View Full Version : Post a picture of your first mandolin!

Jan-28-2008, 10:50am
While reorganizing one of our closets I came across some older photo's and I found this one of my first mandolin. #It was an Epiphone A-style that I purchased in Vancouver, Canada somewhere around 1992. #I used to call it a "cheap-a-phone".

Anyway I though this would be a fun thread to see where people starting with this whole M.A.S. thang. . .

Jan-28-2008, 12:26pm
My first mando was also and Epiphone A style. Over the years I took the pick guard off and have recently removed a lot of the finish with a scotchbrite pad, giving it a matte look. My wife said it looked a lot better. I am still trying to determine if it sounds any better with less finish. I don't have a picture right now, but will upload one later.

Jan-28-2008, 12:32pm
this started it all for me
noname bowlback given to me by my grandma

btw I still have it... itīs not part of the catch and release game

Jan-28-2008, 12:43pm
Here's mine! #It was deliverd last Tuesday. #I picked it up from getting a Pro setup on Friday and haven't been able to put it down ever since!


Jan-28-2008, 1:02pm
My first (working) mandolin was number three of a series of home built instruments starting in 1961. The earliest two were poor and lasted a short time while experience was gained. The black faced F4 type was built around 1970 but eventually cracks appeared in the top and it caved in. Frets magazine later showed that tone bars were a feature of these tops and I hadn't included them.
After that I managed to afford an Ibanez F5 and several others until I got my Gibson at the Showcase in Nashville two years ago.
I don't bother building them anymore !
Barry C. Lane

John Flynn
Jan-28-2008, 2:21pm
This is not the exact instrument, but mine looked exactly like this one. It was a "Lotus," a complete POS made of Korean plywood. But it got me through my first year!

Jan-28-2008, 2:24pm
Seems like an A-Style with a pickguard was pretty popular as a starter!

Jan-28-2008, 2:29pm
I started off with the mandolin on the left, a Johnson 120B, pick guard removed and converted to left-handed. It was setup at my local shop and it served its purpose well, but it couldn't stand next to my MK which is still my only instrument. I actually sold the Johnson to someone who worked at my old company and didn't have to switch it back to right handed. It's a small community of mando players, a small world for lefties, and a super small world for lefty mandolin players so that was a pleasant surprise! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Jan-28-2008, 3:30pm
Mine was a Lone Star Venice.... Solid cedar top with strips of sycamore and rosewood laminates making the carved bowl. Once it was set up it was playable but the tuners wouldn't hold very well. I actually kind of miss it b/c it was very pretty. I passed it along to a nephew who liked it. Someone has described my collection listed below as aristocratic. Funny. I still play on the Johnson plywood mando I have for my kids too. If it intonates in first position and can hold tune for at least a little while, I'll play on it.

"I would rather play a Lone Star than nothing." -someone elses signature.


Jan-28-2008, 3:43pm
I will post some pictures as soon as I get home. My first mandolin sits in its original case downstairs somewhere. It is a Tanada, purchased in 1975 from a television repair shop that also sold musical instruments. I don't know who or what Tanada was. The mandolin is a factory made cheapie, pac rim I assume, A style, f-holes. It sounded ok to me at the time.

The neck separated from the body one hot summer I left it behind the back seat of my car.

Jan-28-2008, 3:49pm
Pic of my first mandolin?? Are you kidding??

MAS struck hard and fast years ago. That Kentucky 675 is long gone. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Jan-28-2008, 5:41pm
O.K., here's my first mandolin - got it in the late 60's (yeah, I'm old and fat - ha). #It's had quite a life and for a while it ran away, but recently it returned home. #The prodigal mandolin!


p.s., apologies in advance for photo quality.

edit for further details: White ivorid-looking paint binding and all laminate construction. Silver dollar sticker on the inside (blue) with red shield "K" logo and "Chicago" below. Some tiny lettering that proclaims something about "fine instruments" and "since 19xx", but I can't get my bifocals in line to read the tiny stuff. Really needs a neck reset, but it would have to be a charity case as it's not worth the $200.00 for me to have it done. Not a bad sound however, well then again. . . .

