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Thread: Expensive mandolins

  1. #1
    Registered User peterleyenaar's Avatar
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    Smile Expensive mandolins

    Who buys the truly expensive mandolins say $8000 and up, mostly professional musicians ?, investors ?

    In the classical world, it is not unusual for a professional violinist who plays in an orchestra to have a violin worth $40000 or more, however, the truly expensive violins are frequently bought by investors, kept in humidity and temperature controlled environments, waiting for the value to go up.

    Fortunately there are a large number of reasonable prized mandolins available , so that young people can afford to become mandolin players.
    I have noticed over the past few years the cost of quality mandolins going much higher , due to demand?

    I am very lucky to have an Heiden A mandolin , the quality of the instrument probably above my ability, had to let go a mint 1994 Mercedes AMG coupe with low miles to get it. (I like playing the Heiden better than driving the Mercedes, the tone is so beautiful )

    What is your experience in obtaining an expensive mandolin ?

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    The answer is pretty simple. People that have enough money and the desire to own them. I don't think there is a class of instrument buyers that can be identified by anything other than that.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    Who buys the truly expensive mandolins . . . frequently bought by investors, kept in humidity and temperature controlled environments, waiting for the value to go up.
    TRUE story:

    Many years ago a friend and I went to look at an expensive Gibson Les Paul; (probably $7,000 or $8,000 today). This dealer was obviously used to selling to 'collectors' because when my friend asked to plug in the guitar to try it out, the dealer looked at him with total astonishment and said: "You want to play it?".

    We still laugh when we talk about that trip.


    p.s - Here is the real kicker . . . as we were leaving the shop (without the expensive guitar), I looked at my friend and said to him: "I didn't want to say anything before, but I have Epiphone's at home that sound better than that guitar." My friend simply looked at me, laughed and said; "I have Epiphone's that sound better than that guitar, too!"

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    My "expensive" instrument is my Collings MT. I know to some here it would be considered entry-level, but to me it might as well be a Loar.

    My wife and I have four children, she is a stay-at-home-mom, and I am the sole provider. She knew how much I wanted a Collings, stashed money away for a couple years behind my back, and surprised me one Christmas with it. I never would have spent that kind of money and probably would have waited till our kids were grown, etc. I was prepared to play my $400 (bought used) Eastman for the next 20 years.

    So my answer to how to get an expensive instrument: Find a great wife.
    "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." -Longfellow

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    Who buys the truly expensive mandolins say $8000 and up, mostly professional musicians ?, investors ?

    In the classical world, it is not unusual for a professional violinist who plays in an orchestra to have a violin worth $40000 or more, however, the truly expensive violins are frequently bought by investors, kept in humidity and temperature controlled environments, waiting for the value to go up.

    Fortunately there are a large number of reasonable prized mandolins available , so that young people can afford to become mandolin players.
    I have noticed over the past few years the cost of quality mandolins going much higher , due to demand?

    I am very lucky to have an Heiden A mandolin , the quality of the instrument probably above my ability, had to let go a mint 1994 Mercedes AMG coupe with low miles to get it. (I like playing the Heiden better than driving the Mercedes, the tone is so beautiful )

    What is your experience in obtaining an expensive mandolin ?
    My experience is not from obtaining expensive mandos at all . As a professional 'journeyman' musician who's spent a life in the trenches here is what I've observed where instrument purchases are concerned .

    95 % of folks making a living, as I have ,play relatively inexpensive , adequate but not high end or vintage, gear. They play what most working musicians can afford . Invariably ( and perhaps ironically ) it has been the part-time jammers or music fans with REAL jobs ( lol ) that purchase the high -priced instruments because money is no object . And as you might expect most of THOSE folks had more 'means than skills or talent .They LOVE music and wanted THE BEST instrument or gear available.

    The other thing I noticed was that the journeyman players with the REAL high end gear usually acquired that gear through sponsorship . Not so many in this camp.

    Conversely I do know a few great players who could buy " Jimi's strat" in a heartbeat . But they are more than happy with what works for THEM .....a Frankencaster built in their basement from spare parts, an amp with killer sound cuz of the Radio Shack speaker replacement , a barely-passable sounding acoustic guitar with an amazing neck profile which in the right hands sounds like the most expensive instrument ever built .

