View Full Version : Request for advice

Nov-03-2007, 9:23am
Just thought I'd say hi from Glasgow, Scotland. I have a Fylde 'Touchstone' mandoline, which are made in the North of England. I've tried to post a link of it here. I'm a great admirer of Chris Thile and Caterina Lichtenberg. I know that Chris Thile plays a Dudenbostel, and I just love that bluegrass tone, which is very different to my Fylde. I would love to get a hold of a bluegrass-tone 'F'-style mandoline to play in my band and I wondered if anyone had any suggestions? I tried a couple of Eastman models in a store over here, but they seemed very 'heavy' and dull. No doubt you'll have heard 'Bittersweet Reel' by Chris Thile - that's the kind of tone I'm looking for. The nearest type of mandolines here are made by Vanden - his web site is at http://www.vanden.co.uk/mandolins.htm - but they're, what, $6,000? at today's exchange rates? I'm looking for something a LOT more affordable - maybe I'm overly optimistic! ANyway, I think Mandoline cafe is fantastic. Cheers. Hugh Lee.

Fred Keller
Nov-03-2007, 9:41am
I never had a chance to go when I was in England last year, but these folks here (http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/) came highly recommended.

Nov-03-2007, 9:48am
Hi, thanks for that - I'll check them out. Cheers.

Chris Biorkman
Nov-03-2007, 9:53am
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but mandolins are expensive, especially F models. I think your best bet is to find a used A model from a major builder like Collings, Gibson, or Weber in the classifieds. I'm not sure how willing most people would be to ship overseas, however.
If you are dead set on getting an F style, I would look for a custom order with an up and coming builder (like Andy Poe, Andrew Mowry just to name a few). Their instruments look really nice and can be had for much less than $6,000.

Here is a link to a store on your side of the pond.The Acoustic Music Co. (http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/erol.html#120X0) He has a pretty good selection of bluegrass mandolins made by American builders at a variety of prices.

Here are links to Mowry and Poe's websites. There are many other builders like them who would probably be in your price range, but I'll leave it up to others to name them.

Mowry Stringed Instruments (http://mowrystrings.com/)

Poe Stringed Instruments (http://www.poestrings.com/PoeStrings/Home.html)

Nov-03-2007, 10:07am
Really good advice, thank you. Someone told me that up-and-coming luthiers trying to make a name for themselves would be a better bet than a second-hand Gibson or the like. Thank goodness for the exchange rates these days!

Nov-03-2007, 10:11am
Hi Hugh, welcome! Tamco in Brighton is a very long way from Glasgow, but definitely worth the journey down there if you can make it, as it's probably (in my opinion anyway) the best place in Britain for someone who wants to try out lots of different mandolins.

Mike Vanden's mandolins are fantastic, but if you're looking for some other, less costly, British builders I recommend Phil Davidson http://www.davidsoninstruments.com/ - I have a fantastic flat top built by Phil, but he does make stunning carved top mandolins too! Or you could also look at John Marlow http://www.jmarlowstringedinstruments.co.uk/frameset.htm or Paul Shippey http://www.paulshippey.co.uk/classic%20series.htm both of whom make very nice f-style mandolins for around 2,000.


Nov-03-2007, 1:07pm
When I lived in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, Scayles Music in St Patrick Square usually had a Gibson A9 in stock, and often an F9 too (I was last there in March this year and there was both an A9 and an F9 in stock). The A9 was about 1000-1100, the F9 something like 1700. Every now and then, they had a weekend when good discounts (15-20%) could be had. It would certainly be worth a trip to Edinburgh to give them a try - it's about 10min walk from Waverley Station. The only caveat is that their mandolins weren't always particularly well set up.

I play an oval-hole mandolin made by Paul Shippey and I think it's very good value for money and sounds fantastic. His F-styles look very nice, and he may be prepared to make an A-style with f-holes if asked - he had a picture of one on his website for a while.

A phonecall to Trevor at TAMCo would certainly give you a good idea of the different options available to you.


Nov-03-2007, 4:29pm
I live in Midlothian, just South of Edinburgh. A year and a half ago I placed an order with Andrew Mowry to build me an F5 to my own specification. While I admired his building style and his mandolin sound I listed things I wanted built into an f5 like radius fretboard,medium high action, parallel tone bar bracing, James tail piece, one piece back, gold hardware, Gotoh tuners etc. Mr Mowry built me my dream mandolin and to this day I have no regrets and I love the mandolin more and more.It is everything and more I wanted.The mandolin is starting to play in. Andrew Mowry is a true professional craftsman mandolin builder who takes pride in his work and kept me updated regularly with photos of the building process. I play bluegrass mainly but this f5 is suitable for so many styles. I just can't put it down.

Nov-05-2007, 8:39am
In Glasgow try Folk Revolution http://www.folkrevolution.co.uk/ . Its a small shop but Kenny is a musician and he tries to keep a reasonable stock of instruments.