Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 27

Thread: Best Beginner Mandolin

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5

    Default Best Beginner Mandolin

    Hello folks,

    I have recently caught the Mandolin bug and was wondering what the best instrument would be for a total beginner in Mandolin? This will be the first instrument I have ever attempted to try soo I am somewhat lost. My budget for now is right around 400 dollars and I would like the Mandolin to last a while and give off a good sound. I would mainly want to learn bluegrass as that is my genre of preference. I know some folks recommend F Style mandolins for bluegrass, but I've heard A-Styles with F-Holes are both cheaper and sometimes equal or better quality than the fancy F-Holes. I am also wondering what kind of reading material/DVDs/ or CDs I should purchase along with any other necessary equipement for a beginner.

    Thank you all in advance for your expertise and advice.

  2. #2
    David Mold OldSausage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    Posts
    3,284

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    I would go for this:

    http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/MD305C.htm

    or if that's too expensive, this:

    http://www.folkmusician.com/Kentucky...ctinfo/KM-150/

    Yes, A styles are exactly the same as F styles only cheaper.

    First and foremost, find a good teacher, or join Mike Marshall's School of Mandolin:

    http://artistworks.com/mike-marshall

  3. The following members say thank you to OldSausage for this post:


  4. #3
    Registered User rb3868's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Detroit, MI
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Get the idiot's guide to mandolin, it has a bunch of info about choosing your instrument.

    READ the various threads here. You will find that yes, dollar for dollar a-styles get you more for the money. you will also find three brands that are usually considered good bets for beginners - Eastman, Kentucky and Loar. I like my Eastman, but everyone has their favorite.

    Do you have any good acoustic music shops near you? (if you tell us where you live, someone might have a suggestion) it is always better to play before you buy. If not, the sponsors of this web site are all good to work with and will get you that all-important set up. and don't forget to check the classified ads here - and sign up for the twitter feed once you get a feel for what you might like. good deals don't last. I got the twitter notification on my baby and got in there fast.

    There is a theory, tips and techniques section in the forum that has good advice, and some fun exercises over on jazzmando

  5. The following members say thank you to rb3868 for this post:


  6. #4
    Searching for the Sound
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    171

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    I stepped up from a ... low end ... mando to the Eastman 505 and am thrilled, but I'm sure the 305 would make you happy.
    - 2013 Eastman MD 505
    - 2013 Fender MandoStrat

  7. The following members say thank you to mtm for this post:


  8. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Thank you all for you help and suggestions. OldSausage, I've been actually looking at the Kentucky KM 150 for quite some time as it comes highly recommended by many folks on this site, quick question, what is the difference between the KM 150 and 160 apart from its price? Also, thank you kindly for the lessons website, I will be sure to sign up for it after I purchase the mandolin.

    rb3868- What was the difference between the Eastman and Kentucky? Which model do you have? Also, I live in Boston, if you know of any good music shops that sells mandolins around here please point me in that direction, however I have no problem ordering one online since I wouldn't know what to look for in person. If I did come across something on the classifieds I would jump on it right away, alas, I'm not sure what to look for in a mandolin as of yet.

    Again, thank you all for your help, it is much appreciated.

  9. #6
    David Mold OldSausage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    Posts
    3,284

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DirectorEric View Post
    Thank you all for you help and suggestions. OldSausage, I've been actually looking at the Kentucky KM 150 for quite some time as it comes highly recommended by many folks on this site, quick question, what is the difference between the KM 150 and 160 apart from its price? Also, thank you kindly for the lessons website, I will be sure to sign up for it after I purchase the mandolin.
    The KM150 is made under supervision and in the same factory as the same folks who make the higher end Kentucky models, KM900, KM1000 and so on, and so it's a different construction method and, from what I hear, tone from the KM160, which I believe is made in a different factory. I learned this from comments Robert Fear of Folkmusician.com posted on here earlier in the year. He seemed to think the KM150 was a pretty good deal as long as you made sure to get it from a place that offered a good set up.

  10. The following members say thank you to OldSausage for this post:


  11. #7
    Constantly In Search Of.. Michael Bridges's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Canton, Ga
    Posts
    752
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    If you don't mind going used, there is what appears to be a good deal on a KM-620 in the classifieds right now. I know nothing about the mando or seller, but from the pic, it appears to be in good shape. At least worth a look,maybe. Edit, Cuz I didn't look close enough! The 620 is laminated, you're gonna get a better sound out of the 150, which uses solid woods.(That's what I get for posting on cold meds!)
    Last edited by Michael Bridges; May-09-2013 at 4:40pm.

