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Thread: Chinese vs American Made?

  1. #26

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Well, we all see the world of music through different eyes, don't we? And like so many things discussed on this forum, there are no correct answers, only opinion. And what works for us, as individuals.

    I think the history argument is a strong one, if you like history. But, we don't go around still driving in model T's, do we? To some, the sound of Bill Monroe is everything, to others, it is old news.

    I grew up in an era where "made in Japan" meant poor quality as, did things stamped Hong Kong. "Made in China" wasn't even in the game, yet. But, as an American, I opened my eyes to Yamaha guitars and I had an Alvarez mandolin that was so good I wish I still had it today! I think they fit a certain price point at first, then they won over fans who began to like them for their own merit. I think that is true of a lot of things--we object to them, until we try something new and sometimes we find out we like them.
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Jan-18-2015 at 3:41pm.

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  3. #27
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Just in.....

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/83025

    Great deal on an American made mandolin. NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  4. #28
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    The J Bovier A5 Special that I have is a great mandolin. The body and neck are made in a custom shop in China and the hardware, bridge and fine tuning are done in the USA by Jeff Cowherd. It is a beautiful piece of art. It is incredible to me that something that sounds that great and plays as well is under $800 with a HSC. I play it out every weekend and it is my go-to for playing with a band over a microphone. Its sound is loved based on several comments!
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  5. #29
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    We seem to forget something that i've mentioned over & over on here. Going back before the existence of the US & also a large part of the rest of the world was even conceived,the Chinese were producing works of art that still astound us today. Their skill & craftsmanship was 'the best'.They were producing fine Porcelain in 200 AD & it was 100's of years later that the west was able to produce something similar,though not as good - that took even longer.Their jade & wood carvings dating back to BC times were also un-matched by anything that Europe could produce until after many 100's of years. Why then are we surprised that given good materials to begin with,the Chinese luthiers can produce excellent instruments ?. Personally,i think it has more to do with the actual instrument - ie. why are the Chinese making mandolins,when mandolins aren't part of their culture ?. It has to do with 'tapping into a resource' - the huge skill of the Chinese in making things by hand.
    As Jeff Mando mentions - the early Japanese Yamaha guitars were some of the best around going back to the late 1960's. I bought an FG-140, complete with a laminated top (NOT Plywood) & it was as good as any i'd heard. Going back about 11 years,i bought a Gold Star 're-issue' banjo which,tonally,buried the 2 'very well known' brand of banjos in the store. It sounded so good,that i never changed the set up in the 3 years i had it. I only sold it because i got into mandolin playing shortly after & almost quit playing banjo at all. So the answer to the question - Chinese vs American is (IMHO), make your choice regardless of the country of origin according to whether you like it / can afford it,
    Ivan
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  7. #30
    Bark first, Bite later Steve Zawacki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    I'm more in favor of small shop craftsmanship and the uniqueness of that versus mass production and the generic item. It does not matter where the artisan (and I do mean artisan) is located. What's important is the piece of musical art made.

    There are wonderful, great-sounding, mass-produced instruments. I fondly remember an Eastman 504 I had for a while. However, there is a bit of a thrill picking up an instrument which is a one-of-a-kind, serial number of only a couple-three digits, and where you've had direct communications with the maker rather than "customer service" or a retailer. Neither of my two remaining mandolins are in the four-digit price range, but both are indeed works-of-art and I've had the opportunity to converse with the artisans. That makes the instruments special to me regardless of cost, and that special feeling just isn't there with the ten-digit-serial-number clone made who-knows-where by who-knows-whom.

    That doesn't mean really good music can't be made by the mass-produced instrument, because many of those instruments have a sound quality that is superb. The proof of that is all around us, and again, I really liked my former Eastman 504 a lot.
    ...Steve

    Current Stable: Two Tenor Guitars (Martin 515, Blueridge BR-40T), a Tenor Banjo (Deering GoodTime 17-Fret), a Mandolin (Burgess #7). two Banjo-Ukes and five Ukuleles..

