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Thread: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

  1. #1
    Registered User dnallred's Avatar
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    Default Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I know there are a multitude of similar comparison threads already; I think I've read them all but have not yet stumbled onto an A/B comparison of the Pava Pro Model vs the Collings MT2. Similar in price and evidently reputation as well.

    I'm hoping the expert players on the Mandolin Cafe can weigh in with some useful insights to help in my decision making. That, and I need the encouragement/validation of fellow enablers to make the jump to this price range; been going back and forth on investing ~$3,500 into a nicer Mando for a while now - I love the instrument enough that I just may have talked myself into it..help push me over the edge...

    I live in Denver, limited Collings availability round here (Tejon Street Music in CO Springs has some Collings in stock, that's about it) The option to play a Pava in person isn't there. I keep hearing great things and may spring for the model at Fiddler's Green.

    http://www.fiddlersgreenmusicshop.co....DlPX15gW.dpbs

    I've been playing Manodlin about 6 months, (Guitar for 15 years - wish I'd picked up the mandolin 15 years ago!) My J. Bovier mandolin is great, but clearly not a premium quality instrument. At this point, I want something I can be diverse with, that sounds great, and will only get better with age. I plan to hold onto this one for the long haul.

    So friends - what's your take? I doubt I'd be disappointed with either, but don't pretend not to enjoy hearing the perspectives of the fine members of this mandolin community!

    Also, am I missing out on a different maker in this price range that I just have to consider?
    Last edited by dnallred; Apr-01-2015 at 3:32pm.

  2. #2
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I haven't owned, but have played different models of both.

    I would say that Collings' are consistently good, and sometimes awesome.

    I would say that the Pava's I've played are consistently very good.

    Sight unseen, I think I'd go with the Pava. Since Fiddler's Green has a number of Collings, why don't you call Ben there and have him A/B them for you and give his opinion? Can't hurt, that's for sure. Either way, you'll be getting a very good mandolin.

    As for your last sentence ("different maker") I would say that my Girouard A model is as fine a mandolin as any Pava or Collings that I have played.
    Chris Cravens

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I saw a beautiful used mt2 varnish in the classifieds, which would entice me if I was you (nfi). I considered getting a Pava but heard from some that they were not loud enough. Don't know if that is true. So I got a mt2h used. Non varnished you can find a used mt2 for 2100-2500.

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    Registered User dnallred's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I knew that MT2V in the classifieds would go quick. Probably should have made my decision earlier, she's-a-gone!

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    Registered User dnallred's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Great advice ccravens - think I might just give Fiddler's a call here. Thanks for your insight!

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I'll just put it this way: when I wanted to buy an A-style for my wife, we went to Fiddler's Green with the intention of buying a Collings. They just happened to have received a Pava the night before, and after A/B'ing them, we both easily agreed Pava was the way to go.

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  9. #7

    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Both of these models are consistently given great reviews here on the forum. You can't really go wrong with either of these or others makes of similar quality. If you could make a road trip to really A/B them you gain the advantage of deciding which neck profile you prefer, and get to try other models as well. If you can't make the road trip rest assured that you are gonna like what you hear.

    Scott

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    Registered User dnallred's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    @Tobin

    Nice! That's a great testimonial. So as a (co) owner of a Pava let me ask you: whats the neck profile like? I heard somewhere that its a smaller neck profile. I have massive hands so I'll admit it was a piece of feedback I was concerned about.

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Neither of these two are going to have a chunky neck, if that's what you're after. They both have modern neck shapes. The Pava is a nice rounded neck, not V-shaped at all. It's been a year and a half since this comparison, so I don't exactly remember how the Collings neck felt in comparison, except that it wasn't significantly different. It was the tone of the Pava that really stood out to us.

    We both have small hands and find the Pava comfortable to play. I don't know what large-handed players need, so I can't help much there.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Quote Originally Posted by dnallred View Post
    Also, am I missing out on a different maker in this price range that I just have to consider?
    Lots of options $3500 and below. Lots of them. Check out the classifieds. You don't even have to spend the whole budget to get something wonderful.

