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Thread: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mandolin

    I'm looking for an f-style mandolin in the $300-$600 price range.

    I have been playing for just a year now, and want to get my hands on a nicer mandolin than my beginner Gretsch New Yorker I started with. I have been keeping an eye out on eBay/craiglist/amazon for good deals, and have really liked various Washburn, Michael Kelly, and Eastman models.

    I truly and greatly appreciate any guidance at all because I do not know enough about quality American builders or prices to confidently make the decision. Thanks so much!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    Well, you will never find an F style mandolin made by a "quality American builder" for 300 to 600 dollars. That's a mythical beast if ever there was one. The closest you will find is a used Breedlove F style. You can find those for 1000 or so. All of the Brands you name are Chinese manufacture, despite how misleadingly American their names sound.

    I have seen and played the current Washburn line and their F style mandolins have horrible fit and finish and underwhelming sound. I would not recommend those. Micheal Kelly I have not played recently. They were decent enough for the price when they were made in Korea. Now I am not sure. Of the three brands you name Eastman is the best by far. An Eastman 315 for 699 is about as good as F styles get in that price range. If you find a used one in good condition it will be under your target of 600. Sometimes you can find B stock with new warranty that have only minor cosmetic finish issues in the same price range as used. But those appear only sporadically.

    You should also consider Kentucky. But make sure it is an all solid wood model. Some older Kentucky F styles have some laminate but I believe the current line up is all solid woods.

    If you want to stick with Gretsch they make an interesting F style now called the Park Avenue for under 600. All solid woods, but pressed not carved. Also an oval hole. Not sure if that's what you are looking for. More for old time than bluegrass.

    Whatever you get, make sure it comes set up, or you will have to factor that cost in. Those "good deals" on eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist probably won't be set up and you end up with not such a good deal. Better to go with a store that includes set up like Folkmusician.com, The Mandolin Store, or Elderly Instruments. Good luck.
    Don

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  3. #3

    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    Thanks so much Don, I really am still a beginner so it really helps to learn all of this. I truly appreciate the advice I will keep looking into this and get a better understanding (and hopefully a nice sounding mandolin). Thanks again!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    One more quick question, I saw this posted on Ebay, do you think this is an example of an instrument likely with a poor setup? thanks!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/281540182735...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    and..

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Eastman-Mode...item5b0a38270a

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    Hard to say. You can't tell about set up without playing it. This is a used instrument and maybe the previous owner had it set up or maybe he didn't. It will need a new set of strings at the very least. They do have a 14 day return policy and that is generous.

    On a deal like that you pays your money and you takes your chances. Caveat emptor. Me, I am a big fan of buy new, from a store that I know is going to get things right on the set up, will stand behind the instrument if something goes south, and the protection of a manufacturers warranty to boot. But that's just me. My experience has been that trying to go cheap is seldom the best choice.
    Don

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    You should get the set up checked (or check your self if you know how) on anything you get that is not from a known retailer. (Even from a store it might not be set up, but many stores of good reputation take the time to set up the instruments they sell.)
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    That Eastman is a lovely instrument! But notice it is up to 560 with 4 days to go and reserve still not met. It will soon be above your price range.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    ah right! silly me, these auctions tend to go up late, who woulda thunk haha. thanks again Don!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    thanks jeff!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    I see on the Mandolin Store website that the Loar 520 is a good price and would come with a professional setup etc. Would you recommend this Loar?

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    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    I just want to make sure you aren't confusing the scroll or "F5" body shape with ff sound holes when you say "f style." If you look for an A5, an A-style or teardrop body shape with ff sound holes, you'll get more for your money than if you buy a mandolin with a scroll. If you have to have the scroll, that's your business, but in your price range you will do better with an A-style body.

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  13. #12
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    IMHO a decent lower-end F-model, F-hole mandolin is the Rover RM-75, which the Mandolin Store has for $449 with a hard case. Solid woods, hand-carved, and the ones I've played have had a decent sound. Mandolin Store sets up the instruments they sell well, by all accounts.

    The Eastman "300" series instrument would probably be better, but the Rover should be an OK "second mandolin," definitely in your price range.
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    Wood and Wire Perry Babasin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    I think the Loar 520 with a good set-up from the Mandolin Store would be a great intermediate instrument for you. It is fully carved and solid woods, very likely to be a step up from the Gretsch. Dealing with an experienced dealer is a good choice as they know mandolins particularly the set-up. Talk to them they might have some suggestions for you. There are a lot of people here who really like the 520, I myself play a 600 and love it...
    Last edited by Perry Babasin; Dec-29-2014 at 3:26pm.
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  17. #14

    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    thanks so much for the advice perry!

  18. #15

    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    Can't thank y'all enough for the advice and help. I purchased the Eastman 315 from the Cafe classifieds, and I could not be more excited. You all have been a great help!

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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for a bit of help in my search for a new f-style mand

    Quote Originally Posted by DawgzWaltz View Post
    Can't thank y'all enough for the advice and help. I purchased the Eastman 315 from the Cafe classifieds, and I could not be more excited. You all have been a great help!
    You made a good call there, Congrats!
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