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Thread: Mando-free zone

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    Default Mando-free zone

    I guess I'm mostly directing this to any Canadian members here but it may be of passing interest , if not a concern , to anyone else .

    In the past several years it seems that the great white north is becoming a mando-free zone , if not mando-unfriendly when it comes to not just choice of brand but availability in general . Yes we have the ever-present Eastmans ( i swear they must drop them from planes all over the land ...they are everywhere ) and Epiphones but beyond that there seems less and less choice and higher and higher prices .

    Most dealers can and will special- order for you ...but you will often pay shipping or re-stocking fees just to try it out . We can order online from the U.S. ...but sight unseen , of course , and at a 35 % exchange rate plus shipping which is , needless to say , quite prohibitive and can involve customs hassles and protection tariffs .

    If one didn't know better , one might think Canada doesn't like mandolins . And one may be right . Partly I am venting a little here . But partly I'm wondering if there are any other Canadian readers here who may know where there may be a 'secret stash ' of mandolins in our fair land that some of us may not be aware of . Thanks all ....

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    This is what my wife is starting to name our home, especially the living room !
    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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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Peter Sawchyn and Brian Dean are great Canadian builders!
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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Quote Originally Posted by ToyonPete View Post
    Peter Sawchyn and Brian Dean are great Canadian builders!
    I’ll add Oliver Apitius and Michael Heiden to the list of fine Canadian mandolin luthiers (albeit, high end).

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    Registered User Denman John's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Yeah, I hear ya. Fortunately I'm set mandolin wise. Dusty Strings down in Seattle is probably your best bet to try a good number of mandolins side by side. Of course the prices are in US$, but at least you would be able to play them. There's quite a few mandolin builders in BC that you might want to reach out to. Wintergrass had about 5 mandolin builders displaying their goodness last month. For selection nothing beats the Cafe Classifieds here. I think why you see so many Eastmans and Epiphones is because L&M sell them, and they are the only choice in a lot of places.

    Folkway Music and the 12th Fret also have some nice mandolins from time to time. They are Canadian and are willing to ship.

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Quote Originally Posted by roysboy View Post
    I guess I'm mostly directing this to any Canadian members here but it may be of passing interest , if not a concern , to anyone else .

    In the past several years it seems that the great white north is becoming a mando-free zone , if not mando-unfriendly when it comes to not just choice of brand but availability in general . Yes we have the ever-present Eastmans ( i swear they must drop them from planes all over the land ...they are everywhere ) and Epiphones but beyond that there seems less and less choice and higher and higher prices .

    Most dealers can and will special- order for you ...but you will often pay shipping or re-stocking fees just to try it out . We can order online from the U.S. ...but sight unseen , of course , and at a 35 % exchange rate plus shipping which is , needless to say , quite prohibitive and can involve customs hassles and protection tariffs .

    If one didn't know better , one might think Canada doesn't like mandolins . And one may be right . Partly I am venting a little here . But partly I'm wondering if there are any other Canadian readers here who may know where there may be a 'secret stash ' of mandolins in our fair land that some of us may not be aware of . Thanks all ....
    Its only a matter of time until Canada decides to start confiscating mandolins! And you know banjos are next!

    A more serious answer. Its not as if every music store in the US has a big selection of mandos. Outside of a few well-known places that are talked about frequently on the Cafe, you are hard pressed to find store that has more than a couple of token, lower-end mandolins in stock

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    It's a similar situation in Ottawa. The main music stores are the chains, Steve's and Long & McQuade, with the usual limited selection. A couple of small shops sometimes have interesting consigned or used items. Since I've taken up mandolin, I've been struck by how many local acoustic bands in various genres have mandolin players. Still, it's a tiny number compared to guitar, bass, drum, or keyboard players. Let's face it, bluegrass is not as popular here as in the US, and the mandolin isn't a common instrument in Canadian "old time" music (I'm referring to what's been called old time music in Canada since before I was born, mainly Canadian fiddle music, and not to Canadians playing Appalachian or southern music). A few fiddlers, like me, take up mandolin as a second instrument. However, I suspect that if there was a good turnover in mandolins, merchants would respond. There are some fine luthiers making mandolins (often guitars too) across Canada, but mandolins a niche market, and I wouldn't advise music store owners to stock a wide selection of mandolins, so that you and I can drop in, play a few tunes now and then, and perhaps buy an instrument two or three times in a lifetime. I would like to walk into a store with thirty different mandolins on the wall, but we live in a huge country with a relatively small population, in which mandolins aren't all that popular, so I don't expect to have that experience. Still, we have Mandolin Cafe, where we can shed tears together.

