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Thread: Mandolin purchase advice

  1. #1

    Default Mandolin purchase advice

    I've been following the Cafe for a while and this is my first time posting. I've played fiddle for a few years and switched over to mandolin for 8 months or so now. I currently play a Washburn m-3sw and I don't care much for the sound and looking for something new. This came about after being in a jam session and playing someone else Mando and realised that the sound coming out of their mandolin was a lot better than mine. I've gone to the local music store in Seattle and tried out a few Kentucky's, Eastman's, Weber's and collings. Weber and collings way out of my price range but I loved the town. Any recommendations in regards to model. I'm hoping to spend $1000 and under. Used would be g great as well. Thank you

  2. #2
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by serph0822 View Post
    I've been following the Cafe for a while and this is my first time posting. I've played fiddle for a few years and switched over to mandolin for 8 months or so now. I currently play a Washburn m-3sw and I don't care much for the sound and looking for something new. This came about after being in a jam session and playing someone else Mando and realised that the sound coming out of their mandolin was a lot better than mine. I've gone to the local music store in Seattle and tried out a few Kentucky's, Eastman's, Weber's and collings. Weber and collings way out of my price range but I loved the town. Any recommendations in regards to model. I'm hoping to spend $1000 and under. Used would be g great as well. Thank you
    The Eastman 504, 604 and 605 are impossible to beat for the money...

  3. #3
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    You tried two of the common recommendations for under $1000 choices - Kentucky and Eastman. Which models did you play, and which did you like best? Did you try both f-hole and oval hole models? Deciding which style hole you like best is a first big question in a mandolin purchase. At the jam, what was the mandolin that you liked so much better than your own?
    Doug Brock
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    I have tried out both oval and f. I heard the oval becomes kind of mute in a jam session. I tried a Kentucky km900 the Eastman 504 and 605. A couple others but I don't recall the numbers. I did like the ton of the oval 504 but once again concern is jam session. The one I'm in is 80% fiddles

  5. #5
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Did the km900 and Eastman 605 not get you the tone and volume you needed?
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD505, MD315
    Martin HD-28, D-18GE
    CA Guitars "Bluegrass Performer" (carbon fiber)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    I think they both are great, just want options before I commit

  7. #7

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    There have been some pretty good deals on mandolins recently. If you liked the Webers and could stretch a bit -

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Weber-Mando...sAAOSwyj1cwQPN

    If you like the 900 -
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/138641#138641

    Be aware that most 900/1000 Kentucky mandolins had 1 1/6" nut, flat fretboard and small frets. A while back they went to 1 1/8" nut and a radius fretboard. So if the small frets and narrow nut are ok that is a pretty good deal.

    If you could stretch a couple hundred this Ratliff might keep you happy for a long time -

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/138539#138539

    NFI on any of these, good luck in the search.

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  9. #8
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    That Ratliff looks like the deal.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  11. #9
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    I bought a Kentucky KM-950 from the Cafe classifieds last fall. $850.00 !!!! The KM-950 has larger frets, radius fret board, and scooped florida. Mine was optioned with a black tuner knobs, James tail piece, and Cumberland Acoustic bridge. Most astonishing is it showed zero signs of play wear and appeared as new.I love playing it equally with my Collings. Just use them each for different types of music.
    My point is that a thousand smackers can get you quite a lot used in the classifieds. Sellers/traders are usually repeats and have done nothing to get a bad name. Always buy with a a 48 hr. trial period. If you return due to dissatisfaction you are only out shipping (both ways) cost.
    I have bought at minimum seven mandos or dolas this way and have found in all instances people accurately represent what they are selling. The few that I have sold here reflected my intentions of integrity as well.
    Happy Hunting
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  13. #10

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Northwest Steve View Post
    There have been some pretty good deals on mandolins recently. If you liked the Webers and could stretch a bit -

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Weber-Mando...sAAOSwyj1cwQPN

    If you like the 900 -
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/138641#138641

    Be aware that most 900/1000 Kentucky mandolins had 1 1/6" nut, flat fretboard and small frets. A while back they went to 1 1/8" nut and a radius fretboard. So if the small frets and narrow nut are ok that is a pretty good deal.

    If you could stretch a couple hundred this Ratliff might keep you happy for a long time -

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/138539#138539

    NFI on any of these, good luck in the search.
    So of these, the Ratliff over the others? I’m a beginner but have played guitar for 20 years. Just want to try something new and want to make sure if I buy something it will hold its value if I decide to sell in 6 months.

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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by auburnboy View Post
    So of these, the Ratliff over the others? I’m a beginner but have played guitar for 20 years. Just want to try something new and want to make sure if I buy something it will hold its value if I decide to sell in 6 months.
    Here we go again. If you buy any NEW mandolin don't expect it to sell anywhere close to what you paid in 6 months. A quality used mandolin probably will

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  16. #12
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by auburnboy View Post
    ...want to make sure if I buy something it will hold its value if I decide to sell in 6 months.
    See this lengthy current thread about mandolins "holding their value." If you start "churning" your instruments, buying and holding for a short time and then selling, expect to take losses -- for sure if you're buying new, but sometimes even when you buy on the used market.

    Take your time making a selection, do a "hands on" evaluation if at all possible, and allow sufficient time to play an instrument before deciding to move on to a different one. "Trying something new" is why you go to a dealer and spend an afternoon playing whatever's in their inventory. If you "buy to try," you're going to pay for the privilege; new instruments depreciate, just like any other goods. Take advantage of any sale that offers a trial period, and even then be prepared to pay shipping costs etc.
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  18. #13

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    A used Ratliff would be a good buy, couldn’t lose to much if you sold it in 6 months.