  12. The following members say thank you to Michael Bridges for this post:


  13. #8
    Mandolindian rgray's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Pamunkey Indian Reservation, VA and Bowie, MD
    Posts
    584
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    You have found a great resource here at the Cafe. Best of luck to you.
    Bob Gray
    Mandolins - Davy Stuart & Redline Traveler

  14. The following members say thank you to rgray for this post:


  15. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    530

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    DirectorEric,

    I don't know about the other mandolins suggested, only the KM-150. For the price, I don't think you can get a better mandolin than the KM-150. Mine sounds great and plays very nicely with good intonation up past the 12th fret. Although it was my 'starter' mandolin, I still get lots of use out of it as a 'travel' and 'campfire' mandolin.

  16. The following members say thank you to FLATROCK HILL for this post:


  17. #10
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Fallbrook, CA
    Posts
    1,623

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DirectorEric View Post
    Hello folks,

    I have recently caught the Mandolin bug and was wondering what the best instrument would be for a total beginner in Mandolin? This will be the first instrument I have ever attempted to try soo I am somewhat lost. My budget for now is right around 400 dollars and I would like the Mandolin to last a while and give off a good sound. I would mainly want to learn bluegrass as that is my genre of preference. I know some folks recommend F Style mandolins for bluegrass, but I've heard A-Styles with F-Holes are both cheaper and sometimes equal or better quality than the fancy F-Holes. I am also wondering what kind of reading material/DVDs/ or CDs I should purchase along with any other necessary equipement for a beginner.

    Thank you all in advance for your expertise and advice.
    This topic has been covered extensively on this site...here's some homework...the usual suspects get mentioned quite a bit...happy hunting!

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/se...archid=3661163
    1994 Gibson F5L Fern
    1999 Flatiron Performer A

    "If you wanna get soul Baby, you gots to get the scroll..."
    "I would rather play music anyday for the beggar, the thief, and the fool!"
    B.K. Nicholson

    Re:mastering the mandolin - "relentlessly obsessive"

  18. The following members say thank you to DataNick for this post:


  19. #11
    Registered User Charley wild's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Traverse City, Michigan
    Posts
    776

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Another vote for the KM-150. I've played one and was favorably impressed. It played easy and sounded pretty good. The owner was very pleased with it. As mentioned setup is very important with any mandolin and also as mentioned it would be a good "second" mandolin should you decide to upgrade in the future.

  20. The following members say thank you to Charley wild for this post:


  21. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Thank you so much everyone! It seems as though I will go for the KM 150 by count of all the great suggestions. One more question and then I'll be out of you folks' hair, for now. What is a reputable website to purchase the KM 150 who will set it up well?

    Thanks!

  22. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    270

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    KM-150 sounds very good for price.

  23. The following members say thank you to stevejay for this post:


  24. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DirectorEric View Post
    Thank you so much everyone! It seems as though I will go for the KM 150 by count of all the great suggestions. One more question and then I'll be out of you folks' hair, for now. What is a reputable website to purchase the KM 150 who will set it up well?

    Thanks!
    If you go through Folkmusician, you will get an excellent instrument which has passed the scrutiny of Robert Fear, one of the most honest sellers in the music business as well as a professional setup by him. The KM-150's have some quality control issues, usually with fretting, but Robert sorts out the good from the bad. The Chinese made instruments also need a good setup by a professional after they arrive and before they are sent out. Robert will not let an instrument out of his hands that is not up to standard. You will find cheaper prices on eBay, but you won't get a good one. The cheaper prices offered by most eBay sellers are selling you the ones a guy like Robert would not sell.

  25. The following members say thank you to vegas for this post:


  26. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Thank you so much for the information Vegas, you have convinced me to go through Robert Fear. One last question, unlike other websites, Folkmusician only offers the mandolin and nothing more. Which is totally fine. I was just wondering if you had advice on what else to buy from their website along with the instrument, ie, picks, tuner, strap, case (maybe)?

    Thank you so much!

  27. #16
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    926

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DirectorEric View Post
    Thank you so much for the information Vegas, you have convinced me to go through Robert Fear. One last question, unlike other websites, Folkmusician only offers the mandolin and nothing more. Which is totally fine. I was just wondering if you had advice on what else to buy from their website along with the instrument, ie, picks, tuner, strap, case (maybe)?

    Thank you so much!
    Eric--

    Elderly would provide a number of those add ons at no additional expense: http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/DEAL4.htm

    Pat

  28. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  29. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Thank you Pat, are Elderly as good as vegas states Folkmusicians are at setting them up?

    Just want to take a second to give a big thank you to all of you who replied to my post. I can tell that the Mandolin community is full of talented and warming folks to whom I cannot wait to be a part of.

  30. #18
    Registered User dcoventry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Salinas, Ca.
    Posts
    1,560

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Call Robert Fear and talk to him. All will become clear.
    2005 Rigel G5 #2196
    2005 Phoenix Jazz #400
    1988 Jeff Traugott Acoustic #4
    2012 Eastman 905 Archtop Guitar, BLOND!