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

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  9. #31

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    US patriotism never seems much in play when folks recommend the cars they prefer. Honda & Toyota were ranked 1/2 forever.
    Mark,

    In 99, I bought my first car--a Toyota Corolla--and my Dad ribbed me a bit for not buying American, like his Ford. Once I pointed out that my Toyota was made in KY, whereas his Ford was made in Mexico, that conversation was over. As far as I know, most Toyotas sold in the US are made here, and at the end of the day, for most people, the domestic vs foreign distinction comes down to jobs and economy, not the nationality of the guy at the top getting the biggest profit. I'd put money into the hands of a foreign CEO building plants and jobs in the US anytime before I'd put it into the hands of a domestic CEO shipping jobs out of the country. Cars, guitars, or mandolins--it makes no difference to me!

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  11. #32
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    We seem to forget something that i've mentioned over & over on here. Going back before the existence of the US & also a large part of the rest of the world was even conceived,the Chinese were producing works of art that still astound us today. Their skill & craftsmanship was 'the best'.They were producing fine Porcelain in 200 AD & it was 100's of years later that the west was able to produce something similar,though not as good - that took even longer.Their jade & wood carvings dating back to BC times were also un-matched by anything that Europe could produce until after many 100's of years. Why then are we surprised that given good materials to begin with,the Chinese luthiers can produce excellent instruments ?. Personally,i think it has more to do with the actual instrument - ie. why are the Chinese making mandolins,when mandolins aren't part of their culture ?. It has to do with 'tapping into a resource' - the huge skill of the Chinese in making things by hand.
    As Jeff Mando mentions - the early Japanese Yamaha guitars were some of the best around going back to the late 1960's. I bought an FG-140, complete with a laminated top (NOT Plywood) & it was as good as any i'd heard. Going back about 11 years,i bought a Gold Star 're-issue' banjo which,tonally,buried the 2 'very well known' brand of banjos in the store. It sounded so good,that i never changed the set up in the 3 years i had it. I only sold it because i got into mandolin playing shortly after & almost quit playing banjo at all. So the answer to the question - Chinese vs American is (IMHO), make your choice regardless of the country of origin according to whether you like it / can afford it,
    Ivan
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    Ivan, I really appreciated the above post and the perspective it brings. In the USA, we tend to become myopic about our importance in relation to the rest of the world and forget that other countries and people are just as talented and to be appreciated as we in our beloved U.S. Thank you for pointing out some very interesting and enlightening information. By the way-- I bought an FG-140 myself as a young songwriter in 1972. It was stolen from me when burglars broke in and took my Martin D35,as well, in 1975. Those Japan made Yamaha's are coveted today, especially the red label versions such as you and I had.
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  13. #33
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    As I've recounted before, I bought a Dodge Caravan in 1986, height of Mr. Iacocca's "buy American" push against Japanese imports. The car was built in Canada, and included a Mitsubishi engine made in Japan, and Michelin tires from France. All that was "American" about it was the nameplate. In the world of today, products are raised, manufactured and sold wherever it makes the most economic sense to do that.

    So I have a problem with this thread's title: it's really not about "Chinese vs. American" at all. It's more about buying from individual builders vs. factory-made instruments. In the world of today, almost all low-to-mid-range instruments are Asian-made, with some from Eastern Europe. There are also some high-end instruments made in Japan and China, as well as Europe and America.

    IMHO the categories as defined don't really lead to good decision parameters. At the price the OP's considering, I'd go instrument by instrument, evaluating the design, materials, and most of all, sound and feel, of the individual mandolins. Regardless of where each was made, or by whom.

    Most of the "cultural" arguments made above seem beside the point to me. Companies such as Eastman -- and I know this from talking to people who've worked with them -- have utilized the expertise of US instrument specialists, in designing and manufacturing their products. Just as that '86 Dodge Caravan was designed in the US to be sold to Americans on the domestic market. Chinese mandolin builders don't sell their products in China, as a rule; they're all designed to be sold here, to our preferred specs. So whether mandolin manufacture is somehow imbedded in American DNA, as opposed to Chinese, may be an unanswerable -- and irrelevant -- question.

