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Thread: New to mandolin

  1. #1

    Default New to mandolin

    Hi everyone looking for recommendations my first mandolin. I play a few different instruments so I have good ear so not really looking for a ďbeginnerĒ instrument, but also donít want to spend an arm and a leg as itís my first mandolin. Also iím A lefty.

  2. #2
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    How much are you comfortable spending?
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
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  3. #3

    Default Re: New to mandolin

    No more than $850 if possible

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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Check out Kentucky and Eastman mandolins. They have several models at and below your price limit. See their catalogs on-line and also check the Mandolin Cafť classifieds for good deals on used versions of these instruments.

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  6. #5

    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Thank you

  7. #6
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    $850 can get you some nice mandolins. The Mandolin Store has an Eastman MD505 lefty in stock for $699. The MD505 is a nice carved solid wood mandolin with a good reputation (I have a regular MD505.). Other lefty options from Eastman are out of stock at that store, but are possibilities you might want to consider. The MD315 is a good way to get into an F-style at $699 if that body style is a priority for you (though currently out of stock at The Mandolin Store). Kentucky also has a good reputation for mandolins in your price range.

    https://themandolinstore.com/product...and-mandolins/

    Buying from a good store that will provide a professional setup (and the possibility of their culling out unacceptable instruments) is highly recommended.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    +1 on Eastman, Kentucky, and The Mandolin Store.

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    Registered User Kevin Stueve's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    As a fellow lefty with 40 years of guitar playing and 4 years of mando I strongly urge you to consider playing right handed. It takes both hands to play and you have to decide do I want my dominant hand to do the fine motor skill activity of fretting or the gross motor skill of picking. Righthanded people have decided that they want their dominant hand for the gross motor skill. IMO a dumb choice which leaves us at a decided advantage as we can play the instrument "right handed" and utilize our dominant hand for the fine motor skill task of fretting.
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    + 1 what Steve Stueve said about learning to play right handed mandolin, especially since you are just starting out with mandolin. I know a guitar player friend who is left handed but plays guitar right handed and he is quite a good picker. Plus learning to play right handed allows you to play other peoples mandolins and greatly opens up the selection of instruments that would be available to you in the future.

  11. #10
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    +1 on Eastman and Kentucky. +1 on used to get bang for buck. +1 on mandolincafe.com classifieds.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

  12. #11

    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Thanks guys, if I did decide to learn righty what are some other models I should check out?

  13. #12
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    I have an Eastman A-style MD505 and F-style MD315 and like both. Kentucky has an A-style KM-505. The Kentucky KM-272 is lower priced (below $500) but appears to be a good bang for the buck.

    Not sure where you live, but if there's a chance on getting to a decent store, trying different instruments can be invaluable. You might find that you prefer the sound of an oval hole instrument to one with f-holes. You need to try some out.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  14. #13

    Default Re: New to mandolin

    I'll bet you could get by with any A style with nut and bridge cut lefty. Your budget could get you a used Kentucky 900 if you are patient and quick when you see one. IMHO, a 900 or 950 would save you the need to upgrade for a long time. Otherwise, Eastmans have impressed me lately. The 315 is great bang for buck.

    And just to break the bank, a Silverangel Econo A could be custom built for you at around $1300.
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  15. #14
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Re other models, take a look at Howard (Sonny) Morris. He often has something here in the classifieds. Not a well known name, but good mandolin for the money. Sometimes available used. Next step up in price puts you in range for used Webers, Silverangels, etc.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

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  17. #15
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Used Flatirons occasionally crop up under $1k, more than your target number, but they will hold value. Used Webers and Silverangels are similar in nature and quality.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

  18. #16
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Gotta be cafeful with the Flatirons. More recent years' Gibson Flatirons have been imports, more like Kentuckys than USA Gibsons.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

  19. #17
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by GrantP View Post
    No more than $850 if possible
    For a non-beginner instrument at the $850 price point, you might consider a flattop. The Northfield Calhoun is selling just north of there new, and you can probably get a Big Muddy or Redline Traveler for similar money. Buying used will open additional and vintage options as well. These mandolins give you a chance to get into a domestic build constructed of all solid woods due to the reduced labor hours that are passed along as savings to the consumer. And while they may not stand out at the bluegrass jam that you’re not ready for anyway, they have all of the same notes as the other mandolins in the price range.
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  20. #18
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Folks keep suggesting used instruments, but it seems like that is about the last place a person who has never played mandolin before should look (unless the purchase was through a good music store). A used instrument could have some issues that might not be apparent to a newbie. A new instrument can have issues, but at least there's a warranty. (I wouldn't recommend a newbie purchase a mandolin from Amazon or Guitar Center, either, unless the newbie is planning on taking the instrument in for a professional setup.)
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Silverangel Econo A #446
    Pisgah Wonder, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  21. #19

    Default Re: New to mandolin

    the fine motor skills in mandolin playing are with the pick hand, not the fretting hand. Or on any stringed instrument for that matter. While its true its harder to find left-handed instruments, I wouldn't want to start with my 'weaker' hand trying to manage the fine art of picking, especially when you think of speed and string crossing.

    To name a few, Jethro and Dave Apollon both considered the pick hand as the most important.

    I'd think long and hard about playing opposite handed. Think about learning to write with your right hand. May not be pretty. Same with managing a pick.

    Good luck whichever way you chose, its a fun trip.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  23. #20
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Welcome to our wild, wacky world. You are in for a lot of fun and, on this site, valuable information and advice.

  24. #21
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    The OP stated that he already plays a few other instruments so relearning to play right handed is a moot point. I also support getting a Eastman or Kentucky instrument.

    Good luck with your search!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  25. #22
    Registered User Kevin Stueve's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    The OP stated that he already plays a few other instruments so relearning to play right handed is a moot point. I also support getting a Eastman or Kentucky instrument.

    Good luck with your search!
    assuming of course those other instruments are fretted stringed instruments which assumes facts not yet in evidence.
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

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  27. #23
    Registered User Kevin Stueve's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    the fine motor skills in mandolin playing are with the pick hand, not the fretting hand. Or on any stringed instrument for that matter. While its true its harder to find left-handed instruments, I wouldn't want to start with my 'weaker' hand trying to manage the fine art of picking, especially when you think of speed and string crossing.

    To name a few, Jethro and Dave Apollon both considered the pick hand as the most important.

    I'd think long and hard about playing opposite handed. Think about learning to write with your right hand. May not be pretty. Same with managing a pick.

    Good luck whichever way you chose, its a fun trip.
    agree to disagree. never said pick hand wasn't most important. Most important doesn't imply fine motor skills. 40 yrs I have played right handed and I can't do anything else with the right hand
    2012 Weber Bitterroot F5.

  28. #24
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by GrantP View Post
    No more than $850 if possible
    Winner winner chicken dinner: https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/134751#134751
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  29. #25

    Default Re: New to mandolin

    Buying musical and astronomy equipment from long-time forum members who are willing to discuss the sale item in detail has always worked for me. The risk is real but very slight and the upside is that you get a much better instrument AND the ability to get most or all of your money back when your experience informs you that what you really want is something different.

    I currently have $7000 worth of astronomy equipment and I might as well have the money in the bank since I can withdraw it at any time by reselling.

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