    My daughter was looking for a banjo in Germany, which is a whole other problem. I can't imagine shipping costs from North America.

    Added later: I have no complaints with the stores mentioned above, except perhaps that they're not mandolin emporiums. I bought a Godin A8 at L & M, and was happy with the instrument, the knowledgable staff, and their service.
    Last edited by Ranald; Mar-27-2019 at 6:09pm. Reason: additional info
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    It's a similar situation in Ottawa. The main music stores are the chains, Steve's and Long & McQuade, with the usual limited selection. A couple of small shops sometimes have interesting consigned or used items. Since I've taken up mandolin, I've been struck by how many local acoustic bands in various genres have mandolin players. Still, it's a tiny number compared to guitar, bass, drum, or keyboard players. Let's face it, bluegrass is not as popular here as in the US, and the mandolin isn't a common instrument in Canadian "old time" music (I'm referring to what's been called old time music in Canada since before I was born, mainly Canadian fiddle music, and not to Canadians playing Appalachian or southern music). A few fiddlers, like me, take up mandolin as a second instrument. However, I suspect that if there was a good turnover in mandolins, merchants would respond. There are some fine luthiers making mandolins (often guitars too) across Canada, but mandolins a niche market, and I wouldn't advise music store owners to stock a wide selection of mandolins, so that you and I can drop in, play a few tunes now and then, and perhaps buy an instrument two or three times in a lifetime. I would like to walk into a store with thirty different mandolins on the wall, but we live in a huge country with a relatively small population, in which mandolins aren't all that popular, so I don't expect to have that experience. Still, we have Mandolin Cafe, where we can shed tears together.

    My daughter was looking for a banjo in Germany, which is a whole other problem. I can't imagine shipping costs from North America.

    Added later: I have no complaints with the stores mentioned above, except perhaps that they're not mandolin emporiums. I bought a Godin A8 at L & M, and was happy with the instrument, the knowledgable staff, and their service.
    All true , of course , Ranald . I guess I'm at least as surprised that , as you rightly point out , there does seem to be an interest in the instrument by players ....no matter the genre , while this scarcity and price increase for the limited choice exists .

    And as others point out there are indeed some independent builders in Canada but my concern was that the more 'affordable' options sold commercially are dwindling noticeably and most folks cannot afford the high end instruments .

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    This was a dangerous post! Last night I had a dream I was trapped in that store with all the accordions playing at once. There might have been a hurdy-gurdy in there too. I may never be the same

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    I am just wondering where is this magic land where mandolins of all varieties and brands are readily available? It sure ain't here where I am.
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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I am just wondering where is this magic land where mandolins of all varieties and brands are readily available? It sure ain't here where I am.
    Yeah. Thinking that the USA would be a much better source of mandolins, I've checked online about what stores I could visit in Watertown, Syracuse, or Utica, but didn't notice anything worth the long drive. Passing through Bangor, Maine, with similar thoughts, I was told in a music store, "Not many people play mandolin around here" -- I couldn't even buy strings. I still like to fantasize a "magic land" somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, but I've learned from Mandolin Cafe that people there drive for hours to visit a store with a decent selection of mandolins. Perhaps Mandolin Cafe is as close to that land as I'll get. I did buy a banjolin on a private sale here, and I'm very happy with it. There may be a few others out there, but I'm not sure where in central or eastern Canada, upstate NY, or northern New England, places I spend time regularly, I'd find a 1924 L'il Wonder. If anyone is still trying to figure out why we buy online...

    And, to Roysboy, like you, I can't afford to own custom-built instruments, not matter how fine they are.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    I think you will find vast areas in the US that are the same few mandolin zones. I'm probably in one of the west coast hotbeds of mandolin activity with multiple fine stringed instrument stores, and I have yet to lay eyes on an Apitius, Duff, Heiden, Gilchrist, White, Sorenson, or even a new Gibson.