    Remember to grin while you pick, it throws folks off!

  31. #19
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy
    Posts
    12,366

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Just be willing to drop a grand and you can begin with something
    not compromised to meet a lower price point.

    like this one:http://www.themandolinstore.com/scri...idproduct=9244
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  32. #20
    Registered User Zaose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    I just started as well, and got an Eastman 304 from the mandolin store. It plays very easy, sounds wonderful and is truly a quality instrument. Someone mentioned a 305, same thing but with f holes. Check them out!

  33. #21
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DirectorEric View Post
    Thank you so much for the information Vegas, you have convinced me to go through Robert Fear. One last question, unlike other websites, Folkmusician only offers the mandolin and nothing more. Which is totally fine. I was just wondering if you had advice on what else to buy from their website along with the instrument, ie, picks, tuner, strap, case (maybe)?

    Thank you so much!
    Folkmusician usually offers package deals like Elderly. I'm told all the board sponsors here are reliable. I spoke with Robert extensively when I was first buying a mandolin. I found him helpful, a wonderful source of information and a completely honest gentleman. If you call him see what he would be willing to put together for you. I have spoken to other distributors in the music business who also speak highly of Robert.

    I would start with a good mandolin properly set up. You will need a case and I advise a digital tuner. Picks are a topic here that will generate all sorts of opinions. A thicker guitar pick would be an inexpensive and easy to acquire starter. Once you begin playing, you will be in a better position to decide what other things you need and as your style evolves, so will your needs more specifically to your style of playing. Many of the terms people used here like "chop" and "bark" meant nothing to me until I actually started playing.

    There are plenty of free materials here and on Youtube to teach you basics and if you discover you like playing (how could anyone not?) then think about getting lessons from one of the online companies that advertise here or from a teacher in your area. Also, check out local mandolin clubs and jam sessions. I've found mandolin players are especially friendly and helpful to newcomers. I find if I enter a topic or a mandolin builder name in the search engine here, all sorts of wonderful information is recorded from past discussions. In fact, I would suggest doing that before asking any questions on any subject. You will often find the answer is already here.

    One of the really delightful things about mandolin are all the styles the instrument in its various forms can be used to play. The Blue Grass people like different sounds and prefer different instruments, strings, picks, etc. than those who play Irish Traditional Music, Jazz, Folk, Rock, Classical and the various ethnic styles. There is room for everybody doing all sorts of things on the same basic design of instrument. Listen to all advice and use it as it suits you. Try to keep an open mind understanding there are a variety of tastes and as one poster said to me recently, "some of us can't stand a particular style of music but because we are all trying to play our own, we are on the same artistic/musical quest and manage to get along with each other." Sometimes that doesn't always work when you discuss a topic that generates strong personal preferences, but the moderators here do an outstanding job of keeping people civilized and on topic.

    So....I've generated enough hot air for now, get yourself a mandolin, start playing and use the wonderful resources of this board to not only accelerate your learning curve, but to get a network of people with a wealth of information to help you. I sure wish there were something like Mandolin Café for guitar back when I started playing but that was in the days before Al Gore invented the Internet.

  34. #22
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York and Washington DC area
    Posts
    16,289
    Blog Entries
    24

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Hey welcome. Lots of resources and helpful people around here.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
    We cannot put off living until we are ready. -- Jose Ortega Y Gasset

    The entire staff
    funny....

  35. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaose View Post
    I just started as well, and got an Eastman 304 from the mandolin store. It plays very easy, sounds wonderful and is truly a quality instrument. Someone mentioned a 305, same thing but with f holes. Check them out!
    Another good mandolin maker. I own two and I hear nothing but positives about The Mandolin Store in Arizona. I live in Las Vegas and have a cousin in Scottsdale so I may think up a reason to visit him and stop there just to try so many great instruments in one place.

  36. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Hey welcome. Lots of resources and helpful people around here.


    ^^^
    One of the good guys here. He's the one who recently pointed out, "some of us can't stand a particular style of music but because we are all trying to play our own, we are on the same artistic/musical quest and manage to get along with each other." or words to that effect. In a nutshell, he hit on what, IMHO, is the common denominator at this board and explains why there is a bond of mutual respect here which transcends what, under other circumstances, could be insurmountable differences.

  37. #25
    Registered User rb3868's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Detroit, MI
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Best Beginner Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DirectorEric View Post
    rb3868- What was the difference between the Eastman and Kentucky? Which model do you have?
    I have an Eastman 805 D - the two-point that is no longer made. I've never played a Kentucky, actually, I've never even seen one, so I can't comment on differences.

    What I like about the Eastman is the radiused fretboard and the neck shape make it very easy to play. To me, it sounds well-balanced , but i'm about as far from an expert on that as I am from being a fish.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •