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Thread: Modern mandolas

  1. #1
    Registered User mcgroup53's Avatar
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    Default Modern mandolas

    I have been spending time recently around Mike Compton hearing him play both his Duff and Gilchrist mandolas. Obviously, I'll never make one sound like him, but that gutteral, deep-throated tone is giving me chillblaines these days. What does everyone think about some of the modern mandolas? I know Kimbles reign, but short of that, what's the take on the Collings MT mandolas? And there's a gorgeous Mowry at Carmel Music that Dexter is very excited about, but I don;t know if I want to go that far. Anyone own an Eastman 815 mandola who can talk about it?

    Thanks,

    Dave McCarty

  2. #2
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I went with a Weber Bitterroot F-style for my modern mandola choice (for when I don't want to take my teens Gibson H4). It plays great, looks great, sounds great, and does everything I need it to do. It's probably not on the level of a Duff or Gilchrist, of course, but it's well beyond an Eastman and probably on par with Collings. Though I have not played a Collings mandola, so that's just a guess based on brand comparison.
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  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I have a Monteleone Grand Artist which I bought around 1985. At that time there were much fewer mandolin makers and even fewer who would make a mandola. Naturally it is an exquisite instrument. I have also played a nice Kimble oval mandola that was excellent too.

    I originally had an H-4 from around 1920 but was playing in a quartet and frankly the Gibson did not cut it on the higher positions. It would lose volume around the 10th fret or so. The Monteleone of course has no problem with that.
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    Jim

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I got a mandola from Max and Laurie Girouard. I couldn't be happier with everything about it from tone to workmanship to playability. See details in this thread. http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...light=girouard

    Get one with the cedar top wood they have.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Attachment 143928

    I'm the original owner of the July 2002 Duff H-5 w/Virzi (on the right). What a lovely instrument she is. I call her Cindy....my heart be still...

    When talking about mandolas, I think we have to specify whether it's 15 3/4" or a 17" scale length. Before I received the Duff, I owned a Weber Yellowstone mandola with a 17" scale that was a bear to handle with my smallish hands. When I got the Duff with the Loar spec scale length, I found it is much more manageable. That C string on the Weber however had the voice of a minor deity, it was huge!!



    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
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  6. #6
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I had a Lebeda AM-4. As Eddie said, it is a really nice instrument for the price point. The instrument had an almost classical sounding persona, which I think had much to do with both the woods used and the builder. Dave, if you would like to know where it is for sale, send me a private message and I will send you the information.
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
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    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
    2017 Nyberg Mandola #172

  7. #7
    Registered User Eldon Dennis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    For what it's worth I really enjoy my Collings MT mandola. It's 15.9 inch scale length is much easier for me to play than one with a longer scale. The sound is different from that of an older Gibson H1 or H2, but it is still very pleasing to my ear. As is frequently said around here - it's best if you can play some different makes and models before making a decision. The tone each of us finds satisfying is so often a personal preference.
    1992 Flatiron F5 Master model
    2009 Weber A model Fern
    2011 Collings MT mandola
    1985 Flatiron 2M

  8. #8
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Quote Originally Posted by lenf12 View Post
    When talking about mandolas, I think we have to specify whether it's 15 3/4" or a 17" scale length. Before I received the Duff, I owned a Weber Yellowstone mandola with a 17" scale that was a bear to handle with my smallish hands.
    My hands are very small, and I was surprised that my Weber's 17" scale is easier to play than the 15.75" scale of my H4. Though the frets are further apart, the radiused board, large frets, and slimmer neck just work better for me.

  9. #9
    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I'm guessing from the OP that most of the suggestions being thrown out here are out of the price range. They definitely were for me.
    I wound up with an Eastman 815 and overall I'm pretty happy with it. The fit and finish, wood flaming and overall appearance exceeded my expectations.

    As to the sound being lacking, yes I'm sure it is compared to most of those being mentioned so far, but I would hope so for their sake. For me and what I wanted to do, it is great. I pick it up a couple of times a week and have one or two songs I'm working on using it on in a small local band. For that application, I could never justify spending much more than what I did. If you're planning on doing something more than that with it, yes you may want something higher end...but if you just want one to mess around with and have some fun, I think it is a great instrument.
    Drew
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  10. #10
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I am not sure of your tonal preferences, but I replaced my Lebeda with a Old Wave short neck, attached to the body oval mandola. I am not sure of the price as I bought it used from the Cafe classifieds. It has a warm kind of folksy tone and is easy to play. Perfect for old timey and Celtic music. You can contact Bill Bussman for details. He is a great fella. Here is a link to his website, NFI,: http://www.oldwavemandolins.com/photos.html
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
    2017 Nyberg Mandola #172

  11. #11
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Quote Originally Posted by pilotdrew View Post
    I'm guessing from the OP that most of the suggestions being thrown out here are out of the price range.
    Hmm, well, since Dave did not give us a price range he's budgeting for, I would just tend to go with the price range of the instruments he's asking about. He said the Mowry mandola at Carmel Music is probably more than he wants to spend at this point, and it's around $4,200. He expressed curiosity about the Collings MT mandola, which is around $3,000. And the Eastman runs around $1,700. Without further info on his budgetary limitations, I would guess $1,500 to $3,000 might be in his range of interest?

