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Thread: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

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    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Any thoughts as to which A-5 mandolin one would go for if price is not the most important issue? Both the Pava Player and the Northfield M have similar appointments.
    Last edited by Nick Gellie; Apr-20-2015 at 5:05pm.
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Hey Nic! To me, the question largely comes down to whether you prioritize the Adirondack top of the Pava over the Engelmann of the M or the varnish of the M over the lacquer of the Pava. It seems that a new M is even more uncommon than a used Pava. But then you know me: I'd like to buy one of each!
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    thats a tough question.

    having owned an instrument from each maker, i feel able to make the following remarks.

    1) big bang for the buck
    2) almost surgical precision in build(with Pava being ever so slightly on top)
    3) will arrive with very nice, low playing action, from the box
    4) pleasing tone up and down the neck
    5) bell like notes up and down the neck
    6) excellent fret work
    7) customer service, both will stand behind the product
    8) aesthetic quality to the eye
    9) neck profiles more similar than not(Pava and NF F5S-i have not played or had in hand the M)

    hard to go wrong either way. i think either purchase would be a positive experience.
    d

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Thanks Pat and Daryl for some useful posts. I agree with you Daryl that they are pretty much equivalent. It comes down to tone I suppose and whether I am willing to pay $700 more for the Pava mojo. I will wait and see what others have to say.

    I have had some pleasant dealings with people at both Ellis and Northfields - really nice people to deal with.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Sound clips are so hard to assess, but I would think that the M would be like a Collings MT, bright with a lot of cut, while the Pava would be darker with more complexity.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Good comparison Pat. That was what I picked up when listening to both being played. We need some more good Pava video and sound clips to help us out too.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    I have had my Northfield M for several weeks now. I don't think I would categorize the sound as bright, more like clear, focused, sweat and warm, and very responsive, and with good cut. I have a red spruce mando as well and would say it's darker, but at the same time the Northfield M is pretty woody and open sounding, maybe coming somewhat from the varnish finish.

    I have never played a Pava but know too they are very good mandolins. Many good choices out there now, including in this price pocket.

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Only recently got to try (finally) a Pava. Very nice mandolin indeed. Has a lot of "Ellis" about it, as you might expect. Very responsive. Complex voicing... rich, but with very clear and bell-like trebles and near perfect string-to=string balance. Super clean construction. Fit the hand beautifully. Felt "just right". These are a great mandolin... I suspect the price will not remain where it is for too long. Pava is an absolutely top class builder.

    Should add I have not encountered a Northfield 'M' model yet, but obviously, Northfield's are also a fine mandolin - going by the one I have, though, quite different tonally than Pava/Ellis voicing, which in turn is not the same as Collings voicing... though both Tom Ellis and Pava have (at various times) had historical links with Collings.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Whilst we can only offer 'pointers' along with some of our experiences,the only way that you can really find 'the one' is to play them,but the OP knows that i'm sure. It's a real problem making a decision on other folk's opinions.There's always the nagging doubt that maybe the ''other one'' might have been better. I have no experience of Northfield mandolins other than sound / video clips of them being played,& they do sound good IMHO. One thing i know, is that any instrument emanating from the Ellis / Pava workshop will have flawless workmanship & equally superb tone. I have to admit to being an Ellis 'nut',but the Northfield instruments,as i said,do sound very good. So,for me,it would be the Pava,simply for the almost guaranteed build standard & for excellent tonal qualities,
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    Whilst we can only offer 'pointers' along with some of our experiences,the only way that you can really find 'the one' is to play them,but the OP knows that i'm sure. It's a real problem making a decision on other folk's opinions.There's always the nagging doubt that maybe the ''other one'' might have been better. I have no experience of Northfield mandolins other than sound / video clips of them being played,& they do sound good IMHO. One thing i know, is that any instrument emanating from the Ellis / Pava workshop will have flawless workmanship & equally superb tone. I have to admit to being an Ellis 'nut',but the Northfield instruments,as i said,do sound very good. So,for me,it would be the Pava,simply for the almost guaranteed build standard & for excellent tonal qualities,
    Ivan
    All good pointers Ivan and thanks also to Almeria Strings. I like instruments with a varnish finish. The Pavas come in a lacquer finish. Something I would have to accept of course. I am leaning towards a Pava as I was going down the Ellis mandolin path until the Aussie dollar lost value against the greenback and other life matters took a turn.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Where does one even find one of the new made in USA Northfields to look at and try? They were introduced with great hype and fanfare 6 months ago, and since then, none to find at any music stores I know of. Not one in stock at Elderly, The Mandolin Store, Fiddlers Green, or Gryphon. I am beginning to think they are mythological creatures.

    You would think that if they were really interested in being a player in that market niche they would get some examples out to the stores.

