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Thread: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

  1. #1
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    Default Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I see excellent players who play on far less expensive and quality mandolins ( Eastman,etc) than their ability ! I also see other players who "play" sub par like "yours truly" and own more upper scale instruments ( Ellis, Wienman, Girouard). Than there is the next level of Gilchrists, Dudes, etc ! I'm sure there are a few novice players who own these also ! I'm also sure there are excellent players who just can't afford upper tier mandolins also ! Judging your own playing ability which instrument should you be playing if it matched your playing ability ?
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain

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    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Rogue. (No disrespect to Rogue intended or implied).
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life." --- Mongo

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    As I am my own harshest critic, and I don't compete so I can't possibly answer your question fairly or accurately. I have always bought the best instruments I could afford. In doing so I have been encouraged by their quality to keep pushing the envelope of my skill level. I may or may not "deserve" the instruments I have but I certainly enjoy them. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I am fortunate that my wife, back in 1993, supported me in asking Randy Wood to build me an F 5. I am convinced that my abilities will never be able to bring out all of the stuff this mandolin has hidden inside. But, it remains my mental health.....as much as I still retain.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Iím a Familyman first, so Iíll never be a great mandolin player. Just donít have the time to devote. My old Eastman 505 would have been plenty of instrument for life, but my wife knew I wanted a Collings and surprised me with one a few years ago. Iím not even close to doing that mandolin justice. But Iím having fun trying.
    ...

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Eastman 315. I'm better than a Rogue, but not as good as my Silverangel...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Quote Originally Posted by F-2 Dave View Post
    Rogue. (No disrespect to Rogue intended or implied).
    Whatever they make that's not as good as a Rogue.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
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    "The days tell, the years speak, the centuries decide . . ."
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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I don't own or play any of those mandolin brands of various archtop long scale mandolins.

    I play bowlback and flatback mandolins by choice.

    "Judging your own playing ability which instrument should you be playing if it matched your playing ability ?"

    Frankly I have no idea!

  13. #9

    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Ok Iíll bite...I suppose itís the same as when one learns how to drive what would be a good beginner car...
    Northfield NF5M #268

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I suppose it’s the same as when one learns how to drive what would be a good beginner car...
    For the instructor and learner: a Sherman tank
    For other drivers on the road: a Tyco pedal car

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Ok Iíll bite...I suppose itís the same as when one learns how to drive what would be a good beginner car...
    A new driver might oughta be driving a better car so his inexperience can be protected by technology and superior construction.

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I've only played two so I don't know.

    *shrugs*

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Well.... If a total beginner is $50 Rogue and Chris Thile is two $150,000 Loars, then...
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Of ALL people who play a mandolin, I'm definitely to the right of center. I might be better than my $1,000 Eastman. I might even "deserve" a Gibson or Duff.

    But by this chart, it implies that Mike Compton (Gilchrist) is a chump compared to John Reischman (Loar), and we all know that ain't true.

    HOWEVER, if we take Loar out of the equation and consider only modern builders, then things get interesting:
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    That puts me closer to a Pava (in my mind at least).

    ***All of these are just my guesstimates for a well-appointed F-model from common builders.

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    Troy Shellhamer 9lbShellhamer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    On the weighted bell curve of mandolins, I'd say the peak is near the $5k mark... Because at the far ends are basically a $350 starter and a $22,500 Gilchrist, and you could basically eliminate the most radical data, like a $150k mando or a $10 mando

    I'd say that a typical intermediate mandolin would actually be a $3500 Collings MT2 or whatever you choose at that price point, or a $6000 mando of your choice. Basically, I see around $2500- $6k as being middle ground...

    We all know that you pay exponentially more for "more mandolin" as price increases... I'm simply saying you could very well create a legit weighted bell curve, where a $3000-$5000 mandolin is right in the middle of the peak.

    This is all hypothetical of course... because in the end we're really talking about consumer surplus. What if someone was absolutely terrible, but they played their Gilchrist 6 hours daily, every day? Surely that is warranted. What if someone was an incredible player but they had several mandolins all costing over $10K, and they only played two of them once a month?