    Supporting individual builders and American producers is a worthy goal, IMHO; a $3K budget and a preference for F-models, are factors that limit the choices available (no Gibson Distressed Master Model in sight!). Stating the choice as a matter of national origins, seems to me to be asking the wrong question. Finding the right mandolin will be, as it usually is, a task involving playing a whole bunch of F-models in the $3K range, and picking the one that seems most suitable.
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  15. #34

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Great points, Allen. I'm going out on a limb here, to suggest that some fella with a beer belly and a pickup truck buiding mandolins in Nashville has more of a connection to Bluegrass than a corresponding factory worker in China--as if any of that matters in the resulting instrument. Great likelihood that neither workers play mandolin. They are woodworkers in a factory. They cut and glue wood and apply finishes. We embrace terms like Custom Shop and Master Model because they add to the myth and pricepoint!

    Part of this might be an American sense of competition--a new world mentality of just trying to build a better mousetrap. (not to be confused with new world order....) I guess like suggesting Bluegrass, Rock'n'Roll and Jazz are inherently American and "new" inventions as opposed to something like a more ancient skill in carving jade into figurines. Again, no offense intended if you are a 5000 year old Chinese jade carver.... Again, my point would be that we hope the workers building instruments are putting more "love" into them than a worker making car parts. I say we hope, we don't know do we? I'm guessing a lot of workers worldwide are waiting for the whistle to blow at 5pm and that paycheck on Friday--that is probably more of a universal truth.

    Allen is correct in that it really comes down to what is available at what price and that is your selection. All this political correctness is really a smoke screen. And as the OP suggests, a salesman can only sell from his available inventory--but it is still "salesmanship", if you know what I mean.....

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  17. #35
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    I wonder what will happen 1000 years from now if mankind manages to establish colonies on other planets. Maybe the instead of Chinese vs. American, the debate will be on Earth vs. New Earth, or native Earth woods vs. New Earth woods.

    Whatever the debate, I'm almost certain there will still be an element that will abhor the use of a capo.

    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

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  19. #36

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    So I have a problem with this thread's title: it's really not about "Chinese vs. American" at all.
    You're right Allen, the title does not perfectly describe the issue. I'll take it though.
    It surely beats "Something I Was Thinking About" or "Another Mandolin Question", or many of the generic and meaningless titles that are used.

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  21. #37
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Bob View Post
    ...Whatever the debate, I'm almost certain there will still be an element that will abhor the use of a capo...
    Yeah buddy.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  22. #38

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    It seems that this post took on a life of it's own...way past my original intention. I really appreciate the heartfelt perspective you all have provided. So it really boils down to what is the best mandolin for the price regardless of by whom or where it was made. I agree with that.

    I have learned a great deal from every response here in my short time as a member of this forum. You all are a great group of folks!

    Regards,
    Roger

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  24. #39
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    lflngpicker - One well know Bluegrass musician who played (maybe still does) a top line Yamaha guitar,is Herb Pedersen. Unfortunately i can't find a pic. of him with it & i've also forgotten the model #, i think that it was an 'L' series model,but it was one heck of a guitar. Fiendishly clever, these Orientals !,
    Ivan
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  26. #40
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Great points, Allen. I'm going out on a limb here, to suggest that some fella with a beer belly and a pickup truck buiding mandolins in Nashville has more of a connection to Bluegrass than a corresponding factory worker in China--as if any of that matters in the resulting instrument. Great likelihood that neither workers play mandolin. They are woodworkers in a factory. They cut and glue wood and apply finishes. We embrace terms like Custom Shop and Master Model because they add to the myth and pricepoint!

    Again, my point would be that we hope the workers building instruments are putting more "love" into them than a worker making car parts. I say we hope, we don't know do we? I'm guessing a lot of workers worldwide are waiting for the whistle to blow at 5pm and that paycheck on Friday--that is probably more of a universal truth.
    It is an undeniable fact that the people who built those Loar's in the 20's, and the people who put my '39 D-18 together did not play bluegrass, either.... how much "love" they put into them is more debatable, however... from the factory pics (and few surviving motion picture films I've seen) - my guess would be not too much, however.....I suspect they were more focused on that paycheck!

