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Thread: Northfield A5 Special

  1. #1
    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Northfield A5 Special

    Has anyone had the good fortune to play one of these? Lp
    J.Lane Pryce

  2. #2

    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Sadly not, but to my eyes it's a thing of understated beauty. And if it sounds half as good as the other Northfield's I've played, it'll be a winner.

  3. #3
    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    I played an A5 Special that wasn't that special compared to the Big Mon hanging beside it. That Big Mon just had more of everything. Those are the only 2 Northfields I have played personally, so not a large pool. I did see Mike Marshall up close playing his Northfield and it sounded great - but it wasn't an A style.
    ... not all those who wander are lost ...

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    Registered User Trey Young's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    These have caught my attention as well. It appears as if they only offer them in the 2 tone bar option, does anyone know if the 5 tone bar option exists or if there are any plans to put ones with the 5 tone bars into production?

    Elkhorn A-5, #3
    White F-5, #6

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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    My buddy brought home the A5 from Wintergrass. I think it was a prototype...and might have been the same one Denman John encountered. I think it is a great mandolin. Beautifully built, powerful bluegrass tone...kinda tight sounding, but sure to open up, great playability. Two tone bars, I think. I really like it.

  7. #6
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Ok what is a 5 tone bar option? I get 2 tone bars as well that's the original from 22 but 5??? X braced is 4 but really 2? Help me comprehend please!?!?

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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Screen+Shot+2017-10-02+at+12.13.57+PM.png 
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ID:	166281 Northfield worked with Mike Marshall to develop this bracing method.

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  10. #8
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Thanks for the diagram-I thought I seen it all, that is hammered and makes no sense to me? Whats wrong with traditional tone bars or X bracing? Aye yi yi!

  11. #9
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    Thanks for the diagram-I thought I seen it all, that is hammered and makes no sense to me? Whats wrong with traditional tone bars or X bracing? Aye yi yi!
    Yeah. And chocolate & vanilla ice cream by golly. Right?
    Phil

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  13. #10
    Registered User Trey Young's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    Thanks for the diagram-I thought I seen it all, that is hammered and makes no sense to me? Whats wrong with traditional tone bars or X bracing? Aye yi yi!
    I don't think anything is wrong with the traditional 2 bar bracing, but Mike Marshall seems to be a big fan of the 5 bar bracing as there are quite a few newer videos floating around of him playing his personal 5 bar Northfield artist mandolin in place of his Loar. I also saw a video of him recording the new Duo album with Darol Anger and he was using his Northfield Artist mando...Just more options to find your voice.

    Elkhorn A-5, #3
    White F-5, #6

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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Can you really hear the difference between a two bar and five bar mandolin ? I doubt if I could !
    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 !

  15. #12
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    I've played one of the 5 bar instruments owned by a friend. Great tone!!
    Could I pick it out of a group of really good mandolins? Doubt it.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

  16. #13

    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    I played an A5 special, Big Mon F5, and my earlier F5S (that I have owned for a few years) back to back at Northfield's Michigan shop. I'm not a great picker that has played many mandolins of this caliber and up. The A5 had a nice tone to my ear with more response in the bottom end than my F5S. And nice sustained tone for an f-hole mandolin. My personal preference of the three was the A5, my wife preferred the sound of the Big Mon. I came home, still with my F5S and it still sounds great.

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  18. #14
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    I played three Northfield mandolins today in Seattle at Dusty Strings - A Big Mon, the F5S and the A5 Special. My favorite of the three was the A5 Special... hands down! The Big Mon was a superb instrument, especially considering the fact that it's a for-real, full-blown pro F5 for a fraction of the price of the "big boys". Still, the A5 won my heart with its gorgeous, bell-like open tone, luscious warmth and balance and its sleek, understated good looks. For me it was the nicest sounding mandolin in a shop full of nice-sounding mandolins. At $3,500 with a true varnish finish and an exceptional sound this mandolin is a "must play"...

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  20. #15
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    A lot of builders install tone bars and then "tap tune" the tops so I don`t see where 5 tone bars would add anything different than the 2 tone bar mandolins if they both tuned to the same note that the builder is searching for...I suppose there is a lot more to it than that though...I could check out Northfield`s web site to see if they specify a difference and why...BUT, I wouldn`t really care what they do to them to make them sound so good if I owned one so why worry about it?

