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Thread: Classical Mandolin Dealers

  1. #26

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    I play both a Lyon & Healy A & B & these make great classical mandolins. Both of these may be expensive but sometimes can be found on both Mandolin Cafe & e-bay.
    I play mainly Italian music & songs from 1920 thru 1940's.

  2. #27

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Thanks to everyone for all the help! You are correct that even the top line instruments by Woll are much less expensive than a modern violin by a well known maker. For that matter they are less than what a new bow from a known living maker. My dear friend David Samuels gets about $7000.00 for a silver mounted violin or a viola bow and $10,000.00 for a gold mounted bow. Tetsuo Matsuda who made my usual violin gets about $20,000 for a new instrument and he is far from the most expensive. Antique instruments can be $$$$$$$!!!! Bows can be $300,000.00 and Instruments top out at 16 million or more. So the price of mandolins is indeed refreshing! In any case thatnk you all so much for the help! If anyone needs violin/viola help I may be of some use. Presently my collection includes six violas and two violins along with eight bows. All of my equipment is by modern makers most of them still alive. I belong to the Violin Society of America and I have been involved with raising funds for scholarships to benefit young people who are in violin making school. My collection will go to my school at Interlochen, Michigan when I croak or I am too old to play any more. Sorry to carry on so long.

    DLB

  3. #28

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Clements View Post
    I recently attended a workshop sponsored by the Kalamazoo Mandolin Guitar Orchestra and taught by Chris Acquavella.
    One of the orchestra members had a bowlback mandolin that was made by Daniel Larson. It was quite beautiful. Another lady in the KMGO is having a bowlback being made by a German Luthier (her second) that will only take 18 months to complete. I'll find out who the luthier is and post again here.
    I second Martin's mention of Dr. Dave Cohen in Virginia.
    Hey Jim, that Ditson Victory looks a little fancier than mine. Good price, too.
    You live near my home town! I grew up in Niles, Michigan and both my brother and sister went to Kalamazoo College. I went to high school at Interlochen up near Traverse City. Thanks for all your help!

    DLB

  4. #29

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Dwight: Also, let us know where you are located geographically. This might help in directing you to some dealers or sellers of mandolins suitable for playing classical music. Also, let us know what you are willing to spend. You probably will not have to spend as much as you would for a good contemporary violin.
    Sorry, I am a teacher and it is approaching the end of our semester, my mind is a little fuzzy! I am in Del Rio, TX right on the southern border of the USA (I even go through a Border Patrol checkpoint every day on the way to school!) It is 150 miles west of San Antonio way out in the middle of nowhere .


    DLB

  5. #30

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    While we are at it can anyone make suggestions for strings? We have been very lucky in the bowed string world to have lots of different kinds of new strings come to the market in the last 20 years or so. When I was in school we mostly played gut core strings (which are still available and very good for some instruments) now we have lots of wonderful synthetic core strings which are very stable pitch wise and can last a long time. The only down side is $$$ A set of four viola strings is about $125.00 at discount! In their defense the lower to strings are almost always wound with real silver or even a little gold mixed in for added mass.

    DLB

  6. #31
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Quote Originally Posted by K38 View Post
    While we are at it can anyone make suggestions for strings? We have been very lucky in the bowed string world to have lots of different kinds of new strings come to the market in the last 20 years or so. When I was in school we mostly played gut core strings (which are still available and very good for some instruments) now we have lots of wonderful synthetic core strings which are very stable pitch wise and can last a long time. The only down side is $$$ A set of four viola strings is about $125.00 at discount! In their defense the lower to strings are almost always wound with real silver or even a little gold mixed in for added mass.
    See my earlier post on the topic:

    "As far as classical strings are concerned, flatwounds are fairly widely-available as a proportion of bluegrass players like them as well. However, many classical players do not play flatwounds -- they don't really go with vintage or modern Italian-style bowlbacks. For these, try any of several competing German and Italian string makers such as Dogal, Lenzner, Fisoma or Optima. The good news is that while these are a bit more expensive than the standard d'Addario or GHS sets you see in music shops, they are nothing like as expensive as good classical violin strings. Generally between 15 and 20 Euro, but you may need to pay shipping and customs fees on top of that unless you find a US importer."

    Thus, strings depend on the instrument and pick you select and your tonal preferences. There is no such thing as a default classical string any more than there is such a thing as a default classical mandolin. The fundamental choices are gauge and whether you prefer flatwound or roundwound. Flatwounds (always in steel) are smoother and reduce pick noise, but are considerably less bright. Some consider it a more refined sound, other consider that it muffles the overtones and dulls the tone. Some roundwounds are polished after winding, which I prefer: it gives some of the advantages of flatwounds in terms of reducing pick noise and finger noise while preserving a brighter tone. Bronze wounds give a warmer tone, chrome/steel wounds a purer tone.

