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Thread: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

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    Default A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    The Mandolin Cafe has posted the following news release:
    A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    We recount our visit to Brooklyn's famed stringed instrument store Retrofret Vintage Guitars.



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    Constantly In Search Of.. Michael Bridges's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    A fascinating read! Thanks for sharing that, almost made me feel like I was visiting the store.
    Music speaks to us all. And to each of us, she speaks with a different voice.

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    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    I wish I would have known of this place when I went to NY in September. Then again, I spent QUITE a few hours at Mandolin Brothers on Staten Island. My dear patient wife waited for me while I poured myself over the many instruments there. I likely would have been a day later getting home, had I stopped by Retro Fret.
    Glad to know more about the place! It will HAVE to be a stop I make when I go back next year.
    Thanks so much Scott for sharing your experience, and at length at that.
    Eric Hanson
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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    A really nice portrait of my favorite NYC vintage shop. Lovely job, Scott!

    Long before they were a client of mine (I sometimes do social media and PR work for them), Retrofret was just… the coolest place in my neighborhood. Very welcoming and knowledgable - displaying all the qualities that make a great local business so much more than an Amazon.com, or Ebay.

    PS Eric, I hope your wife took advantage of the very nice pizzeria across the street from Mandolin Brothers. That helps pass the time! Although it doesn't help the anxiety that can come with a spouse who may be on a big-ticket shopping spree, across the street.
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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Nice writeup, but... no soundclip of you playing the F-10 and the Lloyd Loar...
    Olaf

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Looks like a place I would like if I get to visit NYC!

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    Registered User Annette Siegel's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Thanks for the story Scott! Felt like I was there with ya...what fun!!

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Great to know that somebody has figured out what to do with all those trees that grow in Brooklyn!


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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Wow thanks so much for the great writeup, so glad you enjoyed the shop, Scott! I did warn you about the "hidden" entrance Sorry I wasn't in the day you came to visit but I hope you can come back sometime soon.

    Best,
    Scott
    Retrofret- Vintage, Rare, and Unusual Fretted Instruments
    223 Butler Street | Brooklyn, New York, 11217 USA

    www.Retrofret.com
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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Thanks for the post, Scott. Great to get a peak into a wonderful store. They're officially on my list.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Ha! My '17 A-1 used to hang on that wall!

    And since it was raining like heck when picking up my Flatiron after setup, Steven U. even offered to drop me off at the subway stop.

    Great place!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Made a return visit to Retrofret today so thought I'd share a few pictures inside of this article I put together 3+ years ago. Had a chance to catch up with my old friend Steve Uhrik which I really enjoyed, as I did my time with Scott and Shira who are just great folks.

    Couple of really nice Martin tenor guitars caught my attention. Also, a really spectacular Virzi'd snakehead A-4 that has mismatched tuning buttons. Couldn't tell but they sure look original to the instrument. I find that odd that they would leave the factory like that but who knows? Didn't alter the fact that it sounded marvelous.

    Also included, a picture of a vintage Fender electric mandolin. Lastly, in the original article I asked some folks that live about 50 yards from the store entrance if there was a music store in the neighborhood. Retrofret is so well hidden they didn't know it was there. Had to take a picture of the front porch where they were hanging out that day. I didn't make that up.

    The Roy Smeck mandolin was something to behold. Unusual for sure. They have a matching ukulele to it and a guitar I was told but didn't check that out. The Gibson A dola there sounded real fine. Would make a great mandolin orchestra instrument.

    Enjoy the eye candy. A great place to visit, and if you're looking for an instrument, lots of fun to shop.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Did you try the Roy Smeck mandolin? Last time I stopped in at Retrofret that was the first one I got my hands on. It's a POWERFUl mandolin for such a tiny thing! Definitely not a bluegrass box, but I thought it had a great sound.
    "I'd think learning to play the guitar would be very confusing for sighted people."
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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Bslot0622 View Post
    Did you try the Roy Smeck mandolin? Last time I stopped in at Retrofret that was the first one I got my hands on. It's a POWERFUl mandolin for such a tiny thing! Definitely not a bluegrass box, but I thought it had a great sound.
    Yes, very nice little mandolin. Extremely light and resonant. Believe it was from 1929 so was really something like no other mandolin then and now.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolin Cafe View Post
    Yes, very nice little mandolin. Extremely light and resonant. Believe it was from 1929 so was really something like no other mandolin then and now.
    Hey Scott, Did you get to try out the F-10?, Looks like its in great shape but a way bit pricey in my opinion, I tried to buy that quite a few years ago but they wouldn't budge much in price. I do like the F-7's and have some also the rare 1935 F-12 is in my stable, I'd like the F-10 to have the set but a little too much green!, I know it's no different in sound compared to F-7's but some 7's shine above others in tone/volume, voice etc. I've played quite a few..I know she's no 5 in sound and power but I'm curious,

