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Thread: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

  1. #151

    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Wright View Post
    ... On quality in general, the photog that is a working professional better bring his A gear to the gig to reassure the client he is serious, like a salesman that is well-dressed. Who wants to hire a loser? ...
    Up to a point.

    The opposite can occur too though.

    I once worked for a company whose owner decided to start driving around to see his business clients & customers in his fancy new Mercedes convertible.

    Many of his customers didn't think that was very cool, they were scrabbling for a living driving some old Chevy 4-door and trying to make sure there was enough money to cover their own employees' next payroll checks, while the guy who sells supplies to these businesses shows up in a fancy new luxury Mercedes convertible.

    One of the business customers pointed to the fancy car and outright asked him, "Don't you think you're making a little too much money off of us?"

    Clearly there was some resentment among the business customers and clients, seeing that show-off expensive car that had been bought with money that those businesses had paid him.

    That was an over-display of 'success'.

    In that line of work, the main thing you need is to keep the customers' trust, not to make them suspicious that you're charging them extra to finance unnecessary luxury personal purchases.

    Plenty of other fish in the sea - those businesses were not locked into any contracts, they could dump any of their suppliers any time they wished (and they frequently did), so it's better to have good vibes with them.

    Not that show-off stuff that makes people think you charge too much for your services.

    One thing - when people feel they're being overcharged for something, they're far more likely to find faults with whatever products or services they're getting. Whereas if they feel they're getting a fair price, they're more likely to tolerate a few glitches here and there.

    Don't know how much of that would translate to the music biz...

    (Nothing wrong with being wealthy. Just don't flaunt it at inappropriate times.)

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  3. #152
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Tom makes a great point, but I think I agree with JL277z here. I rarely see anyone interested in musician's instruments in over 20 years of presenting shows. Not one commented on Mike Marshall's two mandolins, his Loar and his signature Northfield. People did look at the mandocello, though, as it's a rarity on general. Same with violinists who bring a hardanger fiddle. No one cared what John Jorgensen was playing, I might have been the only one to ask what he brought, and the answer was essentially "stuff I don't worry about if it gets broken." I think more people were curious about D J Val Inc.'s synth set-up when she came to back up cellist Dana Leong. No one had ever seen stuff like that before.

    Not sure there's a correlation between instruments and other professions. Carpenters better show up with a functioning and well-kept truck and tools to reassure a customer, same with the photographer and equipment, but music? Is it because their prized possessions are both expensive and difficult to replace, as opposed to a saw or camera? Probably, but most every musician I know travels pretty cheap. The most expensive mandolin was Mike's Loar, then a big step down (price-wise, only) to Josh Pinkham's Red Diamond and everyone els seems to bring stuff in the 2-5k range.

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  5. #153
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by JL277z View Post
    That was an over-display of 'success'.
    Yes, there is a fine line between cool understated professionality and extroversion.

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  7. #154

    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Yes, there is a fine line between cool understated professionality and extroversion.


  8. #155
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    I didn't realize that they were having a hard time. Is there anything that I can do to help?

    As the owner of both a vintage Gibson snakehead and a modern Black reproduction, I think that there's room in this world for both. I must confess that I don't think of a mandolin as a "person with experience" that "has had time to live" and "has had the sound played into it." Rather, I believe that some people simply prefer antiques just like others favor newer builds. Personally, I place my faith in the modern independent luthier, as my signature attests. Of course, I wouldn't refuse the Griffith Loar if it were made affordably available to me.
    I don´t think that Mike Black and/or Steve Gilchrist have a hard time to sell their instruments. But when you see that Mike Black has been building full time since 2014, you´ll see that his bussiness is still in its infancy. Also, he builds A-5 and A-4 mandolins according to his website. My guess would be that he builds a lot mor A-5s than A-4s. And how much revenue comes from repair work? The same applies to Steve Gilchrist. Check his output of oval hole instruments. Also Gilchrists oval hole instruments are by no means recreations of vintage oval hole instruments (longer scale and such on his mandolins).

    I also think that there is room enough in this world for vintage and new instruments. Why not?

    But when I play or hear a good vintage instrument it is not because I`m an antique buff (certainly not) that I hear what has been rumored as "the tone".

