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Thread: Upgrade advice please

  1. #1

    Default Upgrade advice please

    Hello Mandolin Cafe. I'm a newbie so please be gentle with me.

    I've owned a couple of Fyldes over the years, one an Octavius and the one I use now is a Touchstone. I also own a Touchstone octave mandola. As much as I love them I find them tough to play and I'm not getting as much out of it as I would like.

    So now is the time to upgrade.

    I play a mixture of traditional Scottish, Irish and European stuff and I play a lot of Americana. So I guess I'm looking for an all rounder.

    I've always fancied a Weber, though not heard enough. I'd say my price range would be around the 3k mark.

    So...

    Would you go for a big name like a Weber or maybe look for a local luthier for this kind of cash? I think the most notable luthier near me would be Mike Vanden, waaaay out in the middle of nowhere in Scotland.

    Here's an example of his work: http://www.vanden.co.uk/mandolins.htm

    Would it be worth taking a pop on a vintage Gibson for example and converting it? BTW I don't care if it's sacrilege, I've converted a 1936 National dobro to leftie, basically cos it'll be mine till I die.

    Problem is for me that I'm left handed, and I also live in the middle of nowhere, so I don't have the best opportunity to try anything out. I've bought all kinds of things blind but got loads of bargains in the process.

    Any thoughts/advice are most welcome.

  2. #2
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    Tamco has a bevy of used mandolins in your price range. That Collings would be my choice if I had to buy without trying.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    I would second the MT2 in TAMCO. That Clark A5 varnish at TAMCO looks really nice as well. Vanden instruments are excellent quality, but I am not sure what the build time would be. Alternatively, there is Rory Dowling (Taran Guitars) in Fife. I recently took delivery of one of Rory's Springwell mandolins and it is excellent. Don't be put off by the 'Celtic' label it is a really good all round instrument and the build quality is as good as I have seen anywhere. I am sure Rory would build you a left handed one. Link to a recent thread I started on the Taran here https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...gwell-Mandolin

    My other regular mandolin is a Collings MT2O and I prefer Collings over Weber as a personal choice. Any of these will be very different to your Fylde. Collings mandolins are consistently good so would be a safe bet if you are buying blind. I am sure Trevor Moyle at TAMCO woudl give you some advice, his range of instruments is really impressive.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    How are they tough to play? Maybe a good setup would help. If you like the sound have them setup. You can still look for another, but take more time doing it.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    How are they tough to play? Maybe a good setup would help. If you like the sound have them setup. You can still look for another, but take more time doing it.
    I've always found that I'm fighting it. Playing up the neck is really tough. When I bought it I actually sent to Roger Bucknell to fit a pickup and set it up for me. I feel the action is pretty high, which definitely hampers playing in anything other than first position. Not sure if it's a zero fret/longer scale that does it or not.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    Eric F and DJM83 thanks I'll have a look at Tamco. I'm not too bothered about the build time for a new mandolin as I'm quite happy to play what I have until a new one was to appear.

    I've seen Collings around but I only really mentioned Weber as I've seen them 'in the flesh' and been very impressed.

    If I was to go to to Taran or Vanden then I'd no doubt go and visit their workshops and get one made for my spec.

  8. #7
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    Abundance of opinions..

    Read thru the thousands of priors on this FAQ in the archives yet?


    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    I know what you mean about Fylde setups/playability. A friend had one of their octaves and I could never get on with the neck.

    I've not spoken to Mike Vanden for a couple of years but the impression I get from him is that he makes purely to order. He does make good instruments but if you don't like what he builds for you you're stuck with it.

    I would be sorely tempted by the used Clark at TAMCO if I had any need (or space for) another mandolin - I have one of his GBOMs and Austin is one of the up and coming luthiers (if he hasn't already arrived?) and his mandolins can only get better and appreciate in value.

    If you want something to play at home and solely for your own enjoyment, I would consider a vintage one but if you're looking to compete with other instruments volume wise with 3000 to splash, I'd go for something modern.

    As for Collings/Weber, I think you'll find that the main difference is the sound so you'll need to play both and see which you prefer.

    ......and where do you mean by the middle of nowhere? Almost the whole of the UK is the middle of nowhere as far as mandolins are concerned

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    Quote Originally Posted by leftus maximus View Post
    I've always found that I'm fighting it. Playing up the neck is really tough. When I bought it I actually sent to Roger Bucknell to fit a pickup and set it up for me. I feel the action is pretty high, which definitely hampers playing in anything other than first position. Not sure if it's a zero fret/longer scale that does it or not.
    Can you measure from the top of the 12th fret to the bottom of the string. Some people like higher action, some don't. I don't. I like my action at the 12th fret less than 2/32" on the G and 1.5/32" or lower on the E
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  11. #10
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrade advice please

    I agree the OP should get a good setup before "upgrading". He may love the instrument if the action is improved. If not and he decides to sell it, this might make it more attractive to a potential buyer.
    For wooden musical fun that doesn't involve strumming, check out:
    www.busmanwhistles.com
    Handcrafted pennywhistles in exotic hardwoods.

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