View Full Version : Knock around mandolin

Mar-18-2004, 10:45pm
I'm looking for a back up mandolin I can practice in the car, play at the beach, take along for bike rides, etc. I get a little nervous hauling my Breedlove Cascade all over. I figure I'll keep it at home except for gigs. Right now, I'm considering a Webber Sweat Pea, a Martin Back-packer, or a cheap full sized A-style (Kentucky, Johnson, etc.) I don't want to go over $250. The mini's sound fun, but I sometimes do inpromptu jams at the park/beach with my guitar buddies, and I'm worried they just wouldn't have the volume. Any insights on those models you could pass along?

Walter Newton
Mar-18-2004, 10:54pm
I think a regular sized mando (in a gigbag) is plenty small and light enough, with a lot better sound than the mini ones. How about a used Mid-Mo?

Mar-19-2004, 7:05am
I think you can't go wrong with the Johnson. I own an "A" style and am expecting delivery of an "F" style any day. Nice mandolins at a low price and you don't have to worry as much about them.

Bruce Evans
Mar-19-2004, 7:44am
I've stated this opinion before but...

The Weber Sweet Pea is awfully cute, but almost completely worthless as a mandolin. (The rest of Weber's line is awesome, however.)

The Martin Backpacker mandolin is worthless AND it's ugly.

Buy the best Korean A style mandolin you can find for the money you want to spend.

IMO, YMMV, yada, yada...

Django Fret
Mar-19-2004, 8:49am
For what you are describing, you should seriously consider the Crafter. They are practically indestructible and I have played them both in sub-freezing weather and at the beach on a hot day without worrying about destroying a better and more expensive mandolin.

They also have a built-in pick-up so you plug-in and play without any effort. For less than $200 you will have a very versatile and durable instrument that is a lot of fun to play in a variety of situations.

Mar-19-2004, 11:37am
I wouldnt say worthless if all you want to do is practice. If you want to jam and be heard, then worthless would apply.

Bruce Evans
Mar-19-2004, 3:58pm
I wouldnt say worthless if all you want to do is practice. #If you want to jam and be heard, then worthless would apply.
Ok, I accept that position. But if all you want to do is practice, a good mando neck , mounted on a 2X4 would work too. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

John Flynn
Mar-19-2004, 6:52pm
If you decide to go with a travel mando, there is another alternative. Lark in the Morning sells a travel mando that IMHO is more rugged and louder than either the Backpacker or the Sweet Pea. It is made by Mederios Wood 'n Music in Loveland, CO. I have had one for 5 years and dragged it everywhere and pretty much treated it badly. It takes a lickin' and keeps on pickin'. With J74s, it sounds harsh, but it's louder than a Pac Rim plywood special. With GHS Silk and Steels, it looses a some volume, but sounds sweeter. I just did a complete set up on mine and lowered the bridge and I am very happy with the result. I travel every week on business and I wouldn't get to play from Monday to Friday without it. Here is a link:

Mar-19-2004, 7:29pm
Thanks for all the input. You helped me realize that a full size mandolin is the way to go. I'll definately be jamming with guitarists from time to time. The big problem is that I live overseas and there aren't a lot of mandolins to be found. And you can forget about a proper set-up. I have a friend coming out next week, so I was thinking about having him haul something out for me. Right now I'm leaning towards a Korean/Chinese A-model, though the used Mid-Missori idea sounds good too. Then again, maybe I'll just hold out for an 8-string mandobird and rechargable amp. Too much gear to lust after and not enough cash http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif !!!!

Dan Adams
Mar-19-2004, 9:18pm
I bought 3 Johnson MA 120's to practice some finish work on. I keep one at work, sold one, and one lays around the house for those impulse playing momemts. I take them outside to play in any weather and on vacations or on my limited business trips. Consequently, I've been caught in that impromtu jam at times, and the Johnson has held up its end. All have solid spruce tops, flamed maple backs and sides, but with flaws in the wood and workmanship. They've been mistaken for more expensive instruments, but I'm always honest when asked. They are great to bang around, and I keep the good mandos in the case for playing in jams, practicing, or for performances. Good luck in the search.

All That Glitters is not Scrolled! Dan

Mar-21-2004, 1:23pm
Ive never been a fan of the minis but I had a friend down from alaska and he brought his Mini Mo(MidMo)and I was impressed how great the action and the projection of sound was...and it felt ok cradled in my arms