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star_rockers
Feb-28-2011, 2:58am
I love my mid-Missouri a-style mandolin. It sounds so lovely when I'm playing solo. But now I'm ready to upgrade and I want a mandolin that's gonna be ideal for bluegrass jams. Good tone, good volume, and a great "pop" when I chop it. Anyone have suggestions on where to start my search? Thanks for your help!

Jessica

Mandolin Mick
Feb-28-2011, 3:39am
Make sure you get a mandolin with F holes. It will give you that percussive, punchy tone that you need for chop chords, etc. Of course, F models look like Bluegrass mandolins ... ;)

billkilpatrick
Feb-28-2011, 6:45am
may i suggest a loar LM-600 - not too pricey - everything you'll need.

plus: the "F-5" style mandolin (with scroll) is a timeless beauty - it will always looks good; regardless of fashion, it's always in style. as instruments, "A's" have a beauty and functionality all their own but they do not have that unique, classic design quality that "F's" have (imho.)

most of the old oval hole and "A" style mandolins i see look dated - charming, and all that; probably sound great, etc., etc. ... but passŤ. "A's" can be appreciated as individual instruments (looks, tone, craftsmanship, etc.) but with a few notable exceptions, all "F's" look great.

2 euro-cents ... from a happy loar owner.

wellvis@well.com
Feb-28-2011, 10:56am
What's your budget? I'd hate to recommend an instrument you couldn't (or shouldn't) afford.

Mattg
Feb-28-2011, 12:04pm
The A vs F thing is pretty common in these discussions. I got my cheap F and now I'm over it. Got a much nicer A now. Sounds good, plays good and holds it's own in any bluegrass jam. Never looking back (Unless I can somehow afford a really nice F sometime in the future).

Here's a pic I took at a great bluegrass jam last Saturday. These two musicians played their Nugget A's duet style most of the afternoon and they sounded great. Jerry Mills, on the right, is a fantastic bluegrass musician. These non-F mandolins were the two nicest instruments there.

69078

star_rockers
Feb-28-2011, 1:19pm
Thanks for the feedback everyone. As far as my budget, I'm hoping to find something great for under $3000. If the perfect one is $3500, of course, I'm willing to stretch the budget. :) I really love the "look" of the f-style, but I'm not married to the idea. As long as it sounds good that's the most important thing. And loud. I'd like to hear myself even if I'm standing next to a banjo... or maybe I've just been standing next to the wrong banjo players. ;)

Mandolin Mick
Feb-28-2011, 4:52pm
At that price level you'll be able to get a fine mandolin. May I suggest a pre-played Gibson F-5 or F-9 from the classifieds here? It's an investment in your musicianship and you'll be able to recover your investment should you decide to sell ... :)

Ivan Kelsall
Mar-01-2011, 1:10am
'F's Vs 'A's - The common devisor !. It has to be said that the majority of Bluegrass players do use an "F" style Mandolin,but not exclusively. Possibly the most well known brandisher of an "A" style is Tim O'Brien,then maybe Jody Stecher,both wonderful players with wonderful sounding instruments . I'll bet there aren't to many member who wouldn't trade their 'so so' "F" styles for Tim's Nugget.
I'd say look at all of them within your price range A's & F's,& pick the one that sounds & plays good to you,regardless of style.
I get the feeling that we'd all like the "A" style Mandolin that would blow the "F"'s out of the water,i have to admit that i would & there are a few out there. Don't be too hung up on the 'style',go for sound & playability all the time. For instance if i had the cash,i'd be taking a very,VERY serious look at one of Wyatt Wilkie's "Northern Flyer" Mandolins.They look different & with his background as a luthier,i think his Mandolins would be a serious investment & a seriously fine instrument within your budget,
Ivan
691026910369101

tiltman
Mar-01-2011, 4:15pm
A vs F

- with what you have to spend you could get a REALLY good A style or an ok F style...personally, I'd go for the A style.

