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Thread: Tough being in Europe...

  1. #1

    Default Tough being in Europe...

    Hey all,

    I'm looking for a mandolin that is not going to break the bank over here in Europe. Let me tell you, it's not easy.

    Where I live this is what I'm facing:

    1) Zero high-end mandos unless I go to the CR, and there they are really quite expensive. I'm not really looking to spend much, but it would be nice to play them once in a while, heh heh.
    2) Low-end is abysmal.
    3) Medium-low (thinking along the lines of Kentucky) just are not around. If I order from the UK it is not that much cheaper than from the US as I get hit by VAT and customs tax. Yikes.
    4) Fake medium-low end... the prices for mandos that are just not there are around USD 800. Locally, I've seen an Ibanez 700, I think, (very pretty, actually, great action, but quiet. Or who knows as the plastic padding is under the bridge); an Ortega--odd, sounds okay but clipped (also has the plastic padding under the bridge)--but it is black and looks as if it is made out of some kind of fiberglass. Not wood anyway. They say it's a German company? Finally, there is an Epiphone mm50 that actually feels and sounds like a mando (albeit with a very high setup). Only, if you look closer--dang, did they file it with their teeth? Under the neck where it meets the body it looks chewed, and the curl of the F is even worse. And there is a light spot where the bridge used to be--it's old and although they are not selling it that way--I would guess it's used. It's the cheapest of the bunch at about USD 300.

    And that's it. Nothing else to pick up to even try out.

    I've gotten the bug again (played years ago), but dang. I played a Kentucky a few years ago that was surprisingly loud and comfortable... Nothing like that over here though. I know there must be Loars around (Germany?) but I've never tried one...

    Any advice? I want to get back to picking, but I'm not rolling in cash either.

    K

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Start a bluegrass association in your area and start promoting the music, maybe you can find/develop more people to pick with. GL in your mando search, I'm sure some EU member will be by shortly to give you advice.

  3. #3
    Registered User Hendrik Ahrend's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Konrad, I guess I can help you some. I'll send you a Private Message.

  4. #4
    Registered User Martin Ohrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Hi Konrad,

    welcome to the Cafe!
    Oliver Waitzes New Acoustic Gallery in Wuppertal is a nice adress for Mandolins... You'll find medium to high-end instruments there.
    Thomann also sells The Loar and Breedlove, if I'm informed well.

    Maybe somone else will bring up other suggestions?
    Mandolins: 1920s (?) Meinel & Herold Bowlback, 2006 Furch "Redwood MA-1" A5

    Octaves: 2004 Fender FMO-66 Flat-Top, 2015 A. Karperien 5 String Electric

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Thanks all!

    Very warm welcome from you guys.

    My issue is that I'm spoiled. I grew up playing bluegrass in Texas (a long, long time ago), then went rockabilly after an accident that killed my banjo playing. Played mando a bit, but left it behind and now I want it back... only... I used to be able to drop by a number of music stores and try out anything I wanted. Not the same where I live in Warsaw. Lots of strats and weak acoustics. Nothing with regard to mandos or banjos (although I have a gold star here with me).

    It also means that apart from a Kentucky a few years ago, I have never held anything in my current "price range" in my hands.

    Hard to buy like that.

    Martin, I saw you have a Furch? Years ago when I lived in the CR I drove down there and bought a killer acoustic from the man himself. Really. And like a dummy I sold it.

    Live and learn.

    K

  6. #6
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    I wish I could trade places with the OP.

    I'd be happy with all the bowlbacks available in Europe. I guess that they are not the kind of mandolin he wants!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Hi Konrad, if you happen to be in Berlin sometime check out the American Guitar Shop ( http://www.guitar-shop.de/). I got my Kentucky from there (it's actually the F Style on the home page under Mandolins. .. ). They do not always have a large selection in stock, but they do have some Kentuckys and are currently expecting a shipment of Eastmans as they told me... very nice guys!
    Malin

  8. #8
    Registered User Ausdoerrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Three options:

    1) Local listings/ebay: people play mandolins, and occasionally they sell 'em. With a bit of patience, you may find something;
    2) Order from the US: either accept customs/taxes as part of the deal, or find a way to avoid them (like finding someone on a trip to the US to physically bring it to you)
    3) Look around for a local luthier. Didn't Nigel Forster just move to Germany?
    Mandolins: The Loar LM-220; Lyon & Healy Special A #103; Epiphone Mandobird VIII
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  9. #9
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Quote Originally Posted by Konrad View Post
    ...here in Europe.
    There is more to Europe than just Germany

    If I order from the UK it is not that much cheaper than from the US as I get hit by VAT and customs tax.
    Brexit has only been voted for, not executed yet. I never paid customs when I ordered my Fylde back in the 00's, and exchange rates are much more in our favour now.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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  11. #10
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Bertram is quite right. There is no extra tax or import duties on sales from the UK to any other EU country.

    Yet.
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  13. #11

    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Bertram,

    Erm... I'm not German. I live in Warsaw, actually. Good point on Brexit, but... it is not easy to play before you buy (and even though I've been here 25 years, things are expensive here compared to back in Texas).