    Willie

  21. #16
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    I've played one 5-bar Northfield that was really sweet. You're right, Willie, they could use 14 tone bars & I would not care as long as it sounded good to me. You don't see the tone bars every day!

  22. #17

    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Quote Originally Posted by Denman John View Post
    I played an A5 Special that wasn't that special compared to the Big Mon hanging beside it. That Big Mon just had more of everything. Those are the only 2 Northfields I have played personally, so not a large pool. I did see Mike Marshall up close playing his Northfield and it sounded great - but it wasn't an A style.
    I love my Northfield A5 special! I first visited the shop last July when they only had one of them produced. I was able to play on some Artist series mandolins that Mike Marshall had on tour with him for a year or so, and I liked the sound of the A5 more. Not to mention, because it's an A-style, they can make it at the $3,500 price point with the same workmanship that they make the Artist series at the ~$6,000 price point. I ended up buying one in November, serial number #2, the first one released for sale.

  23. #18

    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    I've played the F5s and the Big Mon, but not the Artist. What's the difference between the tone of a Big Mon and an Artist?
    Silverangel A
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  24. #19
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Played one and didn't think it was anything special, TO MY EAR/EYES !
    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 !

  25. #20

    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Emory Lester was sporting his 5-bar F at this year's Kaufman Kamp, so I asked him about the difference. I can't recall his exact words, but it was along the lines of "one has two tone bars and the other, five." Classic Emory.


    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post
    A lot of builders install tone bars and then "tap tune" the tops so I don`t see where 5 tone bars would add anything different than the 2 tone bar mandolins if they both tuned to the same note that the builder is searching for...I suppose there is a lot more to it than that though...I could check out Northfield`s web site to see if they specify a difference and why...BUT, I wouldn`t really care what they do to them to make them sound so good if I owned one so why worry about it?

    Willie

  26. #21

    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    After much study and several comparisons with honest-to-goodness contenders, I pulled the trigger on this A5 Special at Dusty this afternoon before it got away. Hard to believe how much sound comes out of that little thing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    I played three Northfield mandolins today in Seattle at Dusty Strings - A Big Mon, the F5S and the A5 Special. My favorite of the three was the A5 Special... hands down! The Big Mon was a superb instrument, especially considering the fact that it's a for-real, full-blown pro F5 for a fraction of the price of the "big boys". Still, the A5 won my heart with its gorgeous, bell-like open tone, luscious warmth and balance and its sleek, understated good looks. For me it was the nicest sounding mandolin in a shop full of nice-sounding mandolins. At $3,500 with a true varnish finish and an exceptional sound this mandolin is a "must play"...

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  28. #22
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Quote Originally Posted by wsugai View Post
    After much study and several comparisons with honest-to-goodness contenders, I pulled the trigger on this A5 Special at Dusty this afternoon before it got away. Hard to believe how much sound comes out of that little thing.
    hey man congratulations on that acquisition! i have played that very mandolin on my last 2 visits to Dusty Strings and was super-impressed with it... actually i thought it was the best sounding mandolin in the house. that particular Northfield creation is a ton of bang for the buck... Planet Northfield continues to impress...

  29. #23
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Quote Originally Posted by Denman John View Post
    I played an A5 Special that wasn't that special compared to the Big Mon hanging beside it. That Big Mon just had more of everything. Those are the only 2 Northfields I have played personally, so not a large pool. I did see Mike Marshall up close playing his Northfield and it sounded great - but it wasn't an A style.
    Mike Marshall could make a cigar box mandolin sound great !
    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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  31. #24
    Registered User Michael Neverisky's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    Mike Marshall could make a cigar box mandolin sound great !
    Word.

    It's also true of many accomplished players because a major component in tone production is the technique of the player. Or, as I have heard it expressed in marginally not PC terms: "it's the Indian, not the arrow".

  32. #25

    Default Re: Northfield A5 Special

    I went through some trouble arranging to A-B Dusty's A-5 Special with another A-5 Special. Close, but no cigar, so I went ahead and bought the one at Dusty before it got away. Just reinforces how instruments, even the same models, are not created equal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    hey man congratulations on that acquisition! i have played that very mandolin on my last 2 visits to Dusty Strings and was super-impressed with it... actually i thought it was the best sounding mandolin in the house. that particular Northfield creation is a ton of bang for the buck... Planet Northfield continues to impress...

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