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Thread: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

  1. #1
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    Default Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    It seems that most discussions focus on arch top mandolins: F Hole versus Oval Hole, the relative merits of this builder or wood versus that builder or wood, etc.

    How about flat top mandolins? I know Flatirons and Mid Mo/Big Muddys and Gibson Alrights are highly regarded. Any other flat top builders past or present that knock players' socks off?

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    Registered User Joey Anchors's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Terry over at http://crystalforestmandolins.com builds high quality flattop mandos.

    Before I found my MD404 I was going to have Terry build me a custom flattop using a redwood top.
    2016 Eastman MD404 - "Penelope”
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by timacn View Post
    It seems that most discussions focus on arch top mandolins: F Hole versus Oval Hole, the relative merits of this builder or wood versus that builder or wood, etc.

    How about flat top mandolins? I know Flatirons and Mid Mo/Big Muddys and Gibson Alrights are highly regarded. Any other flat top builders past or present that knock players' socks off?
    So many choices.

    The three flatties I have owned have all been stunners. Big Muddy M-11, and the Weber Aspen II, and a pre-Gibson Flatiron pancake mandola the 3MW.

    I have played quite a few pancake mandolins, pre-Gibson Flatirons and Gibson Army Navy, and found them to be excellent. And I do love the beautiful sound of the Martin flattops and cant tops.
    Last edited by JeffD; Dec-17-2016 at 7:51pm.
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    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Though I have never played one of his Flat tops, I have a Sonny Morris A-4 that is a fine sounding, fine looking, well built instrument. He has a couple of Flat Tops for sale here. If they are anything like the A-4 they would would have to be nice mandolins. (NFI)
    Collings MF (2016)
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    I'm real happy with my Gibson C-1 and Kalamazoo KM-11, both from 1933.
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    I have heard some clips of the Morris flatties, very very nice.
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Andy Poe builds some nice flattops also. Some real lookers to.
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    I forgot to add Keith Newell to the list of prime flattop mandolin builders. They have a great reputation for good reason.

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    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Has anyone played a Redline Acoustics, Traveler mandolin? I believe that is a US made Flattop by Steve Smith, of Cumberland Acoustics. Under $1000.00 I think?
    Collings MF (2016)
    Silverangel "A"Aged White Blonde #425 (2018)
    Kentucky KM-1050 (2013)
    Gibson Custom Shop F5G Wide Nut (2010) Dave Harvey.

    Hohner and Seydel Harmonicas (various keys)

    "Heck, Jimmy Martin don't even believe in Santy Claus!"

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Brazilian bandolims are all flattops, FWIW.
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by willkamm View Post
    Has anyone played a Redline Acoustics, Traveler mandolin? I believe that is a US made Flattop by Steve Smith, of Cumberland Acoustics. Under $1000.00 I think?
    I haven't played one but I seem to recall a video of one which sounded really nice.
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Don't forget Bid Muddy Mandolins! Mike Dulak builds some beautiful instruments that sound wonderful Plus, he is a great guy!
    Last edited by atbuckner21; Dec-17-2016 at 10:55pm.
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  19. #13
    Registered User Joey Anchors's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Here is a Crystal Forest flattop being played.. it sounds extremely good in this video!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d5rmqMc9U38


    For being custom made they are very reasonable priced!
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    Pyramid - flatwounds
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  20. #14
    Registered User PH-Mando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Red Valley Mandolins made by James Wilson have my vote. Check out the various videos on Youtube for examples of how they sound.

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  22. #15
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joey Anchors View Post
    Terry over at http://crystalforestmandolins.com builds high quality flattop mandos.

    Before I found my MD404 I was going to have Terry build me a custom flattop using a redwood top.
    +1 on the Crystal Forest A/N Flat-tops. I've had one for a few years and it's a real keeper. I love it and it gets a lot of play time. Look it up on Terry's website. It's his #14.

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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    For completeness, as he's in the UK, Paul Hathway makes very good flat-tops.
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  24. #17

    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by dustyamps View Post
    I'm real happy with my Gibson C-1 and Kalamazoo KM-11, both from 1933.
    Good gods, was a previous owner really bad at trying to hit the strings?

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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    I'm in no position to comment on the "best." Especially given what I paid for it, I could not be happier with the mandolin Tom Fellenbaum built for me a couple years back. http://celticmandolins.com. (with the obligatory NFI clause)

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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Fylde and Jimmy Moon make very fine flat tops if I'm not mistaken. I don't know if Chris Baird still builds them, but his Arches flat top/induced arch mandolins are really, really good.
    Steve

  27. #20
    Registered User James Rankine's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    For completeness, as he's in the UK, Paul Hathway makes very good flat-tops.
    Yes, we have a great selection of flat top builders here in the UK. Here's a selection of mine.

    Jimmy Moon mandolin and Tom Buchanan Bouzouki. Sweet ringing flat top sound from the mandolin



    Tom Buchanan Mandola - lots of warmth and again ringing sustain



    Cedar top Paul Hathway Octave - can cope with a bit of belting it out


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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by willkamm View Post
    Has anyone played a Redline Acoustics, Traveler mandolin? I believe that is a US made Flattop by Steve Smith, of Cumberland Acoustics. Under $1000.00 I think?
    I have owned two. In my experience, pancakes have more of a fundamental mandolin tone than teardrop flattops like a Mid-Missouri or Gypsy, which strike my ear as more like a lute or guitar. My Flatiron 1N is the best sounding flattop I've played but left something to be desired from a playability perspective with its little frets, flat board, and lack of an adjustable bridge or truss rod. The Redlines, particularly the second one, got close on sound and far exceeded it in playability. I sold both to fund hopefully my last flattop purchase from Andy Poe, one of his Scouts modeled on the original Gibson Alrite. It is set to arrive next month, in celebration of its forebear's 100th anniversary, and I suspect that it may well provide a definitive answer to this thread's title!

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  31. #22
    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Poe. Makes me want to build one of these flat tops as soon as I find out how he does it.

    https://youtu.be/a6Phjzkn9Sk

  32. #23

    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Quote Originally Posted by timacn View Post
    I forgot to add Keith Newell to the list of prime flattop mandolin builders. They have a great reputation for good reason.

    One of Keith's flat tops passed through my hands. fit and finish was top notch. Most of the flat tops are pretty basic, the one I had and a few pictures I have seen are right up there with Collings. Neck profile, ease of playing and sound were also top notch.

    I also like the sound of the mandolins from Sonny Morris that I have heard.

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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    Mojo to the Max, by the look of them. Great picture!
    Jim Y

  34. #25
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best Flat Top Mandolins?

    I kept the Flatiron 1N over the Kalamazoo KM-11. So, for me, it's the 1N!

    f-d
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