    I've probably gotten away on a tangent that wasn't intended but for whatever those observations may be worth ......

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    My "expensive" instrument is my Collings MT. I know to some here it would be considered entry-level, but to me it might as well be a Loar.

    My wife and I have four children, she is a stay-at-home-mom, and I am the sole provider. She knew how much I wanted a Collings, stashed money away for a couple years behind my back, and surprised me one Christmas with it. I never would have spent that kind of money and probably would have waited till our kids were grown, etc. I was prepared to play my $400 (bought used) Eastman for the next 20 years.

    So my answer to how to get an expensive instrument: Find a great wife.
    Great story,Great wife

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    Who buys the truly expensive mandolins say $8000 and up, mostly professional musicians ?, investors ?

    In the classical world, it is not unusual for a professional violinist who plays in an orchestra to have a violin worth $40000 or more, however, the truly expensive violins are frequently bought by investors, kept in humidity and temperature controlled environments, waiting for the value to go up.

    Fortunately there are a large number of reasonable prized mandolins available , so that young people can afford to become mandolin players.
    I have noticed over the past few years the cost of quality mandolins going much higher , due to demand?

    I am very lucky to have an Heiden A mandolin , the quality of the instrument probably above my ability, had to let go a mint 1994 Mercedes AMG coupe with low miles to get it. (I like playing the Heiden better than driving the Mercedes, the tone is so beautiful )

    What is your experience in obtaining an expensive mandolin ?
    .....and yes......I've been to many many bluegrass jams where high end expensive instruments seem the norm but far exceeded the talent in the room . But hell ....if cost is no obstacle why wouldn't you opt for something high end It may be the thing that inspires you to play .....so ...?

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by roysboy View Post
    But hell ....if cost is no obstacle why wouldn't you opt for something high end It may be the thing that inspires you to play .....so ...?
    And that's it in a nut shell.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    As far as bluegrass goes playing a Gibson banjo, a Gibson mandolin and a Martin guitar was sort of a status symbol in years past and I do believe that is what caused some of those brands to go up in price and become collectors items...Most of us now know that there are quite a few mandolins being built to day that sound as good as the Loars, the Master Tones and the D-28 Herringbones, but it is also a matter of taste if buying one to use in a band, if you like the inexpensive one and it plays nice then go with that...My feeling is that mandolins in the "high" priced area will be coming down in value in a few years to come because of the good quality instruments that are being made in a factory compared to those being build in a "one man" shop....BUT there will always be collectors that speculate on such things and the less that are out on the market the more expensive they become to some of their ways of thinking...For me it isn`t worth worrying about, I like what I have and that's all I ask...

    Willie

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    My observations are inline with Roysboy. Most professionals I see are playing modest instruments that get the job done, because they can't really justify spending more (or simply can't spend more) and even if they did, gigging takes its toll and puts the instrument at risk.

    A lot of musicians own nice instruments at some point, but end up losing them. I don't know many full-time musicians that don't have tales of instruments taken off stage, during load in/out, out of the van in the motel parking lot, etc...

    We know the music business isn't the most stable, so when bills come due and your instruments are your biggest asset, we know what has to happen....

    In my opinion, most professional musicians own the best instruments they can afford. It just turns out, that it isn't a well paying profession and they can't afford the level of instruments that a part time pro with a good paying job can.
    Robert Fear
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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    [QUOTE=Willie Poole;1642606] ......... .My feeling is that mandolins in the "high" priced area will be coming down in value in a few years to come because of the good quality instruments that are being made in a factory compared to those being build in a "one man" shop.... ""

    Breedlove ........

  22. #12

    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    I asked the acoustic guitar manager in a large independent music store what musicians playing out were spending on guitars. They rarely bought anything over about $1200. They almost always bought used.

    The guys I played with were tech professionals for the most part with $2000 processors, Paul Reed Smith flamey maple electrics and Bogner amps.

