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Thread: Mandolin recommendations?

  1. #1

    Default Mandolin recommendations?

    Hi all, I'm new to the forum and glad to be here! I'm not really a mandolin player (although I used to strum on some early Martin made potato bugs from the '20s), but I do play other instruments. However, I'm asking for my father in law.

    I know he'd like a mandolin, and I'd like to put together a group purchase for Christmas for him. I figure we'd come up with about $600, maybe a little more.

    I'm here to solicit recommendations for that, if you could oblige. I know it's not a great sum. He's a lifelong musician, a guitarist and piano player and such, and he'd mainly use it to learn on and record with. It probably wouldn't see live use.

    New or used, it doesn't matter, as long as I can actually purchase it easily. The body style isn't that important either, and of course ideally I'd like an American made, all solid wood instrument... but I doubt that happens easily at this price point.

    Any thoughts? Thanks!

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
    I know it's not a great sum. He's a lifelong musician, a guitarist and piano player and such, and he'd mainly use it to learn on and record with. It probably wouldn't see live use. New or used, it doesn't matter, as long as I can actually purchase it easily. The body style isn't that important either, and of course ideally I'd like an American made, all solid wood instrument... but I doubt that happens easily at this price point. Any thoughts? Thanks!
    I think that your father-in-law might be ripe for a flattop mandolin! If it won't see live use at the local bluegrass jam, instead picked and recorded at home, it is very possible to find an American made, all solid wood instrument, even at your price point. Recommended builders typically include Mid-Missouri / Big Muddy, Flatiron, Redline, Gypsy, and Red Valley among others.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    Thank you very much! I'll look into those. Mid-Missouri I haven't heard of, and I live here.

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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    +1 on flattops. I have played a number and owned a Redline. Best bang for the buck of any instrument I have ever bought.
    Tony Huber
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
    Thank you very much! I'll look into those. Mid-Missouri I haven't heard of, and I live here.
    Mike Dulak built under the Mid-Missouri name and now produces Big Muddy flattops in Rocheport:

    http://www.bigmuddymandolin.com/
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    The Big Muddy's a good idea, and also probably the only US-made instrument that's within your price point. You're talking "used," because the MW-0, cheapest model, is $655 list. Here's a link to the current catalog.

    Other brands to look at are Kentucky, Eastman (their '300' series), and Loar. These are all imported, but they are good quality instruments, and their lower-end A-models are well within your price range. They feature all solid woods, and, in many cases, hand carving. (Check the specs carefully to make sure you're getting "solid," not "select," wood, and that the top and back are carved.)

    There are also budget lines, such as Rover, that have decent-quality solid-wood instruments well under $600.

    As in all cases, proper set-up is crucial. Mandolins need more expert set-up than guitars, because the bridge is movable and height-adjustable. Some dealers offer shop set-ups, many on-line volume sellers don't. I'm prejudiced toward "buy local," but realize that's not always an option.

    Let us know how the search goes...
    Allen Hopkins
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    RedKnucklesUnclesCousin GKWilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    There's a Morris flat top in the classifieds in your price range right now.
    If you contacted Sonny soon he could probably build a fully custom mandolin for
    you by Christmas. Depending on his back log.
    Sonny builds a quality no frills instrument so the average guy can have a good
    mandolin without having to pay thousands for it.
    He's a great guy, worth a call.
    Gary
    vincit qui se vincit

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    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    +1 on Morris
    Thanks

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  10. #9

    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    I'm not sure if I ever put up a proper thank you here- I ended up getting my father in law a Big Muddy flat top, and he seems very happy with that.

    Now I'm kind of looking over the suggestions for a mandolin for myself. Thanks again to everyone who posted.

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  12. #10

    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    You couldn't do wrong with a vintage Martin A-Style! Made from the late teens to around 1975 or so, they're oval hole, solid spruce top, mahogany B/S, easy playing, sweet sounding machines! They go anywhere from $500-750, and they're all well-built, being Martins! Canted top, flat back. I posted about the one I recently acuired if you want to see what it looks like, and they were all over Reeverb last I checked!

  13. #11

    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    Edit
    Oops I should read the whole thread.

    Enjoy your mando!
    Trillium Mandola
    Northfield NF5S
    Gernandt Octave mandolin
    Dekavalas Bouzouki
    www.singletonstreet.com

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    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    Wow it's cool when a thread comes back to life after 4 years!

    What kind of music are you interested in playing? Did you get a chance to try the Big Muddy yourself?
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  15. #13

    Default Re: Mandolin recommendations?

    The Mid Mo is a great amndo for the money, and made in USA. I had Mike make a mandola for me several years ago, and it sounds and plays very nice.

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