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Thread: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

  1. #26
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    You can pull great classical OR bluegrass from an f-hole, arch-top mandolin. That's what Thile does! Other's too!

    If you want new, I'd consider the Kentucky 900/950 or a flat-top. Folks seem to love Poe or Crystal Forest. Never played either. Flattops do sound different as you'd be unlikely to pull much bluegrass tone out of one.

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  2. #27

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    Guys, thanks so much for all the info! What a great group of passionate and helpful musicians!

    I thought I had mentioned it in a previous reply, but my location is just putside of Austin Texas. So Iím not near Fiddlers Green, but luckily Austin is a great music town, and I do have lots of good options to check out mandolins.

    Iíve never played one before though, hence my research now in preparation for going and trying a few. Iíll have to look at some chord charts though, so I understand the fretting positions for a coupe of chords.

    Willie: thanks so much for the PM. I shot you an email in response.

    Sounds like the Michael Kelly is a good starter, although maybe somewhat below the quality my $1k budget can bring. Considering that, I may pass on it.

    The way my timeline is coming together, seems that by the end of June I hope to be ready to make an educated purchasing decision.

    With the great info you folks ar providing, and after going to a shop or two and trying different designs out (F and A style, oval hole vs F hole, carved top vs flat top, etc...) I think Iíll be in a good position to make an educated decision.

    If it wasnít for you guys though, I wouldnít even know to compare the F hole vs oval hole or carved top vs flat top and in terms of tone.

  3. #28

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    Eastman 515 varnish - shockingly great! I have a Collings MT and sometimes I do not know which one I like better. Different sound, but both great.

  4. #29
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    I think as a guitar player, you'll appreciate a radiused fingerboard and larger fretwire. The Eastman mandolins have radiused boards, but smaller traditional size wire. Some of the Kentucky models have both.
    If you're ok with an A style with F holes, I still think the JBovier is a great buy. If you can find a used Kentucky KM950 or KM1050 in your price range, those are great as well

  5. #30
    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    If I were a migrating guitarist on a $1000 budget and not particularly interested in traditional aesthetics or tone, I'd look long and hard at a used Breedlove of American manufacture: https://www.elderly.com/catalog/prod...n/category/97/
    Got a great buy on a Breedlove Legacy OF A/E with a twin factory K&K, from Elderly last year around this time. A little over $1000.00 but not much over. Always considered the Bend, Oregon Breedloves to be one of the more underappreciated US made mandolins. Great tone and the two I have owned really projected well. Cut right through in a jam.
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  7. #31
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?


  8. #32

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    If you have never played a mandolin before, you might want to consider nut width. Breedlove and probably others make a "crossover" model with slightly wider than normal mandolin nut width, precisely for guitarists looking for a second instrument, and who may find the more cramped fingering a challenge at first. You might want to consider a gateway instrument like that. Perhaps a second hand one which you could sell on without much loss once you are sure this is the direction you want to take.
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  9. #33
    Registered User LastMohican's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    Quote Originally Posted by willkamm View Post
    Got a great buy on a Breedlove Legacy OF A/E with a twin factory K&K, from Elderly last year around this time. A little over $1000.00 but not much over. Always considered the Bend, Oregon Breedloves to be one of the more underappreciated US made mandolins. Great tone and the two I have owned really projected well. Cut right through in a jam.
    I owned a Breedlove American FF for a few years and really enjoyed it.
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  10. #34
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    Please do yourself a favor and do not buy the Breedlove Crossover model. They are poor imitations of the previously built in the USA Breedlove mandolins. The USA made Breedlove mandolins are a very good value and great for people coming from a guitar background. You will only find them used, not new because they are not made anymore, only the import Crossover model.

  11. #35

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    Just so you know, Michael Kelly gets very mixed reviews....

    There is no such thing as a ďbluegrass-onlyĒ tone. It works the other wayóyou need a mando with a strong chop, attack and volume to play bluegrass, generally you get that with a carved top and f-holes. But you can play anything else on it too. I play pure Celtic style on a bluegrass mando, I prefer it because it lets me play, ahem, ďaggressivelyĒ in a pub full of ďtake no prisonersĒ Cape Breton fiddlers. (But hey, I have a sensitive side too ;/= )

    Your thought of the Eastman 605 with built-in p/u is worth looking at. You might also, as a way of staying within your budget while being flexible about instrument choice, try spending 5-600 on a possibly used Eastman 505 or the Kentucky or TLoar competition, and buy a good removable pickup like a Schertler Dyn-M. Then you can swap out mandos if you want to try something different next year.

    Be aware, mandos mike much better than guitars and in a worship setting you might not need a pickup at all...they are certainly useful in noisy pubs!

    I think the Eastmans with the classic reddish finish sound and look better than the sunbursts, but I think a lot of things.

  12. #36

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    Thanks guys. All great info! I understand the point about a good mandolin being loud, but Iíll still need the ability to plug in. Our room is fairly large, and itís live streamed and recorded for other uses as well. So the audio from the mandolin would need to be captured. We also run about 100dB live, so not sure the volume from it would be enough to hear in the back of the room over 100dB coming out of the mains.

    The removable pickup is an interesting idea, thanks! My wife and I are both musicians, and we rarely ever sell anything. Iím selling the Reverend only because I only bought it a few months ago, and just didnít bond with it. We have about 10 other guitars/basses plus 2 violins, a cello, and a piano. I mention this just to say I probably wouldnít sell the mandolin even if I upgrade to a better one in the future. Assuming I stick to learning and improving my skills on it.

    The crossover style seems interesting, although I think I want a standard mandolin to learn with, so the skills and habits I develop are easily used on another. For what itís worth, Iím not a large guy and donít foresee having an issue with the finger board spacing. I do frequently chord above the 15th fret on my guitars, and I assume thatís similar spacing to how a mandolin might feel?

    Iím due back from vacation on Saturday, and will most likely put the guitar up for sale next week. Then will be making my decision in which mandolin to purchase.

    I really appreciate you guys providing me with all this great info! Iím sure Iíll be reading it several times over to be sure I havenít missed anything

  13. #37
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    The Eastman 600 series mandolins come with a pickup already installed. This looks like a good used one, below your price point and comes from a good shop......

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/124990#124990

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  14. #38

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin on $1k Budget?

    I don't need a mandolin and I want to buy this on principle.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/125678#125678

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