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Thread: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

  1. #1
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    Default Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    Anyone know anything about Ratliff mandolins - an R A5 in this case? There's one in the classifieds right now (late 1990s) that I may check out this weekend (seller is near me). Anyone know anything about these? How would they compare with a similarly priced Weber Bitterroot A, Collings MT, or Krishot A style (all of which could be found used for similar (ballpark) prices). This one is around $1400.

  2. #2
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    Here are several pages of previous threads on the subject that you can peruse while waiting for an answer.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  3. #3
    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I had one one Audie's F-4's for a while. Lovely, great sounding instrument.
    Bill
    IM(NS)HO

  4. #4
    Registered User swain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I have and play regularly an Audie F model, s/n 9 hundred and something. Hardly ever play the Weber F since I got the Ratliff. Definitely would be worth your time and gasoline to go check it out.

  5. #5
    Registered User Mike Arakelian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I played a Ratliff a couple of years ago, and should have bought it. Great sound and playability. If you play BG, you'll love it. Audey has a good reputation, and his build quality is good.

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  7. #6
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    Wonderful instruments. I have caught and released a Stiver, two Gibsons, a couple Eastmans, a "Tennessee", and a couple others, including a 1995 Ratliff F5 (he calls it an R5). Wish I still has the Ratliff.

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I have a Ratliff Country Boy A mandolin that I use as my main instrument, and I really like it. I tried lots of mandolins at the time I bought it, some a lot more expensive, and I much preferred this one for its great clear tone. It's a very versatile instrument as well: I don't play bluegrass at all, but find it works well in any other kind of musical setting.

    If I understand it correctly, the Country Boys are basically the same mandolins as his more expensive ones but with cheaper fittings and finish.

    A nice bonus is that Mr Ratliff makes a demonstration video of his mandolins. Here's mine:


  10. #8
    Registered User Atlanta Mando Mike's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    A Ratliff was my first good mandolin and it treated me well for a long time. They are very good in general and especially for the money. My experience is they tend to have great tone, record well but aren't super loud. There are 2 in the classifieds, one for $1250 which is a better deal. I think a Ratliff at that $1200-$1400 price range and a used Collings MT at $1700-$1900 are the better deals in the sub $2k price range. Depending on how much you want to spend of course. IMO the Collings tend to be louder, bit more modern, better fit and finish. The Ratliff truly hand made, little more trad bluegrassy, little rougher looking up close. Grain of salt, YMMV, every mandolin is different, etc...
    Last edited by Atlanta Mando Mike; Jan-13-2016 at 1:52pm.

  11. #9
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I have had a Ratliff A for some time now. I believe Ratliffs rate high in the sound quality/cost ratio discussion. Guess if we were in England we could say they have good sound per pound.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    My Ratliff A is #1056, and sounds great. My F (about 1104?) is louder and more 'gibsony'. I like each voice. Finish is not as fancy as either a Collings or a Weber, but the sound is certainly a match, for my ears anyway.

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  14. #11
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I can`t add any thing more about Ratliff mandolins, I play one as my #1 mandolin and I also own two other Gibson made mandolins that don`t sound any better then the R-5...Audie is a great person to deal with also if you have any problems with one of his instruments...

    Willie

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  16. #12

    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I own #1068, an R5 born on 092515, which I bought new from Down Home Guitars in Frankfort IL.

    This is a cannon, with the Sam Bush Monel strings, and with the right pick. This has been a strong, consistent companion to other instruments, that no longer get much use.

    Always, after playing other high end models, I am happy to return to my Rat. It doesn’t matter if the others are 5k or 40k, I always wear a grin, when I get mine back.

    Take it for what you will... just my very biased opinion.

    As a bonus, while traveling from WI to SC on vacation, I stopped in to Audey’s shop (pre-arranged), and waited while he put relief in my Florida. I do still dig in too much, and this helped me, tremendously.

    I love his shop, and you won’t find a nicer person, anywhere, and he’ll probably take the time to jam with you.
    Last edited by MandoManD; May-29-2019 at 2:08pm. Reason: Update

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  18. #13

    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    Actually my F is #1118. Still a powerhouse. A custom CountryBoy, blond finish. There's a Youtube video of Audey playing #1056, my A, before sending it to Morgan Music, where I bought it. Great guy to deal with.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  20. #14
    R-5, MT & A1 ('12. '13) lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Opinions on Ratliff Mandolins

    I have #0774 -- an R-5 made in 2000. It has some beautiful flame and the tone and action are superb. I am not the original owner, but it had very little use before I purchased it here on the Cafe Classifieds. Thank you MC!

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