View Full Version : Mandolin Bros.

Scotti Adams
Feb-04-2004, 7:46am
..I, for one really like to look at their instrument list...but it hasnt been updated since Nov. 3rd....is business that slow or is something else the matter? I would think the list would would get updated more frequently than that.

Feb-04-2004, 8:41am
Seems to me that Elderly is the only site that keeps their listings up to date by most standards.

Seems like paying a webmaster or doing the work yourself isn't esteemed as a high priority...maybe it doesn't make much difference to the bottom line.

John Rosett
Feb-04-2004, 9:16am
this fall, they had a guitar i was interested in. i sent them an email with some detailed questions about it, and they never bothered to respond. that's okay though, there's plenty of other dealers who are interested in having my business.

Feb-04-2004, 9:59am
I too have twice e-mailed Mandolin Brothers and recieved no reply. Contacting by phone works better, but the website sure ain't what it used to be. Before the November update, it was updated in August. Twice a year? Hmmm...

Feb-04-2004, 12:37pm
I must admit their site really ticks me off. I spoke to a sales guy on a mando that I saw on the site. He talked a big story how clean it was, the whole deal, asked me put a few bucks to hold until I could get in there to see it. Well the mando was not there, gone a long time ago. Got my money back but the sale guy never even bother to check or go pick up the mando. Ticked me off and they lost a customer for sure. TO Mandolin Brothers, " Keep your site updated", never know how many sales COULD be coming your way. Or not.

Feb-04-2004, 4:31pm
but hey, they got really cool T-shirts...:cool:

Feb-04-2004, 4:44pm
I had the same problems with mando brothers awhile back when I was purchasing an Apitius. Told them that I buy many mandolins and was interested in purchasing one.. I talked to a lady 2 times to ask about the Apitius that they said they had. I never heard back from a sales person. Needless to say I purchased it from Elderly

Feb-04-2004, 4:44pm
I have the feeling that they have been pushed aside by Elderly and First Quality.

Its obvious that FQMS seems to get first dibs on
any new product coming from Gibson.Of course FQMS has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years.If I was a manufacturer I would cater to them as well.

Feb-04-2004, 4:46pm
Yes FQMS is great and better service than mandolin brothers IMHO

Feb-04-2004, 6:03pm
I use to have Mandolin Brothers on my favorites, but I realized last summer that they never update, so, why bother? Maybe business is so good from walk in that they just don't need any online sales (joke). I think I'll go there and email this topic link to 'em.

Feb-04-2004, 6:11pm
I already sent the link to Stan, who has always treated me very well. J

Feb-04-2004, 6:49pm
The last two times I called them requesting info, they were absolutely surly on the phone. Once they said that basically due to the "mando craze" that they weren't going to have anything in stock for very long, and that the answer was for me to just decide what I wanted and plunk down a "right of first refusal" deposit on anything that came in (?). Another guy told me that the website wasn't meant to be an inventory list, more like a sample of what they might have from time to time... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

I've always enjoyed trading with Elderly by phone or internet. I recall having one of their reps take 3-4 $500-700 fiddles into a room to try out for me over the phone. He got really excited about the process and wound up putting me on a great "diamond in the rough" that just sounded enormous when he played it. I never learned to make it sound that good http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Feb-04-2004, 8:35pm
I thought I was the only one , that the date bothered. I actually e-mailed them early Jan. to 'inform' them that the outdated 'update' seemed likely unprofessional - at best. (No reply of course, but that is OK).

It is very unlikely that anything on that list is actually availble, so why have it.

J. Mark Lane
Feb-04-2004, 8:47pm
It is frustrating that they don't update their site more often. And I don't really like the way they organize the instrument listings. In order to look for something, you basically have to scan the entire listings.

Still, Stan is an icon, and his commentary on instruments is both hilarious and highly informative. George Gruhn ain't no saint, either. But these places have kept the acoustic instrument market alive and well for a long time, and they deserve some respect (and a bit of a break) for that.

Stan Jay has been responsive and friendly to me when I have interacted with him. So have the folks at Gruhn, FQMS, Elderly and a few other shops.

I would suggest that before people start coming down on MandoBros, visit the shop. The website is clearly not their priority, but who says it has to be? IMO the best way to purchase acoustic instruments is in person anyway.

Stan Werbin has indeed moved into the market previously dominated by Jay and Gruhn, and he runs a better website and is very responsive. But let's please be careful in comparing and criticizing. Not everyone has the same business model. The Internet is only part of the music world, and we who are here, Internet people as we are, tend to perhaps elevate it above where it really belongs.

All this to say, yeah, their updating sucks, but they are still the finest dealer on the East Coast, and their history alone should warrant our respect.


Feb-04-2004, 10:21pm
All this to say, yeah, their updating sucks, but they are still the finest dealer on the East Coast, and their history alone should warrant our respect.

