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Thread: what are the regular folks playing.

  1. #51
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    Money spent on instruments (or anything) is a matter of perspective. Many people will not spend even $1000 on a good instrument, but will drop that much or more on a flatscreen TV, laptop, smartphone, etc, etc, that will certainly wear out and need replacing in a few short years. But a good instrument will last beyond a lifetime. Whicuh is money better spent?
    Priorities, I guess (I know, I know, I don't get it either).
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  2. #52
    Loarcutus of MandoBorg DataNick's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    The premise of the OP as stated "Regular Folks" really is too broad a term without any specifics of what he is referring to. Does "regular" mean a level of income, does it mean a non-professional musician (among whose population could be wealthy hobbyists); I mean it's hard to sink your teeth into any kind of meaningful response to that premise.

    I'm guessing based on his responses that he means income level; but even that classifier is fraught with too many variables. The overwhelming majority of professional musicians are not wealthy, and I would wager most are lower middle class by US Wage earnings classifications; and if you're talking Bluegrass professionals (local & national touring), most of these are on the border of poverty/lower middle class. For example a touring Bluegrass professional sideman is on salary for about $25-$35K per year. Ask Randy Jones formerly of the Lonesome River Band why he quit and got a local county job: he's got mouths to feed!


    Per US Bureau of Labor And Statistics:
    Lower Middle Class $32,500 to $60,000
    Poverty Class $18,871 for a family of three

    As a professional, I really, strongly prefer to have 2 mandolins: my primary axe that I pretty much play everywhere, and a good professional axe as a backup for when the primary is getting work done, or I want to avoid extreme climates, or say I don't want to take it overseas.

    For me I need an axe that has:
    1. Good volume
    2. Nice "sweet" tone
    3. Good projection
    4. Cuts well in a band situation
    5. Has good percussive qualities
    6. Has average sustain
    7. Has good note clarity
    8. Mics well

    It's really hard to get all of that in a Kentucky...I know that a lot of folks swear that their Eastman, Kentucky, etc. has all that, but I highly doubt it, having played a bunch of them. So what's a pro to do? Beg, borrow, finagle, be creative, save, luck into some good deals etc.

    I'll use myself as a case in point:

    I was playing a JBovier F5 Studio that was a good lower-intermediate mandolin, but lacked cut, note clarity, and didn't mic all that well. A local player who was a kid phenom, whose Dad "helped" him get a 1994 Gibson F5L, was in desperate need of $$ quick in order to work his construction job. He put his mandolin up on Craigslist in Orange County. A mutual friend saw the listing, went and played it, and then emailed me, saying it was rough cosmetically having been naturally beat-up and distressed, but that it was a beast tonally. I arranged to meet the seller/player (who I knew) at our mutual friend's house, and I brought my JBovier and Eastman md515 with me. The seller wanted $2700 for the F5L, an admittedly low price designed to sell quick. I played it, liked it, noticed it needed a refret. He wanted a mandolin to play in the interim, and after having played my Eastman, he said that he'd take it in trade. The Eastman needed a refret as well. Soooo,he agreed to take off $300 for a refret, bring the price to $2400. I bargained with him the Eastman for $700 minus $300 for a refret, which is a $400 value. So I bought the F5L for $2400 - $400 in trade on the Eastman for $2000. I was working a good job and had $1000 cash on hand. Our mutual friend agreed to loan me the other $1000, wrote the seller a check for $1000, and allowed me to pay him back over the course of a few months. So I ended up walking out the door with my F5L for an initial outlay of $1000.

    I'm sure that a lot of working pros have had similar deals work for them to get their Collings, Sorensen, Girouard, Pava, Gibson or what have you, though they themselves don't have a lot of working capital.

    Sorry for the long post, but this subject really to me has no generalized outcomes, and "regular" folks who are professional musicians often get extremely creative or are the beneficiaries of "gifts" from friends/family who believe in their art. And there are many reasons why most play the instruments that they do...so who's regular?
    Last edited by DataNick; Apr-14-2018 at 3:16pm. Reason: spelling
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  4. #53
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by DataNick View Post
    The premise of the OP as stated "Regular Folks" really is too broad a term without any specifics of what he is referring to. Does "regular" mean a level of income, does it mean a non-professional musician (among whose population could be wealthy hobbyists); I mean it's hard to sink your teeth into any kind of meaningful response to that premise.