    Yesterday my son wanted to play some music. He decided to grab the mandolin. I got to listen to the mandolin from the passenger seat. His first chop on my old Strad-O-Lin made my mouth water. All things being equal, I have never (!) heard as great a vintage tone on instruments in that price league (up to well in the 2k range). Same with my Southerner Jumbo. I have never heard a modern guitar sound as vintage. My expensive guitar sounds really (!) great. It´s a 30ies D-28 recreation. Yet there is a certain (teensy) barrier to overcome to truely sound vintage.

    It´s interesting to see the way this thread has develloped. Claims are (the way I understand the posts)
    - a cheap instrument sounds as good as an expensive instrument,
    - a great player can make a cheap instrument sound as great as an expensive instrument (aka it´s the driver, not the car; therefore the pricetag on an instrument does not refer to added quality)
    - touring musicians generally don´t have expensive instruments (does that serve as an indicator to the fact that expenive instruments are equal to snake oil?)
    - vintage sound does not exist (at least people that claim to hear a "vintage" sound really like the instrument not because of the sound but because of the fact that they like antiques)

    I´d like to play advocatus diaboli by throwing these claims out there. Which are the arguments that may support these claims? While I don´t think there are any I´d like to hear them.
    Olaf

  9. #156
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    Also Gilchrists oval hole instruments are by no means recreations of vintage oval hole instruments (longer scale and such on his mandolins).
    Believe the scale of his mandolins are all the same, vintage scale just shy of 14". Perhaps there have been a few longer scale models made as custom orders.

    The only difference in his ovals (M1 and M4) from his M5 (F5) is where the neck joins. His ovals are short neck just like the old teens and early 20's Gibs.
    Last edited by mtucker; Feb-12-2018 at 9:44am.

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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    You know that feeling when you get in an over priced Bugatti Veyron and take it out on the autostrada?

    Neither do I, but someone’s buying them & while there’s an awful lot of bling factor, and prestige “willy-waving” going on, theres one shed-load of engineering & striving for excellent quality wrapped up there too. It just happens to cost exponentially more to access that level of quality. Sure you can go as fast in something else, but you aren’t accessing that enginerring & style. Reality, prestige & taste get wrapped up in many varieties, some people value that enough to stump up the big bucks, others just can’t see it or wouldn’t value it the same.

    Me I’ll console myself with pretending it wouldn’t suit me and I’d probably crash it, or any other story that means I don’t have to chase the dream.
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  12. #158

    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    You know that feeling when you get in an over priced Bugatti Veyron and take it out on the autostrada?

    Neither do I, but someone’s buying them & while there’s an awful lot of bling factor, and prestige “willy-waving” going on, theres one shed-load of engineering & striving for excellent quality wrapped up there too. It just happens to cost exponentially more to access that level of quality. Sure you can go as fast in something else, but you aren’t accessing that enginerring & style. Reality, prestige & taste get wrapped up in many varieties, some people value that enough to stump up the big bucks, others just can’t see it or wouldn’t value it the same.

    Me I’ll console myself with pretending it wouldn’t suit me and I’d probably crash it, or any other story that means I don’t have to chase the dream.
    Nicely said.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    I think the double blind tests of instruments have been more publicity stunts than science.

    Years ago, one of my clients was a brewery. Once a week or so all the employees that had time were called in a room, each given three small numbered glasses of beer and an index card. All they had to do was write down the number of the glass that tasted different from the other two. No determination of better or worse or likable or flavor or body, just which one was not like the others. With that information the brewery chemists were able to keep a consistent well loved product.

    So here is my idea. Two mandolins of different builders costing more than $15,000 and one mandolin costing less than $1500, all F5 styles, all set up expertly by the same person. Three different players playing three different tunes on each mandolin. One microphone and recording set up. All players play all tunes on all mandolins. The recorded cuts are organized by tune and player.

    I believe that most if not all mandolinners, musicians, heck the general public, who only had to determine which of the three is most not like the other two, would unerringly choose the lower priced one. No value judgements, no personal preferences, just which one sounds most different from the other two.

    I really do think so.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    It would confirm that there is something different about high end mandolins. The value judgments as to which are "better", which you like better, whether that amount of better is worth that amount of dollars - that stuff we can argue about here for years. I really would not want any of that resolved for good and all. Don't take that away, its too much fun. But a simple test as described could take away the argument that there is no difference.
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  15. #161
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Years ago, one of my clients was a brewery. ...

    So here is my idea. ...mandolins of different builders ...One microphone and recording set up.
    The recording setup will kill the cat. Do it live, that´s the ticket.