It doesn't matter much to me what a company used to be like, or what they've done for people in the past. I respect business people based on two things:

1. The way they treat me today; and
2. The way I see them treat other customers today.

And lately, they treat me like a pain in their collective neck. My dollars go elsewhere.

Feb-04-2004, 10:51pm
It seems to me that Mandolin Brothers just has a diferent approach to their marketing than that which fits the internet. I was there recently (for the first time) and have posted my feelings on the visit on this forum (Kid in a Candy Shop....yada yada yada). My visit was just plain wonderful. I have not dealt with them personnaly on the web or by phone, but the service and the lack of high pressure sales tactics that I ereceived in person was refreshing. Only once in the hour or so that I spent there did anyone approach me, and then it was a quick offer to answer any questions that a I may have had. When I did have a question it was answered promptly, courteously and to my complete satisfaction. I did note that every instrumnt that I was interested in seeing was, in fact, there hanging on the wall, just like in their web page. There may or may not have been instruments that were not on the wall that were advertised, or instrumnts that were on the wall that were not advertised, but I found exactly what I went to see. This isn't an ad or an endorsemnt for them and I may or may not buy from them when it comes time to plunk down the cash, but I just wanted to put in an honest first hand acount of what I saw with my own eyes.

Feb-04-2004, 11:09pm
I agree Crowder, if you want to be a personal, walk in business, then don't advertise on the web! JiminRussia, if they have a "diferent approach to their marketing than that which fits the internet", then they shouldn't try to do business on the internet and it is that simple. If you can't return emails, then don't even put your website up because you are going to have to. At the music store I work at I get emails all of the time and they are all just as important as the next because they just might well be a buyer!

the von haze
Feb-04-2004, 11:22pm
Maybe they have learned over time that you can answer hundreds of emails and never close a sale, but spend the same amount of time on the phone and sell several items. Anyone who is a serious buyer would be picking up the phone! MandoBros is a great shop but a business just like everyone else. They only have so much time to respond to email inquiries.

steve V. johnson
Feb-05-2004, 12:23am
I, too, have been frustrated by the website at MandoBros. Hey, they call it MandoWeb... !

But, yesterday and today I got some of the best advice, clearest info and in concise and friendly tone, from Steve Cohen there over the phone. He couldn't sell me what I thought I wanted, but steered me right and well with about a half hour of his time.

C'mon MandoBros! Get yer act together and get the website working.


Feb-05-2004, 12:55am
As a person in the sales industry...a very popular rule is

"Customers will always downsize your business to match
your capabilities" http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Feb-05-2004, 1:05am
I've known Stan Jay for many years and he is one great person. I don't visit many of the websites due to time constraints, but I do know I have done business with him from both sides and never had anything but great service and help. The same can be said for Stan Werbin. It was good to see both men at NAMM last month.

FQMS does not get any special attention from us. They are great guys and good friends, but no special service. They are quick to be at the right place in the market. Jeff and Eric Sullivan and I have a great friendly competition. I think they are about as good as two guys can get.

While I would like to have everyone's business for our retail locations, the guys I mentioned above....as well as many others....are all great dealers who will handle your needs very well. They are some of the best dealers and some of the best people on the planet. Just my opinion. I would not hesitate to buy from any of them.

Feb-05-2004, 7:20am
I'd suspect that they primarily make their sales via the catalog & retail store. Mandolin Bros has always been very good to me, I've often had personal in-hand descriptions of instruments from Stan, and they were very good about updating me from the "Want List" when I was hunting for a Gibson A.

I have a lot of respect for Stan for years of interacting with him in a relatively anonymous fashion, and always being treated well, and with respect.

Feb-05-2004, 8:09am
Mandolin Bros. is a very professional firm, and their showroom has got to be one of the cleanest and most comfortable out there. I bought my first vintage mandolin from them in 1978 and I still have the accompanying letter, written by Stan, which states "...Finding a vintage Gibson mandolin for under $500 is a boon to the bluegrass musician." O, the times, they are a-changin'...:)

Feb-05-2004, 2:08pm
I do not have a lot of experience dealing with Mando Bros., but I did visit the store once, back in November.

Stan greeted me with a smile as I walked in the store. #He said "welcome to Mandolin Brothers, play anything you want, and... the bathroom is over there..."

I don't know if I was walking funny, but those were the two things I really needed, and wanted to hear.

Feb-05-2004, 5:48pm
If everybody who browsed their website called on the telephone instead they'd be swamped with phone calls and maybe then learn to keep the site updated. A simple list of in-stock items would do. Personally, I find the "cute" write-ups get old real quick, and they aren't really that informative.

