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Thread: The Loar vs. Breedlove

  1. #1

    Default The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Hello gang!! While still in my journey of finding a first mandolin, I believe I have it narrowed down to two A styles - The Loar LM 220 VS and the Breedlove OF VS Crossover. Both of these I found used online but said to be in mint condition. Both sellers report that they have been professionally setup and play very good.

    Because I live in an area that just isn't very mandolin friendly, I am having to purchase online and cannot play samples of either to get a feel and sound for them - hence the reason to purchase online.

    I see the Loar 220 is a discontinued model (perhaps replaced with a 400 series?) but I thought I read some good things about them. The Breedlove is a current production model and I thought I read about the same of it. Is there one more preferred over the other? Is this an apples to oranges situation? Any experiences, inputs, and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

    (just to recap, I am a guitar player of many years looking to join into the mandolin world)

  2. #2

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    I believe the Breedlove has a wider fretboard which might get you playing more quickly than the narrow one on the Loar. You'll be upgrading in a year or two anyway, so either will get you started without spending too much at this point.

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Thanks for the reply, Davey. I did read that the Breedlove had a slightly wider nut width, and also a radiused fretboard. I assume The Loar has a more standard nut width and flat fretboard?

  4. #4
    Registered User Willem's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    Thanks for the reply, Davey. I did read that the Breedlove had a slightly wider nut width, and also a radiused fretboard. I assume The Loar has a more standard nut width and flat fretboard?
    The Loar will be 1 1/8 nut width and you are correct about the flat fretboard.

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    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    In my experience, most guitarists make WAY too much of the tiny difference in nut widths, which is only 1/16" or thereabouts! Yes, there are a few folks (very vocal on the MC) who seem to have trouble adjusting, but the vast majority of mandolinists here can handle a 1-1/8" nut or a 1-3/16" nut equally well. If I were you, that would not be a factor in my decision. But such decisions are highly personal, of course.

  6. #6

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Thanks for the replies. I'm not that much hung up at all on nut widths as I play various nut width guitars from electric to classical, as well as different ukuleles. I would think the flat fretboard to radiused fretboard is more of a playability factor. Though I still know very little about mandolins, the difference in feel from a flat fretboard and radius fretboard in guitars in quite noticeable to me.

    I guess I'm more concerned about the quality, playability, and tone of the above instruments mentioned. Having played none of the mentioned, and not being able to, is what troubles me. I'm hoping to hear from players that have and get their input on them.

    Thanks!

  7. #7
    Registered User Willem's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    Thanks for the replies. I'm not that much hung up at all on nut widths as I play various nut width guitars from electric to classical, as well as different ukuleles. I would think the flat fretboard to radiused fretboard is more of a playability factor. Though I still know very little about mandolins, the difference in feel from a flat fretboard and radius fretboard in guitars in quite noticeable to me.

    I guess I'm more concerned about the quality, playability, and tone of the above instruments mentioned. Having played none of the mentioned, and not being able to, is what troubles me. I'm hoping to hear from players that have and get their input on them.

    Thanks!
    I have a The Loar 520 which is the F-style equivalent of the 220. Solid hand carved woods and a decent sound. I like my Loar 520. The only real ding on it is the thick poly finish. This series is certainly a significant step up from the 100 and 300 series instruments from The Loar. The newer Asian manufactured Breedlove's do not get good reviews, but I can't say from any personal experience.
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    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    I've played current (Asian) production Breedlove mandolins in the store and found them unimpressive, with forgettable tone and a notably clunky feel overall. That alone would make me more inclined to take a chance on 'The Loar'.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!! This is quite helpful. The edge certainly going towards The Loar 220....

  10. #10

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Ok, let me add two more to the mix - two that I originally had in but took out. Curious to hear the comparison thoughts on them. They are the Seagull S8 and the Washburn M1SDL. The Washburn I can get for about $100 less than the others, but the other three I have found are all similarly priced.

    The Seagull seemed real cool at first with its own uniqueness (plus I really like their guitars), but then I was drawn back to the more traditional style of the others.

    Just curious if I should entertain these other two or keep favoring The Loar 220.

    Thanks to everyone for the help!

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    We are not just apples to oranges. You have added grapes and cantaloupe to the mix! haha

    None of these mandolins are similar. The Washburn has laminated back and sides. This would be more in line with an LM-110 as far as construction goes. But, it is an oval hole.

    You are correct that the LM-220 was recently discontinued. I received the last shipment of them a couple of months back. It was dropped due to having too many similar models. Recent A models were: LM-110, 170, 175, 220, 290, 300, 400. The 220, 290 and 300 were very close to one another.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Thanks for the information, Robert. I like fruit bowls

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    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    I have a Breedlove OF Crossover. After a professional set up for an additional $80 it’s not bad. OK to get you started. But, beware, you will be looking again soon.

  14. #14
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Having played several examples of each... I'd look instead at a Kentucky KM-150, or, if you can stretch the budget a bit higher, some of the other Kentucky models. The KM-150 is a very good mandolin, and hard to beat in that price bracket. I have a student who purchased one last year, and it continues to impress.
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  16. #15

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Thanks for the added replies! Yes, I've read a great deal of the KM-150. I will look more into them. I did find a used KM-380 used in mint condition that falls in the same price range as the others. Perhaps I need to add that one back in the mix. I do know I'm getting itchy to pull on one though and start picking!

  17. #16

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    If you get a KM 150, you will have a nice mandolin you won't have a problem taking to the beach or camping when you eventually upgrade, and believe me, you will upgrade. If for some reason you want to sell it, you can in about two minutes.

    It has become the most recommended first instrument for a good reason.
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  18. #17

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    The Seagull does a number of things quite well—fits in a small space, plays like a real mando (not a bluegrass one though), looks cool, and rather significantly, has unique hardware—quite decent tuners in fact, and a unique tailpiece and bridge such that you will not be tempted to try to tart it up and get a fancy setup, you just play it out of the box as is and later on either trade up or better yet keep it for a spare.
    I seem to like the Breedloves better than other people do but given their somewhat dubious reputation, you would not likely want to buy sight unseen.

    While you’re at it, Eastman 305. (There’s a reason the entry-level Eastmans are pricier than other entry-level numbers...) Or a used 505.

  19. #18

    Default Re: The Loar vs. Breedlove

    Thanks, gang - I will surely give the KM-150 serious thought. I will also look up the entry Eastman. I admit to liking the looks and video samples of the Seagull, I just wondered how the smaller body sat in the lap. I guess if I can play my soprano ukuleles with no troubles then the Seagull should be a piece of cake.

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