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Thread: Under $300

  1. #1
    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Under $300

    Travel mandolin seem to have issues with sound or not having something called "a bottom end".

    Should someone want to take a rugged or cheap mandolin with them where-ever their path goes, they want something that plays well for its price range.
    As such, no one in their right mind would strap a $500+ mandolin on their MTB bicycle, and go riding along on rough gravelly roads. Then too no one in their right mind would trek into the hills, beating brush, and subjecting their beloved mandolin to the extremes of what comes.
    A didgeridoo on the other hand could go anywhere. I'd not take a $1500 one through some of those places when a $75 version would be a wiser choice, or even a cheap PVC one for $20. Least with $75 one it could be used as a club, funnel, or firewood.

    While most may think $300 is chump change, that is not the same for everyone. That could be half a month's paycheck or a month's pension check.

    As such, $300 seems to be a fair dinkum amount for a "beater" mandolin. Anything more than $300 is redundant, and borderline MAS. And let's also assume the person already has a quality mandolin that they want to leave at home, pampered, where it rests in its case while it's double is out in the field doing the stunt work.


    So... with a $300 limitation for a beater mando_____ what would you suggest?
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  2. #2
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    Why not get a cheap Rogue and set it up to play better? Lots of people here have done that and ended up with something that plays at least decently and is rugged enough to take camping etc. The set up skills are ones that any mandolin player should be at least familiar with.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Under $300

    Rover A model or used KM-150 come immediately to mind. A well worn Big Muddy May also fit the bill (and may be more to your liking given the construction and tone of your Y2K).

    An $89 Rogue with a good set up will also serve this purpose well.

    My beater is an Eastman 315 I bought on clearance for $429.00. Stumbled upon it at a time when I had the cash, was meant to be. Despite it’s beater status I’ve kept it pretty pristine so far, but won’t be sad when it starts to show some battle scars. I will also say that having a good sounding and playable beater is much preferred to having one that’s not those things. My former beater, a Kentucky 675-S that was an eBay disaster, had issues that would have cost more than it’s worth to fix, and it just wasn’t fun to play. The last time I took it to the beach I played maybe two evenings. The last camping trip I took the Eastman on, it got played every evening...

    Good luck! Lots of options, surprisingly, within your budget. If you can’t score a good used deal, buy a budget mandolin from a sponsor who will do a good set up. That’s probably the most important aspect of this purchase at this price point...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Under $300

    Quote Originally Posted by James Miller View Post
    So... with a $300 limitation for a beater mando_____ what would you suggest?
    Not spending $300?

    Rogue RM-100A A-Style Mandolin Plays well for it's price range

    I would rather invest in a decent $400 used flattop but that just me. Also I'd leave my mandolin in the car while I rode the bike. I always took a harmonica backpacking. I never learned to play it well but I had a blast trying

  5. #5
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    Hmm. For me, it would have to be (a) used, and (b) somewhat sturdy. My choices right now would either be a Strad-O-Lin genre or a Kentucky. Depending on my mood and what I can find.

    Recently, a number of Strad-O-Lin type instruments have sold under $300. (There are 2 on Reverb right now). And there are quite a few used Kentucky models out there well under that price cap.

    Again, just my preferences. Others may have better options. I haven't had enough coffee yet this morning.
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    Mando-afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    What Eric said...
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  9. #7
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    With the given restraints of a $300 budget for something of a travel mandolin, I'd consider the Seagull S8:

    https://www.wwbw.com/Seagull-S8-Mand...SABEgK8KPD_BwE

    With the code of PRES18W, you should get 15% off which brings you below $300 before tax and/or shipping. I couldn't find one cheaper used on Reverb ($315 + $30 shipping).

    Edit: this one is new for $287.56 plus shipping.

    https://reverb.com/item/7275628-seagull-s8-mandolin

    Second Edit: there is a blemished / refurbished one on eBay currently at $213.50 + $29 shipping.

    https://www.ebay.com/bfl/viewbids/16...p2047675.l2565
    Last edited by pheffernan; Feb-19-2018 at 8:46am. Reason: Additional listings
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  11. #8
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    I'd agree with a Rogue. Plywood all around, nearly unbreakable. At $49.99 today for President's Day (NFI) it's a pretty remarkable value and after you add a $100 pro setup it would at least play nicely, and maybe even sound good.