    By contrast, I had no trouble finding a Pava to play at Elderly. Very nice.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gellie View Post
    All good pointers Ivan and thanks also to Almeria Strings. I like instruments with a varnish finish. The Pavas come in a lacquer finish. Something I would have to accept of course.
    I'm sure Tom & Pava could accommodate a varnish finish on a Pava mandolin. It's not like these are mass-produced instruments coming off an assembly line, where you only get the options that are available in lots of 10,000. Every Pava is hand-made in their shop, on the same workbench as Ellis models. They offer varnish finishes on the Ellis line, and I wouldn't think it would be a big deal to do varnish on a Pava if that's what you want. It would be a custom order, sure, but that's not a huge deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Where does one even find one of the new made in USA Northfields to look at and try? They were introduced with great hype and fanfare 6 months ago, and since then, none to find at any music stores I know of. Not one in stock at Elderly, The Mandolin Store, Fiddlers Green, or Gryphon. I am beginning to think they are mythological creatures.
    I haven't been into Fiddler's Green for a few months, but every time I go in there, they always have at least one or two Northfields on the wall.

    Of course, it's possible that as the popularity of Northfield has grown, all their new mandolins in production are custom orders, making it difficult to sell 'stock' mandolins to shops. As I recall, the Northfields are built in small batches anyway.

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    I did not mean to say it is difficult to find a Northfield in stock. It is not. I was referring specifically to the much hyped new "entry level" made in USA A styles. If someone could point to just one actually in stock at some actual web site or store, I would be interested in seeing it. But all I've seen is on the Northfield web site. Zip at retailers.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    Where does one even find one of the new made in USA Northfields to look at and try?
    Try Fiddlers Green. I just tried out a Northfield F-4 black face that was pretty nice. Not sure it was USA built, but I think so. They also have a couple of Pava's (and Ellis) hanging on the wall right now.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    I feel the need to clarify one more time. It seems I am being misunderstood.

    Northfield has the Master Models, which are "assembled" (their word) in their shop in China from North American materials then completed at their Michigan shop. They also have the S series ( S for standard?) which follow the same build pattern.

    Last year, I think November or so, they announced with great fanfare the introduction of the M series (M for Michigan?). This was to be a plain no frills A style entry level, their least expensive instrument, completely made in their Michigan shop. I know there is a prototype at least because they have a video of Adam Steffey playing one on their Web site. In post 7 above the poster states he has had his Northfield model M for "several weeks now".

    I have never seen one of these for sale anywhere. Never. All I see are the F styles. How did the above poster procure one? Is this a product that must be custom ordered? If so, that involves a leap of faith like buying a pig in a poke, sight unseen, never played. And if that's the business model they must believe their reputation is enough. Additionally, their shop is in Michigan, for crying out loud. It makes zero sense for Elderly, also in Michigan, to not have an example for sale on display. Elderly was still listed as an authorized dealer of theirs on their Web site. I believe they have 2 F models in stock now. But no A styles.

    Anyone who has actual information about this state of affairs, not speculation, I would love to hear it. I know when the announcement was made many of us were anxious to see and play one. There was a thread about it at the time. Maybe the Northfield guys would chime in with an explanation. I belong eve they monitor the forum.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Hi Don-
    I'll add one thing, and as they say, it's just my opinion, to me it's not a no frills mandolin, depending on one's definition of frills I guess. It's tastefully done, and has just the frills I would want: radius, abbreviated pick guard, varnish, scoop, fast neck, even the new Nugget tail piece. NFI, just adding a couple points folks might be interested in.

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post

    I have never seen one of these for sale anywhere. Never.

    ...

    Anyone who has actual information about this state of affairs, not speculation, I would love to hear it. I know when the announcement was made many of us were anxious to see and play one. There was a thread about it at the time. Maybe the Northfield guys would chime in with an explanation. I belong eve they monitor the forum.
    According to Luna's thread from March, they got it from Northfield directly. The website has this line:

    Reserve your Model-M, call us @ (585) 233-1104 or email orders@northfieldmandolins.com.


    As far as "no frills" goes, I think of it simply meaning unadorned, with minimal binding and no fancy inlays. Not that it's unattractive. On the contrary, I think unadorned can be wickedly attractive and tasteful. That's why I've always been a fan of 18-series Martin guitars (see my sig). Tasteful as can be.

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Quote Originally Posted by terzinator View Post
    According to Luna's thread from March, they got it from Northfield directly. The website has this line:

    Reserve your Model-M, call us @ (585) 233-1104 or email orders@northfieldmandolins.com.


