View Full Version : Mandolin Tasting

Mando Medic
Jan-04-2004, 4:05pm
I am at this late stage still trying to organize a mandolin tasting at Wintergrass in Tacoma Washington in February. My query this time would be to taste only A styles of mandolins. Any comments on this?

Jan-04-2004, 4:16pm
It would be interesting to have comparisons of A Models to F Models, by the same maker. For example, you could have a Collings A followed by a Collings F. We've had many posts regarding scroll envy and whether F models sound "better" and/or louder than A models. I don't know how much of a task this would be for the Tasting CD, but it would be a different dimension.

Jan-04-2004, 4:56pm
If you can, I'd like to hear a Nugget A.

Jan-04-2004, 5:33pm
I think that JAK has a great idea there. Might prove to be a very interesting experiment. For sure there would be a suprise or two in there.
There would certainly be a great deal of discussion generated.
I think it would be good for us. We need a shot of intrigue and excitement.

Mando Medic
Jan-04-2004, 6:40pm
Hmm! F and A's by the same maker. Interesting concept. Who has a pair by the same maker that could bring them?

Joe Mendel
Jan-04-2004, 6:46pm
I Like JAK's idea also. Some Sawchyn mandolins would also be interesting to hear. I'm a Sawchyn owner, but I would love to hear some compared to other makers.
Thanks for mando tasting concept & CD's, Ken.

Jan-04-2004, 7:41pm
How about doing some varnish vs lacquer blind comparisons, same maker and model?
It would really be interesting if folks can really hear a difference between different finishes from the same maker.

Mando Medic
Jan-04-2004, 8:06pm
Only problem with that is finding an exact model that one is lacquer and the other varnish. That's a little too obscure I think. But let's not rule it out.

Tim Saxton
Jan-04-2004, 8:31pm

I would like to offer my Weber Absoroka for the tasting.

Tim Saxton

John Flynn
Jan-04-2004, 9:03pm
I hope you would do some arch-top oval hole mandos. In fact, I would definitely buy a CD that tasted the major ovals. Vintage candidates would include: F-2, F-4, A-2, A-3, A-4, A-5 (Florentine "Jethro Burns" type) and Lyon & Healy. Modern candidates could include Weber, Baird, Sawchyn, Coombe, King Brown, Old Wave, Glichrist, Breedlove, Eastman, and others.

Bob Borzelleri
Jan-04-2004, 10:20pm
Just to make things interesting, I'd like to hear a Tacoma M3 thrown into the mix so folks can get something other than totally subjective info on how the Tacomas sound compared to the more traditional instruments.


Jan-05-2004, 1:56am
Ditto on the oval-holes (since all my favorites turned out to be oval-holes last time)! ;)


Richard Polf
Jan-05-2004, 4:03am
I second bborzell's request.


Jan-05-2004, 2:04pm
Rigel A+ Deluxe, as well as other Rigels-- I've been curious as to why there aren't any Rigels on past tastings (the '03 disk anyway!)...

Jan-05-2004, 2:12pm
How about as many of the u.s. made budget bargains head-to-head....like say Gibson A-9, Weber Hyalite, Rigel A, new Collings no frills A, Breedlove (quartz?), and any other entries of their ilk. Should be easy to lay hands on for tasting and would probably interest a great many economy-minded pickers. #Throw a Loar on there for a reference point...hee...hee.

Jan-05-2004, 2:12pm
I'd throw in another vote for the A vs. F comparison. Unfortunately, I don't have a matched pair to donate, though...


John Bertotti
Jan-05-2004, 2:30pm
How about an octave or any CBOM just to hear. Or a bowl back mando. It might be nice to hear the differences between them and the A's and F's. John

Jan-05-2004, 4:33pm
I don't know how the CD's have been arranged in the past, but I have a few thoughts on how the samples could be laid out:

1. Make sure that those who want to can listen to the entire CD as a blind test--put the instrument names and descriptions inside a flap or something;
2. Provide an option that allows the samples to be played in various logical orders, such as least to most expensive, or oldest to newest. Or at least publish the track numbers arranged in that order so that geeks like me can program their CD players to provide that experience.

For posterity's sake, I think the most important project that needs to be undertaken is to record samples of as many signed Loars as humanly possible. I'd bet there'd be grant money out there for such an undertaking. While it would be hard to get all those instruments together in one place, one might be able to obtain a portable (folding?) isolation booth in which to record each instrument using the same mic, recording equipment, etc. I don't know of a Loar owner who wouldn't consent to having his mandolin recorded for such a project, assuming it could be recorded in its own home. Plus you could charge quite a bit more for such a CD. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Jan-05-2004, 4:48pm
I'd also like to see a category for serial numbers less than 20.