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  28. #41

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    I'm lucky enough to own two locally make instruments - an A style mandolin and a OOO style guitar. In both cases I'm friends with the guys who made them, I've hung out in their shops and played music with them - I would recommend this instrument buying experience to anyone. And by the way, your budget far exceeds what I paid for either of my instruments!

  29. #42

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    In my experience, as one who has dealt in depth with Chinese manufacturing, (as well as US, and having visited Gibson)_I am always wary. And I agree with Almeria, its a factory, the whole world round.

    I have yet to try a Northfield, but actually called to look into a build sometime back, but soon learned that a full bells and whistles model was not significantly less than many other upper tier domestic builds. I am trained, I guess, to expect either a steal, or, poor long term quality regarding Chinese items.


    I had a hard time with the idea of 5K for a Chinese top of the line F5, (addy, premium maple, varnish, big body, extra inlay, etc) the full Monty. An Ellis A5, sure, a used US or Aussie F whatever, sure.

    As one who is not immune to 'image' and marketing, tradition, whatever......
    I think I might feel 'less good' about myself with a Chinese made mandolin than another.

    Oddly, this is not the case with a Japanese made mandolin (or scotch!!), due to my perceptions about quality, and, the fact that there are die hard BG fans in Japan, so a perceived kinship, if you will. Don't ask if this is merited or rationale.

    This sounds absolutely ignorant and terrible and possibly worse.

    But, I recognize that there are other, intangible factors which come with the purchase. (Happens with cars, wines, suits, watches and any other branded stuff).

    Not merely enough to be a superb(?) utilitarian instrument, a value, but also, all that peer stuff, associations, be they status, political, etc.

    Would having a killer Chinese instrument give me the feeling of satisfaction and happiness? Probably about as much as a Chinese made Volvo. Again, don't ask me if this is rationale, I know it isn't, but it IS my honest perception.

    Would I be happier with a mediocre Gibson that says Gibson and lets me feel part of the BG tradition and American instrumental lineage over a better Chinese mandolin....don't know. I have departed from this with other non-name domestic /boutique stuff, but I just don't know with Chinese goods.....again irrational but not irrelevant to the issue of satisfaction and perceptions.

  30. #43
    Registered User tkdboyd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    I have Canadian (Guitars), US (guitars and mandolins), Mexican(guitar), Japanese(Mandolins, Piano), Korean (Mandolin), and Chinese (guitars and mandolins from little $ to a $3K mandolin) instruments, wish I could add a couple of Australian, but don't think that is going to happen anytime soon.
    I like the concept of local, and I have bought a locally made mandolin. But I also like diversity!

  31. #44
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    I'll go ahead and depart from the view of some of the posters. I don't have a deep seated need to prove to anyone how unprejudiced I may be - or how where it's made doesn't matter, because that is after all what we are programmed to say in America, right?

    There is not a bluegrass scene happening in the far East. Likely not many mandolin aficionados. Would you like to have an instrument that has been pressed out in a factory (And in the case of China, support their human rights record?), or would you rather have an instrument made by a master craftsman who is a part of - or at least understands - a bluegrass or otherwise mandolin soaked genre - and what players want - who has been doing this work year after year and has worked his art to perfection, here in the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, etc.? Someone who takes the care to craft each instrument by hand?

    Aside from that (if none of that makes sense in your case - or from your perspective), and quite importantly, it comes down to sound. I recently sat in Elderly's and played every mandolin in the spectrum without looking at price tags. The sound quality of the Chinese made instruments were no where near the instruments made in the US. I tried to be unbiased, but there was a noticeable difference, IMO. Even in the case where I didn't realize one was Chinese made, and later found out - I picked out the quality of sound right away. But then, beauty is in the eye - or ear - of the beholder. Yes, if you're a student, or on a budget, or you dont hear the difference, it might make sense.

    What about value? If you think about purchasing a Chinese made instrument and have any thoughts of selling it later on, think again. You'll be lucky to get half after 4-5 years. This shouldn't be a thought when buying an instrument all the time, but if it is, that should be considered.

    You can buy a bottle of wine from California, true - but it will never be a true Riesling unless it comes from Germany. Call it what you want.

    Just my thoughts. I've been in the same situation recently.

