View Full Version : My new Bean Blossom Blonde...

Sep-02-2004, 2:53am
Here's the front:

Sep-02-2004, 2:54am
... the back:

Sep-02-2004, 2:55am
... the peghead:

Sep-02-2004, 2:57am
... the scroll (front shot):

Sep-02-2004, 2:57am
... the scroll (back shot):

Sep-02-2004, 2:58am
... the left side:

Sep-02-2004, 2:59am
That thing sure looks good, how does it sound?

Sep-02-2004, 2:59am
... and the right!

Sep-02-2004, 3:22am
Right, now that you've seen it, here's a little bit about it.

I've only been playing for 3 months, 2-3 hours a day, on an Epiphone MM-20. I played the predecessor (laminated) of this mandolin in a shop, and found it nice, so when I saw the solid wood, non-sunburst new version, I grabbed it.

Cosmetically, I think it's a pretty good job. the wood is very plain (as you can see in the pics) but has a rather nice grain.
This is a $500 chinese factory produced mandolin. I wasn't expecting a Gilchrist, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It's pretty well finished overall. (If you're interested in buying one without trying it, I can provide high resolution pics). I think the binding is better fitted than on the equivalent MK models I've seen.
The inlay is very nicely done in MOP.

Nice and easy. The fingerboard is flat, with standard frets. The shape of the neck fits my hand nicely. I rest my hand on the bridge when I play, and there is a slightly square-ish angle there that I might file smooth, just for comfort. The mandolin was set up by the guys at BanjoBarn before they sent it, so no problems there.

It sounds actually quite loud and sharp. I think it was designed with bluegrass music in mind, and I reckon it will fare well in this context, especially with the J74s it is stringed with at the moment. I'll change the strings to J62s at some stage to see what it turns it into.
When my girlfriend picked it up, she immediately said it sounded better than my epiphone, especially in terms of clarity and sustain. She's a lot more muscial than I am, she knows these things http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
Sustain is actually very impressive, especially on the A & E strings, when compared with my laminated MM-20. I think I will give tremolos a rest for a while.

Now, since it is brand new, I suspect the sound will change over the coming month, but as it is, I think it's pretty good. I'll try and post a sound sample later



Sep-02-2004, 3:36am
And the scroll looks good!!!!!!!!!!!

Sep-02-2004, 4:02am

Thanks! The scroll is indeed quite nicely shaped. The finish on the inside is fairly good.
Below is a very close-up (albeit a bit blurry) shot of it.

As I mentionned, I think it is of a better finish standard than the Michael Kelly mandolins I have seen (please, no flame war, this is my opinion), which were more like this (http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/images/90N/MK8-WALNUT_scroll-front.jpg), though in fairness, I reckon it's easier to finish a white-cream binding on a blonde mandolin than on a dark-brown one. I'll try to get a sharp close-up to replace this one.

Sep-02-2004, 6:04am
Looks very nice. I'm impressed by the binding around the scroll. That is something I don't see very often in an import. Like I said in the other thread, some of the features look identical to my Fender (Korean) but it is clear by your pictures that the Bean Blossom has superior workmanship for the same price.

Sep-02-2004, 6:11am
Jeff, for what it's worth, this one was apparently made in China... The only obvious finish flaw in the mandolin is at the joint between the top of the back and the neck. I think it is in part due to the difference in wood colour, but there is a clear joint line when you look up close:

Sep-02-2004, 7:26pm
Funny, mine has that same flaw. It isn't as visible since it is the black part of the burst but you can see it if you look close and feel it with your hand.

Sep-10-2004, 4:35am
Well, it's been a week since I recieved this baby, and I've been playing it daily for 2-3 hours.

The sound has opened up a bit I think, though that may be partly due to the new strings 'relaxing' as it were. It still feels very comfortable to play, though I think I'll got for big fat frets on my next mando.

When I do a lot of slides, the tip of my fingers gets a bit tinted brown/grey, although I can't see any finish actually coming off the fingerboard. I'll keep an eye out so see if this keeps happening.

One week on, I'm happy with it, I'll fit some 'smoother' strings next to see how the tone changes. It still looks Yummy! I could just spread it on a cracker! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

mad dawg
Sep-10-2004, 9:09am
The fretboard MOP and the extension look very similar to Gold Tones I've seen (perhaps made in the same factory?). Have you had a chance to check out a Gold Tone up close for comparison purposes?

Sep-10-2004, 9:18am
The fretboard MOP and the extension look very similar to Gold Tones I've seen (perhaps made in the same factory?). Have you had a chance to check out a Gold Tone up close for comparison purposes?
I haven't I'm afraid. JeffS reckons it's the same model as his Fender. Do you know where the Gold Tones are made?

Sep-10-2004, 9:25am
Just looked at these pictures. Looks nice. Mad Dawg: your observations are correct. I have two Gold Tone GM-70's. The fret board inlays and the headstock decoration are exactly the same as the GT's. But both of my GM-70's were made in Korea, not China. Maybe someone is making the neck-head assemblies for Morgan Monroe and Gold Tone?

Tom C
Sep-10-2004, 10:18am
The early Michael Kellys had or have that same inlay on headstock.