John Bertotti
Jan-05-2004, 6:56pm
Lee957 has a interesting thought. Maybe a progressive recording of a builder with a low serial # to a mid and then a recent just to see how they evolved. John

Ken if you need or want a prepurchase I'd be willing to buy ahead of time. It's only one cd but I bet others would be willing also, especially those with previous copies. I know I'm looking forward to the next installment of this new tradition. John http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Pete Martin
Jan-08-2004, 12:39pm
I'd also like to hear an oval hole A model taste testing CD.

Jan-08-2004, 1:03pm
I like the A model idea; but I'm an A model fan. Nothing wrong with F's, I just like simplicity.

Jan-08-2004, 1:10pm

If you're gonna do A's, it sure would be nice to get the Griffith Loar out to Wintergrass...

See ya'll there!


Jan-08-2004, 11:01pm
I'd like to see the BRW, new randy wood , new cole, a dude, new webbers, new gibsons, New New New. not less than 2 or 3 years old. to give some camparison. I liked the last one. but to me the oval holes were easy to tell but very enlightening. I would like to see the mid priced models where most are sold.

Jan-08-2004, 11:02pm
or I would like to see a comparison of all the loars and ferns you could get to one location

Mando Medic
Jan-09-2004, 11:13am
Mike, You actually present the best argument and suggestion to date about a mandolin tasting. That is to go with instruments that are in a class of under $1500. Based on what I see, that's where most of the mandolins that are sold are priced. From $350 to $1500. It's true that on the two previous CDd's of mando tasting, most of the instruments were mid to upper instruments. Any body else have any comments on this?

Jan-09-2004, 11:15am
Ken, I think the $1500 & down Idea is great!

Jan-09-2004, 12:52pm
Ken -

Is there any way that you could use a room that would permit close micing and micing at a distance? #My guess is you would get some interesting results. #As we learned from the last Mando Tasting, nearly every mandolin sounds different, but pretty good when close miced. #Perhaps we would learn something new by hearing samples when the mic is positioned a distance from the instrument. #I think someone has probably already suggested this in the past, but I thought I'd mention it again.



Mando Medic
Jan-10-2004, 11:04pm
I have been experimenting with one mich close mike and one at 10 foot. They sure do sound different that way and I feel it's more representative of the real mandolin tone. If I do a tasting (still not sure) I will do it without the PA system. I feel it contaminates the tasting. The room that we have done it in has pretty good acoustics, just have to put a Shhhshhh guard on the door. Ideally, I'd love to do the tasting in a quiet room, but it's a tasting and I think part of the experience is being in the same room with all the instruments. I think it's important to work on a theme and I feel that this year the theme should be instruments under $1500. If we had time for two tastings maybe we could do just A's in the second one. I have been invited to Kansas this year for Mando fest. What say we do a tasting and recording there too? Kenc

Jan-10-2004, 11:50pm
Yes....a Kansas tasting now that sounds great Ken.

Mando Medic
Jan-11-2004, 11:38am
We can do 49 mandolins on a CD. What would your suggestions be for a under $1500 lineup that you would like to hear compared?

Feb-05-2004, 9:59am
Does that mean I can taste my $188.00 Weymann mandolute or is this relegated to instruments currently in production? Who's doing the pickin this year?

Feb-05-2004, 10:07am
I think all the usual suspects for the "mando under 1500" should be represented:

Gibson A-9
Rigel A Natural
Breedlove Quartz
Weber Absaroka

Don't know if you're restricitng this to f-holes, but might be good to hear:

old Martin
old Gibson A's (the kind that can be found for under 1500)

Just some ideas here

mad dawg
Feb-05-2004, 10:12am
I like Handpicked's suggestion to include common recommendations in carved top instruments in the ~$1000 pricepoint (Gibson A-9, Weber Hyalite, Rigel A, Breedlove Quartz, etc.). Would it be sacreligious to throw in a couple common Pac Rim F-models for comparision (e.g., M.Kelly, Morgan Monroe, Kantucky), since scroll-envy is often a factor in upgrades-on-a-budget?

NB: I would also be interested in hearing a Devil's Dream on the disk if anyone shows up with one.