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Yes, I've played it a number of times. I like it a lot. It's a remarkable instrument, but it's a difficult sell in that age and price range. I've talked to Steve about it before and we both know what the issue is with it not selling. It's perception. It's not the 1923-25 range so folks get scared off. Not many great Gibson F mandolins from the 30s floating around for sale or even being played.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    I hear ya, I think I'm one of the few that like the 7's.,10's and prewar 12's. I love the 7's and have no issues with converting them with a 5 scale maple neck. I've done this to 3 of em and still have one original, My 12 is original and I'll keep it that way, I'd also keep the 10 that way if I ever get one. I tried to come to a deal with Steve/Shira but they wouldn't go for my offer at the time and well it still sits unplayed and unloved 3 years later. The 7's I didn't mind converting because they were not pristine examples and well it made em a whole lot better and 1 for sure rivals some Loars I've played and some of the "well known Loar guys" agree on that one. Nothing wrong with 30's Gibsons be it the short neck F's or the 5's. Just a bit pricey for em, One 5 I've tried to get is a monster to me anyway and it was just lowered in price by 10G, it still has a ways to go if they want to sell it in my opinion.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Noting the anniversary of this article we had a lot of fun putting together back in 2013.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Another trip around the sun for this feature article from this date 2013. The new Retrofret location is the bomb! Highly recommended. Was just there a couple of months ago and it's a really great space.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Well, I'm obliged to leave a grateful note and notice to all in the neighborhood to go by and check out Retrofret, as they proved to be most gracious hosts to me as a drop-in visitor today. Their lovely shop looks a bit different and even more welcoming from even Scott's photos here posted a few months ago. I was welcomed in and enthusiastically allowed to play any of their fine mandos, though I focused my time on the exceptional Grand Artist, the 38' F5, and a pre-war Martin. The Monteleone's balance and tone stood out, and I was also particularly taken by the 20' H4 'dola. Anyway, great service and outstanding taste in inventory should be noted, so do all you can to visit and support this fine shop.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    I like that clean 38 F-5 but priced about 30G to high IMHO! I played a 38 not too long ago and wasn't impressed but in those years they all vary! I don't think there is a bad Monte? Those GA's are something special.

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by paul dirac View Post
    Well, I'm obliged to leave a grateful note and notice to all in the neighborhood to go by and check out Retrofret, as they proved to be most gracious hosts to me as a drop-in visitor today. Their lovely shop looks a bit different and even more welcoming from even Scott's photos here posted a few months ago. I was welcomed in and enthusiastically allowed to play any of their fine mandos, though I focused my time on the exceptional Grand Artist, the 38' F5, and a pre-war Martin. The Monteleone's balance and tone stood out, and I was also particularly taken by the 20' H4 'dola. Anyway, great service and outstanding taste in inventory should be noted, so do all you can to visit and support this fine shop.
    Hey Paul how was the 38 F-5? How would you describe the sound of it-very curious as its been there a long time but like a ton of Retro's stuff I believe way overpriced in this market. "In 2011-12 I offered a price on the F-10 and she still sits, and it was a very good price!" The 5 looks barely played so it would need some serious playtime to probably set it off?

  28. #23

    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by William Smith View Post
    Hey Paul how was the 38 F-5? How would you describe the sound of it-very curious as its been there a long time but like a ton of Retro's stuff I believe way overpriced in this market. "In 2011-12 I offered a price on the F-10 and she still sits, and it was a very good price!" The 5 looks barely played so it would need some serious playtime to probably set it off?
    Hi William, Good to connect here (and thanks for the cloud tailpiece for my Jr. a while back!).

    The '38 sounded solid, to my ears. (I'm always hesitant to describe sound, as it's so subjective, my vocab. is unrefined, and it's so dependent on setup, strings, etc.) I didn't hear anything that would preclude the '38 from consideration and a longer testing session- I didn't play it for terribly long. I'd leave it to others to speculate on the price.

    I've played a few other Grand Artists before, and they've all been noteworthy. This one was very even across the strings and neck, just perfect playability, and a very appealing, subtle tone. That's about the best you'll get from me...

    I'm embarrassed to say that I did not play the 10 (or the 7?). My wife and daughter were doing the all-too-familiar couch sit/wait as I visited, and I've learned that I've got to plan my time wisely. I also try and be respectful of the proprietor's need to have yet another mando-nut drooling over every fine piece in the store. (It's what caused me to abstain from playing the '92 Carlson Bill Monroe's varnish finish at Fretted Instrument Workshop in Amherst, MA a few days ago, though I did inspect it...).

    As I mentioned earlier, I was taken by the '20 H4- not sure if it was the tone or maybe my mood, but I found that it was drawing out of me some droning E string lines that sounded just lovely...

    Anyway, highly recommend a visit to Retrofret, if you can!

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    Default Re: A Visit To Retrofret Vintage Guitars

    Oh yeah forgot about the cover, I try and help anyone locate parts and things for their mandolins if possible, that's pry why I have so many replies on adds etc...I reply and tell what I know to be helpful. Ah yes the couch/family wait-I get it! I'd love to go to Retrofret!

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