    I found a small store recently that had a Ratliff for sale. If I traveled an hour north, I'd find A Giacomel(sp?) and some fine big dollar vintage Gibsons, but really Collings, Northfield, Pava, Weber, and Girouard are it. Oh, and one Ellis. Now that is pretty darned good, but it's not Elderly, Carters, Gruhn's good. So I think we all suffer to some extent.

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    It is hard for any store to stock all the brands mentioned. Heiden, Duff, etc. are made in small numbers. Believe me, I know a few who stock them if they could get them.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

  21. #15

    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    This was a dangerous post! Last night I had a dream I was trapped in that store with all the accordions playing at once. There might have been a hurdy-gurdy in there too. I may never be the same
    Speaking of dreams, I occasionally have recurring florid dreams of visiting instrument shops. They're lots of fun and full of mystery: typically they end with me awakening before getting to open the case containing the "grail."

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    Smile Re: Mando-free zone

    Oregon and New Hampshire are tax free states in the US, so combine a road trip with some instrument shopping, save some cash .... err maybe not - because you'll end up buying way more gear than you bargained for :-)

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Edited to say nevermind
    Last edited by Willem; Apr-27-2019 at 5:28am. Reason: Nevermind

  24. #18

    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Just to echo roysboy's point, here is the kijiji listing for mandolins in the Greater Vancouver Area (which has a population of approximately 2 million people, and quite a thriving music scene):
    https://www.kijiji.ca/b-greater-vanc...l80003?dc=true

    The national music retail chain, Long and McQuade, briefly carried a few Kentucky models, but now it is back to Fender, Epiphone, Eastman, and Godin. I have been more fortunate in Halifax. My local used market has allowed me to catch and release a couple of Flatirons (a Festival and a 1 N), a couple of Webers, but at any given moment it is pretty bleak.

    Sadly, I have more and more success watching amazon.ca and grabbing deeply discounted mandolins. As far as purchasing in the US: even if the exchange is less punitive than the current 35% (the Canadian dollar was at par with the US a few years ago), if you buy a $1000 instrument tax free in the US, you can either not declare it when you come back across the border, or pay duty on it (you would need to be out of the country for more than 7 days to claim goods up to $800 Canadian. So that tax free mandolin is going to cost you one way or the other).

    So roysboy is not talking about some magical mandolin heaven. If you live in a rural area in the US, you can still avail yourself of cheap shipping. I am always amazed at what people estimate shipping at in their Cafe classifieds. In Canada it would cost a couple hundred dollars minimum to ship a mandolin within the country. So unless one of us Canadians hops on the deal of the century in the Cafe classifieds, that market is basically off limits to us.

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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    "First they came for the banjos. As I am a mandolin player, I helped."
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  26. #20

    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    As mentioned, most of the USA, with the exception of 5 or 6 key cities, has the same problem. My local small town dealer might stock a $100 Savannah just to have a "mandolin" on the wall. An hour drive to the nearest big city just gets me a Guitar Center with predictable student type choices. Certainly, nothing exciting.

    The current thinking is buy a cheap plane ticket to Nashville and make it a fun weekend. Or, do the mail order thing and understand you have to eat the shipping, etc., if you want to return it.....

  27. #21

    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    You are all fortunate to even have these limited places. In Southeast Asia there are virtually no, zero, nada, mandolins of any quality. There is no place to play them and try them out. If you mention the instrument, they look blank. Guitars they know. Violins they know. Mandolins are something I made up in my imagination.
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  28. #22
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando-free zone

    Quote Originally Posted by vetus scotia View Post
    Just to echo roysboy's point, here is the kijiji listing for mandolins in the Greater Vancouver Area (which has a population of approximately 2 million people, and quite a thriving music scene):
    https://www.kijiji.ca/b-greater-vanc...l80003?dc=true
    You're making me feel downright spoiled here in Ottawa. Here are our Kijiji listings -- fifteen ads today, and these change regularly with better, or, at least, much more expensive mandolins posted at times. Musique Red, the shop which comes up in both our ads is in Dorval (Montreal 'burbs), much closer to me (two hours) than to you. The rest of the ads are local.

    https://www.kijiji.ca/b-musical-inst...700184?dc=true
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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