    I'm guessing based on his responses that he means income level; but even that classifier is fraught with too many variables. The overwhelming majority of professional musicians are not wealthy, and I would wager most are lower middle class by US Wage earnings classifications; and if you're talking Bluegrass professionals (local & national touring), most of these are on the border of poverty/lower middle class. For example a touring Bluegrass professional sideman is on salary for about $25-$35K per year. Ask Randy Jones formerly of the Lonesome River Band why he quit and got a local county job: he's got mouths to feed!..

    Per US Bureau of Labor And Statistics:
    Lower Middle Class $32,500 to $60,000
    Poverty Class $18,871 for a family of three

    As a professional, I really, strongly prefer to have 2 mandolins: my primary axe that I pretty much play everywhere, and a good professional axe as a backup for when the primary is getting work done, or I want to avoid extreme climates, or say I don't want to take it overseas.

    For me I need an axe that has:
    1. Good volume
    2. Nice "sweet" tone
    3. Good projection
    4. Cuts well in a band situation
    5. Has good percussive qualities
    6. Has average sustain
    7. Has good note clarity
    8. Mics well

    It's really had to get all of that in a Kentucky...I know that a lot of folks swear that their Eastman, Kentucky, etc. has all that, but I highly doubt it, having played a bunch of them. So what's a pro to do? Beg, borrow, finagle, be creative, save, luck into some good deals etc.

    I'll use myself as a case in point:

    I was playing a JBovier F5 Studio that was a good lower-intermediate mandolin, but lacked cut, note clarity, and didn't mic all that well. A local player who was a kid phenom, whose Dad "helped" him get a 1994 Gibson F5L, was in desperate need of $$ quick in order to work his construction job. He put his mandolin up on Craigslist in Orange County. A mutual friend saw the listing, went and played it, and then emailed me, saying it was rough cosmetically having been naturally beat-up and distressed, but that it was a beast tonally. I arranged to meet the seller/player (who I knew) at our mutual friend's house, and I brought my JBovier and Eastman md515 with me. The seller wanted $2700 for the F5L, an admittedly low price designed to sell quick. I played it, liked it, noticed it needed a refret. He wanted a mandolin to play in the interim, and after having played my Eastman, he said that he'd take it in trade. The Eastman needed a refret as well. Soooo,he agreed to take off $300 for a refret, bring the price to $2400. I bargained with him the Eastman for $700 minus $300 for a refret, which is a $400 value. So I bought the F5L for $2400 - $400 in trade on the Eastman for $2000. I was working a good job and had $1000 cash on hand. Our mutual friend agreed to loan me the other $1000, wrote the seller a check for $1000, and allowed me to pay him back over the course of a few months. So I ended up walking out the door with my F5L for an initial outlay of $1000.

    I'm sure that a lot of working pros have had similar deals work for them to get their Collings, Sorensen, Girouard, Pava, Gibson or what have you, though they themselves don't have a lot of working capital.

    Sorry for the long post, but this subject really to me has no generalized outcomes, and "regular" folks who are professional musicians often get extremely creative or are the beneficiaries of "gifts" from friends/family who believe in their art. And there are many reasons why most play the instruments that they do...so who's regular?
    I get all eight with my Kentucky

  5. #54
    Registered User Steve Sorensen's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Again following on Nick's comments --

    His list of necessary traits for instruments is excellent.

    Nick is a "regular" guy with an extraordinary focus on music excellence.

    I'm in the lucky position of getting to know a lot of very regular folks (like Nick) who have a really clear understanding of their goals and priorities. Of course, my favorites are those who put mandolin way up on their personal list ! ! !

    So far, all the instruments that I have built have gone to "regular" folks who have an extraordinary love for their instruments . . . I have yet to get that billionaire patron who can't spend money fast enough. So my goal is to deliver as much bang for the buck as I possibly can.

    At the same time . . .

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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    I'm a lucky guy that doesn't have deep pockets, I've had many mandolins and just save up and trade up. I've been playing a 30's Gibson F-7 conversion for close to 20 years. She is old and far from perfect for some but it's a freak of a mandolin if you like the Loar sound! I also have been lucky to trade up and get a vintage 36 Gibson fern F-5, have some more vintage Gibson mandolins but don't play them much.
    It's all what one wants and strives to get, and yes some serious saving money!!