  32. #45
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    In my case...I am thankful for the cheap imports that made it affordable for me and the grandkids to discover the pleasures of playing the mandolin. In a room full of beginners they sound great. I think as "we" progress I will upgrade, but for now the lower priced imports are working.

  33. #46
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Quote Originally Posted by r.ashbrook View Post
    What about value? If you think about purchasing a Chinese made instrument and have any thoughts of selling it later on, think again.You'll be lucky to get half after 4-5 years....

    Even in the case where I didn't realize one was Chinese made, and later found out - I picked out the quality of sound right away.
    I don't see many KM-1500's going for $750, or even many KM-900's going for $450. Neither do I see many (any?) Northfield's going for half price or less.

    Certainly true of cheap, low end instruments, but that's not what we're talking about here. As people's perceptions of what is possible changes, so do market values. Hence, yes, Northfield can and do have no problem selling mandolins in the $5K price bracket.

    As to sound, If I recorded a tune played on four different mandolins you would be able to identify a Northfield immediately, then? From a bunch including others in the $4K to $10K range. That would be interesting.
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  35. #47
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Quote Originally Posted by r.ashbrook View Post

    You can buy a bottle of wine from California, true - but it will never be a true Riesling unless it comes from Germany. Call it what you want.

    Just my thoughts.
    True Riesling only comes from Germany? The fine folks of Alsace might disagree, a lot.

    And I personally MAKE Riesling in California that is every bit as good as the German offerings, and mine is dry, too. Am I steeped in the history and Loar of Riesling? Well, yeah, I am, even though I don't live in the Rhineland or Mosel. I make pretty good Pinot, too, and don't have to live in Burgundy.

    So nobody has a corner on great mandos, Riesling or Pinot Noir.
    Last edited by dcoventry; Jan-21-2015 at 2:07am.
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  37. #48
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    From Jeff Mando - " They cut and glue wood and apply finishes...". I fully understand that remark - but !. Years back,SAGA began having the original Gold Star banjos built in Japan bythe Tokai Co. - in fact the very first Gold Star banjo i saw belonged to Tony Trishka & it had 'Tokai' on the headstock. Those banjos became renowned for being excellent instruments,in fact far better than the Gibson banjos of that era. It was because the Gibson quality had declined that prompted SAGA to produce the Gold Stars.
    When the re-issue Gold Stars began production in China,2 very experienced banjo makers were involved with the factory set-up & also in educating the workforce in 'what to do & how to do it' .One was Greg Rich,formerly of Gibson & another was Scott Zimmerman of the Desert Rose banjo Co. (my apologies if i'm in error here). There was an awful lot written regarding the set-up of the factory & the actual production at the time,most of it on my old stomping ground, 'The Banjo Hangout'. Greg Rich in particular mentioned one episode where the assembled banjo 'pots' were coming down the line 'not quite right' should we say. He got the guys responsible together,explained the situation,& from then on,they came down the line perfectly set-up. Greg's point was that although these guys had no part of banjos in their culture & were basically un-familiar with the instrument,they were totally willing to listen & to learn & to get it right - & isn't that really all it takes ?. In fact it has been said,that the new Chinese 'Gold Star' re-issue banjos, are even better than the Japanese made ones,& having owned one,i wouldn't disagree in any way. They may only
    'cut & glue wood & apply finishes' - but it's how they do it that matters,& given the high quality of some of the Chinese made mandolins that we see,it's done consumately well,
    Ivan
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  39. #49
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    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    hi Roger

    over the past year I started learning to play mandolin, after having played fingerstyle guitar for a couple years. I'm used to having a nice well built guitar-always USA made. I've owned some nice aussie guitars and other imports, but have always found the USA made instruments were just better all around.

    my daughter and wife each had a weber F style mandolin when I started. I've always liked the quality and thought that goes into the building of webers. always liked Bruce Webers philosophy regarding his instruments as well. I was familiar and liked a couple folks who played webers professionally. so I found me a weber F.

    a little later I wanted to try an A style out and called up ThemandolinStore due to all the talk of them here on this forum. Great guys and a great shop. We talked a few times and I found myself drawn to a Pava. Got it and jeez these things are made so well. Nothing out of place, finish, fit, sound, it had it all. At that time I had real issues trying to hold an A style. I ended up putting the Pava up for sale because by then, I had determined I wanted a wider fingerboard 1 3/16" nut width, and I didn't care for the A style slipping around all the time.

