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Thread: Mando Search Bummer

  1. #1

    Default Mando Search Bummer

    Last month I said goodbye to an old friend, a Lafferty LA-2 oval hole A model built by Paul Schneider. It was such a pretty mando; pretty woods, pretty carving,, nice woody bass. But such a plinky high end. It was my main mando buddy for 5 years. But it couldn't compete with my Gibson 1920 A and also had been rudely shoved aside by my my Eastman MDA 815 mandola. So I sold it and started looking for a replacement.

    Last week I noticed that the GC in Asheville had two mandolins worth looking at; an Eastman MD-505 and a Kentucky KM-1000. On Sunday I drove on over to take a look.

    What a disappointment! Neither had any sound or even the hint of potential. The Kentucky was a virtual travesty. The Florida extension had been rudely sawn off and left unfinished. The mandolin had been oversprayed in satin to simulate a varnish finish. The bridge had been misplaced all over the top, leaving multiple impressions on the top. And it had a skinny little neck.

    The search goes on....

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  3. #2
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    Thanks for posting this, I had actually looked at the Eastman online...live a few hours from there.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

    Kentucky KM-150
    Eastman MD-404
    Morgan Monroe MFM-300
    Rover RM-75

  4. #3

    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    I dunno what you're expecting from a Chinese instrument, but I've played a few Collings, owned a pair of American Breedlove KOs, and just bought three Eastman instruments in the past couple of weeks... and though they don't compare to the Collings', I find them far from "disappointing". If you're tastes are that refined, then perhaps your search should mostly be American-made instruments, and starting at the $2K+ for a nice used Weber, on up.

  5. #4
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    My advice save up! wouldn't one really good mando be better than settling for a few cheap made imports? The you can always trade up again if what you buy holds value, that's what I've done over the years and not being blessed with tons of $ I now have some fantastic mandolins! I've had a few Kentucky mandolins actually an old Korean made KM-1000 and it was actually decent? I've played a few Eastman mandos but I don't remember what models but they were very weak!

  6. #5
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    My 2-cents says 'yes' to the advice of continuing to save for a higher-priced instrument . . . but do NOT give up on continuing to try the imports. Every once in a while you can find a real gem in the Kentucky or Eastman lines, and can save yourself a few bucks while still owning a nice instrument.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    Such is life that 12 year old single malt tastes like swill after a few bottles if 18.

    You will find what you are looking for. All it takes is money.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  8. #7

    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    I don't really need another mandolin. The Gibson and Eastman mandola serve me well. I was just on the lookout for another "killer deal" to reinvest my proceeds from the Lafferty. I'm just looking for a killer deal and great sound all in one.

    Last year I had an old Flatiron Festival A with the right sound. It just had a skinny neck. I should have left that one stay at the house.

  9. #8
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    Your Mandolin is out there; you just need to let it find you!

  10. #9

    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    Today I discovered the mando which might end my search. A brand spanking new Eastman MD-305!

    Why this entry level model? Well, it's got everything I need. Sounds great for what I need in old time, Celtic, contra dance music (no bluegrass). It plays as well as much more expensive instruments. Our old time crowd pretty much eschews F models anyway. And with it's simple matte brown finish, top only binding, it looks markedly similar to my my 1921 Gibson A model. And this entry level instrument even features the more deluxe cast Eastman tailpiece. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing cheap about it are the tuners
    and the gig bag.

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  12. #10
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    Since they added the cast tailpiece to the 300 series, they are best bet in Eastman mandolins. For 50 bucks or so you can put Grover 309's on that bad boy and be in business. When the frets go refret with a slightly larger fret and and bang the tone and playability will take a jump. Take my word for it.

  13. #11
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando Search Bummer

    Quote Originally Posted by RobBob View Post
    Since they added the cast tailpiece to the 300 series, they are best bet in Eastman mandolins. For 50 bucks or so you can put Grover 309's on that bad boy and be in business. When the frets go refret with a slightly larger fret and and bang the tone and playability will take a jump. Take my word for it.
    What fret size do you recommend? Iíve been trying lots of higher priced mandos in the last six months and I like my MD315 enough that I plan to do a few upgrades (tuners, K&K internal pickups, and frets eventually) and keep it as a backup when I do get a higher priced mandolin.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD505, MD315
    Martin HD-28, D-18GE
    CA Guitars "Bluegrass Performer" (carbon fiber)

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