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Thread: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

  1. #1
    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    What is your favorite mandolin of all time that you have PLAYED? No limits here. Price, looks, age, model (e.g. F5, F4, A5, etc.), luthier/maker, newer or older, doesn't matter. This could be the one you played but could not afford, or one that belonged to someone else that your played, the one you own now, or whatever. The bottom line here is that it is has to be one you played, not one you just heard somebody else play live or on a recording (but both could have happened, you heard it and played it). What is the ONE that is at the very top of your list in your mandolin experience over the years that lingers in your mind = the HOLY GRAIL? Mine was a Brentrup F5 Classic that was on display at a festival years ago.
    John A. Karsemeyer

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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I will mention a few. The current Ellis that I have is my favorite that I have owned. close to that I had a Gibson Roberts signed MM that was probably second of all time that I traded in on a RSDMM that just wasn't my cup of Tea. And the third and final was a Weber Distressed diamondback, and for the under $5k range it was a hoss.I hated the Weber tailpiece but loved the mandolin.
    2014 Ellis F
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    1990 Martin HD28V (custom prototype)

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    Hands down, my Ellis is my favorite of all that I've played. Probably the next best was a friend's Gibson F5 Master Model from around 2011, as I recall. I've played an unsigned Loar (with Virzi), but unfortunately I didn't get to spend enough time with it to know if it was "all that". Next time I visit that particular person, I definitely want to pick on it for a while.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    One of my friends has a vintage flatiron festival that's pretty fine, but another buddy has an F5-G that trumps it. He'll get a kick out of reading this.

  5. #5
    acoustically inert F-2 Dave's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    When I was a teen, a long, long time ago, I took some lessons from a guy who played a very old epiphone A with f holes. I thought that it was the best sounding mandolin in the world. I'd love to hear it now, but it's kind of nice to remember it the way I do.
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life." --- Mongo

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    Registered User tkdboyd's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I have played some really nice ones, but Kimble... they have all been great. Played a mandola that I didn't want to let go of. Ludwig, Collings, etc many great ones. But to have an unlined budget for modern mandolins (excluding modern German Bowl) Kimble is the man I would go to if I played and won the lottery!

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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    i am quite the novice mandolin player having just started a couple months ago. i have been around nice guitars and other instruments for many years and know when i hear and feel quality.

    i've had hands on with quite a few nice mandolins-of course i cannot do them justice in playing, but for my own self, i've found a really nice sounding Collings MT that is superb. As of late, i've had opportunity to have at home a real nice sounding/playing Northfield F5S that has a wide nut and one piece back-its a dandy!

    i'm quite happy with those two and could walk away with either one and not look back.

    d

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    The One I happen to be Playing at the Moment..
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

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    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I've owned over 35 mandolins including 5 Nuggets, 2 Collings/Nuggets, 5 Gibsons ( 1 F4, 1 F2, & 3 A's), 4 Collings. I've played many high end ones, including Gibson Loar F5s (6) , Nugget (over 60), Gilchrist (4), Wiens (1), Kimble (3) , Collings (over 20), dozens of Gibsons, Ellis, and many more. My favorite of all I've owned and played is my Nugget F5 #260 which I still own.

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    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default

    Played the Northfield F5 at Elderly. I have never played a mandolin that was as rich and full as that. Counting the 3 Pavas and handful of Weber they had there.
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    My Randy Wood F 5 made in 1993.....period.

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    Registered User Darren Bailey's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    This Gibson - I didn't have the cash on me and toyed with the idea of selling my car so I could get it (we were at a festival). Sounded and played as good as it gets.Click image for larger version. 

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    There are so many. Berline's Loar, Compton's Gil F4 and F5, the Golden Gilchrist A5, a particular Gilchrist F5C, a friend's Red Diamond Vintage F5, I think I've loved every Gibson Master Model and DMM I've played. But the favorite in my house is my Heiden A5. I've had it for about 7 years now and it's stood the test of time. A friend of mine had a slightly earlier A5 that got me turned onto the Heidens. His is a stellar instrument as well. So many superb mandolins out there!

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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I haven't played scores of mandolins but:

    Danny Bishop's Ellis F5 is still my favorite of all the mandolins that I've played.

  20. #15
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    Hmm, I've never played a real expensive one--mostly the lower priced ones as I don't know what I'm doing yet.
    Maybe one day...

    Favorite?

    Maybe the Godin one--it had a real nice feel to it--great sound--even unplugged.

    Or maybe a couple of others that were close to $1000, but I forget the brand--they were fully acoustic, not built in pickups or electronics--but projected well--F shaped ones.
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

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    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    The Kimble A0 that I currently play. It is the only mandolin that I own and have no desire for another (at this point). I did hear a couple of Nuggets at Wintergrass that caught my ear, and the 2 point that Austin Clark had on display really spoke to me.
    ... not all those who wander are lost ...