Rich Michaud
Feb-05-2004, 6:43pm
This past fall I was fortunate to be able to visit both Mando Bros and Elderly. I drove from Boston to New York, took the ferry to Staten Island, tried to walk to the store, had to take a taxi and eventually found my way to the hallowed ground that I had wanted to experience for many years. I expected far more vintage instruments than I found. The folks were nice and pretty much left me alone to play what I wanted. The logistics were tough, had to leave after within 2 hours to catch the ferry back to Manhattan. A few weeks later I was in Michigan, rented a car and drove to Elderly. Man, what a store! great inventory. I was able to jamm with a banjo and guitar player in the store and and had an incredible afternoon trying out all kinds of mandolins. From an experience point of view, Elderly gets my vote. As to the Mando Bros website, they have an electric mando listed that talks about Mike Orlando and says "whoever that is". I explained months ago who Mike is and Mike has done the same. (He is a pro musician who plays mando in Cast Iron Filter) You would think it would be corrected on the website. It hasn't been. Perhaps one could say so what. Mike is a pro and is known in the business. Publicity helps anyone like Mike. The comment should be fixed. This is not to take away anything from Mando Bros otherwise. I have read their catalog for years and have learned a lot. However, I prefer Elderly.

Feb-05-2004, 7:48pm
I see the Mandolin Bros. web site was updated today.

However, I don't care whether Stan updates daily or yearly - as long as he never changes his store policy of letting you play anything you want for as long as you want with absolutely no sales pressure. He stands out from most other retailers for understanding that you can't listen closely to a mandolin with some sales guy hovering over you fretting about possible pick scratches.

Feb-05-2004, 8:03pm
as long as he never changes his store policy of letting you play anything you want for as long as you want with absolutely no sales pressure.

Yes, but my b@njo buddies want to know if he'll let them bring in a keg of Miller High Life, too.

Just kidding, sounds like a great place to visit....if I ever get up that way...

Feb-05-2004, 9:16pm
That's a comendable store policy. Did he mention a web policy?

Feb-05-2004, 10:26pm
I did a lot of shopping around before I bought my F-9 last year, and I wound up getting it from Mando Bros. I tried doing the email thing, and Stan wrote back that he was slammed pretty much nonstop, and apologized for the delay, and suggested I would have better luck phoning. I called immediately, and the salesman was super helpful, playing 4 over the phone for me. Vote with your pocketbook- if you are an internet person, then go to the outlets that cater to your needs. It's pretty obvious that Mando Bros isn't sweating that too much. They treated me right- I wanted the best mando for my buck, and I got a cannon. As always, your mileage may vary.

Feb-05-2004, 11:37pm
I wonder what the creatively written description said about the Loar that came out of the Bakersfield, California area some years back.

Feb-06-2004, 12:44am
Touche' Rroyd! I was very close to this one and remember it well. Although I don't believe that the siblings were writing too many creative descriptions back then, I can however say that one can be quite creative in how one obtains a vintage instrument.

Feb-06-2004, 10:31pm
Maybe we shouldn't post any more, as it certainly appears we killed that thread.

Feb-06-2004, 10:40pm
I don't think you guys killed the thread....just go to their site and see how many dead links you get and wrong pics within the mando and guitar listings!! It is quite humorous.....We must update because of those Cafe guys and be quick about it! Hold it, how about this Rigel:

43-0767 Rigel (new) A-Plus Deluxe acoustic-electric mandolin, #2088, sunburst, with hard shell case.
List is $2145 but your own special price is only $1769 or, at our cash discount price, $1716

Feb-06-2004, 10:40pm
I think Peter wouldn't appreciate!

Feb-07-2004, 12:00am
I've visited Mandolin Brothers twice; once in tne late '60's to sell some stuff; that was when both 'brothers' worked there. I was less than thrilled; matter of fact, I detected a turned up nose at my instrument; tho that was from the 'other brother'.
My last visit was rather pleasant; I got to play a number of very good instruments, anything I wanted to diddle on. Big Brother was very interested in the speciment I kept with me at all times and asked him for an appraisal. His appraisal was kind of like his sales descriptions, a bit long & semi-witty, but nonetheless quite satisfactory.
It certainly is a shop not to be dismissed due to their lame (or just not currently a priority sales venue) website.

Feb-07-2004, 10:17pm
In mid 2003 I requested their current catalog. I received a 2002 catalog. I sent them an email suggesting they had made a misteke. They responded that it was no mistake and that they were "a little behind" in updating their catalog.

John Flynn
Feb-07-2004, 10:39pm
Anyone who is a serious buyer would be picking up the phone!
It's not that simple. Most potential buyers first form impressions about products and vendors based on ads, word of mouth, and in this case, web sites. Most don't want to talk to a live salesperson until they at least think they are pretty close to making thier buying choice. The error this business is making by not doing good e-marketing is that by the time someone gets to the "serious buyer" stage, they are already turned off by this vendor. So by having a bad web presence, by the time the buyer gets ready to call, they want to call someone else.

