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Thread: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

  1. #1

    Default Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I am a long way from buying one as I am still learning the mandolin, however, I have decided I really like the sound of the octave mandolin. That is going to be my next purchase.

    Is there a maker that markets them for $1200 or under?
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  2. #2
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I've got an Ashbury Octave that should come in your budget. Great tone, easy player. Sadly up for sale as I need the cash - but I'm in the UK, hence not advertising here.

    They're the Hobgoblin house brand and I think available in the US?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    The Mandolin Store just sent out an email about these a few days ago: https://themandolinstore.com/product...tave-mandolin/

    And there is also the Trinity College: https://themandolinstore.com/product...ith-hard-case/

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Pono, Big Muddy, Red Valley, Lafferty, I'm sure there's many more. I have a pono tenor guitar bodied octave mando and i love it.

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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I was in a store the other day and they had a nice Eastman and a Gold Tone. Odd two octaves in a small store but...they were both under a grand.

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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Big Muddy no longer makes octaves. They did make some in the past but the numbers were small and I think I’ve only ever seen one or two come up for sale used. Red Valley/Lafferty are the same maker. They are more like 1700 new, out of the OP’s price range. Again, they might come up for sale used, infrequently. The Ponos are guitar shaped and not everyone’s cup of tea. The Eastman pretty much owns the entry level price point at 699 but good luck finding one. If The Mandolin Store has hem in stock now I don’t coextensive they will last long. They sell like hot cakes. Trinity College used to be the default entry level before the Eastman came along but they have a design flaw in their incorrectly intonated bridge. At they very least some material needs to be added to the saddle for the second course, or the bridge replaced to get good intonation. There is a Hobgoblin US outlet for the Ashbury instruments. I think it’s in Minnesota. A search will lead you there. Sawchyn makes an octave version of his “Beaver Tail “ but it’s 1500 new.
    Don

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    Registered User Paul Cowham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Here is the amazing Tim Edey demonstrating an Ashbury

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  12. #8
    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    What's the tailpiece on that Rathlin? Looks more like a Hathway one than a standard Ashbury!

  13. #9

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    That is a lot less expensive than I thought I could find.
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  14. #10

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I was hoping Mando Mo had one, but they do not make them, only mandolins and mandocellos. Perhaps by the time I get ready to buy one they, or someone, will come out with one, or I will find one for sale in my price range (which may change by then). The conversion from USD is the problem with the price.
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by DocT View Post
    That is a lot less expensive than I thought I could find.
    Any carved archtop instrument requires more labor to produce, so it will cost more. Add to this there are about 1000 guitar players for every mandolin player and there are probably 1000 mandolin players for every octave mandolin player (there are just 600 members in the worldwide "Octave Mandolin" Facebook group. There are almost 23,000 people who follow mandolincafe on Facebook). So no, they aren't cheap at all, because there is a tiny budget OM market as compared to a huuugggee budget acoustic guitar market. Probably the cheapest way to go is find a used 12 string guitar to tune as an OM, just don't use all the strings.

  16. #12

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I prefer mando-style OM builds to guitar bodies because the bridge is movable for intonation. I like to futz with string gauges and fixed briges don't play well there.

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    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    It's quite a bit less than your stated top end, but the APC octave from Moloney Music in Galway is quite a nice instrument that, if mine is any indication, comes set up beautifully. It's less than 300 euros before VAT, 375 with it. If you just want something to get your feet wet with, it might be just the ticket.

  18. #14

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I suggest trying to narrow down what type of octave mandolin you are looking for.
    Archtop A style, I'd check out the Eastman MDO-305 at $700.
    Flat top, tear drop shape, I really like the Lafferty from The Mandolin Store, though maybe a bit above your price range.
    My favorite are flat top tenor guitar bodied like the ones from Pono. They are between $1000-$1200.
    Try as many as you can before you decide.
    Best, Stevo

  19. #15

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Do you know how the lafferty compares to the Trinity College tonewise? I converted my TC into a tenor guitar and miss having an actual OM, so thinking of getting another, and don't want to get just another TC when I can try something else, I am looking for darker tone, not an f-hole for example so the Eastman isn't on my list solely for that reason.
    Trinity College TM325 Octave Mandolin (converted to 4-string tenor guitar).
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  20. #16

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    How good are Pono octave mandolins? I know nothing about them. I really like the looks of the sunburst they have.

    I also like the style of the Northfield as well as the Weber A F hole models, but these are waaayyy out of my price range.
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  21. #17
    Registered User Jim DeSalvio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I just picked up one of the Pono's from the Mandolin Store. I have the 12-fret model. It sounds lovely, and has just the tone I was looking for. The shape may take getting used to, but overall, I am really happy with this one. I was told by Brian at TMS, that he had no idea if they would see some octaves from Eastman. If you can score one of those, go for it.
    Jim D

  22. #18
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    You can get a Hora for under $200 new on EBay. They are made in Romania by a firm that has been making stringed instruments for a long time. Solid spruce top, solid maple back. I've had one as a "beater" OM. They are reasonably well made and look and sound good. They can be made to work OK.