    Had a the SPBGMA-nominee (and mandolinist) walk all across the campground (was a soccer field adjacent to the festival venue) because the sound of my Strad-O-Lin stood out and made him think it was a prominent F-5 mandolin. Had people quit the bar-b-q to come to where another picker and I were playing some very good 30ies D-28 recreations (same maker, same model, different year). The cut of these instruments and their tone - they said -was unbelievable. The heard it from 100 m afar not because we pounded the instruments like berserks but because of the clarity, power and tone of said guitars. I heard a 30ies Grenada flathead from afar (100 m) as clear and even as when I was sitting in front of it. Try this with an Eastman etc. (not that they are bad instruments).

    Oh, in what seems another lifetime I took part in a blind test to find out which was Pepsi and which was Coca Cola. That was not difficult. And what´s more. I like to drink neither. Just Cool Aid at times
    Olaf

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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Couple of things:
    I am getting here that "better" is pretty darn subjective. To complicate it further mandolins are such individuals its hard to compare them in any objective way. But there is till "better to me".

    The quality of the instrument is the least thing holding me back. I have sucked on some pretty expensive(borrowed)instruments.

    Cost Benefit ratio on mandolins is ridiculous. It takes twice the cost to get half the improvement, maybe less when you get to about $10K At that point I'm scared to take it out of doors.

    Something really happens at the $1000, $2000 and $5000 area (talking A's here, double for F's) I played my Eastman 515 for about 8 years because I couldn't find anything that sounded twice as good. My Pava is at least half better than the Eastman and I really have gotten better because I love to play the thing. I hadn't played the Eastman for a while and took it to a festival where I didn't want to leave the more expensive instrument laying around. It's still pretty good, but not as good.

    Is that a Placebo effect? Well, it worked for me.

  17. #163
    Registered User mandocaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlieshafer View Post
    I rarely see anyone interested in musician's instruments in over 20 years of presenting shows. Not one commented on Mike Marshall's two mandolins, his Loar and his signature Northfield. People did look at the mandocello, though, as it's a rarity on general.
    Here we are though, on the mandolin cafe, and it's safe to say that most of us are gear nerds. Beyond that, there is something magical about a fine instrument that might be a bit more transcendent than a nice hammer. I've spent time talking to Mike Marshall about his Loar, and much more recently had a chat with Sierra Hull after a concert about her Gibson. I think most of us here would talk about instruments for days given the chance. Grisman, Bush, Thile, etc. travel with high end gear, as far as I know.
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  19. #164
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    I've brought this up on a similar thread before. For what it's worth...

    Double blind tests don't necessarily prove anything. Sure they seem more scientific, but they don't always encompass the entire picture. There's a famous example that most of us (anyone over 40) probably remembers and that's the Pepsi/Coke challenge. They had these at malls everywhere across the country. What happened was that the marketing teams for Coke and Pepsi realized that in a blind taste test, people preferred Pepsi. Even those that said they liked Coke better (before doing the taste test). The outcome was that Coke came up with "New Coke" which was a complete flop. That caused them to create Coke Classic, and then it eventually went back to just Coke.

    So what happened? Because Pepsi is sweeter than Coke, people preferred the taste of Pepsi for the small amount they gave you in the taste test. So people who thought they liked Coke better, were "proven wrong". Except they weren't proven wrong at all. The reason New Coke flopped was that those people really did prefer Coke. The Pepsi may have tasted better for that small amount, but after drinking an entire can of it, the perception of the taste changed. So those who liked Coke better did not like the taste of Pepsi for an entire can, even if they were "fooled" by the taste test.

    So the double blind test was not so scientific after all. It tested something under a condition that did not mimic the real world. No one drinks one ounce of coke or pepsi, they drink the whole can.

    The same can be said of instruments. I have picked up high end instruments, chopped a G chord or two, and thought "meh, it's not that much better than my Summit". But then as I kept playing it, up and down the neck, different styles, different techniques, I started to think, "whoa, this is really nice." Same goes for one of these violin tests. How does the instrument sounds in all types of conditions? How does it play? What does it sound like for this or that type of music? etc.

    I'm not saying that the double blind tests regarding violins are no good. I'm just saying it doesn't prove anything just because there was some article about a violin double blind study that shows this or that.

  20. #165

    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    I would love someone to do a survey on what we'd buy. Seems to me there are two major factors, the ability to pay and willingness to do so. Now my ability to pay is greater than my willingness to do so. My mental limit is around $3000. My bank account could do more. Some will be willing to stretch their finances and make sacrifices elsewhere to obtain the instrument they feel they need. I'd venture these are pro musicians whose psychological makeup fundamentally defines that as who they are.

