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Thread: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

  1. #1

    Default Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    I noticed one of these for sale on Curtis McPeake's website and was wondering if anyone has any experience playing one of these. Supposedly handmade by Mark Taylor from the specs of the original Griffith Loar that his father Tut Taylor owned. The asking price is $3750, NFI on my part. 1 of 22 made.

  2. #2
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    My ex has an A model Tennessee mandolin made by Mark and/or Tut, probably built sometime in the late 1980's or early 90's. It is a good mandolin but . . . the intonation was off and I had to replace the fingerboard to correct it.

    I have also played an F model that was quite good. I only played it for a couple of minutes, so I can't say whether or not the intonation was good.

    The moderator may choose to delete this, but I'm going to add that it is not a good idea to send any instrument back to Mark for repairs. People have had difficulties getting their instruments back.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    A quick search found another one at Gruhn's, another one at Reverb, another on gbase, all priced in the $3750-4500 range. Again, no financial interest on my part, but it does seem odd that of only 22 made, I located four of them with a 2 second Google search. Can I assume no love in this price range, compared to what the money might buy elsewhere? It looks pretty nice, IMHO.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    Mandolins by the Mark and Tut Taylor were made over a period of maybe 15 or 20 years, but not in large numbers. Most were made under the "Crafters of Tennessee" label. They were not well known. They were better known for banjos and dobros. Greg Rich partnered with Mark Taylor for a couple of years after Greg left Gibson. They produced the "Rich and Taylor" brand before Greg pulled out and eventually ended up with Recording King.

    The few mandolins I have seen were pretty nice looking and good sounding instruments. The intonation problem on my ex's mandolin is the only thing I can say about the instruments themselves that is negative. I do not know how frequently those problems occurred. The dobros were well made, and the R & T banjos had a decent reputation.

    I think that the lack of popularity for the Taylors' instruments was largely due to poor marketing and distribution. Declining business practices finally ruined the company.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    Thanks, rcc56. I am familiar with the guitars by Crafters of Tennessee, which I always thought were decent Chinese copies of classic Martins, etc., much like Recording King is doing now, and priced accordingly. The description of the mandolin, or at least the Prodigal A-5 would lead me to believe this was a handmade instrument, made by Mark Taylor in the USA. There doesn't seem to be a lot of info out there, at least doing a quick search.

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    You are confusing "Crafter" guitars, which is a Korean company [google them], with "Crafters of Tennessee" instruments, formerly made by Mark Taylor in Mt. Juliet, TN. They are two separate brands.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    Thanks again, I missed that distinction.

  10. #8

    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    I googled it and found some old MC threads about it, closer to the time it first came out, around 2004-2006. Supposedly, Mike Compton played one for a while, at least. There seemed to be good enthusiasm for it, in general. High praise for the finish and quality of materials used, but mixed reactions on the sound. That, and the fact it listed for $7500 new, probably hurt its potential. Some stores at the time even played up the "instant collectible" market and were charging more than list price. One was mentioned for sale at $16,500 (believe it or not!) Anyway, FWIW.

  11. #9
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    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    I doubt many people sold them at list price. As for the 16.5k mandolin, it may have been an F-5 model with a Brazilian rosewood body. They made at least a couple of them.

    Again, the biggest reason for the failure of the company was the company itself.

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  13. #10
    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    I googled it and found some old MC threads about it, closer to the time it first came out, around 2004-2006. Supposedly, Mike Compton played one for a while, at least. There seemed to be good enthusiasm for it, in general. High praise for the finish and quality of materials used, but mixed reactions on the sound. That, and the fact it listed for $7500 new, probably hurt its potential. Some stores at the time even played up the "instant collectible" market and were charging more than list price. One was mentioned for sale at $16,500 (believe it or not!) Anyway, FWIW.
    And that was just about time when Kentucky introduced new KM-900 that was just as close copy of the Griffith A5 and sound was pretty dialed in... and it cost well under $1k.
    Adrian

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  15. #11
    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    I remember the day that Tut brought one of the "Prodigal" mandolins to a jam in Union Grove, NC way back maybe 10ish years ago. We passed it around and tried it out.
    I thought it was a nice mandolin and several of the guys got some nice tone out of the mandolin.

    My opinion was that it was a nice mandolin, but not outstanding to me in terms of tone, and not a mandolin that I would buy at the price asked at that time.

    Maybe I would have a different opinion now a decade later, ... or maybe not.
    In any case, the series may have been made to Loar A5 specs, but certainly was not a direct copy of that instrument.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” “Accidentals”

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  17. #12
    vintagemandolin.com Charles Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tennessee Prodigal A-5 by Mark Taylor

    I owned one of the Prodigal A5 mandolins. Nice mando but I thought overpriced by the market at the time, as it was selling for the same price as a Gibson F5. The one I had did not have the sound of a Loar.

    Mark Taylor reported has legal troubles related to his companies and it is very difficult to reach him. I second the poster who advised not to send him a mandolin for repair.

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