    As far as "no frills" goes, I think of it simply meaning unadorned, with minimal binding and no fancy inlays. Not that it's unattractive. On the contrary, I think unadorned can be wickedly attractive and tasteful. That's why I've always been a fan of 18-series Martin guitars (see my sig). Tasteful as can be.
    Hey Nick I hope you've got some helpful info to make your decision on Pava vs. Northfield a little easier. I've owned/played both and I own an Ellis F5 currently that I love. I think Pava mandolins are a good route to go because they most likely will go up in price due to their great reputation, build quality, Ellis connection, etc. Im sure the Northfield will too. from my limited impression of the 2 makers and models in discussion I feel the Pava will offer a little more complexity which is nice if you play alone or in a small ensemble...or if you enjoy a lot of different kinds of music. IMO the Northfield offers a tremendous bluegrass sound and excellent playability/volume. I didn't notice the pavas having an astonishing amount of volume per se (and not that a loud mandolin means its a good mandolin) but I've noticed the Pava's getting a lot of attention from other musicians. So I feel it offers the Ellis type sound in a far more affordable price point. Im a multi-mandolin owner so I would say they both are fantastic and both builders are excellent people/folks. You can't go wrong so just go to a store that has them both if that is an option and A/B them to one another.
    Enjoy your new mando, whichever way you go...

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    As Chris said, I don't think the Northfield Model M is available in any retail outlet. In fact, looking back at an email response from Northfield I got back when it was introduced, the Model M will be sold exclusively through Northfield directly.

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    oh yeah, sorry about that Clement, I overlooked the fact that you essentially can not compare them in a store since they're only offered direct. take care...

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoJason View Post
    Hey Nick I hope you've got some helpful info to make your decision on Pava vs. Northfield a little easier. I've owned/played both and I own an Ellis F5 currently that I love. I think Pava mandolins are a good route to go because they most likely will go up in price due to their great reputation, build quality, Ellis connection, etc. Im sure the Northfield will too. from my limited impression of the 2 makers and models in discussion I feel the Pava will offer a little more complexity which is nice if you play alone or in a small ensemble...or if you enjoy a lot of different kinds of music. IMO the Northfield offers a tremendous bluegrass sound and excellent playability/volume. I didn't notice the pavas having an astonishing amount of volume per se (and not that a loud mandolin means its a good mandolin) but I've noticed the Pava's getting a lot of attention from other musicians. So I feel it offers the Ellis type sound in a far more affordable price point. Im a multi-mandolin owner so I would say they both are fantastic and both builders are excellent people/folks. You can't go wrong so just go to a store that has them both if that is an option and A/B them to one another.
    Enjoy your new mando, whichever way you go...
    MandoJason, Thanks for your great post and encouragement. Because I am a multi-genre person, I am tending towards a sunburst varnished Pava Player. I have sent a note to Ellis mandolins asking if they do a varnished sunburst Pava Player. I am interested in people's opinions about the volume put out by a Pava Player. There seems to be some opinions about that it is not the loudest mando about.
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    i was looking at the M models when they were first announced, spoke with one of the main fellows(can't remember which) and he said they were being done in small batches of 4 to 5 mandolins, the first batch at the point had been sold out within a matter of a day or two, and i think he told me the other batch was sold out as well. i asked about how long each batch took and i cannot remember the reply, but i'm thinking there are only 2 or 3 folks building these in Michigan, so thats probably why none are in shops.

    d

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Gellie View Post
    MandoJason, Thanks for your great post and encouragement. Because I am a multi-genre person, I am tending towards a sunburst varnished Pava Player. I have sent a note to Ellis mandolins asking if they do a varnished sunburst Pava Player. I am interested in people's opinions about the volume put out by a Pava Player. There seems to be some opinions about that it is not the loudest mando about.
    Nic
    i can only tell you my thoughts on the Pava i owned. it was not the most loud mandolin i have played, but it had a high quality to the tone. one didn't need to use a lot of force with the right hand to get very nice tone. i felt it was plenty loud but i don't play in a band. it was new, adi top, so i'm sure it would only get better in time with play.

    likewise, i will say the F style Northfields i've played are not as loud as the Collings Mt i owned(that thing could peel paint off the walls), but again, all have a nice quality of tone and react to a light right hand very well. those things matter a lot to me and thats how i play. i prefer adi on top of a Northfield, the few englemann tops i've played were really sweet in tone, but the adi just adds some punch that i like(these were all F styles).

    d

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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    Spot on comments Daryl. They really assist me in making a decision and others no doubt who are following this thread.

    What if you had bought a Pava Player with a 1 3/16" nut width? Would you have still have kept it?
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    Default Re: Pava Player versus a Northfield M

    My Ellis "A" style is finished with Behelen 'Rock Hard' oil varnish & finished with Tru-oil. I'm pretty sure that if you specified that finish,Pava would oblige,why would she not ?,
    Ivan
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