Also, pay close attention to the size/shape of the neck. Some people like a v-shape neck, I personally find that very uncomfortable after several hours of playing. I like a more rounded neck but that's a very personal thing.

Kirk
Portland, OR

f5loar
Mar-02-2011, 1:11am
Someone just posted for sale a Jim Triggs F5 Loar copy for $3200. If I had that much to spend (my wife says I don't or I would have already gotten it) I would jump on that one so fast it would make my head spin. For that kind of money that would be hard to beat for a long,long time. Trigg's quality is up there with the big independant builders and he was at Gibson building F5s in the 80s a long time. This is a really good price on one of his if that is the right price. You would become the envy of any jam session you can find in the state of WA.

Mandolin Mick
Mar-02-2011, 4:21am
And loud. I'd like to hear myself even if I'm standing next to a banjo... or maybe I've just been standing next to the wrong banjo players. ;)[/QUOTE]

You haven't been standing next to the wrong banjo player, just standing next to a banjo player ... ;)

acousticphd
Mar-03-2011, 2:04pm
You have no end of good choices with a $3000 budget. You can be looking at some of the finest handmade A-styles being made, for example, Old Wave. I'd sure suggest you look used, though. You could even get two mighty fine used A-styles for $3000-$3500.

JonZ
Mar-03-2011, 2:17pm
If you like the way Collings mandolins sound, you might consider a Collings MT at around $2K. To my ear, they sound as good as the most expensive instruments that Collings makes.

That is a compliment to Collings; not a criticism.

clutchmo
Jul-28-2014, 7:47am
The A vs F thing is pretty common in these discussions. I got my cheap F and now I'm over it. Got a much nicer A now. Sounds good, plays good and holds it's own in any bluegrass jam. Never looking back (Unless I can somehow afford a really nice F sometime in the future).

Here's a pic I took at a great bluegrass jam last Saturday. These two musicians played their Nugget A's duet style most of the afternoon and they sounded great. Jerry Mills, on the right, is a fantastic bluegrass musician. These non-F mandolins were the two nicest instruments there.

69078The young lady on the left of Jerry is named Kerry and she performs with a band called Giddy-up Kitty - As far as A styles vs F, I assume that is a personal preference. If you not already have googled the Nugget mandolin, you will see that they are very hard to get and if you do find one the cost is more than two or three other named F style mandolins.

Alex Orr
Jul-31-2014, 2:24pm
Agreed with amny folks, in that range, you have a lot of options. Used Gibson F5Gs show up a lot in the classifieds, as do Collings MTs. Both are solid values and consistent builds. If you can find a Sumi or Smart in that range used then I'd highly recommend both of those - I was so sold on an acquaintance's Sumi a year or so back that I flirted with the idea of selling my Brentrup for one. That Sumi had the old Loar sound dialed in perfectly. There's also a Dearstone in the Classifieds (http://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/77744) - I've played two of Ray's mandos and they are very nice.

Mike Bunting
Jul-31-2014, 2:45pm
Thanks for the feedback everyone. As far as my budget, I'm hoping to find something great for under $3000. If the perfect one is $3500, of course, I'm willing to stretch the budget. :) I really love the "look" of the f-style, but I'm not married to the idea. As long as it sounds good that's the most important thing. And loud. I'd like to hear myself even if I'm standing next to a banjo... or maybe I've just been standing next to the wrong banjo players. ;)
There is a Duff A5 in the classified right now at a really good price, why not go to the top.

Andy Alexander
Jul-31-2014, 8:32pm
If you are more concerned with sound than looks, you get the biggest bang for your buck with a really good used A model. $2500 would probably get you a very, very nice Gibson A5-L or a Collings MT2. There are many other makes of A models that are equally great.

Markus
Jul-31-2014, 8:37pm
OP probably found his mandolin as the top of thread is 2011.

Mike Bunting
Jul-31-2014, 8:50pm
OP probably found his mandolin as the top of thread is 2011.

I feel so embarrassed! :)

Jon Hall
Aug-01-2014, 7:24am
Did the OP ever decide on a mandolin?