    I stumbled into the "$199.00 Solid F style" MK Legacy Festival mandolins as I was looking for something for this purpose, but at least for me, these MKLFSTB models are really too nice for extremely rough treatment; I'd rate these solid wood carved top F style mandolins more in the solid carved Kentucky or Eastman F style category for tone and after a good setup they're actually pretty respectable. So I'd prefer not to take mine into an extreme situation -- I'd certainly use it for a backup mandolin instead of my F-9, but I definitely wouldn't want to trash it.

    Honestly I might get attached to a Rogue too, but at least I'd know I could replace it very easily. Hmmm, I wonder how a Rogue would sound with a ToneGard and an armrest (it already has a pickguard)...
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  12. #9
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    Default Re: Under $300

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Hmm. For me, it would have to be (a) used, and (b) somewhat sturdy. My choices right now would either be a Strad-O-Lin genre or a Kentucky. Depending on my mood and what I can find.

    Recently, a number of Strad-O-Lin type instruments have sold under $300. (There are 2 on Reverb right now). And there are quite a few used Kentucky models out there well under that price cap.

    Again, just my preferences. Others may have better options. I haven't had enough coffee yet this morning.
    One of the Strad-O-Lins on Reverb right now is one of these. If anyone wants to buy that you can save yourself some money and buy that same mandolin with a different name on it for about $60.00 on eBay.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Under $300

    I personally would stay away from Rogues. They can be ok if you get one in working order, but here's one I got in the mail last week, top delaminating and caving in. That and over a week to work out return shipping made me wish I hadn't wasted my time in the first place. I'm not saying it will happen to you, just that it did happen to me. If it comes in one piece and you spend a little time or money getting it dialed in, you can have an instrument that does the job.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    On another note, I was very impressed by the seagull travel mandolin I played recently. It looked (to me) like it wasn't going to sound very good, but I was very surprised when I gave it a quick strum. Nice and compact and sturdy too!

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  14. #11
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    For my 2-cents - I think the Loar's are a much better quality than Rogue, and still stay within budget . . . .
    I recently finished a new homemade 4-song EP of original solo acoustic songs; (sorry, no mandolin content this time). If you are interested in a FREE copy, feel free to send me your address via Private Message, and I will be glad to send you one. Trust me, it will be worth the price!


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  15. #12
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    +1 for a The Loar. Mine is a LM 170.... A-style cheapie. But it does play well and it's leaps and bounds better then any Rogue I've ever played. It has a hand carved top and laminate sides/back, a bone nut, a nice finish.... it's a nice playing very replaceable beater.

    I got mine (b-stock) for under $200.

    I bring it here, there and everywhere.

  16. #13
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    Default Re: Under $300

    The OP made some bold statements of what he wouldn't do, even calling some one out of his mind to do it. I wouldn't take an old Kay or a new Rouge on that bicycle thru what he described. The mandolin is very likely to get damaged in that trip and I'd leave it at home whatever it is because I have a respect of any instrument, not that I won't take any of my mandolins anywhere I'm going to play but I won't play anywhere that is that likely to damage my mandolin.

  17. #14

    Default Re: Under $300

    Even though I've previously owned an second-generation The Loar LM-500 (1st gen of the model were reputed to be total junk) and found it an excellent instrument for the price, considering that there are recent reports of The Loar declining in quality in a race to the bottom I would only recommend buying one from a reputable dealer if you're dead set on the brand. Elderly is selling the current lowest-end LM-110 for $249 including setup.

    However, they are also selling the Kentucky KM-140 with full setup for $235 so I'd say Kentucky continues to rule the under $300 new mandolin market as well as the under $400 price-point with the $349 KM-150.

    (NFI and YMMV)

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  19. #15
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    1. Whytheheck do didgeridoos keep cropping up here? I'm distracted by the thought of a "travel didgeridoo" or a "beater didgeridoo" or some such. I could hardly think of two more opposite instruments than mandolin and didgeridoo.

