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Thread: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

  1. #1
    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Question Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Would you rather buy a new mandolin, or buy a used one that is in good shape/structurally sound with a number of years of playing on it? I'm focusing here on "high-end" mandolins, say in the $10K to $25K price range.
    John A. Karsemeyer

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  3. #2
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Considering the very long expected life of a high-end mandolin, used seems to be the way to go. However, it may be very difficult to find that "special" combination of look and sound without ordering a custom build. If money was no real concern, new would be the way I would go.
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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I am one of those buy new guys. Having bought other people's problems in the past is only a small issue. I really like to see an instrument mature especially tonally. I bought a Ricky Skaggs DMM and one issue that I had was that it was already broken in. Nothing much was going to change as all the changes already had happened. Where I to do it again, I would buy a MM and the distressing would occur while I owned it. I am also a big fan of having an instrument built for me. I have been lucky to work with such builders as Tom Ellis, Andrew Mowry, Gail Hester and most recently Lawrence Nyberg and the experiences have been wonderful. There is something about having a dream and a luthier make that dream a reality. Getting those instruments made is like having children. You get pictures in the initial stages, then in the white, then in color. then you hear the instrument has been sent. Then picking up the box from the delivery guy, then, expecially in the winter, wait for the instrument to acclimated, then tune it up, then play those first notes, take pictures, post on the Cafe. A few weeks later realize that the tone is getting more full and that you have not given the instrument a review. White a review, take more pictures, take a video while playing and then share with you mandolin family on the Cafe. That and so much more.
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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Well, up in the $10,000-$25,000 price range, you're mainly talking about single-luthier, custom-produced mandolins, for example, from these folks:

    Gilchrist
    Nugget
    Monteleone
    Ellis
    Dudenbostel
    Wiens
    Brentrup
    Red Diamond
    Henderson
    Altman
    Giacomel
    Heiden
    Gibson Distressed Master Model

    I might have missed a few in my list, but the rest of the mandolins tend to be less expensive ...or much more expensive (Lloyd Loars).

    At any given time, there might only be a few dozen such mandolins for sale in the world. And that can really limit your options if you buy used. On the other hand, many of these same luthiers have waiting lists that can be up to several years long. And that can really limit your options if you buy new!

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I totally get the idea of buying used, and it's logical from the standpoint of price/value. But unless it's a vintage instrument that I'm buying specifically because it's old, I want a new instrument. There's something special about knowing that it's mine, and it has never belonged to anyone else. Whatever marks or dings or wear that it gets is from something I did. Its complete history is my history.

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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Call Randy Wood and have him make one for you. You will not be disappointed and will have a mandolin for life. I speak from experience.

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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Prefer to make my own scratches and dents !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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  14. #8
    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Might depend on how old you are? If you are 21 you may want to get a new one and play it for years to break it in. If you are 71 and don't have that many years to go, you may want to get one that has 10, 20, or more years on it.
    John A. Karsemeyer

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  16. #9
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I like used instruments with a history, and some acquired character, if you will. I'm also far less worried about getting a nick, bump or scar on, and I can just go ahead and play it, or hand it to a friend without worrying. The issue of not buying someone else's problem is always there though.
    -Dave
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    Way too many other instruments

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  18. #10
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Mandolins are one of the few things in life believed to improve in quality as they depreciate in price. I tend to shop used unless I want a specific instrument that would not otherwise exist in nature and therefore surface in the classifieds with a little patience.
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I've bought loads of both and I'm for sure a used guy, granted I don't buy cheaper/lower quality stuff when I do buy, I just like great quality and I don't see the point of buying "brand" new instruments for a higher price. I like em broken in and already with the sound, I'm not into the pristine/cosmetic stuff just sound! Unless I wanted a custom job from a great maker with all my specs that I like I may do it, someone mentioned Randy Wood and he is the man. I sent him one of my original Gibson F-7's a 1934. He is making a custom F-5 scale neck for it. It'll be pretty much a 1930's Gibson F-5 in sound, a poorer mans vintage F-5 sound without spending the bigger bucks, still a chunk of change in the complete package but worth it if you like that kind of sound

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  22. #12
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I had Pete Hart build a Buckeye for me in 2010. Yes, that was a fantastic experience. No regrets. If you do this, call as many customers as you can to check reference. I had about 10 Buckeye owners who were thrilled. $5k.
    Bob

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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    If I were shopping in that range I'd most likely commission a build, because I like to be the one to put on the mojo. That said, I'd make a trip to Carter's and Gruhn's and try a bunch, and if I found the right used one, wouldn't pass on it.
    Chuck

  24. #14

    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I believe I got the best of both worlds.

    A member here had two mandolins commissioned for himself. One radiused and scooped, the other with a flat-board and traditional fretted Florida. He played them both for a month, decided which configuration he liked best and sold the other.

    I got a significant discount on a four week old, as new condition F5 that as fate would have it, was exactly how I would have had it built... Mild radius, scooped and signed by Paul Duff.

