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Thread: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

  1. #1
    Registered User CeeCee_C's Avatar
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    Default New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    All -

    I went to Acoustic Music and played some of Brian's (the owner) own mandolins; a Weber Yellowstone F and two Collings, an MT and an MT2.

    When all was said and done, Brian provided me with an estimated price for having a Collings MF5 built. The estimate is probably good to within $100 either way since he'd just ordered a very similar instrument for someone else. I took the information home and sat down with my SU to discuss.

    The response was that I must be out of my mind to consider buying an instrument I'd never played and that it was impossible for the SU to support this plan. The kicker is that it has nothing to do with the price.

    It's based on the two following reasons:

    1. I'm extremely particular (read "fussy")

    2. That I have a disastrous history of not getting what I ordered. And it's true. When speaking to vendors, manufacturers, craftsmen after the fact, I can remember responses like "Hmmmm. That never happened before.", "It wasn't supposed to be like that. I have it written down exactly as you ordered it.", "Wow... We've never had that problem with any of our XYZs before.", "I've sold 10 gazillion of these and this is the first one that's ever done that." etc.

    And it's true; absolutely true. I can think of about a dozen big purchases that turned to **** for no good reason. Maybe I was a bad egg in a previous life. I dunno.

    So while I have the SU's blessing to buy the instrument, I'd have to play it first- which means it'd have to be something either in stock or ordered by a dealer on spec.

    This makes it far more difficult to get an instrument with a neck that I'd like since two out of three Weber/Collings instruments I played had far more V in the neck profile than I like. I prefer a more rounded back. The third had a custom neck shape.

    So I guess my options are:

    1. to buy an instrument that I find in a store (only three Collings dealers within 100 miles and none of them carry much stock)

    2. to order one from a reputable company that does mail order and has a return policy (in which case, I eat 3-6% even if I call for a return authorization the next day)

    3. convince someone to order one on spec and that I'd like right of first refusal.

    In any case, the SU has a valid point and it's not something worth debating even if this wasn't the case. I know when an issue is negotiable and when it's not.

    So, I actually do agree that I should only buy a particular instrument that I've actually played - not one like it but the actual instrument. However, this does severely limit my options.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    CeeCee
    CeeCee, Self-appointed Supreme Arbiter of All that is Good, Just, and True
    1 Spousal Unit, 4 cats
    1919 Gibson A1, Girouard custom F5, Collings MF, Northfield F5-S, Eastman 815, Eastman 514, Eastman 315, JBovier ELS-VC electric mando

    The difference between theory and practice is smaller in theory than it is in practice. anon

  2. #2
    David Mold OldSausage's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    SU sounds right. I would try to find a dealer that can find the instrument you want, and either make the trip or get them to agree to a return policy once they have it. You may have to wait, but probably not that long - plenty of Collings and Webers out there.

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  4. #3
    Long , Strange Trip Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    Hi Cee Cee
    If you are "fussy" you need to play it first. Your other option might be to buy that Weber/Collings and get out the rasp and take a bit of the "V" out of the neck profile but you better be good at it 'cause I'm pretty sure it voids the warrenty. Buying with a return option is maybe your best second choice risking the shipping cost for the return. Shipping costs being somewhat lower than the price of travel to a place that has alot of Mandolins that you might like or might not. There is no substitute for having the instrument in your hand.
    Jim Richmond

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  6. #4
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    I agree with you all. There are too many variables in hand made instruments.

    Maybe let all the manufacturers and dealers know, as best as you can describe, exactly what you are looking for and see if anyone who thinks they have it will meet you to play it somewhere. Many dealers travel to various guitar shows. We just had a biggie about 100 miles from here and I almost went just to look.

    Is there a Mando specific NAMM equivalent ? If not, that sure would be a great idea. Lots of builders go to various camps and festivals too. At your stage you should get exactly what you want and you should play it enough to be sure.

    Make it a fun, vacation quest. Hit a few spots and bring the S.U. along to prevent excess MAS.

  7. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    If you find an instrument that is everything you want except for the neck profile, it's possible to have the neck professionally reshaped more to your preference. It's also possible that after playing the mandolin for a month or two, you might adjust to the neck shape and not want to alter it.

    As to whether it "voids the warranty," that's not too major a consideration IMHO. I have purchased probably nearly one hundred instruments, new and used, over the course of my long (50+ years) and sordid career. In my experience, the "warranty" that counts, is the mutual understanding you have with the dealer from whom you bought the instrument(s). One reason why I advocate developing a good relationship with a local dealer, getting your strings and picks and straps etc. from him/her, and working with him/her on instrument purchases, trade-ins, upgrades and repairs. I've never gone back to a manufacturer for warranty work; not that I wouldn't, if the issue arose, but I've had near-uniform satisfaction dealing with my friends at the local shops.