    Basically, buy the best mandolin you can afford, BUT also, buy the one that creates the most consumer surplus taking cost and enjoyment into the equation; with cost being viewed holistically and as a finite resource, ie, money that goes into a mandolin is getting taken from something non-musical that might provide enjoyment also. Ha hahaha... Only you know the equilibrium that is right for you.
    Last edited by 9lbShellhamer; Dec-08-2017 at 12:22pm.
    *2002 Collings MT2
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    (And a bunch of wood and wire that makes noise...)

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I'm not sure talent translates to mandolin quality. I have always said "you can't learn to drive at Indy with a Volkswagen". That being said I am of the belief that getting the best you can afford, or something you love the sound of, will make you a better player. Sometimes I may not feel like playing, but pick up my mandolin just because I love the sound and want to hear it, in which case I can't put it down. I think the opposite may be true, the better sounding mandolin that you can afford (to your ears) the better player you may become.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  22. #16

    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I am learning on a Loar LM700.

    I tell myself in a year or two, if I really get better, meaning if I get through the instructional DVDs, bluegrass up the neck, parking lot pickers book, pentatonic scale book, I will reward myself with a Northfield if funding and my wife allows. She does say the loar sounds tinny and asks how come it doesnít sound like Chris Thiles loar. I told her he uses a really expensive pick. She didnít buy that or a really expensive pick for me

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I have always felt that playing a good instrument makes you a better player because you won`t get upset like you would if playing on an instrument that doesn`t stay in tune or doesn`t have a good tone to it...Some of the Asian instruments are cheap enough and they are decent instruments, some even good enough for the pros to play...

    Willie

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I think we look at this backwards. I will sound better on a great mandolin due to the quality of the instrument. A real mandolin player can take an average mandolin and sound great. So l need a great mandolin to sound average.

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I play an Ellis F5. I have no idea what skill level is recommended for a mandolin of that caliber, and I wouldn't care if I did know. I play it because I enjoy it, and I know I can never blame the instrument for holding me back.

    No offense to those who enjoy these types of discussions, but I think it's a waste of time and an insult to us all when we try to define what instrument we "deserve" or "should be playing" based on skill level. This isn't martial arts where we wear color-coded belts to advertise our skill levels, or are only allowed certain weapons until we earn the right to use them. I resent the suggestion that I should play a lesser instrument until I'm a better player (not that anyone has suggested that to me, but it seems to be the idea behind these types of discussions). Play what you love, make the most of it that you can, and enjoy the journey no matter what you play. Let's stop trying to classify ourselves into categories!
    Keep that skillet good and greasy all the time!

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I believe that better instruments will make anyone a better player, and lesser ones will hold you back. So I say buy the best instrument that you can, as soon as you can without regard to your skill level.

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    Registered User George R. Lane's Avatar
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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    Ok I’ll bite...I suppose it’s the same as when one learns how to drive what would be a good beginner car...
    Porsche
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    I maybe wrong, but it is highly doubtful.

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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    I love my Collings MT-O, it's got everything I need as regards playability, looks, quality of construction. I dream of one day having one of Nigel Forster's mandolins, or a Sobell, or a Campanella (oval A or Due), but I'd also be fine to just keep putting the miles on the MT-O. I love when you see the honest player wear put on vintage Gibson A's over the years and aspire to getting to know my MT-O in the same way.
    2012 Collings MT-O gloss top
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    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Streip View Post

    ***All of these are just my guesstimates for a well-appointed F-model from common builders.
    I can't edit my original post to remove the charts, which have some factual inaccuracies. I apologize if my chart came across as "ranking" the quality of any specific builder -- I just wanted to put a visual to this conversation.

    However, I do think this is an interesting and worthwhile discussion. When builders set prices, they have target audiences in mind, because prices do serve to indicate quality. And the smaller the operation, the more stake they have in who plays their instruments. In other words, Rogue doesn't know who they sell to, but Steven Gilchrist meets each of his customers in Nashville. I don't know if he'd turn down an order from a newbie who wanted an F-5, but I have to think he'd be pretty disappointed if he was building an instrument for somebody who didn't know how to play.

    Yeah, there's some amount of altruism in creating the potential for joy, but let's be real. If I spent 100+ hours building an instrument, I'd want it to be played, and played well. I refuse to believe that I'm alone in that line of thinking.

  38. #25

    Default Re: Which Mandolin fits/compares to your Ability ??

    Another way of looking at it, Hendrix could take an "off the rack" guitar and create music nobody had ever imagined before or since.....

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