View Full Version : Looking for a good BG mandolin

Mar-05-2004, 1:34pm
Hi, all. I am new to this forum, and have just started reading some of the posts today. I was considering a Washburn Jethro Burns model, but after doing a search on here, it seems as though the general consensus is that they are not loud enough for a bluegrass band.

I really want to get an F-style, and I plan to play bluegrass and country almost exclusively.

Here are the brands and models I have been looking at:

*Gibson F5G (I played one of these and LOVED the sound and feel)

*Morgan Monroe MM4 (Phantom of the Opry- never played one, just read that they sound nice. I am sure that they will be lesser quality than the Gibson, though.)

*Washburn JB (As mentioned above, I did a search and found that these are not usually loud enough.)

*Weber - one of their F models (I have never played one of these, and may not have a chance to. I understand I can order custom finishes and colors, too- this would be fun but not necessary.)

I do not have a chance to play any of these, because I am far away from a large music store. The standard that I use to measure sound and feel when I play other mandos is the Gibson F5G.

I am looking for a mando that I will not have to upgrade at all, but I do not REALLY want to spend much more than $1500 - $2000 Canadian.

Any comments, suggestions, bits of advice?

Thank you in advance.


Mar-05-2004, 1:46pm
Welcome to the forum, you might want to look at this #EXISTING THREAD (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=12;t=13512) #and other current threads on this same subject. At $1500 to $2000 Canadian you probably want to find a Canadian builder.

I understand comparing to a Gibson F5, but this is apples and oranges on your budget, the Gibson would be more than $5000 Canadian would it not?

Frank Russell
Mar-05-2004, 2:12pm
F9 - Just got one, it's excellent. Loud, good tone and good playability. Well in your price range, there are some for sale here pretty regularly. Mandohack had one in your range recently. Frank

Mar-05-2004, 3:15pm
1500 to 2000 canadian really isn't in the price range of an F9, it falls short by #487.66A due to the exchange rate(2000C=1512.34A as of now). #But again, as everyone will soon advise, get over the scroll, they're nice, but really, sound-wise and playability-wise are just an expensive strap holder. #You can find many, many, quality A's in your pricerange, a lot from private builders of great quality, many of whom you'll hear about as this thread gets under way. #I'll start:

1. breedlove
2. boulder mandolin works
3. Glenn (Allen Jones)
4. Old Wave, I think close, anyway, but worth the extra according to many here.
5. Lynn Dudenbostel (HA!)
6. Gibson A9

Anyway more will come, including a few members here that have gotten good reviews like Keith Newell (makes an interestingly nice tailpeice, though I'm not sure how much his mandos are)

Boy, I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about!
Good luck and get over the scroll, after you play a nice a for awhile it's a lot easier than losing cigarette adiction!
Rank, rank amatuer

Mar-05-2004, 5:57pm
Thank you for your replies. I will certainly consider throwing away the F idea. I do know how hard it is to find one with a decent tone.

By the way, what is the big advantage with a mando joined at the 14th fret, over one joined at the 12th fret?http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Lincoln Goertzen

Mar-05-2004, 8:01pm
playing up the frets, again, I'm sure there's more.

Mar-05-2004, 11:32pm
In answer to this same question (and same budget) my teacher strongly advised that I find a Flatiron A, so that's what I spent the last 2 or 3 months looking for. In the process, I also played a number of instruments both above and below this price range (e.g. all four Collings models, several Gibsons, some Webers, a couple Lebedas, Breedlove, Rigel, etc). I finally got a 1995 A5 from the Cafe classifieds, which I've been playing obsessively (and happily) all day. (Thanks, Charlene!) It holds up very well in comparison to everything else I played.

I guess I would stick with the signed models (various names: A5, A5-1, A5-2, A5 Artist, etc). I played a couple Festival and Performer models (unsigned, unbound back) that weren't so hot. Whether it's justified or not, many people seem to think the Montana years are better. At the very least, a Montana-built Flatiron might be a little quicker to sell if you decide to upgrade some day.

This one at Elderly (http://elderly.com/vintage/items/90U-3925.htm) looks like a good deal to me. It might be a little more worn than the one I got, and I'm not sure about the Brekke bridge, but it's priced $200 less than I paid. They show up on EBay with some regularity too. I know, because I missed or got priced out of several. What looks like a very nice A5 Artist with a radiused fretboard (a custom upgrade) just ended today at about $1450. I've seen others go on EBay for anywhere from $1200 to $1850.

Take all my "advice" with a grain of salt, because I'm no further along the learning curve than you are, and maybe not even as far. :-) What I can say for certain is that this Flatiron of mine is a very good bluegrass mandolin at a competitive price.

Have fun,

Walter Newton
Mar-06-2004, 12:39am
1500-2000 Canadian = roughly 1150-1500 USD, so you're in the same boat as the guy in the thread Greenmando linked to, and the advice is the same - if sound is more important to you than looks (and why, God's sake, wouldn't it be??) you're better off with a quality A style...Weber Absaroka fits, and made by essentially the same folks as the Montana Flatirons, no???

(BTW sounds like Gibson or Weber F style is way over your budget, and for the $ you can do better than the MM.)

Mar-06-2004, 1:04am
Thank you all for the heads-up on the A-style vs. the F-style.

I really am partial to the F style, and I guess the variable part in my search for one would be my budget! If getting something good will cost $---- or more, I will wait a little longer. ($2500-2800 CAN wouldn't be too bad, I guess.) I'm used to that. I've waited a long time for other instruments, and have been very happy with paying for quality.

Thanks for the opinion of the Morgan Monroe, too. I don't believe in slamming products, but I certainly want to know in a direct way if there is something that isn't what it could be.

Right now I am researching Glenn mandolins. I have found a couple of posts on here, by very happy customers, and I am going to find a few more.


Mar-06-2004, 2:38am
The F-9 is my first thought on a production F model with great tone at a lower price range.

Keith Newell looks like a promising builder who's active in these forums. I know his earlier F styles were in your price range, I don't know his current rates.

Pomeroy, perhaps?

I'm another recovered scroll addict. I recently bought an A-9 and absolutely love it. Now that I've been playing on it a while, I find myself eyeing the nice A models over the Fs. Now I almost view the scroll as just more functionless bulk on an instrument.
Sure, it's pretty. But so is sleek efficiency. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
and economy. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Chris Cantergiani
Mar-06-2004, 9:39am
Dan makes a good case for the Flatiron. I've heard great things about them, and I've been considering what type of mandolin to get for my wife. She says she couldn't care less about a scroll, so I've been thinking about a Collings. Your review was the type of thing I've been looking for in an effort to get more info.
Thank you very much!