    As I recall from your other recent thread, , you like the thought of finding the "keeper" mandolin that you'll play for years, not wanting/needing another. Chances of your finding that are much enhanced by trying as many instruments as you can first. Probably some time and expense involved in going to dealers that have a wider selection, but if it's the "one mandolin purchase you're ever going to make," worth taking a lot of time and thought about it.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    You could always contact Collings directly, explain your concerns and ask which is the closest dealer with the roundest neck. So to speak. My limited contacts with the company have been answered quickly, courteously and to the point.

  9. #7
    Carpe Mandolinium
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    So, he really does exist? And you married him? The Boy named SU.

    I would never try to wave you off of a Collings, but I'd mention that what issuenumber1 said about Collings applies also to Weber. Additionally, Weber seems more geared to building personally tailored instruments. You might take a look at the Weber website and actually go through the process of specking out your perfect instrument. I haven't looked at it in detail recently, but I'm sure they can offer any reasonable variation you want; if it's not on the website, you can give them a call. One of the nice things is that in going through their process of creating your perfect instrument you'll get a more detailed idea of what options are available. Also, you're not committed to buying it until you want to; you can print out your specs and then just leave the website (they won't be offended--honest). That way you can be sure that there's no error in the order. Of course, as always, once you do order it, you owe them the money. But you can also take the printed specs to dealers, examine and play on-hand instruments, and gain a better understanding of how the words that describe your ideal instrument translate into reality.

    Just a thought.
    == JOHN ==



    Music washes away from the soul the dust of every day life.

    --Berthold Auerbach



  10. #8
    Registered User CeeCee_C's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    There are one or two MFs at a dealer about 100 miles away. No MF5s anywhere near, nor any Weber Fs.

  11. #9
    Mary Yanocsko Mandobar's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    It's expensive to have an MF5 hanging on the wall at a music shop. Which is why most shops order on spec. Have you tried the Music Emporium?

    That said I have ordered many, many mandolins from Collings and have always been quite satisfied. But if you are concerned about the neck shape tell the SU you are booking a road trip. Plot out a path of dealers with inventory and go on the quest. There really is no other option. If you are going to spend over $9k on a mandolin, make sure it is what you want.
    so many mandolins, so little time.

  12. #10
    David Mold OldSausage's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    ...road trip. Plot out a path of dealers with inventory and go on the quest.
    Heck, we'll all go!

  13. #11
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    If you're in Oakdale CT, Music Emporium in Lexington MA is 108 miles away and has a large selection of mandolins, including quite a few by Collings.

    Acoustic Music in Guilford, 38 miles away, advertises Collins and Weber, but I assume you've been there.

    Longer trip down to Staten Island, but Mandolin Bros. there advertises 95 or so mandolins, including Collings, Weber, plus a variety of others. Longer drive, 150 miles, but an unparalleled selection.

    Some possibilities...
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  14. #12
    Registered User CeeCee_C's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    SU stands for Spousal Unit

  15. #13
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    +1 on road trips so you can play as many mandolins as possible.
    I'd spend a day at Mandolin Brothers for sure.
    I'd even suggest taking a weekend (before winter sets in) to drive to Pittsburgh and play the entire inventory at Acoustic Music Works - Huge selection of high quality mandolins! [NFI]
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
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  16. #14
    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    Yep. I'm with the rest of the guys in supporting your spousal unit. Funny how this is so sexist. But the truth is that you have to put your hands on it and fall in love with it. The chances of that happening with a mail order bride (I meant "mandolin") are vanishingly small.

    Having said that, I bought my pre-owned banjo from Janet Davis music, and it was shipped on approval. If I didn't like it, I could send it back. But of course it wasn't made for me.

    Are there any individual mando makers in your area? That's the other possibility. Check the "Builders" section here. There are lots and lots of professional builders who are building for about the same price as you're looking at. Talk about an incredible instrument--one made by a one-of-a-kind by a unique builder? That would really wow people.

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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    Road Trip go to Austin....... Stop in Nashville on the way. And Mandolin Brothers in New York...... Really just keep playing them until you find the one you want... Eventually you will. Buy a less expensive Eastman or whatever and take it to a Luthier and have the neck shaped to your specs....... play it till you find your perfect match..... If you can..... I thought it was significant other and you maybe couldn't spell . . . . LOL ... seriously ... find an instrument you can get along with and then look for your eight stringed soul mate...... I have several mandolins I love to play ... all different..... yet mandolins all the same..... Luck R/
    Cheers . . .