  25. #15
    Registered User Jeff Budz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I would buy used in most cases. There are lots of fine, sunburst F5s out there, and I prefer to save money and get something that is already broken in. However, if you are looking for a mandolin with unique color and features a custom build will be your only choice.

  26. #16
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I personally don't really mind if it's new or used, as long as I play it first. I really prefer playing first.

    I like used because I like knowing exactly what the mandolin will sound like. I bought a few new ones that blew me away off the shelf, but mostly, I prefer used.

    In several episodes of buying, trading, selling, etc, I am left with two "lifetime" mandolins. A 2002 Collings that I bought used in mint condition in 12/2014, and a brand new Gibson F5 Custom that I bought new in May 2016. I bought my Gibson without playing it first because I have faith in David Harvey and I knew it'd be special.

    Since you're talking the highest end mandolins specifically, I can't imagine ordering one without playing it first, but if it was a Heiden, Gil, Etc, I guess they're all good so...
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  27. #17
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Doesn't really matter as long as I can afford it and it's the right instrument.

  28. #18
    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    If I was shopping that price range I would expect (or assume) that used instruments of that quality were owned by people that respected what they had and that all the wear and tear was done making good music.

  29. #19
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Well, I'm NOT focussed on the high end market. At my end of the market, you get way more bang used, even if the only diff is that the instrument has been broken in, and that least once it had a good set up. On a new, cheap instrument, you can spend a substantial proportion of the purchase price getting things into playable condition * swapping out crappy components. That's mainly lost money; the resale value won't reflect what you put in. Yes, if the bones are good you can get a good enough instrument eventually, and spread the upgrades out over time, which might be more affordable, but it's better to let someone else do this and to buy in once they're ready to move on.
    And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    If a 'used' instrument is in good condition & you're buying either directly from the owner or a reputable dealer,then i'd not hesitate to buy it. I have 2 'used' instruments,my Lebeda & my Ellis & both are terrific mandolins. I'd rather not have had the dinner plate sized wood screw in the Ellis neck of course,but other than a few dings in the front,it's fine. It was pre-distressed for me. My Lebeda was & still is in excellent shape,no dings scratches etc.

    My only mandolin that was bought 'new', is my Weber "Fern", & that's in almost 'as new' condition after 8 years. If a 'used' Ellis F5 came up for sale over here,& it was in good shape,again,i wouldn't hesitate to at least look at it,
    Ivan
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  31. #21
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Quote Originally Posted by JAK View Post
    Would you rather buy a new mandolin, or buy a used one that is in good shape/structurally sound with a number of years of playing on it? I'm focusing here on "high-end" mandolins, say in the $10K to $25K price range.
    I have done both.

    Bought a used Gibson guitar (1940ies),
    a used Strad-O-Lin (1930ies),
    a new F-5 mandolin
    a new D-28 recreation.

    The new instruments are high powered instruments. I bought the used ones and the D-28 recreation after I had tried them out. I bought the F-5 sight unseen after due dilligence (research about the maker etc.).

    I would buy a new instrument from certain makers (Monteleone, Dudenbostel, Kemnitzer, Gilchrist, Duff etc) sight unseen. I would allways try a used instrument out.

    I had an interesting experience with a HoGo (Adrian Minarovic, known for his Loar plans). His Lloyd Loar "clone" was extremely impressing and inexpensive. So the "play before you pay" is something that could save you money big time (if you are not set on one of the "primier makers").

    Concerning Gilchrist instruments... their sound, power and playability varies. Check out the Compton interview on mandolin cafe for some insight. He played several over the years. Therefore I would not just buy "a" Gilchrist. I would like to follow a certain musical idea. In my case I would look for a 2000 or later Gilchrist.

    That said, I have a hankerinŽ to check out a Sargent, a Monteleone (F-5), a Dudenbostel, a post 2010 Gilchrist, a newer Duff A-5 and F-5, another HoGo, another Vana... And IŽd specifically look for the Lloyd Loar tone.

    Have fun.
    Olaf

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  33. #22
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Yes!

  34. #23

    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    If, if, if.
    A brand new Gibson F5 Master Model is nearly in the middle of that price point. That is exactly what I'd get.

    Coming from the fiddle world, I don't have a problem with used. Good fiddles can be several lifetimes old.
    My favorite, made in 2001. I guess I never even asked the luthier if it was owned by somebody else.

  35. #24
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    Quote Originally Posted by LadysSolo View Post
    Doesn't really matter as long as I can afford it and it's the right instrument.
    That's it for me. How's it sound and play, and what's it cost.

    There is a kind of a thrill being the first owner. I have experienced this and I know it well. But it is short lived, in my experience, and not worth paying a premium if the same thing is available used at a lower price.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  36. #25

    Default Re: Would You Rather Buy New or Used?

    I prefer a used instrument that has been well cared for but not been a closet queen, and since I'm a believer in both old wood and well played wood, I'm never turned off by play wear. Every old D 18 I've thought was really good had pick wear through the finish. I haven't played enough mandolins yet to formulate a set in stone opinion, but the old instruments always appeal to me. I like to get them very used, but before vintage.

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