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Thread: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

  1. #26
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    (I'd like an F5G. I'd like a Sam Bush model too! Bet their great!)

    I really want to add one more reflection: To me, the mandolin is a larynx. If you got one that works, make music!

    I'm certain (to Mike's point) if I was at a store with dozens of mandolins, I'd find the winner. It would just be the one and if it bested what I own, I'd buy it! I'd still have my same problems playing though - just a new sound box!

    f-d
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  3. #27
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Give me that Sam Bush, too! Better yet, his chops! LOL!!

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  5. #28
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    ...And Allen, I would have to sell a few instruments to put that $3000 or more together... I didn't mean to be so tacky-- now that you mentioned it...
    Not tacky at all! I just traded three instruments -- a really top-notch 1957 Martin D-18 guitar, a '70's vintage F-212XL Guild 12-string, and a '30's TG-0 Gibson mahogany tenor guitar -- for a 1913 Larsen Brothers Stahl mando-bass. Sometimes we realize we have assets tied up in seldom-played instruments, often of the highest quality, that we need to "move" to get the next one we want.

    I'll definitely be interested in what mandolin you end up buying. Sometimes the "hunt" is half the fun; you may well try out some wonderful instruments, as you search for your favorite.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  6. #29
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Hey Allen, Actually, I am relieved that you see my point being to have fun and to pursue happiness. I did indeed have a similar thought as you. I think I spotted a couple of your items you sold recently! Good for you. I see you have a wonderful variety of stringed instruments. And yes, thinking about it, planning, searching and above all, writing about it in these threads are the best parts! Dan B

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  8. #30
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    Hi Mandoplumb, Tell me about the Dearstone. I am not as familiar with that maker. I will do some research of my own, but can you tell me about a few of the things you like best about yours? Thanks!
    I sent you a PM

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  10. #31
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Could be a divorce !
    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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  12. #32
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    Could be a divorce !
    It might be worth it...

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  14. #33

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    I don't think its all about wood and appointments. And yes a 3k mandolin should be fantastic and all you should every need to make fantastic music with great tone and comfort. And it does get incremental. a 6k mandolin is not necessarily going to be 2x better than a 3k mandolin. But I do believe you have a higher chance of getting a holy grail type mandolin at that price especially if you get something with trimmer appointments (an A model) because it gives you access to some incredible builders. They don't get those reputations simply because they make beautiful mandolins. Sure some may be about hype, but IMO it is about the tone, volume, and power you can expect at that price point. You can get that all from a cheaper mandolin, it is just less likely. that is why so many people are buying and selling in the 2-3k trying out builders in an attempt to find "the one". And some find "the one" or are happy with what they have, but some do not. You are more likely to find it at the higher price range and stop shopping, atleast for a little while. YMMV

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  16. #34
    Registered User Mike Snyder's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    You could spend 6K and not do better than a Festival F. Itís all in the ear of the beholder. My theory is to never give up a mandolin until youíve worn out a set of frets. The hunt is fun.
    Mike Snyder

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  18. #35
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Snyder View Post
    You could spend 6K and not do better than a Festival F. It’s all in the ear of the beholder. My theory is to never give up a mandolin until you’ve worn out a set of frets. The hunt is fun.
    I am glad to hear you feel that way about Flatiron Festivals, Mike. Also, I like your standard for wearing out the frets! Give the mandolin a fair opportunity to prove itself! And, I agree, the search is the best part. I am not sure I will, search I mean, but inevitably, MAS will return at some point.

  19. #36
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Levine View Post
    I don't think its all about wood and appointments. And yes a 3k mandolin should be fantastic and all you should every need to make fantastic music with great tone and comfort. And it does get incremental. a 6k mandolin is not necessarily going to be 2x better than a 3k mandolin. But I do believe you have a higher chance of getting a holy grail type mandolin at that price especially if you get something with trimmer appointments (an A model) because it gives you access to some incredible builders. They don't get those reputations simply because they make beautiful mandolins. Sure some may be about hype, but IMO it is about the tone, volume, and power you can expect at that price point. You can get that all from a cheaper mandolin, it is just less likely. that is why so many people are buying and selling in the 2-3k trying out builders in an attempt to find "the one". And some find "the one" or are happy with what they have, but some do not. You are more likely to find it at the higher price range and stop shopping, atleast for a little while. YMMV
    Josh, This is a very succinct and well summarized explanation of the topic. Thanks for offering this analysis.

  20. #37
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    Fully doubt that I'd get a mandolin of monumental improvement over something available from Collings or Gibson?
    I spent some quality time at CV in Nashville and will admit that the most responsive mandolins tended to be from builders that get a premium price for their mandolins. Maybe not monumental but if you were making a living playing, those would be the obvious choices to me. When top players consistently choose to play mandolins from these builders, the cost of owning one rises. As it should be

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  22. #38
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    I have owned/played beautiful mandolins of which the sound to my ears were just okay. I have played other mandolins that aesthetically were not top notch but the sound to my ears was very good ! But, most of the mandolins I played that were top notch made also produced the best sound ! I have owned or played several expensive mandolins that I sent back as the voice was not worth the price. Now, let's get to my playing ability----probably not on par with any quality mandolin I own but I enjoy owning them !
    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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  24. #39

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    We would all like to think we'd pick the plain Jane if it sounded better, or an A over an F. But your relationship to an instrument is personal, emotional, and very subjective. So I can't myself discount my feeling when I pop the case on an instrument. I have a Martin 00 15. One thing I love about it is the smell. Satisfying every time.

    To those who value fine craftsmanship and can afford it, a well crafted, great sounding and playing instrument will prove its worth time and again. Three grand more over twenty years is really not a great cost, except at time of perchase.

