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Thread: Advice on First Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Advice on First Mandolin

    HI All

    Just been bitten by the Mandolin Bug.
    Looking online for the past three days.
    No experience whatsoever.

    Trying to get in cheap.

    What are your thoughts on an early 1970s Harmony H410?
    Looks like a good entry level guitar with a nice setup.

    Or , should I go brand new Rogue/Ibanez etc.

    If I stay with it, I would upgrade down the road.

    Thanks for any advice you have.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    What's your budget?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Trying to stay low
    Under 200

  4. #4
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    This would be my suggestion...

    https://www.elderly.com/rover-rm-50-...l-mandolin.htm


    All solid wood and Elderly will ship it setup and ready to play. The best you will find under $300.
    When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench, I can always hear them talk.
    Me, I'm just a lawnmower - you can tell me by the way I walk.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Awesome
    Thanks

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Setup is really important. Elderly will do that well. NFI.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    I have read that. It makes me hesitant to buy online.

    Good to know about Elderly

  8. #8

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    I was going to post the ubiquitous double your budget post, but have thought better of it. But do try a Blue Chip pick.

    Stick around here and you'll appreciate the humor......

    or not.
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  10. #9
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JTT View Post
    I have read that. It makes me hesitant to buy online.

    Good to know about Elderly
    Get Robs book. The experience will help you in the future. Mine might not be 100% perfect but it's good and I know a lot more about my mandolins.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    That's a difficult budget. There are a lot of mandolin shaped objects at $200 or below, but not many that would qualify as actual instruments that you might want to play.
    The Rover is probably the best you'll get.
    If you can bump up your budget to get into a Kentucky KM-150, you'll get a lot better instrument, but you'll pay about double.
    If $200 is a hard cap, the Rover from Elderly will be setup well.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    That's a difficult budget. There are a lot of mandolin shaped objects at $200 or below, but not many that would qualify as actual instruments that you might want to play.
    The Rover is probably the best you'll get.
    If you can bump up your budget to get into a Kentucky KM-150, you'll get a lot better instrument, but you'll pay about double.
    If $200 is a hard cap, the Rover from Elderly will be setup well.
    When I looked yesterday there were some Kentucky KM 150's on Guitar Center used for just over $200ish. I have one and it's a fine playing/sounding instrument.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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  13. #12

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Thanks Guys
    All good info

    Wish me luck as I join this mandolin world as a late bloomer(47).

    I

  14. #13

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Furiously looking up blue chip pick now

    Thnx

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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JTT View Post
    Furiously looking up blue chip pick now

    Thnx
    A $40-$50 pick that some swear by. Don't spend your money on one, at least not right now.
    Put whatever you can save into the best mandolin you can buy. The difference in quality between a Rover and a Kentucky KM-150 is substantial.
    Good picks can be had for $1-$2.

  16. #15
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    A $40-$50 pick that some swear by. Don't spend your money on one, at least not right now.
    Put whatever you can save into the best mandolin you can buy. The difference in quality between a Rover and a Kentucky KM-150 is substantial.
    Good picks can be had for $1-$2.
    If you can add the price of a Blue Chip to your $200 kitty, there is a used Kentucky KM-150 at Guitar Center for $250 plus shipping. I would advise against getting a new instrument there because of the additional cost of setup, but the price on the used one is better. It might even be set up already. I'm pretty sure GC has at least some guarantee so if it has some serious defect you can send it back.

    You shoud also look into getting on the waiting list for one or both of the Cafe pick samplers. In the meantime, many think the Dunlop Primetone is a close 2nd to a BC. They are around $5-$7 on Amazon for a pack of 3.
    When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench, I can always hear them talk.
    Me, I'm just a lawnmower - you can tell me by the way I walk.

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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    The difference in quality between a Rover and a Kentucky KM-150 is substantial.
    A high dollar pick may be good, it may be great OR it may be the "snake oil" that promises to make you Chris Thile. 90% of what you can do is between your ears, you have to believe it to achieve it.

