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Thread: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

  1. #1
    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    I wonder if anyone else has thought about this?

    As someone who has researched outsourcing work to a distant country, it makes me wonder about the prices on Northfields and how they must be killing it compared to a local luthier.
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    I think that's a fair question. That will never be answered, at least not here.

  3. #3

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    I was wondering about this yesterday, and I was wondering if they are really worth the money they ask for them compared to Kentucky and Eastman and Mando Mo, etc.
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Play one, then decide.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Play one, then decide.
    Amen to that!

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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Their latest model is now starting at $7500. Wow. Something I've learned, and it's proven to me year after year, it's not the mando, it's the player. We have a festival in Washington State every May in which the mando player from the headline act does a mandolin tasting. Everybody brings their mandolins to be played. We've had Alan Bibey, Jesse Brock, Adam Steffey, Frank Solivan, and others. They play everything from Gilchrist to Rogue. And they make every instrument sound great. I have a really nice mando, but I don't pull the tone that those guys get. So I sometimes think that we are all nuts for spending some of the $$$ we do, hoping to sound like Steffey or Bibey, when we need to work more on our technique, then spend several house payments on the latest new instrument. Just sayin'.

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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    “...it's not the mando, it's the player.”

    This can’t be true.

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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    I wonder if anyone else has thought about this?

    As someone who has researched outsourcing work to a distant country, it makes me wonder about the prices on Northfields and how they must be killing it compared to a local luthier.
    Northfield is not an "outsourcing" organization. Their business model is nothing like that for The Loar, Kentucky, Morgan Monroe and others you apparently wish to lump them with. This has all been explained in detail on their web site, and, dare I say, discussed ad nauseum on this forum.

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    Registered User Al Trujillo's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    How much it cost Bruce Weber to build my Gallatin is a question that I've never even considered. Its mine now and thats all that matters.

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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    From an economic point of view pricing is set by marketing. Cost only comes into consideration if the price you can sell an item for is too close to or less than actual cost. Based on quality and desirability the competition dictates where you price your product.

    Very small operations are not usually run by economists. Motivation and therefore pricing is often determined by artistic drive and customer relationships. They still have to take in more than they pay out in the long run. Most have a desire for profit and will use economic factors in their pricing as best they can.

    The other side is that due to the very small quantities produced and the appeal of uniqueness small shop products can sell when overpriced, competitively priced or underpriced.
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    I wonder if anyone else has thought about this?

    As someone who has researched outsourcing work to a distant country, it makes me wonder about the prices on Northfields and how they must be killing it compared to a local luthier.
    Since they appear to sell all they make, they must be priced right for the market. How much they make per instrument is good testimony for an astute business model and production design.

    Not nearly as bad as pricing on fancy pickup trucks.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  19. #12

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Do a little more research on the economic costs of outsourcing. Look at what is happening in places like China where wildcat strikes are a common occurrence in factories. So, manufacturing costs in other countries are rising too. Workers everywhere are demanding a fair wage. Meanwhile you have CITES regulations, paperwork, permitting, etc. that raise the cost of importing goods into the US. Ask George Lowden how much it costs to get a guitar into the US.

    No one ever gets into instrument building to “kill it” financially. But it is nice when people can actually make a living doing what they love.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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  21. #13

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Along those lines, a few years ago we were at a touristy gift shop on the Chesapeake Bay that had some unique imported items. I remember a sign was proudly displayed that they were "fair trade" items. Being the first time I had seen such a sign, I assumed it was being offered as justification for "higher than normal" prices -- which would be in keeping with most tourist shops -- regardless of who benefits.

    Maybe something like this is happening in the instrument world?

  22. #14

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    From my understanding, Northfield is a worker owned shop. That includes the luthiers in China. The luthiers in China are some of the very best to come out of Saga workshops, and the ethos of the entire company is pretty darn inspiring. They also make a damn fine instrument.

    If I'm mistaken about any of this information, my apologies and feel free to correct me.

