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Thread: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

  1. #1

    Default Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Hello, this is my first post here!
    I have been playing a lot of gigs (Irish and other folk styles) over the years with my trusty Flatiron N1 mando (or is it 1N?), but I have beat it all to hell, and have been wanting to replace it.

    So, I'm looking for something that does well with a pickup and isn't too delicate.

    A-style, oval or round hole.

    I have a kind of a connection with an Eastman guy so was thinking about the MD504 or MD604, but that hasn't really worked out that great (long story), so I've started hunting around a bit more. I have found a used Flatiron similar to mine in this price range, but I've also seen good ink here at this site about Morris, and there's one available in this price range and style. I've also seen at ebay and elsewhere some used older Gibson mandolins (the A Junior?), but I feel like that's a total wildcard, it's hard to tell what condition they're in when you're a tire-kicker like me, whether it'd be okay to shove a pickup in 'em, and so on.

    I have a Kentucy mandolin (I think it's a KM-270?) but I am not as comfortable with the kind of curved top and what feels like a bridge that's way up high compared to the Flatiorn. At least in terms of being comfortable playing live.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Quote Originally Posted by dulpurp66 View Post
    I have been playing a lot of gigs (Irish and other folk styles) over the years with my trusty Flatiron N1 mando (or is it 1N?), but I have beat it all to hell, and have been wanting to replace it..
    As the former owner of a 1N, I think that you're going to have a hard time finding a better sounding mandolin in that price range. The Redline Traveler offers similar tone with more modern playability features:

    https://cumberlandacoustic.com/produ...-traveler-112/

    And, in my opinion, the best modern builder of pancakes is Andy Poe. I'm still itching to try an Arches FTO, though:

    https://reverb.com/item/21276605-arc...-hole-mandolin
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
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  3. #3
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Hard to beat this Kentucky 956/950 w/ Hard Case in the Cafe Classifieds. I am quite pleased with mine. Not great for classical or show tunes but it stomps on Old Country and Rockabilly. I think it would do equally well on Grass if that is where your head is at.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Collings MT
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Current campfire tool)
    Rogue 100A (Spare canoe paddle)

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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range


  5. #5

    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Hi again-
    Thanks for chiming in! I'm fascinated by how many kinds of mandos there are that I've never heard of! So cool.

    Thanks for the suggestions so far, some of which are already outside my price window before adding a pickup, or don't have the round hole...

    Love to hear any thoughts on the Eastman or the Morris, too....

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    Registered User Willem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Howard Morris builds a great mandolin. My personal belief is that nothing else in the price range comes close. He gives lots of options for customization as well.

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    I have been exceptionally satisfied with my epiphan mm40l and my Washburn m1s1b.

    They get a bit of hate here but they sound great and after a setup play beautifully.
    JBovier ELS; Epiphone MM-50 VN; Epiphone MM-40L; Gretsch New Yorker G9310; Washburn M1SDLB;

    Fender Nashville Deluxe Telecaster; Squier Modified Vintage Cabronita Telecaster; Gretsch 5420T; Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat: Washburn Banjo B9; Ibanez RB 5string; Ibanez RB 4 string bass

    Pedalboard for ELS: Morley Cry baby Miniwah - Tuner - EHX Soul Food Overdrive - EHX Memory Toy analog Delay
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    If your mandolin is as good as the Flatiron flat tops I've played, I doubt if any Eastman or Kentucky will do it for you. An old teens Gibson might, but that is doubling your budget, as are many of the newer makers provided you can find a used one. This is a testament to how good your 1N is.
    Silverangel A
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    Registered User Scottie James's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    In your price range, as Willem above stated, and in my opinion, nothing can touch a Morris.
    I own an oval flattop of his and it punches way above it's class. Great playability and sustain,
    with a real unique sweetness all it's own.
    I play it mostly in an Americana/Folk Rock context, but also some Celtic tunes.
    I purchased mine directly from Mr. Morris strictly on the reputation they had here and have not been disappointed in the least.
    He was a pleasure to deal with, and has a great reputation.
    You cannot go wrong with a Morris IMHO. Just my two cents.
    Good luck on your search.
    "I think, therefore I jam."