    I took a 2 day trip after that with the goal to play, hold, touch, as many good mandolins as possible. went to Nashville!
    I had Collings on my mind heavily. Ended up playing a lot of big names, small names, aussie names, USA names.
    Surprisingly, I didn't find one Collings that interested me. Multiple reasons why. I did play 2 Northfields on this trip-felt they were nice, and the neck and tone and playability reminded me a lot of a Pava.

    around about this time, I took a chance and ordered a tonegard to see if the would help an A style sit more easy in my lap as I played(it did and works perfect)-found a MT Collings with an englemann top(all others had prev been adi tops), and the perfect union happened. My MT is the driest, most woody sounding Collings that I've come across. It has the ivoroid top binding, all satin finish, and around $2400 new. the MT looks built to perfection-I have yet to find anything that might is superior in sound/feel/ease of use for my dollars.

    recently picked up a used Weber BitterRoot F. It was well used, well played in. sounds really nice, around $2100. I love the neck profiles on the webers, and the Collings. Just really nice-both are different in neck profiles and depth and tone, but each is a find mandolin and I could easily take either and be happy the rest of my life as long as I didn't look in on this forum and see all the neat mandolins that I want to own/buy/trade for.

    recently, a Northfield one piece back, adi top F5S wide nut version, has made it into my house. this thing is a dandy. I wanted something different than either the weber or collings and this is it. has a warm but punchy tone. expert fretwork and a neck that was able to be adjusted dead flat with low buzz free action. the tuners work smooth and hold tune, the burst is beautiful, the neck reminds me a lot of the Pava shape(I will be reprofiling the neck down the road, I prefer a slightly more pronounced V with less girth on the shoulders). The NF plays very easy, came well setup, all I did was remove some relief and drop the saddle a touch. nothing more to do-oh yea, they sent a truss rod adjustment tool-its a sturdy built little tool.
    the NF rings true and nice everywhere on the fretboard-no harsh notes. it holds and handles very personable. its a very musical instrument.
    fit and finish are not quite up to the surgical precision of the Collings-but very very close. one can find a little bit of this or that if you look really hard-but you have to look really hard.
    the one thing(other than the nice tone and the great feeling easy playing neck)that stands out for me with the NF is the musicality of it. it just has this feel of being a really cool music making instrument.

    so now I have three, but could easily take either and be happy forever.
    my advice, go play as many as you can-don't look at the headstock or name, find what fits and sounds good to you.
    d

  40. #50

    Default Re: Chinese vs American Made?

    Just a personal reflection; I needed an acoustic archtop guitar for a one-off jazz project recently, as much for the 'look' as the sound. I wasn't prepared to go for a Gibson or a hand-built American guitar in this case, so I shopped around. I ended up with a 'The Loar' LH700-VS, a copy of the early 16" Gibson L5. I intended to use it for the project, then sell it on. Not doing that; it's very much a keeper. It's well made, well set-up, very loud, and has that archtop 'cut' in spades. It's all solid woods, no plywood, with a hand-carved top and back. Internal inspection reveals the tell-tale signs of hand-graduation of the top; these guys used finger planes and scrapers in there. It has a lovely dark sunburst, with a hand-rubbed nitrocellulose finish. No rattles or buzzes, and plays great with low, fast action. Came with a lightweight hard foam case, and all for 600 and change. ($900 or so). I'm not sure I can say anything but good things about Chinese craftsmanship at this point. I have a lot of nice American and UK built instruments, but this is right up there.
    Tim Mundy
    www.slipperyhill.co.uk
    2002 Gibson F5 Fern
    1920 Gibson A2
    2005 Gibson A5L
    Rigel A+ Deluxe Custom
    1926 Gibson TB1 Tenor Banjo
    1963 Epiphone TF28 Tenor Guitar
    Ovation MM868 Mandocello
    1987 Rob Armstrong Mandolinetto

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