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  9. #56
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    I've only owned Gibsons,,,,

  10. #57
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolinstew View Post
    I get all eight with my Kentucky
    De gustibus non est disputandum
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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  12. #58
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by dang View Post
    "A robust response. I salute you."
    - Douglas Adams
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    dang 

  14. #59
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    Sounds like a false choice. Who says you have to have a more expensive instrument that won't do what you want it to? Why would someone even purchase such an instrument? I'm doubtful that many ever do. To turn your thought around, I'd rather have a superior, and more expensive instrument, that can do many of the things I want it to do musically, rather than multiple mediocre instruments that are musically mediocre.


    On a different thought, I find it a bit odd that mandolin tony (maybe inadvertently) would frame his post in an us vs. them narrative. As others have pointed out, not only is that not necessary, it's also not necessarily true.
    These are my thoughts on that - as to having a superior instrument. Fine. There are not many of those out there. A lot less than most folks want to believe. Maybe a higher percentage on this list because of the interest, but still not a lot.

    Now, take that instrument. Are you willing to play it in the rain? Like a gig where it is raining right on you? How about cold? +15F? Willing to play that instrument outside then walk inside and play another set? I know folks who play superior instruments in those situations. When I've had to do it, a mediocre instrument comes in handy. Won't be worried if a crack or other problem happens. Those are my choices and priorities.

    Also, bear in mind I've only been concentrating on mandolin for a year. And I have no illusions that any of my instruments are better than mediocre at best. Yes, I like the sound of them, but no one is ever going to consider an oval hole A, Breedlove or flat top to be a superior instrument.

    And as others have pointed out, I'm definitely not serious enough. Only practice/play approximately 2 hours a day and have one band. Eventually I may show the level of dedication to warrant a custom instrument. But probably not.
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  15. #60

    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    regular folk, there not the so called 1 percent, their not pro musicians & they can't afford to spend 5k or more on a mandolin. now is that clear enough. now to the guy that's trades up, that's smart.

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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Eventually I may show the level of dedication to warrant a custom instrument. But probably not.
    Nothing has to be shown. Everyone gets the instrument that they want and can afford. Everyone interprets "want and can afford" in their own way. I think it's really as simple as that.
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  18. #62
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolin tony View Post
    What are the regular folks playing?? this goes out to all the people here who DO NOT have deep pockets. what brand of mandolin or mandolins do you own.
    Plenty of ‘regular folk’ have choosen to play instruments that cost north of $2500. Also there are folks with deep pockets that are happy playing instruments that cost a few hundred. Your choice of wording was misguided on both counts.

    If you really wanted to hear about which mandolins that folks were enjoying in the sub $800 group you could ask that without all the baggage and bs of the OP. Jmho

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  20. #63

    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    there is no need for any one here to get bent out of shape. its just a simple question. why can't you just answer it like this. hey Tony I have a Weber that I bought used or I have a Nice Kentucky km-900 or a Eastman 505 . also I don't care a rats butt about the people that buy mandolins for investments . God only knows there must be a few of them here, and one more thing if you can't answer the question in a nice way move on & have a nice day if you can.

  21. #64
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    I think musicians are not regular in the common sense of the word in the first place. We have a rare set of priorities regarding where our money goes, apart from vital neccessities.
    So the OP seems to be based on assumptions that apply for most people, except for us.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  22. #65

    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    I think musicians are not regular in the common sense of the word in the first place.
    True dat!
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  23. #66

    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenS View Post
    At the same time . . .

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    Interesting cartoon. I can't think of a time when I expected an artiste to donate labor to a project. As someone quoted the Latin phrase above -"About tastes, it should not be disputed"- art is highly subjective, unlike the need for a doctor or lawyer.

    But, to answer the OP, in 1978 I sent a half-month's salary to Bob Givens in Idaho so that he would send me one of his A model mandolins. I still have that axe and it is my main instrument. I have purchased other mandolins since then but none have the tone or playability as that one. I suspect that my Givens is now worth one month's salary; Bob was known for underpricing his work.

    So, yeah, I am a regular guy, but if I had to replace my Givens (not supplement it), I would probably be giving Steve Sorensen a call for one of his Sprite models. Having a good mandolin is worth, to me, giving up to a month's salary these days.
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  24. #67
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by DataNick View Post

    For me I need an axe that has:
    1. Good volume
    2. Nice "sweet" tone
    3. Good projection
    4. Cuts well in a band situation
    5. Has good percussive qualities
    6. Has average sustain
    7. Has good note clarity
    8. Mics well
    I like your list of essential qualities. I would only add one more, something about durability. Well built enough that the instrument can withstand the normal non-abusive wear and rigors of a long musical life. A well made mandolin has this.