    ‘Holding it’s value‘ is why you buy government bonds.
    Play it like you mean it.

  19. #14
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Many places [and sellers] will give you a 48 hour approval, sometimes private sellers here might give you another day or two [had really enjoyable long phone calls with each of the folks I bought from, they all seem like nice normal people I'd love to meet at the jam]

    It's worth nothing that as many mandolins are shipped detuned, they don't always sound `all that' on initially tuning up. The Collings and Ratcliff I recently had shipped to me to try sounded significantly fuller and better the day after I got them and initially tuned them up. A couple hours of playing on each and they both sounded like the quality instruments they were.

    So if you have an approval, play them a lot of day 1 so they can settle in and day 2 they sound their normal full selves. I would never buy expecting it to get better, if it's 48 hours and you don't like it itsend it back, don't expect any change to improve things.
    Collings MT2
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  20. #15

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    If you can't spend more than $1k, a Kentucky 900 or 950 is just the ticket, but you are so close to a SIlverangel, Ratliff, or Weber Gallatin, I'd spend the extra money. Buy used of course. Heck there was a Gallatin recently for less than a thousand. It lasted ten minutes in the classifieds. But there are quite a few $1200-1400 range that could last you a lifetime.

    You need to find a dealer or someone willing to let you play something like a Collings or a Weber so you can see for yourself it is worth it. Paying extra for a Collings is not necessarily going to get you the tone you like. That is totally subjective.
    Silverangel A
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  21. #16

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Lots of good advice here. I will add two things:
    1-Might also look out for a used American made Breedlove. Nice little mandos and you can get em for 700-800.

    2-Once you get one of these nice starter mandolins, play it. You may be tempted to buy a different nice starter mandolin. I would wait until your ready to get a nice 2k mandolin. And when you get nice 2k used Collings/Weber/Northfield/et al, play it until your ready for a nice 4k mandolin. Side grades can get expensive.
    Northfield NF5S
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  22. #17

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Keep cruising the classifieds here.

  23. #18
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    Lots of good advice here. I will add two things:
    1-Might also look out for a used American made Breedlove. Nice little mandos and you can get em for 700-800.
    I played my American made Breedlove OF for 8 years, literally hundreds of gigs. Does it all, plays great - underrated.

    I'm quite uncertain I would want to get rid of it, because it's nearly impossible to get that tone and volume at the price [and I'm going to take quite a ding on price due to various cosmetic issues from that many gigs and the bumps/knocks/wear that all those shows bring].

    A lot of the great used mandolins here don't last long, but great deals do pop up.
    Collings MT2
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    Ellie eMando
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  24. #19

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    I’m sorry for making my post confusing. I already know the part about used vs new, and had read all of the recent forum discussions regarding that. My question wasn’t clear. Sorry about that. I hate being that guy that everyone is like.... read the other discussion posts regarding... I was asking specific to those instruments which will I be most likely to be able to sell if I get to a point where I’ve decided that Mandolin isn’t for me. For example, I am avid shooter and I know that if I buy a used Glock I can always sell it for the same price I paid for it. Vs buying a less popular brand. That was really my question. Thanks for the advice. Sorry for the frustration, I hate it when I’m that guy.

  25. #20
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    You are gonna take a hit on anything you sell. If you appreciate quality, get the best for the money. You will be happier with a better instrument. When it comes time to buy / sell; a real good price is what speeds up the process. "Most likely to sell" includes popular names and respected names, but you know that already. A good price sells at all levels.

    If you trust the folks on Mandolin Cafe, do what they say. That's what I would do.
    Last edited by DougC; May-03-2019 at 9:10pm.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  26. #21

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    The varnish Eastman 515 is amazing!

  27. #22

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    You are gonna take a hit on anything you sell. If you appreciate quality, get the best for the money. You will be happier with a better instrument. When it comes time to buy / sell; a real good price is what speeds up the process. "Most likely to sell" includes popular names and respected names, but you know that already. A good price sells at all levels.

    If you trust the folks on Mandolin Cafe, do what they say. That's what I would do.
    Not necessarily if you buy used. Is that Kentucky 950 a previous poster bought going to be worth less than $850? That under a grand Gallatin? A Collings MT bought for $1800? If you buy new, sure.

    The happy medium is to buy used from a Cafe sponsor. Sometimes the piece of mind is worth losing a couple hundred bucks down the road.
    Silverangel A
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  28. #23

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by ABmando View Post
    The varnish Eastman 515 is amazing!
    Ditto that. Drove 140 miles to another city and played a bunch of 315s, 515s, and an 815 today. One of the 515s stood above all the rest... so I put money down on it and will own it by the end of the week. It had a beautiful tint, flamey back/neck... and was louder, punchier, and fuller sounding than the rest. Surprised both me and the sales guy. We both expected the 815 to win the shootout. The distressed finish on the 815 was stunning though. And it had a very sweet tone, but didn't set itself apart like the particular 515 that I chose did.

    I took a couple year hiatus from mando playing (and this site), but am excited to be back in the game.

    I recently picked up a Veillette Avante Gryphon 12-string (think the child of a 12-string acoustic guitar and a mandolin). That got my mando juices flowing again.

  29. #24

    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    The Eastmans are pretty hard to beat for bang for your buck.

    M&M

  30. #25
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin purchase advice

    I picked up an Eastman 515 on sale from TMS for under a grand. Lifetime warranty, great setup from TMS, and great experience all the way around.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Shiro F-5, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head; Laney Cub 10 & Cab, Peavey Studio Pro

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