  22. #17
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I don't know how to answer. I think its more complicated - this mandolin is fantastic for this kind of music, that one for that kind of music, this mandolin is more foregiving when I am tired but still jamming, that mandolin is beautiful but finicky - you have to be so precise to get it to work right.

    I find too that I enjoy whatever mandolin I just bought the best. I have a long honeymoon.

    I am spoiled, I will admit, because I hooked a Gibson 1923 A2 snakehead early on and got used to it, so things don't sound or feel better as much as different.

    I am not much help on this one I am afraid.
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I once played John Reischman's Loar. Nothing will ever come close.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I played a couple of great vintage Gibsons at Bernunzio's a while back. An F4 that cost more than my car and an F5 that cost more than my house. They were both reeeeallly amazing. I could tell they were great great without being told. Both no question worth what they were asking.

    But you know what? I can't really say that either of them are my favorite, or that I even would want to own them. I like that what I have is more or less reasonably replaceable, so besides sounding great, playing great, I don't have to worry about them being damaged, lost, or stolen.
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    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    I've played a good number of mandos(but not a Loar yet), not as many as the more seasoned afficiandos on this site but Gils, Nuggets, Kimble, Vessel, Flatirons (Bozeman & Nashville), Dearstone, Sorensen, Northfield, Michael Lewis, Craig Wilson, a bunch of Gibsons, Brentrup, Siminoff...and the winners are:

    1. Shaun Garrity's Heiden A (I can't imagine a Loar being any better)
    2. My 94' Gibson F5L Fern
    3. Brentrup A/My Flatiron Performer A

    After these 4, there's a whole bunch that I would be happy to own and pick on that I've referenced above. And I want to add that Roger Siminoff's personal F5 is an absolute beasty!
    1994 Gibson F5L made by Bruce Weber's team


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  28. #21
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    My Dearstone A. Bought it in 2000 to replace a flatiron that the top had colapsed, and I didn't think Gibson was going to repair it. They replaced it finally but it wasn't the mandolin the "Stone" is.

  29. #22
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    The Dude hanging in Carters Vintage http://www.cartervintage.com/mandopa...page.html#dude

    I played it against a couple Gilchrists, Ellis, Altman, Duff, Collings, Gibson, Heiden, Daley, Monteleone, Weber, you name it.

    After playing on this Dudenbostel I suddenly realized why somebody would actually pay $20k for a mandolin, which I previously thought insane. It's like a mandolin from another dimension.

  30. #23
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    On a statistical level, my response is terrible because I live out in the boonies, and play mostly Irish/Scottish music where I'm not encountering what most people would consider high-end mandolins in this forum. I've only been playing mandolin for about 7 years now. I go to workshops, but I'm usually the only mandolin player there... drowned out by fiddlers and pipers.

    That said, I play a nice handmade Lebeda F5 mandolin, and the ONLY mandolin I've ever held in my hands that I would immediately trade for my Lebeda, was the Gilchrist that forum member Paul Kotapish played at a local concert here in PT a few years ago. It was an "Open House" band reunion concert with Kevin Burke.

    After the show, Paul very graciously handed the Gilchrist to me and a friend (who I fear is now forever spoiled for a Gil) to try out. It played like the proverbial butter, no joke. Just smooth as silk. Tone, yes... but something about the ease of pulling notes off the strings... effortless.

    That said, I'm still playing my redwood-top Lebeda F5, the first mandolin I ever bought, and it might be the last one. It's "better than I am," as the saying goes, and I'm still trying to live up to the potential. I would take a Gil if someone just gave it to me, but I'm not exactly lusting after one. I'm too busy trying to get better with what I have. The key is to be 100% sure that what you have isn't holding you back. And I'm pretty sure I'm at that point in the journey.
    Last edited by foldedpath; Mar-07-2015 at 12:25am.

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  32. #24
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    Whatever I'm playing today. Tomorrow a different one. I just took my Weber Gallatin "sopranolin" out and played at our little Tunes By the Tracks concert series, so it's my favorite for this week.

    The differences among my mandolin-family instruments are what endear them to me. Each has its voice, and its history. I can get just as fond of my beat-up Strad-O-Lin, in certain circumstances, as of my ol' 1954 F-5 or my custom-made, fan-fret, five-course Lehmann mandolin/dola.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
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    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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  34. #25
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: What Is Your Favorite Mandolin?

    My 'used' Ellis "A" style,but that's only because i haven't played any other Ellis !. My Weber "Fern" now it's strung with DR strings comes a pretty close 2nd,
    Ivan
    Weber F-5 'Fern'.
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    Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
    Ellis DeLuxe "A" style.

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