Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Howard Morris mandolins

  1. #1

    Post Howard Morris mandolins

    Hi, what is the build and sound quality of the Howard Morris mandolins A5 models?

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646 N, 74.2083 W
    Posts
    23,707

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    While you're waiting for some answers you might try scanning through these threads. Welcome to the cafe.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    Mandosand. I obviously biased because I own a morris mandolin. However, I would say that for the price they are about as good as you can get. They are very simple, straightforward mandolins without a lot of frills. He is well known for exceptional tone and playability for a great price. I bought one 2 1/2 years ago and it has kept me happy so far. No plans to get rid of it anytime soon.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Conneaut Lake, PA
    Posts
    4,067

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I have never played one but he gets rave reviews here and his instruments look nice in his ads and the price is hard to beat. The only thing that bothers me is the lack of an adjustable truss rod. There are those who will tell you they aren't necessary on a mandolin but I want one just in case. If they aren't necessary, why did Gibson adopt them in the 20's as an "improvement"?

    By the way, this section is not for instruments, only equipment. You would probably get more response if you asked the moderators to move this thread to the "Infirmation about Mandolins" section.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  5. The following members say thank you to multidon for this post:


  6. #5
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,820
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I would buy that Morris A5 in a heartbeat! I have a Howard Morris A Oval and it is amazing! The tone is full and rich. Beautiful sustain and the fit and finish are as close to perfect as is possible. His prices are just unbelievable. I have fallen in love with mine and use it unplugged at a nursing home and plugged in at church and it is a great instrument in both cases. I didn't say a great player... The action is very comfortable. Howard put a K and K mini pickup in it for me at my request. Go for it.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I recently met with one of the more prominent builders out there and he said that although he uses a truss rod out of tradition, he doesn't feel they are necessary. I've got a few mandos without a truss rod (the oldest being fro 1921) and I haven't had any problems

  8. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Conneaut Lake, PA
    Posts
    4,067

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I saw a Morris F for sale used on a music store web site some time ago. Don't remember which one. Greg Boyd's maybe? But I remember it being advertised as having a very slight neck bow.

    I am sure Mr. Morris would say this is impossible with that steel bar epoxied in there but I am not so sure.

    I don't understand why he doesn't just start installing them. Anyone skilled enough to make a mandolin can surely learn to do the installation, and the difference in material cost would not be much in the grand scheme of things.

    If the prominent builder out there is really interested in "tradition", he would make solid wood necks with no rod or stiffener at all. That's what the highly regarded teens Gibsons had.

    Even if the neck never bowed, the fact is that some players want their neck to be dead straight, others a tiny bit of relief. Without an adjustable truss rod you have no choices.
    Don

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

  9. #8

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    There is a nice one on ebay right now, I think it was listed here. I have yet to paly one, but would like to. If I were in the market I would be seriously looking at that one. Completive price to pac-rim mandolins and made here.

  10. #9
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,820
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzjune18 View Post
    I recently met with one of the more prominent builders out there and he said that although he uses a truss rod out of tradition, he doesn't feel they are necessary. I've got a few mandos without a truss rod (the oldest being fro 1921) and I haven't had any problems
    I agree. I have strung mine with Ej74s (11-40) and I have seen no issues. I like the sound better with the Martin 80/20 10-34 bronze wounds, but it can handle the heavier strings wonderfully. This neck and neck joint are rock solid. The technique is one that has been used by some of the most sought after instruments. Take the example of Martin Guitars-- no adjustable rod and plenty of pull on those strings. I have never had to have a Martin neck reset and I have had a Martin D28 for 20 years. The neck is no issue.

    If you ever had a problem, Howard would work with you. Trust me. He is a gentleman that backs his instruments and takes great pride in his artistry. He would fix a used one for a fair price, so there is nothing to fear. Good luck!

  11. #10
    Registered User spufman's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Central CT
    Posts
    414

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I doubt the cost would be any greater to install an adjustable rod, than to install an epoxied steel or graphite reinforcement bar. Morris simply prefers to use the bar. Half of me thinks adjustment is a necessary feature and half thinks that a solid hunk without the rod's gap would sound better. I dunno! My Weber adjusts (though I've never needed to do so) and my Gibson does not. Both play and sound great.

    In any case, I admire the apparent qualities of the Morris design, especially at his reasonable prices. I would certainly consider one in the future.
    Blow on, man.