Jan-28-2008, 5:55pm
Did you all see the pics of Mike Marshall's new ten-string with the fanned frets, and how the neck looked twisted in the photos? Well, picture a 70's Ibanez A-style, with a neck that looked like that for real and that was my first mandolin. I really miss it! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Jerry Byers
Jan-28-2008, 6:04pm
I bought my first mandolin in early 2006. It was an Eastman 815 Golden Age from Dennis at The Mandolin Store (http://www.themandolinstore.com/). This was the beginning of my MAS. This Eastman did have some nice flaming on the back.

Jim MacDaniel
Jan-28-2008, 7:07pm
I don't have any pics of my first mandolin, which I received for Xmas in 2000, but I found this pic of one identical to mine. I had it about a year before I upgraded, and ever since, I've been exercising a catch-and-release approach to MAS, with no more than two or three mandolins in my inventory at any given time (that's not my rule; it's my wife's -- but I'm working on upping the limit http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif )

Jim MacDaniel
Jan-28-2008, 7:15pm
...and here my most recent acquisition, an Arches spruce over cocobolo flat-top -- which UPS is delivering tomorrow! #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Jan-28-2008, 7:36pm

Jan-28-2008, 8:34pm
Now that's a real piece of (distressed) junk!

Jan-28-2008, 8:37pm
That distressing is "dumb".
edit: http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif so no one takes me seriously...

Jan-28-2008, 8:48pm
..... I know, but one has to start somewhere. I have since traded up to this beauty and even received an extra set of strings.

Jan-29-2008, 11:32am
No picture , digital cameras were only in spy satellites at the time,

3rd (or more) hand, Gibson A 40, it was $150,
at the time.

Dial your WABAC machines to the 1970's.

Django Fret
Jan-29-2008, 11:45pm
Here is my first about 30 years ago. #Thankfully, I didn't hold this one against Vega and have really enjoyed the Cylinder Backs that I've played since then.

Jan-30-2008, 12:09am
Here's a scary one. I'm anywhere from 16 to 18 (circa early to mid 80's). I don't even know where the mandolin came from. I think my dad bought it from someone he worked with. I was already playing guitar and banjo at the time.


Jan-30-2008, 12:24am
This is my Mid-Missouri M11-W with a Doug Edwards ebony armrest. I really obsessed over this mando when I first saw it. Still love the look of the mahogany.

Feb-02-2008, 7:57pm
I bought this Kiso Suzuki A style MF-200 new in 1986. Never had a problem with it, it's all original and it still plays great.

Lee Callicutt
Feb-02-2008, 10:08pm
...and here my most recent acquisition, an Arches spruce over cocobolo flat-top -- which UPS is delivering tomorrow! #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif
Hence, the "one in, one out" marital directive? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Feb-03-2008, 6:43pm
Here's a less-than-crisp shot of my first mandolin, a Breedlove Quartz OO, next to the A1 that I posted pictures of here a few weeks ago.

While researching mandolins prior to my first purchase, I had concluded that I really wanted to get the best quality instrument that was realistic to buy. That is, I wanted to get a quality player, as I knew from my experience with guitars that a lower quality 'starter' instrument could be discouraging. As well, though, I didn't want to blow the bank on an instrument that I had barely played before and which I could well have ended up not liking -- granted, a hypothetical but still real possibility.

While the A1 may have usurped the Breedlove's position as my main instrument, I keep the Breedlove in my home office where I can play it to ease tension and free up my mind during the workday, and I do play it in situations where I don't want to risk the A1 -- a Robbie Burns day whisky tasting last weekend is an obvious recent example! It remains a lovely instrument.

Feb-16-2008, 9:59am
Here's my first mandolin, bought in January! After one too many vacations without my guitar and a desire to have a more portable instrument, I got into the mandolin.

It's a "Big Muddy", the little one.


Feb-16-2008, 11:43am
This was my first mando - an old German-built "Portuguese-style" mando which was just lying round the house. I've since passed it on to my friend's children in the hope that they may one day get the urge to pick it up and play it http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


Feb-16-2008, 11:47am
I started on on this, was in our attic for years.

