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DavidKOS
Nov-15-2014, 5:11pm
With my Vietnamese mandolin

126383

garryireland
Nov-16-2014, 5:30am
Is that one of those TSAI mandolins?

DavidKOS
Nov-16-2014, 7:54am
Is that one of those TSAI mandolins?

I had to look up Tsai, Antonio or Tony. Although the Vietnamese craftwork inlay is very much like his stuff, there was another Vietnamese maker 's name on the label - which is not in mine. I'm fairly sure it's Duc Ngan

I got it when I was working at LITM music, we imported them along with other Vietnamese things. I never heard the particular name Tsai used, and this instrument was made in Vietnam - probably like many of Tsai's.

I've had it for a decade now and it plays well, the wood was well seasoned, but I've had little luck finding out a lot about the maker or design.

They seem to be the same as these:

http://www.saigonstrings.com/mandolin.htm

http://www.saigonstrings.com/DSC00070.jpg

http://www.saigonstrings.com/DSC00063.jpg

They have the same design including the side holes and inner reflector.

I have another like this one, rounder:

http://www.lutherie.net/Mandolin109.jpg

see this thread

http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?38307-Vietnam-f-mandolin-$300-delivered!

I think this, Duc Ngan is the name on the original labels:

http://www.instruments-ducngan.com/nhaccu-dantoc/mandoline-en.html

and they seem to not say anything relevant on the page about their mandolin, and only a tiny picture:

http://www.instruments-ducngan.com/nhaccu-dantoc/mandoline-en.html

http://www.instruments-ducngan.com/nhaccu-dantoc/images/mandoline.gif

On the price page they cost 1.600.000 - 2.000.000 Dong, about 94 bucks! not including shipping, customs, etc.

Best maker's model:

http://www.instruments-ducngan.com/nhaccu-dantoc/mandoline/thang042011/mandolinecan.jpg

DavidKOS
Nov-16-2014, 8:22am
also

http://www.hieudanducngan.com/product-detail/2_2/mandoline.html

http://www.hieudanducngan.com/product-detail/2_danh_ba_nha_khoa.html.en

Evidently the name is "Đức Ngān".

http://www.hieudanducngan.com/uploadfile/banner/img_banner_3Showroom.jpg

Current price is up to 3.000.000 Dong, about 141 USD before shipping and importing.

garryireland
Nov-16-2014, 10:35am
Are they good?

DavidKOS
Nov-16-2014, 11:10am
Are they good?

The ones I have certainly sound good - but are more like a classical bowlback in tone color than an F hole model, so if you are primarily a Bluegrass player, perhaps not so good. For me, as a player of Italian, classical, jazz, Russian, Klezmer, Choros, etc, I love the sound.

They also project pretty well, too - after a large English Country Dance jam session, a few folks commented on how easy it was to hear that mandolin. Same in many other situations, it sounds loud and sweet.

dusty miller
Nov-16-2014, 11:47am
Those sound holes on the side are interesting, I've never seen anything like that. Some serious inlay on there, that's for sure.

garryireland
Nov-16-2014, 12:35pm
Thinking of getting one of their twin necks...

Philippe Bony
Nov-16-2014, 4:05pm
French?

Jim Garber
Nov-16-2014, 5:13pm
The one caveat on these is that some folks have experienced wood problems stemming from unseasoned wood. Maybe they have gotten their act together. The other caveat is badly designed hardware. I had a domestically made mandolin that a friend commissioned from a good luthier but using a Vietnamese tailpiece that was poorly made. You may need to upgrade one of these mandolins with better parts of you really want to play it.

garryireland
Nov-16-2014, 5:46pm
I was thinking of the twin neck mandolin/mandola. Ive read all about timber problems. Is it worth the chance?

Jim Garber
Nov-16-2014, 7:52pm
I played a mandola that a friend had and frankly it was an unplayable POS. I hope that the makers over there got better over time. It is good to hear that David is pleased with his and that he lucked out quite a while ago. I guess the question is where and whom you buy them from. I certainly would love to hear that they are all excellent but that is not 100% true. If you are considering buying, certainly do a search for all the makers David lists above and see what others have said.

David, do you know if LITM still imports them and from what shop? Does Mickey actually go over there to hand pick from various instruments and makers?

DavidKOS
Nov-17-2014, 1:10am
French?

At least that design with the side holes and inner reflector seems to be French, which makes sense since the French were there until the late 50's or so.


The one caveat on these is that some folks have experienced wood problems stemming from unseasoned wood. Maybe they have gotten their act together. The other caveat is badly designed hardware. I had a domestically made mandolin that a friend commissioned from a good luthier but using a Vietnamese tailpiece that was poorly made. You may need to upgrade one of these mandolins with better parts of you really want to play it.

The woods on mine (I have two) are seasoned, they have been very stable.

I did have to replace the tuners on one, the other works OK enough.


I played a mandola that a friend had and frankly it was an unplayable POS. I hope that the makers over there got better over time.
..........

David, do you know if LITM still imports them and from what shop? Does Mickey actually go over there to hand pick from various instruments and makers?

Like you I've seen Vietnamese-made instruments like mandolins, mandolas, even some octave mandolins, with all the inlay and in a variety of body designs; the ones like mine seem more successful than the archtop Gibson inspired models. That leads me to believe that it is different makers involved this cottage industry.

As far as I know, with the new Lark, Mickie has not re-established all the old overseas supply sources, or those particular mandolins are not as available as they used to be.

I have a hunch that that French side-hole model was the kind that Du Ngan already had been making for the local market, and Lark imported them.

The Tsai instruments showed up sometime later, along with the various sort-of-Gibson model mandolins with similar inlay. I assume the makers think that making a more American-like mandolin will increase sales. I'm not sure they are correct, until they really make a good archtop mandolin in addition to the French style instruments.

Josh Levine
Nov-17-2014, 1:21am
I purchased a mandolin when I was in Vietnam. I tried to put heavier strings on it than the light ones and the top caved in... so don't try to put J75s on your Vietnamese mando if they are all you have in the house.

DavidKOS
Nov-17-2014, 1:28am
I purchased a mandolin when I was in Vietnam. I tried to put heavier strings on it than the light ones and the top caved in... so don't try to put J75s on your Vietnamese mando if they are all you have in the house.

I'm a bowlback player, so I have all very light sets of strings, so no problem there. Thanks for the tip anyway though.

What design body was your now-caved-in mandolin?

Josh Levine
Nov-17-2014, 1:41am
It is tear drop shaped, oval hole, flat back. Maybe I will snap a picture at some point.

DavidKOS
Nov-17-2014, 10:06am
It is tear drop shaped, oval hole, flat back. Maybe I will snap a picture at some point.

Yeah, I'm curious what happened to it.