Sep-29-2004, 6:28pm
I got mine two weeks ago. It looks like a twin. Has a nice loud sound, especially the E + A strings. Good for the price. Better sounding than the Chinese made Epiphone mm-50 and the Fender fm63-s. The neck's a little wide at the top where it transitions to the peghead. It should be nice to play after a setup to lower the action.

Sep-29-2004, 9:34pm
I just dragged out my old (Korean) Washburn because the headstock inlay looked very close. Indeed the design is identical however the actual CNC program is going to be different as the sizes aren't quite identical. One wonders if perhaps the same guy might have programmed all the CNC machines. Perhaps the inlay overlays are contracted out to a single source for many of these instruments?

Sep-30-2004, 6:16am
Now hey there, I like that mandolin. Very nice piece.....

John Zimm
Sep-30-2004, 7:37am
That is a nice looking mandolin. Congrats on the new instrument. I know when I got my MK, which was a huge step up from my Alvarez, I couldn't put it down. I agree with you on the worksmanship on your mando-on my MK Firefly the binding on the scroll isn't done nearly as neatly as your is. I hope she treats you well.


Sep-30-2004, 8:07am
It's a funny thing the scroll-binding business. I've never built a mando, but I can imagine how incredibly difficult it must be to bind properly around the scroll. I suppose it's one of the benefits of machine-building...

Having said that, "some people" (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_image.pl?2887) managed quite well at it http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Sep-30-2004, 9:21am
I too bought that same mandolin from Banjo Barn. BUT the first one they sent me was also built in China and it was terrible had a straight neck and several bad frets that wouldnt even play. I sent it back under warranty and they replaced it with one made in Korea which is perfect in everyway. First Quality also sells this mandolin but they first replace the bridge with a Weber which I also did put on J 74 strings and added an armrest. Everone thinks my mandolin has a great sound very happy with it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif ps mine is black with a sunburst. Sorry I dont have a pic.

Nov-28-2004, 8:28am
I also have one of these and I'm happy with it. Put J74's on and will probably change out tuners and tailpiece. Never done any work on one before. Has anyone changed out parts yet? What did you use? Thanks

Michael Gowell
Nov-28-2004, 10:33am
I have exactly the same inlay pattern on my (Korean) Dean BGFSF. #I went into Buckdancer's Choice in Portland Maine with no intention of buying another mando (I love my 1909 F2) but curious about what a radiused fretboard felt like. Of course I took the opportunity to try everything, and I worked my way through a wall of old Gibson A's, MM's, etc. When I came to the Dean the sound just jumped out - far superior to anything else they had for under $1500 (and the Dean was half that.) Like yours, the binding isn't perfect and the lacquer is too thick, but nonetheless it's got a powerful bluegrass tone. #Say what you will about Pacrim mandos in general, some of them are very good instruments and they are priced for a workingman's budget.

Keith Miller
Dec-01-2004, 8:18pm
There has been a fair few of these mandos on ebay recently going for VERY reasonable prices even makes the import into UK worth while...only problem is I keep being outbid !A mando like these would sell for about 500 over here you lot on the other side of the pond are very lucky

Dec-02-2004, 12:22am
well this is kinda weird but i thought the exact same thing the first poster did...nice scroll! #I don't know if it was the pic angle or I guess the scroll (I know, duh) itself but that was my first thought. #Im glad ya got it, im glad ya like it and enjoy your self with it!!!
Like my Mom use'st to say "You don't need no Loar, Jeffrey, you need to practice more" Just kidding, she really said "$2500.00, shouldn't it be a little bigger" #I said "Now Mom, don't go makin fun of my little instrument like all the other girls do! Them guitars and banjers just ain't as fun to play and i sure ain't gonna lug around no big ol' bass.

I still haven't had a chance to pick one of those or even a MK. here in Idaho I usually see Fenders, epiphones and goldtones as the Pac rim imports and Webers and Breedloves for the most part unless Im at a festival and Greg Boyds or Cartwrights Music is there.

Jan-06-2005, 10:09pm
Bean Blossoms are made at the same factory in Dalian that makes Epiphone, Dean, Samick, Rally and Straus instruments. #In fact, they're made by the same makers, and finished side by side by the same workers. #I was just there last week and was amazed at the quality of workmanship and attention to detail. #

Here's a rack of Bean Blossom mandos:

Installing purfling/binding on Bean Blossom mandos:

Jan-07-2005, 1:31am
So would you say that all of these are in fact essentially the same instrument with a different logo on the headstock?

Jan-07-2005, 10:28am
Yes...to a point I guess.

The factory manager told me that different companies have different manufacturing standards. #Some want ebony purfling, for example, while others are satisfied with plastic. #Some want to have their own technicians run through the testing, and some have specific finish materials they require. #But yes, basically they all go through the same process - using the same tonewood, the same machines to cut and sand and rough out and buff and finish...

Mandolins and guitars are made totally differently in China than violins. #For the most part, violins (violas/cellos/basses) are hand-made with little or no machine "intervention", whereas mandos, banjos and guitars are PRIMARILY machine-made with a little human intervention http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

It was really great to see it all. #I'm still digesting the trip. #I learned a lot. #I guess I have so much more respect now for Bruce Weber and Marty Brunkalla and the other domestic makers I know. #They still do a lot of it by hand.