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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    I so appreciate all the comments. I'm learning a lot! I've look 'em all up, and searched around at classifieds here and ebay and elsewhere, and have the Morris a-style and a Flatiron N1 (a short drive from me) as the top two contenders.

    Does anyone have any comments about a cedar top mandolin? I have never given much thought to the wood itself, whether it be koa, spruce, or what have you. The Morris is a cedar top. If I'm a bit wild of a strummer, am I likely to wear away the top faster?

  14. #11
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Cedar will tend to mark, but it won't wear away. Instead, the hard and soft parts of the grain will be revealed as a set of ridges as a result of pressure from fingertips or plectrum - depending on playing style.

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    Thumbs up Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottie James View Post
    In your price range, as Willem above stated, and in my opinion, nothing can touch a Morris.
    I own an oval flattop of his and it punches way above it's class. Great playability and sustain,
    with a real unique sweetness all it's own.
    I play it mostly in an Americana/Folk Rock context, but also some Celtic tunes.
    I purchased mine directly from Mr. Morris strictly on the reputation they had here and have not been disappointed in the least.
    He was a pleasure to deal with, and has a great reputation.
    You cannot go wrong with a Morris IMHO. Just my two cents.
    Good luck on your search.
    Plus one on the Morris. I just got a Morris flattop delivered a couple of weeks ago. I love it.

  16. #13
    Registered User Scottie James's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Cobalt is correct as that's what I've experienced with my Morris cedar top, but it's a non issue as far as I'm concerned.
    When you look at it at an angle in certain light, the wood looks to have very uniformly spaced lines (the ridges he spoke of) underneath the finish. They do not take away from the aesthetics at all IMO, and you don't see them without really looking hard at an angle.
    You can't see it at all looking straight at the top directly.
    That cedar top is going to give you a very mellow, slightly darker tone, which personally I love and it still projects very well! To me its tone is perfectly suited to what I play.
    I am not a bluegrass picker.
    Scratching's not been a problem, however it can ding more easily than other woods, but I've been pretty fortunate in keeping that to a minimum.
    If I had my camera right now I'd attach some pics, but my daughter is off on a trip with it at the moment.
    My old iPhone (need an upgrade) takes horrible pics and won't do us any good here.
    "I think, therefore I jam."

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    Registered User samlyman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    I played Steve's Kentucky KM 956 that is in the classifieds over the weekend in Spokane at a jam and it is a fine mandolin. I think a person could get a lot out of mileage out of this instrument and it is still not even totally played-in. If I was in the market for a mandolin I would buy this one because it has a great, percussive chop and single notes resonate clear as a bell all the way up the neck. BTW - no financial interest on my part.

    Happy hunting, Sam Lyman

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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Cedar has a rep for wearing faster than spruce or mahogany, but I’ve had a cedar topped Taylor 714 guitar since 2008 or 2009 that’s still in great shape after years of my wailing on it in our praise band. Really just a few pick marks, but nothing through the finish. Heck, if you manage to wear a hole in the top of one of these, more power to ya!
    Chuck

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    Quote Originally Posted by dulpurp66 View Post
    I so appreciate all the comments. I'm learning a lot! I've look 'em all up, and searched around at classifieds here and ebay and elsewhere, and have the Morris a-style and a Flatiron N1 (a short drive from me) as the top two contenders.
    If you’re interested in a Morris, an attractively priced used model just hit the classifieds:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/137830#137830
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

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    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    agree!
    Weber Madison F5
    Howard Morris A5
    Girouard Octave Mandolin A5

  23. #18

    Default Re: Suggestions for mandolins in the $600-$900 range

    I pulled the trigger on the Morris cedar top a-style mando that had been listed here. it's on its way!

    I was really torn, as there was another Flatiron for sale in my general vicinity that looked almost identical to mine. I couldn't decide between the two, but, deciding that variety is the spice of life, I would try something new.

    Thanks everybody!

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