My first mandolin (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=13;t=40657;hl=spencer)


Feb-16-2008, 2:59pm
My first mandolin is the one on the right. It's a Stagg, my girlfriend gave it to me as a present. I didn't even knew that it was a mandolin! Since that day I fell in love with the mandolin, and now I play it more than most of my guitars http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


Feb-16-2008, 3:43pm
<~~~~~~first and only mandolin, haven't contracted that dreadful disease MAS yet!!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Feb-16-2008, 4:03pm
Sorry, no picture. It started when my Dad bought me a fiddle in a pawn shop and the guy threw in a Gibson, Model A-40. That was around 1953. A year or two later I traded it for a Blond Gibson A-40 w/alligator patterned cardboard case. Paid $35 to upgrade! I still have that mandolin.
That was 55 years ago. Anybody been playing that long or longer?

Jim Broyles
Feb-16-2008, 4:27pm
Mine was a Thornward bowlback, followed closely by an Infinity F style. No pics of either.

Feb-16-2008, 4:30pm
Still my #1 ... Pomeroy #21 "Blackjack".


Feb-17-2008, 7:53am
my first was a mandolute made by the Weymann company...Im so glad I bought it! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Feb-17-2008, 10:03am
Kentucky 350s...I had some strap issues. Haha. Currently on loan to my sister's boyfriend. Although, I think it's stuck inside his car's trunk in Marquette Michigan http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif


Feb-18-2008, 4:56pm
My first mandolin was a Flea Market find..... an Eagle ... not too impressive, so my six year old daughter get to play it.

Feb-18-2008, 9:01pm
My first I bought 2 months ago, Fender FM63S. I took it to Tony Ianuario, luthier here in GA. he put on bone nut, new custom bridge, did a fret job, shaved stupid knob off back of neck, shaved neck down nice and thin, refinished neck with tongue oil instead of laquer, put an Allen solid cast bridge on it, then did set up. It is pretty sweet for under $1000. However, I am already looking to get one built custom! I've been browsing you builders on here looking for a potential builder for my new baby! After 35 years playing acoustic (martin d-28), I am totally hooked on my mando, playing AT LEAST 2 hours a day! Thanks in part to mandolincafe! My poor d-28 is feeling jilted!http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Rob Zamites
Feb-18-2008, 9:19pm
The first 8 stringed goodness I've even owned, and now for sale:

Feb-21-2008, 12:03am
'65 loar?

Feb-21-2008, 12:20am
'65 loar?
Harold Loar of course! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Feb-21-2008, 1:00am
I was lucky, My grandpa gave me this mandolin as my first, a 1941 Martin 2-20. Nice instrument but not to good for Bluegrass. I wish I would have held on to it.

Martin Jonas
Feb-21-2008, 6:14am
Here's my very first mandolin -- a German-made Majestic flattop from the 1920s or 1930s. I inherited it from my grandfather, who bought it second-hand in around 1940. It passed to my mother when he died in 1947. It fell into disuse in the 1950s when my mother switched to bowlback. It spent some time tuned as a balalaika when one of my aunts had a brief obsession with Russian music, and my mother eventually gave it to me in my teens. I didn't start to learn it until some twenty years later, though, in 2003. It was a really good instrument for my first steps, once I had set it up with new strings and a playable action. Eventually, MAS kicked in and the rest is history.

Quite a nice instrument, actually. Modest, and never intended for anything other than amateur music, but I think it's rather more attractive than most of these German flatbacks and it was in pretty good condition when it passed to me. Sustain is pretty non-existent, but the tone is woody and loud and it's a very good match for old-time fiddle tunes. A little bit like a tenor banjo. Unfortunately, it developed a fairly nasty crack a couple of years ago which I haven't got around to fixing.


Martin Jonas
Feb-21-2008, 6:19am
The back of the Majestic has some attractive figure in the maple and a warm finish which contrasts nicely with the blond beech neck.


Jim MacDaniel
Feb-21-2008, 11:35am
I already posted a pic of my first mandolin earlier in this thread (a Fender FM-52E), but I just found this old pic of me (c. 2001) with my first luthier built mandolin, a Spicer Student Model, from Mike Spicer in Hamilton, Ontario. This was also my first wide-necked mandolin (1-5/16" at the nut on this one), which set me off on my catch-and-release quest of the past few years, for the perfect wide-necked mandolin -- but ironically, I find the 1-1/8" V-neck on my Arches flat-top much easier to play than the D-shaped wide-necks that I have owned or played previously.