    As far as a maker, you might consider all the greatness that is available at Weber.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Registered User Russ Jordan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    so I don't exactly remember how the Collings neck felt in comparison, except that it wasn't significantly different. .
    The neck profile of the Pava I owned was significantly different than MT2s I have owned. And I don't mean that in a negative way, but the Pava neck was fuller and took a little getting used to. Had I kept it, I likely would have reshaped the neck. YMMV.
    Russ Jordan

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Russ Jordan View Post
    The neck profile of the Pava I owned was significantly different than MT2s I have owned. And I don't mean that in a negative way, but the Pava neck was fuller and took a little getting used to.
    I am very interested in this discussion. While I have not yet played an MT2, I would like to, and I too noticed the MT2V that appeared briefly in the classifieds. I can say that my MT I find a bit brighter and louder than my Pava, with more of a v-shaped neck, which I prefer. The Pava is a bit darker, more hollow sounding, with a u-shaped neck that has more meat in the shoulders. If I were to recommend another A-style in that price range, it would probably be another Austin instrument by Stefan Passernig if you can find one. Mine kind of combines the feel of the MT with the tone of the Pava in one heady package.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  19. #13
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    will chime in to help give you even more restless nights of back and forth

    no expert, new to mandolin(around a year), fingerstyle guitar player and clawhammer banjo for couple years. i do have a sense of quality of build and sound, and having went thru a fleet of acoustic guitars-i finally figured out some important parts of the equation for me.

    with that sort of budget, i would highly recommend taking a day trip or two and scouting out some models to play. as others recommended, i would not limit to those two builders(which are both excellent). there have been some grand looking, nice priced A models in the classifieds lately-and i expect more due to tax time.

    not only sound, be aware of the neck profile in shape, shoulder width, and depth as it approaches the heel to body connection. based on if you typically play up the neck, you might find some models thicken in depth too much for your tastes.

    i've owned a Pava and currently we have two Collings MT's in the family that came after the Pava sold. Loved the Pava tone. Not as loud or projective as the Collings i've played, but still plenty loud enough. i have found some Collings to be too loud and harsh to my sense of what i like, so "loud" isn't a big thing i look at. the quality of the projection is more appropriate. the Pava shines in the quality of its tone projection. mine had a really beautiful bell tone quality all along the neck. the setup was as perfect as humanly possible. the quality of build, miters, bindings, all top shelf. it was new, had an adi top, and i expect in time with play it would have bloomed in a positive manner.

    my two big personal issues with my Pava were nut width( 1 1/8", i now prefer 1 3/16" and simply don't consider anything different now for myself), and the neck profile shape didn't suit me. the profile shape could have easily been changed and i was very close to doing a speed neck and profile reshape before i sold it. the profile shape of the Pava and a Collings MT are quite different. my Pava had what i call an upside down egg shape-look at an egg with the smaller top unside down. the Collings MT's i've played and own all have a more defined soft V shape, and feel as though they keep a slimmer profile as you travel up the neck vs getting thicker and deeper. i highly prefer the Collings neck now(as i also prefer a Weber neck).

    both the Collings and Pava arrive with an excellent cut nut(and correct depth slots), nice shaped bridges and again correct depth of string slots, ease of adjustment at the truss rod, well set and smooth filed frets(so the fretboard can be dialed in with very little relief and low string action with no buzz-and ease of fretting), nice finishes, very nice wood. fret size is more modern size and plays easy. both carry a radius in the fretboard as well.

    speaking for myself, when i went to spend $ after the Pava, i took a road trip and played a bunch of different mandolins. i found i didn't care for the adi top Collings at all. felt the tone was too bright, too piercing for the type of music i want to play(thats an important consideration), i did find the englemann top Collings fit the sound in my head perfect. i've watched a video (on Collings website) with Kym Warner and he mentioned he had his MTV built with englemann for like reasons.
    the Pava with Adi top is all i've played and i found its voice to be beautiful. strong, well rounded notes, but they carried a sweetness at the same time.