    I have a Kentucky KM 150 and a Rover RM 75.....they are VERY VERY comparable. The rover is made by Saga who also makes Kentucky. What I've found is that set up is EVERYTHING. It can make an otherwise piece of pretty firewood and improve it substantially. While there are differences once you go up in quality, the MOST IMPORTANT investment is in you. If you don't know what to do with it, it doesn't matter what mando you purchase....invest in you first.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

    Kentucky KM-150
    Eastman MD-404
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    Morgan Monroe MFM-300 (passed on to a new player)
    Rover RM-75

  18. #17
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by B381 View Post
    A high dollar pick may be good, it may be great OR it may be the "snake oil" that promises to make you Chris Thile. 90% of what you can do is between your ears, you have to believe it to achieve it.

    I have a Kentucky KM 150 and a Rover RM 75.....they are VERY VERY comparable. The rover is made by Saga who also makes Kentucky. What I've found is that set up is EVERYTHING. It can make an otherwise piece of pretty firewood and improve it substantially. While there are differences once you go up in quality, the MOST IMPORTANT investment is in you. If you don't know what to do with it, it doesn't matter what mando you purchase....invest in you first.
    If you don't want to spend any more, that Rover RM-50 is a very good choice. I have one and I can endorse it without hesitation as the best in that price range. Setup is key, and Elderly does this and sells it for the same price as Amazon which is not.
    When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench, I can always hear them talk.
    Me, I'm just a lawnmower - you can tell me by the way I walk.

  19. #18

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Thanks All

    Here is where I am at currently

    Looking used not new
    Seems to be the way to get a good start

    Also, talking to someone about the loar 310f for around $225

    Looking forward to seeing more on this page, whichever I choose

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    LM 310 is a laminated, not solid wood instrument. Laminated is ok but solid has a much better sound. KM 150 is solid just do you know.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

    Kentucky KM-150
    Eastman MD-404
    Eastman MD-305
    Morgan Monroe MFM-300 (passed on to a new player)
    Rover RM-75

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  22. #20
    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    The lm310 actually has a solid top. It is still not as good a choice as a completely solid instrument. You should only choose it if you insist on having an f style. Which is fine if that's what you want, but you'll get more bang for your buck with an a style. A lot of the cost of an f is in making the scroll and fancy headstock. Not much difference in the sound. That said, the lm310 is considered by many to be the cheapest f style worth buying.
    Last edited by Roger Moss; Oct-21-2018 at 9:29pm.

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    The KM-150's are absolutely terrific mandolins to start on. In fact, you could go a long way with one.

    I have been very underwhelmed by 'The Loar' LM-310. Tried a couple a short while back and found them really 'thin' sounding. Harsh. Fit and finish was not-too-hot either.

    I have a student who has a KM-150 and he played it on stage last month at a concert - it actually sounded very good indeed! Plays nicely too. Only needed minor tweaks in terms of setup, no major surgery.
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  25. #22

    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JTT View Post
    Thanks Guys
    All good info

    Wish me luck as I join this mandolin world as a late bloomer(47).

    I
    47=late bloomer? Surely you jest. Picked my first mandolin at 65. It's a race to see if I pick good or fall apart first. Right now it's an even bet.
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JTT View Post
    Thanks Guys
    All good info

    Wish me luck as I join this mandolin world as a late bloomer(47).

    I
    Good Luck! I am a beginner too--at age 58! I am loving learning the mandolin and look forward to practicing. I have an Ibanez 510 which cost about $150 USD. It needed new strings and a set up immediately and is much better. I have nothing to compare it to, but my plan is to replace it with a good Celtic open hole mandolin after about a year, once I am sure I am totally committed. The Ibanez has a nice sound and honestly I can't tell the difference between mine and others I have heard in my mando class. Have fun!

  27. #24
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    47=late bloomer? Surely you jest. Picked my first mandolin at 65. It's a race to see if I pick good or fall apart first. Right now it's an even bet.
    Right... I started last year.... at 46. Its amazing what you can do in a year.

  28. #25
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    Default Re: Advice on First Mandolin

    Used is better than new. You don't lose the depreciation.

    It's always better to spend more to get a better instrument. It will be more enjoyable to play, stimulating your interest. If you decide mandolin is not for you, you'll more readily recapture the funds you spent; on the other hand, a better instrument will give you a leg up if you decide you like mandolin enough to want to upgrade once you've gained sufficient skill.

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