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Thread: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

  1. #1
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    In a recent thread, someone suggested flat-top mandolins as an "intermediate" mandolin (I think between $500 and $800). So what do people suggest that I look at? I think of either the Red Line mandolins, or the older Flatirons. I've decided that 2014 is the year I get an oval hole, and I would certainly consider a flat-top.

    Thanks, DWP

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Check out Big Muddy.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I just got a Flatiron pancake. I was not really looking for a flat top, but one came up for sale on my local classifieds (for a lot less than your budget) so I snagged it. It is great. Really playable, sweet warm tone with nice sustain. I might well make it my only mandolin. Just go read through the 1000+ posts on this thread

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...se-Flatiron-1N

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  5. #4
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Be sure to check out Crystal Forest mandolins. This is a one-at-a-time, one man shop. Terry Majewski makes absolutely beautiful mandolins that sound as good as they look. He will custom build one to match your desires, and he does so at a very reasonable price. I cannot say enough good things about my dealings with him or the beautiful Crystal Forest mandolin I purchased from him. Have a look at the 'recently sold' page on his website to see examples of his beautiful work (#14 is mine).

    Best wishes, Bob

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I will second Crystal Forest Mandolins. Really a work of art. I have number 20. I would love to commission a custom mandolin from him. For now, I am content!

  8. #6
    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    If I was looking for a flat top, I'd look for an old Gibson Alright, just because they're so cool.
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life." --- Mongo

  9. #7
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Oh, and they are quite loud and pleasant to play. Also, they suggest a new repertoire. Music of WWI.

  10. #8
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Play some Martin mandolins if you are interested in in a Flattop .... fairly quiet for a mandolin but very nice tone... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  11. #9

    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Oh, CD, just lever open your wallet and buy a nice old Gibson A.

  12. #10
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    My Mid Missouri, now Big Muddy, is a remarkable flat top mandolin After ten years it still surprises me how nice and loud it can sound. I would highly recommend a Big Muddy, it falls right in your price range and I would suggest you won't be disappointed.
    Bart McNeil

  13. #11
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I am happy that there are so many great examples of this style. I like Crystal Forest mandolins but I'll bet the others are great.

  14. #12
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    My favorite flat top, is The Late David Hodson's D'Jangolin , the problem is the Builder's Mortality ..

    Some what confusing due to it being Uke sized.. (as if Selmer made Ukes)
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  15. #13
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Allow me to add Walt Kuhlman's Gypsy instruments to the conversation. I'm not sure whether it's the induced arch or the deeper body, but it is the most resonant flattop I own and the one I'd reach for were I a Celtic dude.
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  16. #14
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I am surprised no one mentioned the Weber flat tops. They are no longer made but the Aspens and even Y2K's are pretty nice.
    Don

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  17. #15
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    The Arches flat top ovals are extraordinary mandolins, I think they're really good for Irish music. I'm also a big fan of Mid Mo/Big Muddy mandos, which are a bit less expensive.
    Steve

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  19. #16
    Registered User mandogerry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Check the Cafe article on Great Vintage Instruments Under $1000 - Scott recently added it to the front page news again. Some of those examples are flattops "of a certain age". My Kalamazoo from the 30s has been a great flattop, always fun to play.

    Forgot the link the first time:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pub...s_001443.shtml
    Last edited by mandogerry; Jan-28-2014 at 10:36am. Reason: forgot link
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  20. #17

    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I think Howard Morris charges $575 for a new flattop. Handmade in Oregon. I have an A5 of his that I love.

  21. #18
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    In addition to those mentioned here, Peter Sawchyn makes a mean "Beavertail" flattop. My deluxe BT mandola is just wonderful in every way.

    Regarding induced arches, it's my understanding that all flattops need them, or they will collapse under the tension. Some makers mention it as a feature, some don't, so I don't know for sure.

    bratsche
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  22. #19
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    +1 for the Arches if you can find one...
    One watch by night, one watch by day...if you get confused, just listen to the music play.

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  23. #20
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I own a Weber Aspen II and a Big Muddy. I would strongly recommend them both.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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  24. #21
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I sold my KM-11 (Kalamazoo flat-top) 'cause my Flatiron 1N was the better instrument. Not vintage like the Kalamazoo, just better sound, horsepower, overall tone. I have never played a Big Muddy/Mid-Missouri, but they have their fans and likely a good instrument. Same for Crystal Forest. I'd love to try them too!

    That said, I've been very happy with my 1N for 10 years or so. Very durable, playable and fun!

    Highy recommended!

    (and yes, you really should read the 1ooo post thread cited above.)

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

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  25. #22

    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Good god. Just took a look at Crystal Forest - the photos of that F5, leaned up against a tree, are genuinely pornographic.

  26. #23
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Okay, I have choices. Good to know.

    Yes, the Crystal Forest mandos are quite amazing looking. Anyone have sound clips? Also didn't know that Weber made flat-tops.

    OS: Yes, a vintage Gibson A is on my list of oval holes to look at. I didn't mean to imply a specific dollar limit; only that the thread mentioning flat-tops had that limit. I'm actually thinking around $1500, and am also considering the Jacobsons you seem to be favoring of late.

    I'm surprised no one mentioned the Red Lines? I like the few clips I've heard of them.

    Someone mentioned that all flat-tops have an induced arch. I'm assuming that the Arches instrument has more of one then? It certainly looks like an arched-top, whereas the others mentioned here don't.

    Thanks for all the suggestions and comments. I'm looking forward to the whole mando shopping thing, and you've all given me more to think about.

  27. #24
    'Nother Registered User Jeff Richards's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    I wouldn't trade my Flatiron 1N for the world.
    "My soul seemed as foul as smoke from burning cat fur."
    Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice."
    Bill Monroe

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  29. #25
    Registered User 8ch(pl)'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Flat-top mandolin suggestions

    Look at Sawchyn website.

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