    The best working musician I know has a day job, but his biggest instrument spendiiture by far is his Pava
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Personally, I'm more comfortable with more economical instruments. There's just something elitists about overly priced stuff that rubs me the wrong way. I just can't see a $10,000 mandolin being 200 times better than a $500 one.Some better, yes, but come on. Besides, I'll never have the chops to merit thst kind of expenditure. No, I'm happy with my trusty Rover, and feel no need to lust after something I could never afford anyway.

    Oops, typo. I meant 20.
    Thanks, Dave.
    Last edited by Roger Moss; Mar-24-2018 at 1:24pm.

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Folkmusician.com View Post
    We know the music business isn't the most stable, so when bills come due and your instruments are your biggest asset, we know what has to happen.....
    It's well known that Hendrix would often have to go find a guitar at some local pawn shop when he had a performance, having had to sell his last one for food money. Of course that changed, but almost every great musician had to serve his time in a soup line at first.
    When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench, I can always hear them talk.
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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    In the classical world, it is not unusual for a professional violinist who plays in an orchestra to have a violin worth $40000 or more, however, the truly expensive violins are frequently bought by investors, kept in humidity and temperature controlled environments, waiting for the value to go up.
    In the classical/orchestral world, it is not unusual for someone to get a position in an orchestra because of the quality of their instrument. Has this ever been true for any folk instruments? I have noticed that some of the higher priced production mandolins seem to be priced higher because of things that have nothing to do with sound - like bindings and inlays and "f" or "a" style. I do suspect that the market for $8000 and up mandolins is very small - or what they say in business school - a narrow niche market.

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    I think that many of you may be overthinking this issue, at least a bit. Musicians, regardless of whether they are professional or amateur, tend to love their music. And accordingly, they usually buy the best instrument(s) that they can reasonably afford (or afford to lose). And that's all there is to it. Journeyman professionals buy journeyman instruments because these are up to the job, and they usually can't afford to pay more, nor can they afford to replace them should they be damaged or stolen on the road. Serious amateurs might well buy better instruments, in general: but then again, these don't experience the same exposure, or level of wear and tear. Also, many of these amateurs are wealthier than most professional musicians, so they can afford it. But if you're serious about your music, then you are usually serious about your instrument, too. I would also note here that some of the very best-paid professional musicians on the mandolin do not exactly play journeyman instruments. Thile, Marshall, Grisman, Scaggs, McCoury, and others all play Loar-sgned Gibson F5s! And these F5's are not played as endorsements.

    Of course, there are exceptions to buying whatever you can afford, found at both the high and low end of the expense scale. Folks who are just starting out, or not especially serious (yet), or buying a first instrument for a child, might well opt for a lower-quality instrument, to save money. Also, they may have not yet trained their ears to appreciate the sound of a better instrument. And at the very high end, there are the collectors and speculators who purchase for reasons that go beyond merely wanting to play a great instrument. And there are those who merely covet. These folks will really drive up the prices of the best-reputed instruments in the best condition (not necessarily always the best sounding ones, though).

    But as a rule, the vast majority of players, amateurs and professionals alike, usually buy the best instrument(s) that they can reasonably afford. And that's all there is to it. And the market makes perfect sense, at least to me. It makes even more sense when you consider the amount of time and labor that goes into a high-end F5 from a small shop, and the economics of making a living as a luthier.

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by J-45er View Post
    In the classical/orchestral world, it is not unusual for someone to get a position in an orchestra because of the quality of their instrument.
    While I am sure this is true, I can't help but recall a story I once read about a classical violinist who played in the symphony orchestra of a large city. Other violinists constantly complemented this woman on her beautiful tone, and asked her about the violin - but she essentially knew almost nothing about it; only that it was inherited from her father and that is was presumably a couple of hundred years old. One day she needed a little work done on the violin and brought it to someone who was well-known for his repair work on high-quality instruments. Come to find out, the violin was only about 50 or 60 years old, was made by some unknown fiddle maker in the south, and was only worth a few hundred dollars. She never stopped playing it.

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Good musicians can make not so good instruments sound good, not so good musicians need good instruments to sound good

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    Good musicians can make not so good instruments sound good, not so good musicians need good instruments to sound good
    But then again, a mediocre musician can make a great instrument sound mediocre. Ask me how I know...