  12. The following members say thank you to spufman for this post:


  13. #11
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    West Hartford, CT
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    My sister just bought one of his flat-top mandolins. Very nice workmanship, and sound is quite nice. IMHO, nicer than Kentuckys and most Eastmans at that price point, and a bit more. I'd bet his A5 is also really nice, and I was tempted, except for my current obsession with oval holes. Another + for Morris mandolins.

  14. #12
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Beaverton, OR, USA
    Posts
    1,451

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I recently drove out to Irrigon to sample Sonny's then current inventory. Brought home an F-style. I liked them all though. And I had a wonderful visit with Sonny and his wife Nadeen. I still am quite happy with my purchase.

  15. The following members say thank you to HonketyHank for this post:


  16. #13
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,820
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by HonketyHank View Post
    I recently drove out to Irrigon to sample Sonny's then current inventory. Brought home an F-style. I liked them all though. And I had a wonderful visit with Sonny and his wife Nadeen. I still am quite happy with my purchase.
    I am envious HonketyHank-- I would love to visit Sonny as well. You chose a great mando-- and an F style. Congratulations!

  17. #14
    Registered User Steve-o's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Northern Michigan
    Posts
    1,209

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I owned a Morris A oval hole. Sonny was great to work with, and for the price point, it was a great mandolin. It did experience, however, a little more relief in the neck than normal, and without an adjustable truss rod, there was nothing I could do to straighten it. If there were two things I could change, they would be adding an adjustable truss rod and losing the decal on the headstock.

  18. The following members say thank you to Steve-o for this post:


  19. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    1,615

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    I owned one of his F-style oval hole instruments for awhile.
    I think they are well crafted and good value, especially the A-styles, and even more especially the used A styles that appear for sale from time to time in the $600-$700 range.

    My own opinion, based on my experience, is that the f-hole Morris instruments (F5 or A5) may be more naturally designed and fitted to most people's expectations. What I mean is that his oval hole models, which have 15th fret neck joints, elevated fingerboards, the same 1-1/8" nut width, and (I think) are X-bracing, are hybrids. These do differ somewhat from traditional oval-hole sound and feel, as well as looks. I was preferring a more traditional design and sound, so the Morris "F4" I bought was more of an experiment and probably unsurprisingly wasn't one I held on to.

    He has added some modifications from earlier days that I think are pluses, namely radiused FBs and larger frets. I think the instruments would maybe perform and definitely look better with a higher-end set of tuning machines.

    The lack of a non-adjustable truss rod, for me as well as others, is a negative and in a modern instrument doesn't seem well chosen. A non-adjustable stiffener would be fine if in fact it worked reliably to prevent the neck and fingerboard from developing too much relief, but it clearly does not ensure that, at least in some necks. Mine was one of those that just developed more relief than was acceptable.
    Jeff Rohrbough
    "Listen louder, play softer"

  20. #16

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    My first custom build was a Morris A5 and it was great. I bought several high end mandolins since that time and sold that Morris A5. I found a steal in the classifieds and didn't hesitate to buy another Morris a5 as my travel mandolin despite having a herd of high end mandolins. I like the mellow, even tone produced by his mandolins. They are no frills for sure. They are slightly smaller than a traditional a5. I find that up the neck the intonation can be off a little. This could be due to the shorter scale and could probably be taken care of with a good new setup. I enjoy his mandolins though and think the used prices are one of the best values out there, especially for small shop us made.

  21. #17
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,820
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Howard Morris mandolins

    Howard Morris builds a musically very precise instrument, from my experience. The size and shape is very much like my Gibson A4 from the teens. The intonation is excellent, as mine is well set up right from his bench. I have carefully strung and pre-stretched the strings, as with any guitar or mandolin and find no difficulty in gigging with this mandolin and keeping in tune. I am enjoying it as my main oval hole. The tone, like Walter indicated is so warm and full, sustaining very nicely. A great instrument for singing and cross-picking with runs between chords. What sweet tone woods and to have my choice of top, back, sides and fretboard woods was beyond my expectations. You cannot beat the quality or the price. Maybe mine is very special. I have a very straight fretboard and low, comfortable action. I know that everyone is looking for something different. Some are able to play the Martin guitars for decades and never to need to worry about the lack of an adjustable truss rod, but others would not purchase a Martin. It is important for each musician to do what is best for his/her style and knowing the inherent risks or otherwise. You can't go wrong with a Morris, in my humble opinion. Take care all!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •