Kentucky KM 162 and an Eastman MD 505. The Kentucky was my first "starter" mando (after an aborted attempt with the worst Savannah in the world), and then I bought the Eastman in March whilst shopping for strings! (It sounded SO good, and was available at such a great price that I'd have been stupid not to buy it!).
So, I have 2 very nice mandos that I play every day and am steadily improving. Part of me (quite a large part) is hankering after an F style mando. But I also realise, from reading all your posts and advice here, that F style comes at a premium.
So, here's the big question. WHEN the time comes to get an F-style, am I better going for something like a higher-end Kentucky/Eastman, or something like a low-medium range Weber/Ratliff US-made mando?
Over here in the UK, prices are a lot higher, so there's no way I'd be able to get something like a Weber Fern, but a used Bitterroot or a Ratliff Country Boy might be affordable. Or, for the same kind of price (or less) I could get a better-appointed (ie "prettier" Kentucky/Eastman).
One thing I do know is that both of my Mandos sound very nice, but the Eastman has the edge for me. It has a warmer tone, and the radiused fretboard is somewhat easier to play - that's not to say I don't like the Kentucky. Music-wise, I'm using it play country, americana, and am also learing bluegrass. Not really into Irish jigs and such.
So, over to you guys. If money was tight, and tone and playability were important to you, would you get a KM 1000, MD 815, etc, with their lovely bindings and flames? Or a cheaper US model without all the trimmings?
PS Once again, I'm NOT financially able to pull the trigger just yet - but the MAS is starting to build up!