    The Mandolin Store has a range of mandolas that would fit in this price zone. The A-style Weber Gallatin at $2,400 is a great value to get the tone without the high cost of scrolls and decoration.

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I have a Monteleone Grand Artist which I bought around 1985. At that time there were much fewer mandolin makers and even fewer who would make a mandola. Naturally it is an exquisite instrument. I have also played a nice Kimble oval mandola that was excellent too.
    So. Jealous.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I just put my deposit on one of two H5 style mandolas Will Kimble is currently finishing up. I've long been looking for a high-end mandola since my first trip to the mandolin symposium and since that time I've played a bunch of really nice ones! For me the Kimble, Duff and Vessel Loar copy mandola were the nicest I'd played (though I never got my hands on a monteleone mandola I hear they're also truly special instruments). I don't know enough about mandolas to say that Duffs and Vessels are, or arent "modern" sounding but I know all three of these builders had unique, equally beautiful instruments w/ great low end and very good balance up/down the neck and from string to string.

    Not to highjack the thread- what strings do you recommend for a 16" scale length mandola (the one I'm getting from Will is built to 16 inches)

  15. #14

    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoJason View Post
    Not to highjack the thread- what strings do you recommend for a 16" scale length mandola (the one I'm getting from Will is built to 16 inches)
    D'Addario FT-76 Flat Tops. They work well on my Duff.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

  16. #15

    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    My hands are very small, and I was surprised that my Weber's 17" scale is easier to play than the 15.75" scale of my H4. Though the frets are further apart, the radiused board, large frets, and slimmer neck just work better for me.
    How can I disagree with you Tobin? I didn't have a 15.75" scale length H-4 to compare it to when I played the Weber Yellowstone, not until the Duff arrived. The 17" scale Weber just didn't work for me, maybe it was just the frets farther apart causing me to underestimate how far I needed to reach to get the note. I didn't get used to it in the couple of years I played it and was happy to finally take delivery of the 15.75" scale length Duff, also with a radiused fingerboard and Loar spec neck dimensions.

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL
    Last edited by lenf12; Feb-23-2016 at 7:11pm.

  17. #16
    Registered User Rosemary Philips's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoJason View Post
    I just put my deposit on one of two H5 style mandolas Will Kimble is currently finishing up.
    I just saw pictures of those on Facebook--so envious! You're gonna love it, I'm sure!

  18. #17
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I have a Collings MT mandola from the Mandolin Store . It was on the classifieds for $2400 and at the time they had another used one for sale. I must say it is the most amazing instrument. I have played Webers and Gibsons and I don't like the thick neck profiles. For my kind of music which does not require a lot of strumming and jangling bluegrass chop sound, it produces remarkable response and tone all the way up the neck. So many mandolas have an uneven response on different strings, or weird overtones at certain points. Maybe I'm lucky with this one (I doubt it), but for this kind of money I think nothing else would do for me.

    I use Thomastik 164 strings.

  19. #18
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I've played a few of the Collings mandolas and they're nice instruments. Probably the most mandola for the money out there. I'm just not a fan of Eastmans in general. Of course Kimble makes a killer mandola. I had an A-style for awhile. It played like a big mandolin. I'd go with the longest scale length you can handle. My current 'dola is 16.5" and I think that's a good compromise.

  20. #19
    Registered User mcgroup53's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Wound up buying a used Girouard on the Cafe classifieds. Click image for larger version. 

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  22. #20

    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Oh my my mcgroup53, that is drop dead gorgeous maple. Max and Lauri got it down and nice score for you too. How about a shot of the front please?

    Len B.
    Clearwater, FL

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  24. #21

    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Great score, David! Hard to go wrong with a Girouard. What number is it?
    Palatable to a Goat: New Music from Gregg Daigle and Don Grieser, now on bandcamp
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  26. #22
    Registered User mcgroup53's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    I don't know yet, Don. I get it tomorrow. It's pretty recent, Lauri told it sold last year at The Mandolin Store. I'm hoping I can get Compton to do a mandola class at this year's Monroe Mandolin Camp. I'll post some pics and more details after I get it. Any suggestions of a good mandola chord book?

  27. #23
    Registered User mcgroup53's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

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  28. #24
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    The Cafe has a mandola chord chart.

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/chords/mandola.pl


    That's a really nice mandola. Sound clip next?
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  29. #25
    Registered User mcgroup53's Avatar
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    Default Re: Modern mandolas

    Sure, as soon as I get it tomorrow. And thanks for the link to the mandola chords.

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