    Cons:
    • The tuners are awful and they can't be 1-to-1 replaced with better strip tuners without surgery because they use a non-standard spacing. You might be able to replace them with individual mini-sealed tuners.
    • There was no truss rod in the neck on the one I had, but the neck was so massive, that may have made up for it. But then it was not the smoothest neck to play being so fat.
    • The top on mine sank. If you get one, I would keep light strings on it and make sure it stayed well humidified.

  23. #19

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flynn View Post
    You can get a Hora for under $200 new on EBay. They are made in Romania by a firm that has been making stringed instruments for a long time. Solid spruce top, solid maple back. I've had one as a "beater" OM. They are reasonably well made and look and sound good. They can be made to work OK.

    Cons:
    • The tuners are awful and they can't be 1-to-1 replaced with better strip tuners without surgery because they use a non-standard spacing. You might be able to replace them with individual mini-sealed tuners.
    • There was no truss rod in the neck on the one I had, but the neck was so massive, that may have made up for it. But then it was not the smoothest neck to play being so fat.
    • The top on mine sank. If you get one, I would keep light strings on it and make sure it stayed well humidified.
    My Hora OM had the truss rod access in the soundhole rather than the headstock, did you check there or maybe they did make them without truss rods at some point. I didn't have top sinkage problems but I concur with the rest of your pros and cons. I eventually upgraded to a Gold Tone OM, I think the Hora actually had a slightly better sound and electronics but the Gold Tone has better playability and fit/finish. I still have my very similar Hora Irish bouzouki, virtually identical other than having a longer neck.

  24. #20
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seter View Post
    My Hora OM had the truss rod access in the soundhole rather than the headstock, did you check there or maybe they did make them without truss rods at some point. I didn't have top sinkage problems but I concur with the rest of your pros and cons. I eventually upgraded to a Gold Tone OM, I think the Hora actually had a slightly better sound and electronics but the Gold Tone has better playability and fit/finish. I still have my very similar Hora Irish bouzouki, virtually identical other than having a longer neck.
    It did not have a truss rod. I checked everywhere and even checked using a heavy magnet. FWIW, I have a Parsons flat-top mandolin that did not seem to have a truss rod,but apparently it has a pretty substantial, steel, non-adjustable rod that I verified with a magnet.

    FWIW, mine was actually branded by a British company and had a different finish than the Hora branded ones, but it was definitely Hora made.

    Does yours have a really fat neck? Mine felt like half a baseball bat. My hope would be that if they started putting truss rods in them, they would be making the necks thinner. If so, I might get one again as a beater.

  25. #21
    Registered User Christine Robins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I sold my Hora OM. Bought it sometime last year. As John Flynn says, the neck felt like half of a baseball bat. I always got pain in my left hand after playing it for even a few minutes. (This doesn't happen with any other instrument I've played.) And, as mentioned, the tuners are pure crap.

  26. #22

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by DocT View Post
    How good are Pono octave mandolins? I know nothing about them. I really like the looks of the sunburst they have.

    I also like the style of the Northfield as well as the Weber A F hole models, but these are waaayyy out of my price range.
    I bought the Pono tenor sized octave mandolin and really love it. I've played tenor guitar for years and thought it would be a comfortable way to cross over to the octave mandolin world. All solid woods, great feeling neck, and loud! I actually like the neck even better than my tenor guitar.
    The guy I spoke with at Pono was great and explained all the different models. I opted for the tenor body with 14 fret neck since it matched the dimensions of my tenor guitar pretty closely. He also said they had a demo/shop instrument that they were selling for like 20% off, but it was the 12 fret neck one. I'd give them a call and talk to them.
    Best, Stevo

  27. #23

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    I'd buy one of the eastmans. I put mandola strings on it and tuned it GDAE and it sounds and plays great!

    Thanks
    Baron
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  28. #24
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Have both the Eastman and the Ashbury Style E. Get the Eastman. While there are nice aspects of the Ashbury, the Eastman is a far better built instrument. And I think it cuts through in a band setting better. Also think the neck is more comfortable.

    That said, there are others who really like the Ashbury. Liked it at first, but now it mostly sits in the case.
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  29. #25

    Default Re: Who makes a good inexpensive Octave Mandolin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Baron Collins-Hill View Post
    I'd buy one of the eastmans. I put mandola strings on it and tuned it GDAE and it sounds and plays great!

    Thanks
    Baron
    Any intonation issues like those said above.

    BTW, thanks for the video lessons.
    Loar LM-370

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