    Mandolin strings are much cheaper than good violin ones, but like all metal strings unfortunately tend not to last as long (depending on your playing style and the corrosivity of your sweat).

    String and pick choices are at least as personal as instrument preferences, but in general string preferences would be:

    1. Vintage or modern Italian-style bowlbacks: light gauge roundwound strings. Your choice of polished or not, bronze or chrome.
    2. Modern German bowlbacks: medium gauge flatwound strings -- ask maker for recommended gauges.
    3. Flattops: medium gauge roundwounds, although some like flatwounds.
    4. Carved archtops: your choice of bronze roundwounds or flatwounds, medium to heavy gauge.
    5: L&H style instruments: no idea -- I haven't played one.

    Most specifically classical mandolin strings are European, either German (Thomastik, Optima, Fisoma, Lenzner, Pyramid) or Italian (Dogal). The most common flatwounds are Thomastik, although most of the other German makers have their own range. Dogal Calace strings are the default for modern Italian players, although Optima claim their chrome polished roundwounds are the most popular classical string in the world. I currently use GHS medium bronze roundwounds on my flattop and carved mandolins and mandolas, Fisoma Consort (which have a wound A string, good for tonal consistency) for my vintage bowlbacks and Thomastik flatwounds for my mandocello.

    Thomastik have a US distributor, mainly because some bluegrass and folk players like them. Not sure about domestic availability in the US for any of the other brands -- some of them (e.g. Dogal and Fisoma) were available from small importers at various times but that keeps changing. All are available from European sites (e.g. Schneider Music or Thomann), but shipping can be considerable.

    However, classical music doesn't necessarily need "classical" strings: GHS and d'Addario bronze roundwounds are very good professional-level strings, cheap and plentiful, and perfectly fine for classical music on instruments suited to them (e.g. flattops or carved mandolins).

    Martin

  7. #32

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Wow! Thanks! I know a number of those string makers. I used Thomastic Dominate violin and viola strings for years. (I am mostly a Pirastro man these days)

    Flat wound would be more like violin strings as they are all made that way unless they are bare gut (favored by early music and some modern players, Heifetz used them on certain strings)

    DLB

  8. #33

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    http://www.stutzmansguitarcenter.com...lin%20sISI3703

    Is there anything really wrong with this one? Kind of inexpensive but about the right sort and I like the head stock.

    DLB

  9. #34
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Quote Originally Posted by K38 View Post
    http://www.stutzmansguitarcenter.com...lin%20sISI3703

    Is there anything really wrong with this one? Kind of inexpensive but about the right sort and I like the head stock.

    DLB
    That Sakis was made by a decent Greek maker. I have never played one but I believe that the Greeks generally have a different way of working the tops, possibly even carving them a bit vs. most other bowlbacks have a cant or fold in the top which adds strength. The Sakis might be a decent instrument.

    Take it from me... I have a closet full of bowlback mandolins because a few years back it was the only way to learn about which ones were good or not.

    Frequent poster DavidKOS plays a Sakis and had good things to say about it here.

    Also Allen Hopkins (another frequent poster) lives not far from Stutzman and goes there often. Maybe he can play it for you and report back.
    Jim

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  10. #35

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    I should think for the price it would be a small risk.

    DLB

  11. #36
    Registered User carbonpiou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Hello, Dwight,

    No luck for you! In western Europe, where the "bluegrass" music culture remains rather confidential, we find bowlback mandolins more easily than mandolins of type F. I do not want to mention the names of very famous mandolin builders of this type, but To buy a F5 in France, is a feat ....
    On the other hand, buying a Calace (for example) is of a disconcerting simplicity.

    About Calace, precisely and since you ask, I give you mine.
    To play what you want to play and have a bowlback, it's THE mandolin you need. In their catalog, your choice will then be determined by your aesthetic tastes and your budget.
    Calace sells directly to users, but nothing prevents you from ordering from a dealer.
    Jean-Luc
    LuluMando

  12. #37
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Jean-Luc: I know a few folks here in the US who bought Calace bowlbacks brand new from the shop. I assume you were talking about European dealers. I don't know of any US dealers for those mandolins tho I think that new one in New Orleans might sell them.

    Dwight: Let us know how you like that Sakis mandolin if you do decide to buy it.
    Jim

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  13. #38
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Quote Originally Posted by K38 View Post
    http://www.stutzmansguitarcenter.com...lin%20sISI3703

    Is there anything really wrong with this one? Kind of inexpensive but about the right sort and I like the head stock.

    DLB
    I have what looks like the big brother to this, a Sakis mandola, I have had it for about 6 months and am very happy with it so far. The top is dead flat but it sounds pretty good to me, and others.

    Despite the bling, I'd say that it's a workmanlike instrument, the finish is Ok rather than great in places; the tuners work but you don't have to turn them far to have a big effect; and it appears to be lined with gold wrapping paper. The good things are the price and the playability, the neck is straight, the intonation is spot on and the tone is good.