  14. #12

    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Malin,
    Thanks for that contact--is there someone there whom you recommend dealing with?
    K

  15. #13
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    From Konrad - ".. things are expensive here compared to back in Texas". Don't us EU dwellers know it !!!. Here in the UK & i suspect the rest of EU as well,we gaze with envy at the prices of instruments & associated 'things' in the US,some of which aren't even available in the UK - 'Travelite' cases for instance. I really can't think of one UK music stroe that discounts to the same extent as the US stores. However,if you can find a mandolin at the right discount cost in the US,even after duty & tax,it could still be less expensive that buying in the EU. The only thing that's prevented me from buying from the US in recent years,is the hassle from the UK Customs guys & the UK delivery services ie Fed-Ex who held onto over 300 of goods imported from First Quality in the US, without ever approaching my home to deliver them. If FQ hadn't eventually sent me the tracking #,i'd never have known that they were in the UK at all,& were within 2 days of being returned to FQ in the US,
    Ivan
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  16. #14
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Quote Originally Posted by Konrad View Post
    I'm not German. I live in Warsaw, actually.
    Sorry, context and your username confused me.

    ... it is not easy to play before you buy
    It's the same everywhere, I hear. Aren't or US friends prepared to drive long hours for a hands-on test? We just have to do the same, or rigorously exploit return policies.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  17. #15
    Registered User houseworker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Cheapest The Loar at Thomann: https://www.thomann.de/pl/the_loar_l..._loar_335213_2

    You'd need to get a setup.

  18. #16
    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    You can find mandolins by:

    Kentucky
    Eastman
    Northfield

    All are available in the EU. In addition to buying new, you will also find examples appearing in private ads (here, on the Cafe) and via Ebay quite often. Just keep watching.

    I am afraid "try before you buy" is not easy anywhere with mandolins, unless you live close to one of the handful of dealers (in the entire world) who keep a large range in stock. All of the above, though, are 'reliable' instruments. You can also find 'The Loar' brand quite easily - though these tend to need quite a lot more work, in my experience, to get them 100% playable. Of the others, Kentucky and especially Northfield are about as good as you will ever get without spending a significant amount of money.... for example...

    If I was looking for a really fine instrument at a good price, that one would be high on my list.

    Incidentally... I would not even hesitate in buying that without trying it. Every one of the Northfield's I have played has been truly excellent.
    Gibson F5 'Harvey' Fern, Gibson F5 'Derrington' Fern
    Distressed Silverangel F 'Esmerelda' aka 'Maxx'
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    Ellis F5 Special #288
    '39 & '45 D-18's, 1950 D-28.

  19. #17
    Registered User JKA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Konrad, have you tried looking on a site called Gumtree? There's usually a wide range of mandolins within your budget available, albeit from the UK. No import duties payable (at the moment) and providing you can strike up a good relationship with the seller by phone or email, you should find something suitable for your needs.

    It goes without saying though if a deal seems too good to be true...
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  20. #18
    Registered User Flame Maple's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    As Almeria said,you will not pay import taxes from the UK and because of Brexit the is at an all time low.A good time to buy .
    Kentucky KM 1000 B.Mandolin.
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  21. #19
    Registered User G7MOF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Quote Originally Posted by almeriastrings View Post
    Bertram is quite right. There is no extra tax or import duties on sales from the UK to any other EU country.

    Yet.
    I think he means taxes and import duties payable when shipping from the US to the EU!
    I never fail at anything, I just succeed at doing things that never work....


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  22. #20
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Quote Originally Posted by G7MOF View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by almeriastrings View Post
    Bertram is quite right. There is no extra tax or import duties on sales from the UK to any other EU country.

    Yet.
    I think he means taxes and import duties payable when shipping from the US to the EU!
    Konrad has made it quite clear (to me) that he meant UK->EU:

    Quote Originally Posted by Konrad View Post
    If I order from the UK it is not that much cheaper than from the US as I get hit by VAT and customs tax.
    But we have established, that postal traffic is no problem yet. Travelling (for playing before buying) is another thing, since the UK never joined the Schengen treaty. By plane or by ferry, I had my belongings/my car thoroughly searched every time, at one time even with a dog.

    Maybe I could just wrap myself in a parcel and post myself to Roger Bucknall.
    Last edited by Bertram Henze; Aug-23-2016 at 5:08am.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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  24. #21
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    I thought Prucha was supposed to be a pretty good maker of mandolins? They are in the Czech Republic, with dealers across Europe.

    For that matter, I was led to believe that the Czech Republic and Poland were pretty hot for bluegrass, with some good makers there? There were some other brands/makers that I had heard of before, but can't remember their names.

  25. #22
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    ...I had my belongings/my car thoroughly searched every time, at one time even with a dog.

    Maybe I could just wrap myself in a parcel and post myself to Roger Bucknall.
    It's the beard, Bertram, nothing arouses the suspicion of british officialdom more than an unpogonotomized visage.

    Konrad, I've PM'd you
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

  26. #23
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Quote Originally Posted by Polecat View Post
    unpogonotomized
    Just when I thought I knew all the words...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  27. #24

    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    There were some other brands/makers that I had heard of before, but can't remember their names.
    Capek, Janish, Sucek, Lebeda and Krishot are some of the mandolin builders from the Czech Republic.
    There are no Polish ones listed in the builders section though.

    Martin's Musik Kiste in Germany sells Eastman and Weber.
    http://www.martinsmusikkiste.eu/inst...andolinen/?p=2

  28. #25
    Registered User mobi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tough being in Europe...

    Where are you based at? You can get a cheap RyanAir or Easyjet flight to UK and pick up a Kentucky/Eastman from London.

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