    TejonStreet is a fine place to shop. I've purchased 3 mandolins from them in this past year(two Collings, and a Northfield NFS).
    They have a couple new Collings just arrived as well. I would inquire at ThemandolinStore as well. Dennis and Brian carry a good stock of Pava and Collings usually and some other brands you might get interested in and provide excellent service.

    I can recommend checking into NorthField as well. They have the new USA made model M selling under $2000, there's a Master Model A blacktop Big Mon out there at Morgan Music. I picked up a wide nut F5S a while back from TejonStreet and i love the thing. It had a very similar neck profile as the Pava, almost identical to my feel, i speednecked and reshaped the profile and it fits me great.

    If you go to TejonStreet, you can try some different Collings, try the Northfield even if not interested(if they have any, they had 4 a when I purchased mine but I know they sold a couple of them), the Northfield neck profile and shape will be similar to the Pava-more so than the Collings. The tone of the Northfield will be more similar to the Pava than the Collings. That might give you some things to think over.

    I would definitely check out a Sorensen in that budget range also-you can find them around on youtube a bunch and around here.

    Lots to look at and consider, find what fits your hands, find what fits your ears, and have a lifetime player.

    good luck and keep us posted
    d
    Last edited by darylcrisp; Apr-02-2015 at 12:45am.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    While understanding Daryl's points above re.nut (neck width),i think that we think too much about this in our evaluation of mandolins. Unless there's something physically wrong,i can't understand why we fail to cope with wide/narrow/intermediate width nuts. I have very large hands & i can cope easily with the (slightly) wider than usual neck on my Lebeda & the necks on my Ellis & Weber. In fact when i first got my Ellis "A" style,visually it looked narrower than the Weber neck.When i came to measure it,it was 1/16" wider. It's not the nut width that's important,it's the string spacing within that width that's the determining factor. Adam Steffey has pretty large hands,& he has no trouble playing any mandolin he picks up. It's what we get used to. Realistically,if you came across a mandolin that sounded utterly awesome,but it had a narrow neck,would you pass on it ?. I most certainly wouldn't,i'd simply adapt my left hand to cope with it & enjoy it.
    The bottom line - try every mandolin regardless of neck width, & if necessary adapt your left hand to cope. Somewhere down the line you might just come across with that awesome, narrow necked mandolin & you'll be ready for it,
    Ivan
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    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Good points Ivan. I often have customers limit their choices by having pre-conceived ideas on these issues. IMHO within the normal bounds of specs (i.e I had a Givens F once with a 1" neck, I could understand folks having difficulty playing that though one day I was playing that and my Old Wave melon with a 1 3/8" nut and only noticed the difference when I looked at them side by side) a few hours playing would make any spec playable (including flat/radiussed fretboards). With the exception of those with medical issues.
    Trevor
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Ivan & Trevor

    totally agree with the thought to not limit oneself with pre-conceived ideas. in all things an open mind is best and one simply needs to try and see what works best.

    I've tried many a different width/profile shape with regards to guitars and mandolins, I've found what works immediate and best for myself. some folks are not bothered by a difference in either(size or shape), some of us are dramatically effected.

    its all good, every bit of it. folks simply have to find what works best and not settle for something that takes away from the journey.


    best of luck to the OP on his research and finding that special mandolin-its out there
    d

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    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Agreed, I know a well known guitar maker who insists that 1/128" makes a difference on guitar nut width... no names.
    Trevor
    The Acoustic Music Co (TAMCO) Brighton England
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    perpetual beginner... jmagill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    ... It's not the nut width that's important,it's the string spacing within that width that's the determining factor.
    I agree completely.

    I have three mandolins with different nut widths, the narrowest as much as 3/32" smaller than the widest, and I can go back and forth between them and hardly notice the difference in my grip on the neck, because, really, there isn't much. HOWEVER, if the string spacing differs by as little as 1/64" I can feel it and hear it in my playing as my fingertip touches and mutes one of the adjacent strings. I play much cleaner on the mandolin with the widest string spacing, a Holst.