  18. #16
    Mary Yanocsko Mandobar's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    CeCe, if you lived closer I'd open the vault here to you. But there are no price tags and I rarely part with a mandolin. Take a ride to Lexington and visit the Music Emporium, play all the mandolins, even the non-Collings ones. Don't buy with your eyes. Play as many as you can find and then make a decision.
    so many mandolins, so little time.

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    Registered User Pete Summers's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    Quote Originally Posted by CeeCee_C View Post
    SU stands for Spousal Unit
    I have no advice about this situation, but I really, really like that expression "spousal unit."

  21. #18
    Registered User mandowilli's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    There are a few neatly priced Collings MF5's to be found on the Classifieds right now. If you don't like what you get, sell it. They hold their value very well. And frankly, saving about $2000 over the dealer price makes taking the chance well worth it.
    willi

  22. #19
    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    Well Prymatt, I mean CeeCee_C it's time for Beldar, I mean SU to fire up the saucer, I mean the car for a shopping trip on Remulac,I mean in France where you can consume mass quantities of mandolins.
    Deciderius Erasmus "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King".

  23. #20
    Mary Yanocsko Mandobar's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    look at all those people who put down 50% on a custom and wait the eons it sometimes takes to get a mandolin from some builders. it takes a great deal of faith. i've actually never been disappointed.

    I have ordered at least 6 mandolins from Collings and was never disappointed. The last few have been ordered due to specific woods and appointments.
    so many mandolins, so little time.

  24. #21
    Cultural Infidel Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    CeeCee, don't forget that somewhere between Nashville and New York is Pittsburgh, with Acoustic Music Works. They are a major Collings seller, and are a great shop. They carry a whole range of great mandos, and have scores of them in the store at any given time. AND, if you decide to work over the phone, I know that Steve will do no less his best than if you walked in from your place around the corner. LOTS of Collings, Webers, and others. I know that Steve's been able to get spec orders in to Austin, so don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Good luck!


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    Registered User dcoventry's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    OP,

    I applaud your desire to get the mando of your "current" dreams. It's not the destination so much as the journey, but the destination should be bad @ss. So, get to it and do it.

    And this point, I would be remiss if I did not mention a custom build by Pete Langdell of Rigel history. He is doing only custom work right now and is at the top of his game. You really could specify whatever you waqnt and he's an artists artist, to be sure.

    As someone said earlier, try not to get stuck on a specific anything, so to speak, but the the best of what you want.

    Oh yeah, and whole reason I posted in the first place: My ever loving Spousal Unit, in a moment of confusion I'm sure, said I could spend 10% of my income on music stuff.

    Dear God, thank you for this moment of oversight and estrogen insanity. Amen.
    Happy hunting.
    2005 Rigel G5 #2196
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  26. #23
    Registered User CeeCee_C's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    You've all given me lots to think about.

    Primarily, you've validated our ultimate decision that I should play the actual instrument I'm going to buy. I'll see if I can work something out with Acoustic Music. I'd really prefer to do business with them, just because I like them *and* I like to support local businesses.

    Otherwise, it will be road trip time. And Pittsburgh isn't out of the question. It's a long drive, but this is a worthy cause.
    CeeCee, Self-appointed Supreme Arbiter of All that is Good, Just, and True
    1 Spousal Unit, 4 cats
    1919 Gibson A1, Girouard custom F5, Collings MF, Northfield F5-S, Eastman 815, Eastman 514, Eastman 315, JBovier ELS-VC electric mando

    The difference between theory and practice is smaller in theory than it is in practice. anon

  27. #24
    vintagemandolin.com Charles Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    I'd go back to the local dealer and see if he will order one with your preferred neck profile as store stock, with you having first right of refusal. Maybe pay him $100 or so. Most dealers are looking for guidance from customers as to what to stock. If I had a customer who was interested and serious enough, I would order what they are interested in and hope they buy it.

    Its not a big risk for the dealer - he will sell that Collings to you or someone else fairly quickly.

  28. #25
    Mary Yanocsko Mandobar's Avatar
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    Default Re: New mandolin - push-back from spousal unit

    Dave, I'd check but I don't think that Steve at AMW is a Weber dealer any more. He might have a few NOS lying about, but I believe he has stopped ordering from them.

    There's an MF5 deluxe for sale in the classifieds. Maybe you can work out a deal with Shaun. Beats the price of a new one, or even a new MF5, and it's probably opened up quite a bit.
    so many mandolins, so little time.

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