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    I personally love old Gibson's, and other high end mandolins. You usually can trade up and or get your $$ back, they're great investments that you can play and enjoy! And some well there will never be another 20's or 30's F-5! There are only so many out there. Sure there may be newer ones that can get the job done but there is just something about playing an older vintage instrument for me anyway. I'm a history nut and I've had and played Gils,Nuggets, Paganonis other high end goods but nothing to me comes close to the whole tonal package of an older vintage 5! That's the sound/tone overall voice for me so I won't mess with anything less than what I like so my next mandolin will be another vintage fern or the right Loar. I've had lower end and high end but I know what I like so for me there is no point in wasting cash on something that doesn't have the overall tonal quality I'm after.

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    I would suggest that the reason most working pro musicians play less expensive instruments that can get the job done - as mentioned several times above - is that most working pro musicians don't make all that much money. It's not because those instruments are some kind of badge that the owner is a real working pro.

    How many guitars does James Taylor have?

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Like most folks here have said, you play what you can afford, based on what and where you are in your life.
    I've played for over 40 years. Always had my day job as a teacher. I guess my level is semi-pro.
    I was lucky enough to have some Pro friends back in the late 70's tell me if I wanted a good F mandolin go see
    Wayne. I've had my Henderson since 1982. If I hadn't got that, I might have maybe got a some import or if I was lucky, later
    a Gibson...maybe. Later in the 80's I was able to get a Martin guitar thanks to a friend who let me buy his by making monthly
    payments.Other instruments my wife and I own, some have gone up in value, some have not. None of these other instruments were over $1500.00, many far less.Through the years, been in 4-5 bands, mainly local, but did some regional touring in 90's for a short while. Today I'm retired from teaching, but playing a lot, and playing and writing some of my best (I think).Luckily, we are in pretty good financial shape. But today, 2018, theres no way I would/can/justify (for me personally) spending over $3000.00 on a new mando, or guitar, and no way I could even think about buying a Henderson! I think I've got all I need, and I try to avoid MAS & GAS, sometimes it's hard though!
    I wonder how long some of these high prices will last, as the quality in imports continues to go up, and folks my age are no longer buying the kind we "grew up on",- but that's for another thread.
    Jeffrey S Wagner

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Iím one of the hacks who keeps moving up the food chain. I love music and play multiple instruments, but am smitten with the mandolin family. I have three acoustic guitars and a Tele with which Iím very satisfied...havenít bought a guitar in probably 8-10 years. Have a cheap electric bass and an open back Gold Tone banjo which I like. My current ďbestĒ mandolins are a Silverangel Econo and a National RM-1, but Iím on the verge of taking that next step up into the 3000-4000 dollar range, even though itís above my talent/skill level. Why? I feel like Iíve finally gotten to the point where the SA is still better than me, but not by much. Iím looking for a next step up in tone that inspires me to keep pushing myself, and I have a ďreal job,Ē in which I work my ars off, that affords me the ability to do so. Iíd love to have a Giacomel, Ellis, or Red Diamond, and totally think theyíre worth the price tag after playing everything from junk to 2 Loars, but donít feel my playing justifies that kind of expenditureís impact on my budget. Maybe if I keep progressing and eventually get the kids out of college, maybe...

    I do think itís cool how much better more affordable instruments have become, and that top tier artists are working with companies like Northfield and Gold Tone (Bťla Fleck) to create exceptional quality instruments that arenít $15,000.

    If I were a working musician without my day job, Iíd probably roll with a Collings MT and just keep it with me all the time. Josh Pinkham came through town a couple of years ago, and I had the good fortune of spending some time with him after the show. My wife and I ended up taking the band out for dinner and drinks, and he brought his Red Diamond (in itís Calton) with him. Not pretentiously, he just knew no one else would take care of it like he would...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    Good musicians can make not so good instruments sound good, not so good musicians need good instruments to sound good
    This is what I always say - I need all the help from my instrument I can get!

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Expensive mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by peterleyenaar View Post
    not so good musicians need good instruments to sound good
    I guess some of us are beyond help - I played a Gibson F-9 for a while, and sounded horrible.

    Maybe I'll go tune up my ukulele . . . .

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