    Now there is another aspect, another quality, that people value differently, but IMO should not be discounted as irrelevant only because its perhaps not as important to some of you:

    I think there is a great joy to be had owning something of such amazing quality that every time you pick it up are in awe. Something that always represents "no compromise" in the exercise of luthiery arts. Something in the world that was done right.

    This joy is perhaps costly, but it is entirely legit. How much one is willing to spend on it is entirely a personal decision.

    I first understood this phenomenon years ago just after college. In those days many people spent as much as they could on their sound systems. Getting the best fidelity was WAY more important than maximizing convenience. Folks would often sheepishly admit, in private moments, that their audio system was better than most of the music they played on it, or admit that in some cases more fine than they could discern most of the time. But, they enjoyed the aspect of "having the best" and were willing to pay for it.

    Look, very few of us can fulfill the potential of the instruments we own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a mandolin that greatly exceeds what we "need" or that our skill level would indicate is necessary. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of or have to explain away with rationalization. If someone has the audacity and rudeness to actually call you on owning a such great mandolin you look them in the eye, and say, "I like to own nice things when I can." Done and done.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  26. #68
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    My advantage is that I have never really spent a super large amount for an instrument I have been on this earth for a half dozen decades with my eyes out looking for instruments that appeal to me. As a result I may have purchased a Mandolin for what would be top dollar years ago but have been able to sell many for more than I paid and could upgrade with that money. OTOH I also love to find the basic low cost instruments that appeal to my eyes, ears and fingers. I do have to say that those are pretty rare and more often I have to pay larger sums to get the quality I want. This is not being a snob, but more being around and being able to discern subtle differences in tone and quality of workmanship.
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  27. #69

    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    so lets look at it like this. if I was to win the lottery this week & I could give every one here 3k, what would most people here buy. or should I say what is the most popular amateur mandolin between 2,500.00 & 3k.

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  29. #70

    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    I play electric guitar, acoustic, upright bass, electric bass, dobro, and mandolin. And I perform on all of them in paying gigs. I really search around and look for deals, but that being said all of the instruments (and amps to play through if they are electric) combined have cost me under $4000.

    My mandolin is a Kentucky KM600. So definitely not high end. I am itching for a KM250 though, after hearing some videos of the new line.

  30. #71
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolin tony View Post
    so lets look at it like this. if I was to win the lottery this week & I could give every one here 3k, what would most people here buy. or should I say what is the most popular amateur mandolin between 2,500.00 & 3k.
    Hmm. Good question. Would probably look for a Gibson oval hole where it doesn't need work and I like the sound. There is a used F2 locally that fits the bill. Or a nicer A than the A Jr. I currently own.

    Now, if I was looking for an octave mandolin, would probably look for either a Weber or Flatiron flat top.
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  31. #72
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolin tony View Post
    so lets look at it like this. if I was to win the lottery this week & I could give every one here 3k, what would most people here buy. or should I say what is the most popular amateur mandolin between 2,500.00 & 3k.
    IMHO it was not necessary to say anything about amateur mandolin: "what is the most popular amateur mandolin between 2,500.00 & 3k." ? I believe there are some very nice mandolins that would be fine for any player from beginner to pro at that price range.
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  33. #73
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Guitar
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

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  35. #74
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    Quote Originally Posted by mandolin tony View Post
    there is no need for any one here to get bent out of shape. its just a simple question. why can't you just answer it like this. hey Tony I have a Weber that I bought used or I have a Nice Kentucky km-900 or a Eastman 505 . also I don't care a rats butt about the people that buy mandolins for investments . God only knows there must be a few of them here, and one more thing if you can't answer the question in a nice way move on & have a nice day if you can.
    Lighten up, Francis.

    You opened up this can of worms by phrasing your question the way you did. Don't get hurt now.

    This has actually turned into an interesting thread.
    Chris Cravens

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  37. #75

    Default Re: what are the regular folks playing.

    I was thinking of starting another parallel thread,

    " What are the egregious folks playing?"

    But since this thread has branched out quite a bit, I think it will be ok here. This is the opposite of the regular folks. Yes egregious has come to mean awfully bad, but originally it meant outstandingly good; go figure. But either way it means set apart; outstanding.

    Well, I may be out standing in my field, but certainly not in the rain with my mandolin. Which is, as of recently, an Apitius.

    Now this is not so much a story of deep pockets, nor impressive experience, or professional need, but more about irregular priorities, and having succumbed to the siren effect of the cafe. Egregious is probably the best word for it.

    But I have to say, the sweet sounds it makes make it hard to put down....

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