    Others such as I, and I'm pretty serious when it comes to music, will temper desire with practicality. People are very complex when it comes to motivations. I firmly believe that when it comes down to motivation, few of us are enlightened enough to really judge ourselves or even admit we could fall prey to something like the placebo effect, or marketing brilliance. Others with weaker minds submit to such things. Self delusion is honed to a fine edge in us humans.
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  21. #166
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    One of the things about being on a low income is that you don't get many opportunities to be the proverbial fool who is soon parted from his money. That being said, I play a Godin A8 that cost me about $800 a few years back, and am happy with it. Still, I go into the local music shop now and then, and play their mandolins. I've often found that the $2,000 & 3,000 mandolins don't sound a lot better than my own, if better at all. I tried a $5,000-plus mandolin the other day. It was certainly good, but I'm not sure that it was $4,000 better than mine. Still, it depends on the sound you're looking for. If I played bluegrass for instance, I might have different tastes. I also own a banjolin, but it's basically a different instrument in terms of sound, and I play it to get different effects than I get on mandolin.

    I play a German-made fiddle that my grandfather bought in England in the first decade of the 20th century. It's no Stradivarius (even though it says "Stradivarius" inside) -- but, whenever I think about getting a better fiddle, I tell myself that mine sounded awfully good when Graham Townsend, a highly regarded Canadian professional fiddler, played it. I can tell the difference between a $200 violin and a $1,500 one, but I can't get up the nerve to go into a violin shop and try out the $25,000-up instruments while the symphony violinists stand around listening, so I can't say much about the sound of extremely expensive instruments.

    I'm still at a fairly elementary level with mandolin, so my issues aren't the ones David Grisman is dealing with. I've decided that when my instrument is holding me back, I'll think about getting a new one, but that hasn't yet been an issue with any of my instruments. If it becomes one, I'll try out new instruments while avoiding looking at price tags, as there definitely is a placebo effect. However, if you're a two-bit mandolin player, what do you need with a $5,000 mandolin anyway?

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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    This again?

    I don't check into the cafe all that often anymore, but when I do, it's almost a guarantee that one of the top three general threads will be the four millionth time someone has started a thread in which:

    1. The question of whether expensive mandolins are really all that good is raised.

    2. The OP (who often states he's only played mandolin for a short while and doesn't actually know much about mandolins) will likely say that they're over-rated and he thinks most people can't tell the difference between, for example, a low-end Kentucky A and, for example, a Nugget, Gilchrist, Dudenbostel, etc..., in a "blind taste test."

    3. Almost immediately several people will say they can hear the differences while at least one person will say he has, for example, a $75 Epiphone that sounds better than any instrument he's ever heard, and thus ALL high-end instruments are scams.

    4. Someone will suggest that expensive instruments are really just a way for snooty high-end instrument owners to act snooty towards other people with less expensive instruments at jams.

    5. Someone will say that Thile, Grisman, Skaggs, etc...., would sound just as good on a Rogue with massive intonation problems, buzzing frets, and a softball-sized hole in the back, therefore there is really no superiority in sound from more expensive or higher quality instruments since everything has to do with the player.

    6. Eventually everyone will concede that a Gilchrist does, indeed, sound better than a Rogue...but then the question will go deeply into the weeds regarding the exact price-range in which more-expensive instruments are actually better than the cheapest instruments on the market and thus justify people spending the extra money, as well as the price range at which all higher-end instruments all sound exactly the same and it just becomes a contest to see who can foolishly blow the most cash.

    7. About half the time there will be a second thread originating as an offshoot of the first-thread that basically is arguing the same thing but doing it with slightly different examples, thus tempting the same folks to restate the same arguments they made in the first thread.

    8. There is a 25% likelihood the whole thing gets shut down at some point after it gets too personal, maybe in regards to someone slamming an instrument maker someone else loves or perhaps someone's chops and general knowledge about instruments are questioned.

    9. The whole thing will repeat itself after about a 7-10 day break.

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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Alex Orr, you're right! Maybe we should talk about Blue Chip picks instead...