    So, after a year of unsuccessfully trying to change my technique slightly for each instrument, and to insure consistency, I now make my own nuts for my instruments to get the same string spacing as the nut I made for the Holst. Bob Meldrum's "How to Set Up a Mandolin" is an excellent downloadable guide for this. For a minimal investment, you can buy (or make) the tools necessary, and with a little practice, be able to make nuts with consistent string spacing for all your instruments.

    Even with the standard nut width of 1 1/8", there's usually room to get string spacing of 1" from the edge of the outer G to the edge of the outer E. I find that anything wider than 1" makes it difficult to fret two courses with one finger, but YMMV.

    What is of greater importance to me is the spacing between each pair. Even on a mandolin that comes with decent spacing, I usually move some pairs at least 1/64" closer together, depending on which course it is, and the A and E courses are just slightly farther apart than the G & D courses. We're talking about very, very small differences here, all based on my own sense of 'feel', which is why I do it myself rather than have a luthier do it and have it returned to me off by 1/64", which would be within tolerances for the luthier, but something I would definitely feel and find unacceptable.

    If you find that your fingertip touches more than the course you're aiming for, you might want to consider fine adjustments to the spacing that a nut customized for your playing would provide.

  28. #19
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Remarkable! Do you make any changes at the other end?
    Trevor
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  29. #20
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    totally agree with the thought to not limit oneself with pre-conceived ideas. in all things an open mind is best and one simply needs to try and see what works best.d
    Its really true.
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  30. #21
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I sometimes refuse to give people a ruler to measure nut widths (nasty me).. and tell them just to feel. Sometimes they find the one that feels best isn't the one that measures best.
    Trevor
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  31. #22
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    There has been little mention of Weber here. Back when Fiddler's Green carried both Weber and Collins, I spent a good bit of time comparing them and eventually bought a Weber "Bighorn" I just prefered the Weber tone to the Collins and the feel of the neck as well. If I were looking for a mandolin in that same price range today, the Pava would definitely be one to look at and would come in pretty equal to the Weber I own. I feel strongly I still would not choose a Collins. These days, however, I seem to be playing my 1920 Gibson A-2 most of the time...another animal altogether.

    By the way, Passernig is indeed another great suggestion.
    Jammin' south of the river
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    Registered User jclover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I really like the neck profile on my Pava. It is a not a sharp "V" at all, pretty rounded maybe like a "D", and somewhat thinner than most necks. I found it surprising how well my hand likes it, but YMMV. I think my Pava is pretty balanced overall but slightly on the bright/ringing side rather than dark/woody side of the tone spectrum, with very good volume.
    -Jim

  33. #24

    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    I too like my Pava neck a great deal. I want to have my heftier Weber neck done just like it. The gap that you are supposed to have between the U of your hand and the neck just happens naturally and effortlessly with my Pava.

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    perpetual beginner... jmagill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Pro or Collings MT2?

    Quote Originally Posted by trevor View Post
    Remarkable! Do you make any changes at the other end?
    Generally, no. The saddle spacing tends to be right around 1 1/2" on all of my mandolins, and I don't find that my picking hand is as sensitive to small spacing differences. Most of my playability tweaks are aimed at making the fretting hand motion as clean and effortless as possible.

    Having said that, I'm not above tinkering with the saddle material if I think it will change the tone, volume, sustain or overtones in a direction I prefer.

    For example, I had John Monteleone make me a saddle with a bone top for my 1980 Grand Artist. It gave me some, but not all of what I was looking for, so I had him make me another with bone under just the A and E. That gave me a sound closer to what I wanted. That mandolin, ser. # 44 is for sale at Carter's Vintage Instruments and you can see it still has the saddle with the bone inserts. You can also see where I filed a bit of the saddle away under the inner G string in order to compensate the intonation a bit more finely.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I had Stephen Holst make me a second saddle for my custom F4 also, with bone inserts under the A & E, which is what I'm currently using.

    I might try the same thing with my newly acquired Heiden Heritage Model F5. For now, I'm spending time learning how to coax the best tone out of it with its current setup of an ebony saddle with a vintage bone nut.

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