Feb-08-2004, 1:56am
One thing for sure is the Bros. don't get a lot of walk-ins.
If you have ever gone to NYC and then said "Let's go see what the Bros. have in the store" you will find it takes the whole day to get there and back. Not an easy task for a local New Yorker let alone a visitor to the Big Apple.
I can appreciate the cost in updating a catalog and if they only do it once a year that's enough for me. If they get a Loar in and it's not sold in 48 hours they will post it qickly but not likely as a few phone calls to a few select seekers will sell it in 48 hours. So much of what is in the store or the website has been picked over by the pro pickers and collectors.

Tom C
Feb-08-2004, 11:22am
"One thing for sure is the Bros. don't get a lot of walk-ins". True, but people from all over the world will go out of there way to go there to buy an instrument.

Feb-08-2004, 1:00pm
You guys wearin' funny cologne or somethin'? I've NEVER had any problems dealing with Stan Jay (or George Gruhn, for that matter) over the phone, in person, or via email. Both men had no problems answering questions on that "Serial Number Disclosure" thread awhile back - in fact Stan wrote a very long, detailed response. Both men have written prompt responses to any email questions I've ever had.. And I've never bought anything from either of them (well, I bought a MBros T shirt once when I visited).

Both places have a policy of "call first, our website may not be up to date" - which most places have. Of course I've gotten great long-distance service from Elderly too. And as has been said, they update their website more frequently. So I can understand how that appeals to us (extremely web-capable customers). But to turn our collective noses up at two of the greatest vintage stores in America because of this? "You won't get my dollar" cuts both ways..

J. Mark Lane
Feb-08-2004, 1:42pm
Well said, delsbrother.

We as mandolin players are a relatively small part of the market. But with guitars, where I have more experience, well that's the bread and butter of these shops. Think about what they are facing. Guitar Center, Sam Ash, etc etc. You want quick Internet responses etc, yeah, you can go to Musician's Friend. But Stan Jay and George Gruhn have kept alive the concept of a music store where people know what they are talking about and provide true customer service. Jeez, look at the history of these places. Does the name John Monteleone mean anything to you guys?

In a way, Elderly, the new kid on the block, has changed the standards, at least with respect to the Internet component of the business. That's fine, and it raises the bar, which in the long run is good for everyone. But they're not perfect, either. No one is.

All of these guys deserve our respect and our business. They are all keeping alive a business model that is increasingly difficult in these times -- the independently owned shop that people run and work at because they love the music, and the instruments, and where accountability exists on a whole different level than the new "big box" equivalents.

It's one thing to offer some friendly constructive criticism. But it really is upsetting to see people be so dismissive of businesses that have been and still are institutions in the world of quality acoustic instruments.


Feb-08-2004, 4:18pm
I just like looking at all of the pictures of the mandos!

Luthier Vandross
Feb-08-2004, 11:18pm
Stan Jay is about the nicest guy you could ever meet. They aren't an internet company, call, leave a message for him, and he will call.

In Dallas, in 1991, they had a double booth, with ONE guitar in it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif It was a nice one.


Feb-09-2004, 1:46pm
You really need to go there, if possible. It is an incredible experience. I am from New Hampshire and usually add Mando Bros. on to trips to NY or NJ. I was there a few weeks ago and got to play a fabulous assortment of mandos. I've bought from them before and it was a great experience. I find that you need to get Mando Bros. on the phone instead of email, but it is important not to call during classic busy times like Saturdays because they really get bombarded.

Oh, that Sam Bush Gibson ---- wow!

Feb-09-2004, 6:11pm
Just returned from a trip to NYC. Whilst in Manhatten I also visited Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island. Have been to this wonderful shop on previous occasions and always left with a lingering broad smile and a new T-shirt. The (free) ferry ride itself is worth the journey. Stan and Steve (and the kid changing strings at the time) where very kind and allowed me to play every instrument that was hanging on these walls. Being a frequent international traveler, I consider this place just as attractive as all the art galleries and museums that I also visit when 'on the road'. I can't think of any place where I have seen such a collection of wonderful vintage instruments in one place. Stan regularly receives international visitors and whilst I was there I met a couple of thrilled Japanese musicians who felt the same way I did. You are very blessed in this regard, try locating even a cheap Korean mandolin or banjo in the average Aussie music store. I have nothing but praise for Stan and his staff. Please keep supporting them, even if they don't update their website every two days. I am already looking forward to my next visit...

Ralf Rodl, Sydney AUS

Feb-11-2004, 2:09pm
I see that Mandolin Bros says it has updated their site. I checked a few items I know are already sold, and yep, they're still listed.

Feb-12-2004, 11:05am
For those who were wondering about the Mandolin Bros catalog - I just got a new one for 2004 in the mail yesterday. It even lists the two newest styles of Collings mandolins.