Jim MacDaniel
Feb-22-2008, 10:44am
...and here my most recent acquisition, an Arches spruce over cocobolo flat-top -- which UPS is delivering tomorrow! #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif
Hence, the "one in, one out" marital directive? #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif
Unfortunately, yes http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Celtic Saguaro
Feb-22-2008, 1:54pm
Older folks will remember this one. My first was Harmony Monterey from about 1977. I tried Epiphone As at the same time. This one was $30 bucks cheaper and much superior. #Its top is cracked now, but it was the best $80 I ever spent.
http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y194/cactuswatcher/2008/Harmony.jpg #http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y194/cactuswatcher/2008/HarmonyB.jpg

Jim Hilburn
Feb-23-2008, 1:45pm
I don't have any pictures but my first mandolin was a Harmony like the Monterrey only the cheapy with the red black sunburst with painted "flame" stripes. $35 brand new in '72. I'll never forget when i figured out where that 2 finger G chord was and then finding the D. Man, I was playing a mandolin!

Feb-23-2008, 7:59pm
Oh yes, the Harmony. I bought one just like the picture as a "throwaway" for a 6 month stay in Europe, also in 1977. I left it with friends, and when I moved over here later it was given back to me. On loan to my son at the moment. 80 dollars is what I paid too, quite a nice mandolin for the price. Mike Compton said he learned a lot on a Harmony. Also had a Harmony Sovereign guitar which was also a good instrument for the price. I wonder how many others had one?


Feb-23-2008, 8:50pm
this is my first and only....... I really want a Weber....

Feb-27-2008, 4:23pm
My first mandolin was this New York Pro eBay special.


Jake Wildwood
Mar-05-2008, 11:13pm


Here's my first mandolin... and now my only. Can't stand any others after you play this one! Been in the family for near 110 years now. This was my Great Uncle's (or was it Great Great Uncle's?) mandolin. Made by J. Gindlesperger in Kansas City. I just reset the neck and cleaned it all up. Hardware was black, practically. Now it plays beautifully and sounds even better!


Bill Snyder
Mar-05-2008, 11:23pm
That is a fine looking instrument. It is neat to have something like that that has been passed down from earlier generations. I am glad that it is still in such good, playable shape. May you enjoy it for many years to come.

Mar-06-2008, 8:12am
That is a sweet flatback, Jake. You may want to post it in the Flatbacks of Note thread. (http://www.mandolincafe.net/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=6;t=50236;st=100) You may even get some more info on it.


Apr-06-2008, 6:46pm
This is my first, a slightly custom Garrison M-120. slight because it is all gold hardware instead of chrome or silver. Don't know why ! but it was the only garrison i could find right here in newfoundland.
It has been 3 months and i love it, sound has definitely changed "fuller" for lack of a better term.
I come from a self taught guitar background, and also some brass experience, but the newf/celtic music really hooked me when i moved here 2 years ago!

Apr-06-2008, 6:47pm
whoops !

Apr-06-2008, 6:48pm
thats a bad pic, i'll dig out the camera and get one with better lighting sometime soon

Ivan Kelsall
Apr-07-2008, 4:00am
My Michael Kelly "Legacy - Solid". I had this Mandolin for only 3 months,long enough to realise i had a talent to play the Mandolin & traded it in for my Lebeda F-5 Premium Plus,which in turn was traded in for my Weber Beartooth after i got my Fern. In a way i wish i still had the MK,i could probably make it sound better now than i used to do,

Apr-17-2008, 3:34pm
My first mandolin.

May-03-2008, 7:59am
I had this Michael Kelly Legacy Deluxe only 3 weeks. #I have since acquired an Eastman 505 and a BRW FT-MS. #My MAS is cured!

Dan Krhla
May-03-2008, 8:26pm

Mine was a painful to play New York Pro, nothing new york or pro about it. My 2.5 year old strums on it now, since he is not fretting (ouch) I feel it's ok. Good thing I upped to a Eastman 604 soon after