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Thread: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

  1. #26
    Dan Brooks lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Hey Joe, Welcome to the Ratliff club! Sounds like you got a really nice one. The James tailpiece is a great addition! I just bought no. 774 from 1999 a couple weeks ago. It had an after market bridge change so I am freshening it up with a new Cumberland Acoustic bridge I will have installed Wednesday. The tone on my 20 year old R-5 is sweet and loud. It plays very easily and smoothly. The neck is a nicely rounded V and plenty chunky the way I like 'em. Congrats on your custom CB!
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  3. #27
    Registered User Joe DiLorenzo's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Wow, that’s a beauty Dan. Very nice looking. I hope mine is still with me in 20 years. That one has aged well so far. Glad to know people like their Ratliff mandos!

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  5. #28

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I've been paying a lot of attention lately to the builders that offer this kind of value, and when you scratch the surface there are really quite a few. Priced new in the $3-4K range, and even up to $5k, they offer very good value, particularly if you want a fully bound f style mandolin.
    When I look and play something like a Collings F5 Deluxe, and I'll grant you they are fabulous, my thought go to, geeze that's a pile of money not to get a fully bound mandolin. Same goes for the F9. I don't have 5 grand for a stripped down mandolin when you can get a Country Boy for less than $2k. What you won't get is admiration and envy from guitar players, and the easier sale when you tire of them.

    And used, you can have a serious mandolin for your $3500. Special honorable mention to Northfield. The F5S and Big Mon are nice and nicely priced. But those Silverangels, Ratliff's, Pomeroys, etc. you can buy used are exceptional values. Just hope the big star players don't start playing them, but that is not likely because these small builders have no promotional budgets.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  7. #29
    Registered User Joe DiLorenzo's Avatar
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    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    Agreed Br1ck, well put. A mandolin player around me got a Collings MF around the same time that I got my Ratliff and I got to play it at a jam recently. It was a sweet mandolin, no doubt about that - and I have not played many nice mandolins. However, I was surprised to find how my Ratliff (even at 2 weeks old) felt noticeably louder than the Collings MF. The Collings had what I would describe as a 'modern' feel to it between the radius fingerboard, the finish and feel of the instrument, and the tone was very "sweet" and mellow. The Ratliff I feel has a very loud, woody, punchy tone. Lets just say I felt really good about my Ratliff after playing that Collings. Also, for the price of the Collings MF one could by a Northfield NF5S and a Ratliff country boy!

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  9. #30

    Default Re: A nod to Ratliff Mandolins

    I have always had very limited discretionary money because of where I choose to live. I could buy a nice used f style with one mortgage payment, and a mid level Collings with two, and I'm now retired, so I ended up building my f style. Those buying a house like mine today could buy an MF with one house payment. You would laugh at the house and neighborhood my million dollar house is in.

    So I am very aware that someone with a decent income just about anywhere else would have a lot more to spend on toys, so everything being a trade off, I can see why there are a lot of plus five thousand dollar mandolins being sold. For those who don't want to spend that much, there are options, and very good ones. The problem is I have never seen any of these in the two nice shops I go to. Right now I can buy an Ellis, one of several Pavas, Webers, Northfields, and a slew of Collings. I have seen one or two used Lebedas, one or two used Gibsons, and a Weber Gallatin over the course of three years. I did find a Ratliff once, price at five hundred over what a new one goes for, but I'll never set foot in that store again.

    Oh, vintage Gibsons are not too hard to come by. So the issue becomes willingness to take a chance. There are a couple of Arches for sale under four thousand, and one can bank on them being better than my kit. They've been sitting around for a while. They would be a grand mandolin for someone. But they may or may not be for you, and that's the conundrum. Buying the unknown. So you pay a grand or two more for a known quantity, and I can understand why. No criticism intended for a valid, perhaps even prudent approach.

    But for the adventurous, there is a wonderland of possibility out there. My SA is every bit the sonic wonder a Collings MT is, but different for sure, so we are back to the bird in the hand aproach.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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