    2. Now that I got that off my chest, Rover RM-50. Solid top, plywood back and sides, halfway decent construction, less than $200. Rover is Saga's lower-end line, and I wouldn't be surprised (or informed) if Rovers get cranked out by the same Chinese factories that do the inexpensive Kentucky instruments.

    Cheap tuner, mid-line gig bag, you're good to go. Where do you get the gig bag for your travel didgeridoo?
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  20. #16
    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    1. Whytheheck do didgeridoos keep cropping up here? I'm distracted by the thought of a "travel didgeridoo" or a "beater didgeridoo" or some such. I could hardly think of two more opposite instruments than mandolin and didgeridoo.

    Cheap tuner, mid-line gig bag, you're good to go. Where do you get the gig bag for your travel didgeridoo?
    A traveling didge is probably PVC type material, and the bags to them are relatively cheap or come with it. Didjeribone would fall into that category. If you can't sing while playing a mandolin, and some vocals and effects with a didgeridoo.

    Wooden didges can come from Yucca; native trees which are often cut, hollowed out, then glued back together; eucalyptus are usually hollowed out by termites naturally, and then trimmed down both inside and outside. Since these are wood, they are naturally tough; and then there are the designer or orchestra/concert quality didges that probably live a pampered life.
    • Seagull S8 • Weber Y2K6 • David Hudson Bloodwood Didgeridoo (C#) •

  21. #17

    Default Re: Under $300

    I was eyeing those box didgeridoos recently, I've never heard one in real life though.

  22. #18
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    ...I've never heard one in real life though.

    Now you have:



    Search "didgeridoo" on YouTube; some of those vids are ten hours long!
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  24. #19
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    I am thinking that you could use an empty paper towel roll as a 'travel didgeridoo'?
    I recently finished a new homemade 4-song EP of original solo acoustic songs; (sorry, no mandolin content this time). If you are interested in a FREE copy, feel free to send me your address via Private Message, and I will be glad to send you one. Trust me, it will be worth the price!


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  25. #20
    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    David Hudson is Mr Didgeridoo to most of us. Some of his vocals are not unmatched by others. Have about all of his published albums too, and he made one of mine. However these is more to playing a didgeridoo past blowing raspberries down the tube.
    David had also played a didgeridoo on a few Yanni concerts, and he has has fun doing it too.



    Philip Lipsky, an online friend plays an Irish Bouzouki with his didgeridoo. He also does overtone vocals which could be applied to the mandolin I suppose - not heard anyone doing it - yet.
    • Seagull S8 • Weber Y2K6 • David Hudson Bloodwood Didgeridoo (C#) •

  26. #21
    en kunnskapssøker James Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    This is about as close to overtones with a stringed instrument that I could find.


    Lost bid on that Seagull S8 with electronics. Internet on my end has been awful today. Is okay, it probably saved me from getting one.
    • Seagull S8 • Weber Y2K6 • David Hudson Bloodwood Didgeridoo (C#) •

  27. #22
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    Default Re: Under $300

    [QUOTE=Lost bid on that Seagull S8 with electronics. Internet on my end has been awful today. Is okay, it probably saved me from getting one. [/QUOTE]

    There is this in the classifieds. https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/121194#121194
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  28. #23

    Default Re: Under $300

    If you get the Rogue go ahead I'd go ahead and get the package deal with the dreadnought.

    I kinda like the Rogue myself.

  29. #24

    Default Re: Under $300

    This is going to be a constant balance between risk and reward. At what point would the pleasure of playing be negated by playing a poor sounding instrument? Everyone would have a different opinion. My 199.00 MK works well for me, but you'd probably have to pay around $400 for one. Built tough, it has had no ill effects from tent camping, and I had one time I expected major damage.

    And remember, the Army/Navy Gibson was built to take to war. Can't think of harsher conditions than that. Yes, I'd be sad to damage my MK, but the reward is a pretty good playing and sounding instrument everywhere I go, and I'm shocked at how much it gets played under normal conditions.
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  30. #25
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Under $300

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    There is this in the classifieds. https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/121194#121194
    I was thinking this one. $375 Canadian is still $298 USD.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/115645#115645
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