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocaster View Post
    Here we are though, on the mandolin cafe, and it's safe to say that most of us are gear nerds. Beyond that, there is something magical about a fine instrument that might be a bit more transcendent than a nice hammer. I've spent time talking to Mike Marshall about his Loar, and much more recently had a chat with Sierra Hull after a concert about her Gibson. I think most of us here would talk about instruments for days given the chance. Grisman, Bush, Thile, etc. travel with high end gear, as far as I know.
    Right, it's the Mandolin Cafe, and it's interesting reading the responses. It seems that about half are gear nerds, and really care, and for them names and what people play are important. For the other half, it seems playing music is important, and gear is just something you need. I think if there's something to be "learned" here, (as in, I bet everyone already knew it) is that music means different things to different people. For some, the tech is exciting. Instruments, microphones, etc. For others, it's the social aspect, as in gong to festival snot to listen to the performers, but to have a weekend of campground picking. Others enjoy playing in bands, successful or not. There's a Venn diagram effect to this, where certain segments overlap, but nevertheless, when Dawg chimes , like he did a month or so ago, and says something to the effect of "This is great we're talking about music and not about instruments" that means something. When I relax before or after shows with musicians, the conversations are far more centered on food, trail runs, places to see in the area, bad cars they've been stuck with. It almost seems like talking about instruments is a duty.

    So yeah, there's a placebo effect, and it's not a problem. It's part of the fun of music, if you're a gearhead. You get drawn to expensive instruments because they're rare, they are good, and it interests you. Do they really matter? Up to a certain price point, sure. But in the overall scheme of what making music is all about? Nah.

  27. #170

    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Orr View Post
    This again?

    I don't check into the cafe all that often anymore, but when I do, it's almost a guarantee that one of the top three general threads will be the four millionth time someone has started a thread in which:

    1. The question of whether expensive mandolins are really all that good is raised.

    2. The OP (who often states he's only played mandolin for a short while and doesn't actually know much about mandolins) will likely say that they're over-rated and he thinks most people can't tell the difference between, for example, a low-end Kentucky A and, for example, a Nugget, Gilchrist, Dudenbostel, etc..., in a "blind taste test."

    3. Almost immediately several people will say they can hear the differences while at least one person will say he has, for example, a $75 Epiphone that sounds better than any instrument he's ever heard, and thus ALL high-end instruments are scams.

    4. Someone will suggest that expensive instruments are really just a way for snooty high-end instrument owners to act snooty towards other people with less expensive instruments at jams.

    5. Someone will say that Thile, Grisman, Skaggs, etc...., would sound just as good on a Rogue with massive intonation problems, buzzing frets, and a softball-sized hole in the back, therefore there is really no superiority in sound from more expensive or higher quality instruments since everything has to do with the player.

    6. Eventually everyone will concede that a Gilchrist does, indeed, sound better than a Rogue...but then the question will go deeply into the weeds regarding the exact price-range in which more-expensive instruments are actually better than the cheapest instruments on the market and thus justify people spending the extra money, as well as the price range at which all higher-end instruments all sound exactly the same and it just becomes a contest to see who can foolishly blow the most cash.

    7. About half the time there will be a second thread originating as an offshoot of the first-thread that basically is arguing the same thing but doing it with slightly different examples, thus tempting the same folks to restate the same arguments they made in the first thread.

    8. There is a 25% likelihood the whole thing gets shut down at some point after it gets too personal, maybe in regards to someone slamming an instrument maker someone else loves or perhaps someone's chops and general knowledge about instruments are questioned.

    9. The whole thing will repeat itself after about a 7-10 day break.
    A pretty accurate assessment but you left one out. Probably should have been #7.

    7. Someone who hasn't been checking in here all that often will check back in long enough to remind us all of the futile Deja Vu we're experiencing.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    If it weren't for recurrent questions, the cafe would have shut down a whole lot of years ago.

    I think it is a recurring issue because indeed, it is an actual issue, or question, or conundrum, that gets bumped into over and over again, as a person confronts the quality and costs of mandolins. What is worth what and how much of all this is hype? You spent what on what?
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  29. #172
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    I don´t think that Mike Black and/or Steve Gilchrist have a hard time to sell their instruments.
    Then how are they having a hard time competing?

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    But when you see that Mike Black has been building full time since 2014, you´ll see that his bussiness is still in its infancy. Also, he builds A-5 and A-4 mandolins according to his website. My guess would be that he builds a lot mor A-5s than A-4s.
    My records are incomplete, but my guess is that you would be wrong. From published threads, Mike has built about four times as many ovals as A5's, where his output is more akin to his GBOM's.

