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Thread: Mandolins for about $600

  1. #1

    Default Mandolins for about $600

    I'm sure this has been asked and answered but I'm going to ask again.

    I've played violin for 25+ years and recently decided to try my hand at mandolin. Over the summer I purchased a cheap Rogue thinking that would work to play around on and decide if I want to keep playing, turns out I love mandolin but have a trained enough ear to know I need something a little nicer. I am now looking to upgrade and need advice both on models and online shops that will give me a good setup. My budget is around $600 I have played around a little on a The Loar LM-520 and also Eastman MD305. I have small hands and am used to violin so the Eastman felt more comfortable but I preferred the sound of The Loar.

    Unfortunately there aren't any shops in my area where I can go play and compare so I am looking for suggestions in that price range and also advice on where to buy. I don't particularly care if it's an A style or an F style and have no opposition to a used instrument. I intend on playing mostly classical/celtic music.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    You are right, almost the most common question around here.

    In that price range, if you want to order one and be sure of a good setup, I would recommend calling Dennis Vance at the Mandolin Store. He will give you the straight story on what he has in stock, and find you a great sounding mandolin for your budget.

    No financial interest, he's just a good guy that has helped a lot of people find a good first instrument.
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    New, I like the Kentucky KM-250/KM-252 in that price range.
    https://www.elderly.com/acoustics/ma...0-mandolin.htm
    https://www.elderly.com/acoustics/ma...rent-amber.htm
    or a bit nicer KM-505
    https://www.elderly.com/acoustics/ma...5-mandolin.htm

    Here's a good case for $40
    https://www.musiciansfriend.com/acce...-mandolin-case

    Edit- I see that you're looking for something suited to Celtic music. I'd steer you towards The Kentucky oval hole mandolin KM-270 or KM-272
    https://www.elderly.com/acoustics/ma...2-mandolin.htm
    https://www.elderly.com/acoustics/ma...0-mandolin.htm

  4. #4
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Hey Liza, I have been playing an Eastman MD305 for several years now and have really loved it. I started out with a cheapo too and saved up a little and got the Eastman and have played it for several years now, only recently upgrading to a Silverangel. I would always recommend an Eastman as I have had a great experience with mine.

    Another good option in that price range, particularly for the styles of music you are interested in is a good quality flat top mandolin like a Flatiron 1N or a Big Muddy.
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    Registered User LongBlackVeil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Dont forget to check out gianna violins and folkmusician too. Any of these stores can really help you out, ask their opinions on what they have
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/131376#131376
    This would make a great instrument for celtic/classical and likely keep you content for a while. The seller includes quite a few pics and a sound clip. These are great handmade instruments at really great prices. NFI.
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Quote Originally Posted by Willem View Post
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/131376#131376
    This would make a great instrument for celtic/classical and likely keep you content for a while. The seller includes quite a few pics and a sound clip. These are great handmade instruments at really great prices. NFI.
    +1 I'd buy this over any of the mass produced instruments available. Maybe they'd do $600 for you?
    Last edited by colorado_al; Dec-18-2018 at 1:38am.

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    I have never seen, heard, or played a Morris mandolin, but it looks like a lot of mandolin for the price.

    There are old threads on these mandolins. You might want to read them and see if you think they are worth consideration.

    Another possibility is a used Eastman 500 series. I had a 505 come through here last year that was good enough to gig with.

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    I am like rcc56 and have never played a Morris, but there have been lots of opinions all confirming the quality for the price. A good setup is so important. I have had many cheaper mandolins that sounded quite nice when setup properly.
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  11. #10
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    I'll suggest the Epiphones at that range - I bought mine for about that, and couldn't be happier at the moment.
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    +1 I'd buy this over any of the mass produced instruments available. Maybe they'd do $600 for you?
    If not, Sonny charges $595 for his new flattops.

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    There is quite a bit of high praise for the Kentucky KM-272 on these forums . . . here is a sample:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...272?highlight=

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Welcome! Also, what type of music are you drawn towards?

    Enjoy the hunt!

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    You can get an Eastman 315 usually for $699 from a store that does a setup , it's an F shape and gets great reviews all the time
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Quote Originally Posted by LizaJ View Post
    and have no opposition to a used instrument. !
    There are often good deals in the site's classifieds.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    I have one of Sonny's flat tops, and can say it's the best money I've spent on an "inexpensive" mandolin. I've owned Eastmans and The Loars, Kentucky, MidMos, and other entry level models, and the Morris is head and shoulders above them in value. His construction is first rate, and my flattop has tone that more closely resembles a well-made oval A-style. Add to that being able to communicate your preferences directly to the maker, who is great to work with, you've got a hell of a bargain. Frank
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Russell View Post
    I have one of Sonny's flat tops, and can say it's the best money I've spent on an "inexpensive" mandolin. I've owned Eastmans and The Loars, Kentucky, MidMos, and other entry level models, and the Morris is head and shoulders above them in value. His construction is first rate, and my flattop has tone that more closely resembles a well-made oval A-style. Add to that being able to communicate your preferences directly to the maker, who is great to work with, you've got a hell of a bargain. Frank
    +1 on the Morris flat top. I owned one that I traded for one of his A4s (twin to the one in the link above). He’s a stand up guy for service too. Highly recommended. NFI on my part.

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Never owned a Morris, but as you can see, they get good reviews on this site.

    Otherwise, I'm with the majority and suggest looking at either the used instruments in the classifieds here, or going through an established shop like The Mandolin Store. The folks there will make sure the instrument is set up properly before you get it. Which is a big thing, IMO.

    Lastly, Big Muddy Mandolins do offer a violin scale length as a $40 option.

    Good luck and enjoy the search.
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    A music store down the block from me has a used Weber mandolin for around $480. It is a $1,000 mandolin IMHO, but the person selling on consignment went low to get it sold.

    PM me if you are interested in some photos and a sound bite. I think it is a Weber Y2K model from the late 1990s or early 2000s. I have played it. It sounds great and plays well.

    Here is what a similar one sold for some time ago. https://themandolinstore.com/product...mandolin-sold/
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  24. #20
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Quote Originally Posted by LizaJ View Post
    Unfortunately there aren't any shops in my area where I can go play and compare so I am looking for suggestions in that price range and also advice on where to buy. I don't particularly care if it's an A style or an F style and have no opposition to a used instrument. I intend on playing mostly classical/celtic music.
    Thanks in advance!
    I think this ad offers a good option from a good shop at a good price.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/133089#133089
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    In a local shop in the Greenville SC area they sell Eastmans in that range, and have a used Epiphone and Loar for $400+ The Loar is an A and not bad.

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    This used Kentucky KM-505 for $375 is a great deal
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/133107#133107

  27. #23

    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    I was able to get a used Kentucky KM-1000 a few years ago for $800, so that is kind of close to your price range It is a great F-style bluegrass mandolin and I have grown to like like it. With the small neck width, it is very easy to transfer from violin/fiddle, which is my main instrument. The tuning and fingerings are all the same on mandolin coming from violin as long as you can use a pick, which should be relatively easy coming from bowing on fiddle. It helps that I have played a little guitar over the years.

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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    I've played at least 3 Morris mandolins and they are the best bang for the buck. Lose the tacky glitter on the headstock and they are nice looking too.

  29. #25
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    Default Re: Mandolins for about $600

    Eastman 300 series, lower-end Kentuckys, and even something used from Big Muddy/Mid Missouri would be great.
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