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Thread: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

  1. #1
    Shayan Givehchian
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    Default how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    i'm planning to pick up a new Eastman f style from 12th Fret in Toronto and want to get started as quickly as possible.
    does any one know how long it takes to set up a new instrument with the usual work? could it be done and ready the same day like in a few hours ?
    thanks

  2. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    The time it takes to actually do it is likely to be much shorter than the time it takes for the luthier to get to it. If he's good there is likely a lot of repairs and set ups ahead of you. I dunno, I would be willing to accept a week or two weeks actually. Your results may vary.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    If it's reasonably set up already, you may not need much done to it. Nut/bridge slot filing can be knocked out in a couple minutes by someone who know's what they're doing. If you have to get into bridge fitting, fret leveling/dressing, etc, then a couple of weeks' wait could be in order. You may want to let them know you're hoping to take it home ready to go that day and see if they can block out some time for the luthier to work on it while you're there.

    For the record, my 315 came well set up from the factory. At some point I may drop the nut slots just a tad, but haven't been bugged enough to either buy the files myself or take it to have it done. Congrats on a new mando!
    Chuck

  4. #4

    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    It takes me about 15 minutes to dress and polish frets, another 15-20 minutes to get the bridge fit reasonably, but that can also take up to an hour. Another 5 or so minutes to set the intonation and adjust bridge placement. Then if the nut slots need work and I don't foul the job up at some point, another 15 minutes to get the nut action dialed in. So somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours, at most.
    So as others have said, the real hangup is usually getting to your instrument amid whatever projects are going on, spending time with customers, etc. That amount of time would vary wildly, the setup guys at some of the reputable shops in town here have backlogs of days to weeks.

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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    It really depends on what the person is doing, as there are no "standards" to a setup.

    But when you start leveling/dressing frets and refitting bridges, plan on two hours give or take. I have had occasions where it took 3 hours just to fit the bridge to an uneven top....

    Like others have mentioned, it mostly depends on what other duties the luthier is responsible for. 2 hours can quickly turn into 5 hours after a couple of phone calls, someone bringing in an instrument for a quote, etc...

    I am currently working on setting up 5 mandolins that need to ship. I could easily get these done in a full day. Of course, I am getting calls, emails, had to make purchase orders, import new orders, order boxes that we are almost out of, and let us not forget, reading the Mandolin Cafe while eating a late lunch. It will be a 12 hour day, and I will not finish these 5 mandolins.
    Robert Fear
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Folkmusician.com View Post
    It will be a 12 hour day, and I will not finish these 5 mandolins.
    Oh, you only work half days? :-)

  9. #7

    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    I know eh? Slacking!
    Robert Fear
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  10. #8
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    Would a "New" mandolin need frets leveled? The OP said it was a new mandolin, I have played a few new Eastmans and all of them needed a set up from the factory, if it was me I would check and see if another dealer offered the same mandolin already set up...

    Willie

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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    I think nearly all instruments could benefit from a fret level if you want low action, unless someone has already done this. This excludes high end instruments, but most others fall into this category.
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  12. #10

    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    Would a "New" mandolin need frets leveled?
    All of the imports I deal with do. In fact 90% need serious fret work, the other 10% benefit. The thing is, even if the frets are just a little off, it ends up being the same work... Hammer as level as possible, glue anything that moves, level, crown, file fret ends, polish up. It is almost the same amount of work to correct minor fret issues as it is major fret issues. Eastman's fall under the 10%. They have the best factory setup of any of the imports I deal with, but they still have some room for improvement, so I do the exact same work to them as the other 90%.

    The reality is, the vast majority of dealers "setting up" instruments are not doing the fret and bridge work even though it is needed. Fret and bridge work is outside the scope of a standard "professional setup".

    I am not talking about the "12th Fret" here. I am not real familiar with them, and have no reason to think their setup work is not top notch.
    Robert Fear
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    I think nearly all instruments could benefit from a fret level if you want low action, unless someone has already done this. This excludes high end instruments, but most others fall into this category.
    This is 100% my experience. When I emphasize "imports, it isn't so much that imports have inferior fretwork, but more the conditions they suffer cause fret issues. They sit around in less than ideal conditions, then go to warehouses for consolidation (no-one is bringing over full 40ft containers of mandolins), where they wait to be combined with other instruments or items. Then off to port, and a sea voyage, and eventually get around to the distributer's warehouse, where they may also be exposed to less than ideal conditions (depends). By the time dealers get them, they need a lot of work.

    A domestically produced mandolin can actually be setup at the factory and get to the dealer in good condition.
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    Registered User Tavy's Avatar
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    The time it takes to actually do it is likely to be much shorter than the time it takes for the luthier to get to it. If he's good there is likely a lot of repairs and set ups ahead of you. I dunno, I would be willing to accept a week or two weeks actually. Your results may vary.
    Right, but most folks might be willing to make an appointment in advance if you need to travel some distance for the work - drop off in the morning, go shopping, pick up in the afternoon - that sort of thing.

    Time wise I budget for 3 hours - mostly to allow for the unexpected and/or the the occasional lost cause that folks expect to be turned into magical players - and that's not counting the folks with $50 imports with inch-high action they want to play as well as $1000 instruments for no more than a $10 outlay - but I digress

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  18. #13
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    Like Tavy I usually allow for about three hours. Sometimes it's less occasionally more if a lot of work is needed.

  19. #14
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    From Robert Fear - "All of the imports I deal with do, In fact 90% need serious fret work". Receiving a new consignment must fill you with dread Robert !!. I'd have thought a check & maybe a bit of 'dressing' would be all that's required - apparently not.
    Point taken about the ''conditions'' as well - thank goodness more serious damage doesn't occur ie. split tops / backs / warped necks - or does it ?,
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    Receiving a new consignment must fill you with dread Robert !!
    I am coming up on 20 years of this now. It is not nearly as fun as it used to be.

    There are a few that just need some light work, but doing a a couple of small spot levels still ends up meaning you touch adjacent frets in each direction. At that point, it is just as easy to go over the whole fretboard.

    An average import might have 2-4 frets that have to be addressed, even with the action on the high side. When the action comes down, they tend to need a complete level/dressing. Between that, and having to recut bridges, occasionally make new nuts, etc... It sounds terrible! After the first 1000 or so mandolins and figuring out a workflow, It really it isn't a big deal.

    Surprisingly, major damage seems rare. This is probably something that does gets weeded out before going to dealers. Then again, I get some crazy things (like the wrong brand of instrument in the box) that leads me to believe many of the boxes have not been opened since they left the factory.

    Warped necks are the single biggest reason we return mandolins. Some brands have a very high percentage of neck issues. The funny thing is, it is not the brands you would think.
    Robert Fear
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  21. #16
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    It's impossible to judge the luthier's work load and the number of instruments in line before yours.
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    If you take it home and play it for at least a few days, you'll have more specific instructions to give them for setup, like speednecking, warm/bright strings, exactly how you want the action, if you want pickguard installed etc.
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  23. #18
    Shayan Givehchian
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    Default Re: how long does a new mandolin setup take ???

    ok here's the update. ive decided to Visit Elderly and they've told me all their instruments are setup before put up for for sale and if any further adjustment is required they will do it the same day.
    thanks everyone

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