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    And how much revenue comes from repair work? The same applies to Steve Gilchrist. Check his output of oval hole instruments. Also Gilchrists oval hole instruments are by no means recreations of vintage oval hole instruments (longer scale and such on his mandolins). I also think that there is room enough in this world for vintage and new instruments. Why not? But when I play or hear a good vintage instrument it is not because I`m an antique buff (certainly not) that I hear what has been rumored as "the tone".
    Is it not possible that "the tone" that you are seeking is actually "a tone" and that tastes differ?

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    Yesterday my son wanted to play some music. He decided to grab the mandolin. I got to listen to the mandolin from the passenger seat. His first chop on my old Strad-O-Lin made my mouth water. All things being equal, I have never (!) heard as great a vintage tone on instruments in that price league (up to well in the 2k range). Same with my Southerner Jumbo. I have never heard a modern guitar sound as vintage. My expensive guitar sounds really (!) great. It´s a 30ies D-28 recreation. Yet there is a certain (teensy) barrier to overcome to truely sound vintage.
    While I have no doubt that the Stradolin made your mouth water, is it not possible that different tones scratch other players where they itch?

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    It´s interesting to see the way this thread has develloped. Claims are (the way I understand the posts)
    - a cheap instrument sounds as good as an expensive instrument,
    As mandolins are (generally) carved from wood, this seems possible but not probable.

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    - a great player can make a cheap instrument sound as great as an expensive instrument (aka it´s the driver, not the car; therefore the pricetag on an instrument does not refer to added quality)
    I think the implication is more that a great player can demonstrate how the perceived limitations of a cheap instrument are actually the limitations of the cheap mandolin owner's playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    - touring musicians generally don´t have expensive instruments (does that serve as an indicator to the fact that expenive instruments are equal to snake oil?)
    I think that the argument tends to posit that touring musicians often have expensive instruments but tour with more humble alternatives on which they still sound fundamentally like themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    - vintage sound does not exist (at least people that claim to hear a "vintage" sound really like the instrument not because of the sound but because of the fact that they like antiques)
    As this one seems aimed at me, I'll say that I don't find it a fair characterization of what I wrote. I'll say again that I don't think of a mandolin as a person with experience that has had time to live and had the sound played into it as you posted. It is simply a difference, a preference, that some pickers are chasing.

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    I´d like to play advocatus diaboli by throwing these claims out there. Which are the arguments that may support these claims? While I don´t think there are any I´d like to hear them.
    Perhaps you simply struggle to imagine that others might have a different notion of "better."
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

  30. #173
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    You can pay more for a set of tuners than for an entry-level Eastman mandolin, if you wish.

    A top-of-the line mandolin will have more elaborate binding—top, back, fingerboard, and headstock. The maple used for the back and sides will be much more highly figured. Bridge and tailpiece will be the best available, and the inlay on the headstock will be the most elaborate. Comes with one of the best available cases, adding several hundred bucks to the total price. It all adds up. Some players could care less about the aesthetics, while others appreciate and are willing to pay for the best materials and workmanship.

    There is definitely a point where price and quality diverge, where it takes a lot more money to get ever-smaller improvements in tone. Fine instruments are even across all four courses, all the way up the fingerboard. Most players really don't care what the top of the D course sounds like, but a few do.

    The most expensive new instruments are works of art, every detail considered, with tone to match. I don't have the budget to go there, but for the people who do, have fun and get a beauty. For the rest of us, there are plenty of great-sounding instruments at much more moderate prices. While tooling around in my Toyota, I do enjoy seeing the occasional Maserati, Ferrari, and Tesla sitting at the same red light where I'm stopped.
    1988 Reno mandolin, Trinity College mandola, Kentucky KM 272 oval hole mandolin, a few bowed string instruments and some stray woodwinds

  31. #174
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    From Eoin - ".... over priced Bugatti Veyron ..". I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed to ride in something so cheap !!. If you want possibly the finest ''custom built' car ever made,go for one of these - a Rolls Royce ''Sweptail'' - yours for a mere £10,000,000 UK,
    Ivan

    PS - That was a total 'one off', uniquely designed for a specific customer ('whoever' they were) RR hasn't disclosed the name / location of the owner. Surfice to say that they also have the mega-yacht to go with it.
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    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
    Lebeda F-5 "Special".
    Stelling Bellflower BANJO
    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

  32. #175

    Default Re: Instruments, Cost & the Placebo Effect

    Coming soon to a thread near you: 'My mandolin is longer than your piece of string'

  33. The following members say thank you to Ron McMillan for this post:


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