    A quick word about The Mandolin Store. It is a small retail space in a suburb fairly far out. 99% is online sales, so if you go make sure to communicate so they are there. It's not a 9 to 5 hours business. They go in, fill orders, and leave when the FedEx truck picks up. I did get the education I wanted to get, which for me was 3k buy in for a good f style, the F5S. And yes, it got better from there.
    Silverangel A
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  26. #40
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Many times, nothing. But I will say that when you find that really special instrument, you know it.

    In March I went to Nashville for a long weekend and ended up at Carterís. At the time, I was playing guitar in a bluegrass band. I wasnít really looking for a mandolin, but I eventually wandered into he high end room and started playing mandolins. I played a variety of mandolins A5s and F5s in the $6k To $10k range. I wound up buying a Dudenbostel A1.

    From the very first time I picked it up, I knew this was the instrument for me. The tone was just what I was looking for?Ē, round, robust and warm but with serious pop. It played perfectly, the most comfortable neck I have ever played.

    So, in the $6K plus range, what should you expect? I would say a mandolin that exceeds your expectations. Just donít expect every $6k plus mandolin to do it. Find the one that speaks to you. The wand chooses the wielder Mr. Potter.

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  28. #41
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Some great responses. So many musicians with more knowledge about mandolins that I! It is inspiring to read a thread like this. Br1ck, I promise to check in with Dennis and the guys before heading the 5-6 hours from LA to Phoenix, as I want it to be worth the trip. I am no spring chicken.

    My future isn't in performing as I had my time as a singer songwriter performing my own concerts -- the vast majority in the 1970's and 80's. I have kept it up into my 60's, but now I am playing for an audience of one-- my sweet wife.

    Every mandolin and guitar I buy now is for home use and an occasional community outing at a nursing home or church event. I still enjoy playing and trying to improve. Lately, I am just in love with playing J.S. Bach's Prelude from 1st Cello Suite-- one day I will make a video just for the challenge of getting it down. It sounds really great on my Festival, but even better on a 1912 Gibson A Oval!

  29. #42

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    When I was in Phoenix for spring training is when I treked out to Surprise for my visit.

    On that same trip, my daughter joined us from LA. She has a doctorate in viola performance. I was wondering if I had the intro to the prelude to the 1st right. Told her the mandolin was the same tuning as a violin. She picked up a mandolin for the first time and played the whole prelude through pizzicato style without error. Kinda wished I'd never asked.

    But any time I'm not sure of a fingering I know who to ask. My other daughter is a cellist, and she can tell me too.
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  31. #43

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    I know how you feel when your kid just picks up an instrument they have never played before and nails it. I was so proud I could have burst but so annoyed I could have cursed when my son picked up my mandolin.

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  33. #44

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    If you have two specific mandolins in mind, I would trying playing them to see if you can hear or feel a $3000 difference. It might be a difference you can live without OR maybe the difference will enhance your enjoyment of music. There also might be justification at resale time for choosing one over the other.

    OTOH, I managed to "cure" myself from such questions by working at a vintage guitar shop. I got to try everything and found I had to draw the line somewhere -- "yep, this $37K guitar is better than this $12K guitar by a slight margin, and of course, the $12K guitar blows away my $3K guitar -- hey, wait! -- I only make $8 an hour!!! LOL"

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  35. #45
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Jeff Mando, An excellent first hand account of the pursuit of "the one" while providing a reminder of the subjectivity that is the never ending comparison of "one better". I think I am being alerted throughout this thread of the importance of skillful time spent with quality woods coupled with attention to detail resulting in great tone and playability. Seems this can still be found for an amount that is in reach of a mere mortal such as myself.

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  37. #46

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    You can get a great sounding, great playing mandolin brand new for 3k, the Northfield F5S. Won't be shiny, won't have the flamiest maple, but it looks classy and does what it is supposed to. You need another $1500 for a Big Mon. Then you are at the great moral dilemma, because the Big Mon is beautiful. But you may or may not like the sound and playability of an F9 or MF. If you need that Gibson sound, you have to accept the plain or up the ante another couple of thousand.

    What we all want is a Fern on an F9 budget. Such is life.
    Silverangel A
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  39. #47
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    I am so enjoying my 2001 Gibson Flatiron Festival (Master Model) and am more convinced than ever after this thread that I will seek a strong A5 to pair with it. I don't think I will need to exceed the 2-3 K mark to meet expectations.

  40. #48
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    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    At what price point are we no longer paying for a partiular type of wood, or a particular configuration/assembly of this box of wood, or a particular sound, and merely paying a premium for the name on the headstock, or the signature on the label? If you went into a room of “high-end” mandolins, and knew that all would be masterfully crafted in terms of fit and finish, but you had to choose one based solely on feel and sound, would you still be willing to pay the same prices that some shops or builders command?
    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice."

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  42. #49

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by jeff_75 View Post
    At what price point are we no longer paying for a partiular type of wood, or a particular configuration/assembly of this box of wood, or a particular sound, and merely paying a premium for the name on the headstock, or the signature on the label? If you went into a room of “high-end” mandolins, and knew that all would be masterfully crafted in terms of fit and finish, but you had to choose one based solely on feel and sound, would you still be willing to pay the same prices that some shops or builders command?
    Good question.......basically the same idea of how can they sell $60K cars when a $20K car will get you down the road -- obviously some people think the "extras" are worth it and some don't..........what am I missing?

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  44. #50

    Default Re: What is the Difference between a $6,000 and $3,000 mandolin?

    The serious violin world has the buying thing right. Go into a high end violin shop. Tell them you are shopping in the $15k range. They will pull out five or six, priced from $12K to $18K, don't tell you which is which, and you play them blind.You decide with no pre conceived notions.
    Silverangel A
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