    I think it would be a good instrument to buy to find out if you want a bowl back. While I might want to upgrade mine I have absolutely no need to -except to stroke it in the dark and whisper 'My Precious'
    - Jeremy

    Wot no catchphrase?

  14. #39
    Registered User Alex Timmerman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Hi all interested,

    It has been some time since I have written at the Café, but here I just have to reply with my experience over the years...
    It is about point 3 here, way back (quote: ).


    "3. Vintage bowlback instruments: ... ... ... Even the above-mentioned "big name" makers (barring a small number of collectible makers such as Embergher, Calace or Vinaccia) are ridiculously cheap compared to old violins or guitars of comparable pedigree -- a few thousand will get you some of the best and biggest-name vintage bowlbacks in the world, such as high-end Embergher or Calace bowlback. However, again, you need to know what you want: an Embergher 5bis is a wonderful instrument with a huge reputation, but its tone and setup is highly idiosyncratic and unacceptable to many top classical mandolinists.... ..."


    Especially the second half of the last sentence is in my opinion totally superfluous and wrong! Moreover, it testifies to be biased and not to be aware of the field and the views of the handful most prominent mandolinists that are around.


    Best greetings,

    Alex.

  15. #40
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Timmerman View Post
    Especially the second half of the last sentence is in my opinion totally superfluous and wrong! Moreover, it testifies to be biased and not to be aware of the field and the views of the handful most prominent mandolinists that are around.
    Apologies for any offence -- I should have written "unacceptable to some" rather than "many", but the point was that the setup and tone of an Embergher is very different from, say, a modern Woll bowlback and in some aspects the polar opposite. Some love it and others do not and are vocal about it. The opinions I've summarised have been expressed repeatedly and in strong terms here on the Cafe, and also by German mandolinists I've spoken to. It's not my own opinon -- as you know I own and play an Embergher myself and love it, and I don't particularly like the German approach -- but I included it in the interest of balance to indicate that there isn't a single consensus as to what type of tone or type of instrument is the gold standard.

    Martin

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  17. #41

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    My two (€) cents on the subject ... Beautifully made, "Classic" lute-like design, great sounding instruments which are perfect for the Classical/Early Music repertoire:

    http://www.bigmuddymandolin.com/

  18. #42
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Regarding L&H instruments, my A is strung with Dogal Calace strings, and I'm very pleased with them.

    Regarding Greek bowlbacks, I have a contemporary instrument, but no experience of the range of design issues. Noteworthy facts about mine:

    Walnut bowl
    No arch to top
    The top is sculpted (inside the instrument) to have a thickish board that is significantly thinner at the edge. It is reminiscent of a speaker cone, where the stiff vibrating cone is supported at its outside edges by a thin flexible membrane.
    It is a very pleasant instrument to play
    The construction is overall heavier than the turn-of-the-century Italian instruments
    It has a decorative palette that is closer to the Central European style than the Italian.

    The Sakis looks to be a decent instrument at a reasonable price.

  19. #43
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
    Regarding L&H instruments, my A is strung with Dogal Calace strings, and I'm very pleased with them.
    Interesting, Bob. I never used Calace strings on my L&H and I always hated T-I strings on my Gibsons and other carved mandolins but I finally tried a set of T-Is on my Washburn Pro A and I love the tone on them. Instruments and strings have moments of compatibility and you have to find that. As the OP, no doubt knows that certain violins "prefer" certain strings.
    Jim

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  20. #44

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    Hello Dwight,
    I saw your message about looking for a Classical Mandolin .
    Well I would advise you to look at a mandolin
    called The Big Muddy Mandolin . The Mandolins are
    made by Mike Dulak. I can't say enough about how
    Wonderful they are !
    The mandolin design is very simple rather elegant even.
    The sound warm and beautiful.
    A number of famous people recommend this mandolin.
    Carlo Aonzo a famous mandolin player from Italy
    and Brian Oberlin and my mandolin teacher !
    I own two Big Muddy Mandolins The MWO model
    and the M-4 .
    I am learning Classical mandolin and these mandolin s
    are perfect for this !
    Check out the Big Muddy Mandolin Web site !
    Well I end here .
    Yours Truly ,
    Lisa Gartman

  21. #45
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    LisaDG60: just bear in mind that this thread’s most recent post is from almost 2-1/2 years ago. I don’t know if Dwight ever found a mandolin. He never posted anything after December 2016.
    Jim

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  22. #46

    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    I realize this now !
    But I remember how hard it was for me to find my mandolin.
    So I wanted to pass on what I found.
    I found out about Mike Dulak and his Big Muddy
    Mandolins through the Mandolin Cafe message
    I saw a few years ago.
    So I was hoping someone else might see my message
    here.
    Lisa

  23. #47
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Classical Mandolin Dealers

    I am sure that someone will benefit from your post. I just wanted to make your aware that the OP may no longer be involved in this site.
    Jim

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