  23. #15

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by DocT View Post
    I was wondering about this yesterday, and I was wondering if they are really worth the money they ask for them compared to Kentucky and Eastman and Mando Mo, etc.
    I went to TMS specifically to answer this question for myself. I feel that the Kentucky master series is better sounding that the top of the Eastman line. Really, the 900 and up Kentuckys are nice. Then you jump a thousand dollars in cost to get a Northfield F5S. I left TMS knowing I would never buy a Kentucky, and in reality there is not a gapeing difference, but I knew every time I played, I'd wish i had the F5 S.

    Since then I always play a few Eastmans when I go to Gryphon, and the F5 S always empresses me as perhaps the best value out there, BUT then I play a Big Mon, and damn, that is another $1500 more for even less but still discernible sonic improvement and you feel like you are getting a full blown missing nothing mandolin.

    If you have a budget for a nice Kentucky, buy it and don't go looking for trouble, for you shall certainly find it.
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  24. #16

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by banjoboy View Post
    Their latest model is now starting at $7500. Wow.
    Wow, indeed! $7500 is real money, IMHO....

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    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    So the folks from saga build Northfields? Are those the folks that used to build Eastman and Kentucky?
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  26. #18

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    The latest Northfield at what seems a high price is just an option to have their most elite mandolin in every way. You can still buy a Northfield F5 which will be a fraction of that cost. Most builders do have top models for those who want the icing on the cake.

    I've been handling hundreds of mandolins for many years and apart from one brilliant Lloyd Loar Gibson I played (but didn't own), there's nothing that compares with the Northfield Big Mon F5 I have. Yes it was expensive but remember the dealer gets a fair percentage of the sale price. $7500 is not going to Northfield.

    No different to a motor car. You can buy a basic one or one with all you love in a car and it will cost you up to three times the price of the basic one. Yes some mandolins have become very expensive but I don't mind if get a GREAT INSTRUMENT WITH NO ISSUES and that's what I have.

  27. #19

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    So the folks from saga build Northfields? Are those the folks that used to build Eastman and Kentucky?
    These were luthiers and production managers that used to work for saga but got tired of the production practices. You can read about it on their website.

    https://www.northfieldinstruments.com/story

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  29. #20

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    So the folks from saga build Northfields? Are those the folks that used to build Eastman and Kentucky?
    Northfield builds its own mandolins. Eastman has its own people and factories. What people fail to realize is that Eastman has been building violin family instruments for decades. Their top of the line models are built by luthiers who are at the top of their game.

    Letís put this in perspective, price wise. Come June 1st a Collings MF deluxe, not an MF, will be just about the same price as a Northfield F5 4.0. Except the Northfield will be varnished, have body and neck binding, a James tailpiece, etc. Basically, it will be about $5k cheaper than a Collings MF5v. Donít get me wrong, I love Collings mandolins, but if you are looking for the biggest bang for your buck, the Northfield, which is being made in Michigan, is a hell of a bargain.

    The equivalent to the Northfield F5S on the Collings roster is going to be about $2k more. Itís a lot of mandolin for the money, regardless where it is made. These are small shop builds, and I have nothing but respect for the Northfield people.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    So the folks from saga build Northfields? Are those the folks that used to build Eastman and Kentucky?
    No. Please read post #8 by admin.
    https://www.northfieldinstruments.com/team


    What Jeff Mando has said about fair trade applies to a point. It is a small group of builders who build "alongside" the Marshall team. If you get the chance to visit Northfield, you should check it out. At the summit last year, Dino was there for the event, such a nice guy. It is like a large extended family thousands of miles apart, spanning a few cultures.

    To me, what Northfield has is globalization done right. Fair wages, excellent materials and products. Is it worth the price? Like mandobar said, play one and find out.
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    I've said this before its whatever the buyer wants to pay! I know what I paid for my old Fern and 24 Loar and I'm happy I did, no regrets!!Heck there may be better mandolins cheaper but they spoke to ME so I went with it!? If you feel like the 7500 Northfield is for you go for it but there are many great builders still to choose from that'll do you a custom job for that price if your going new? I had one of the first Northfields serial# 60 something in 2010? and actually it was a great mandolin and its even better now that the current owner has played it solid! It was a traditional model, when they only offered kinds and I think it was well under or close to 2500? So are they worth more now? I wouldn't pay that but I don't like most anything modern!

  34. #23
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    How much did it cost to build that $175,000 Loar Gibson?
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  35. #24

    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by DHopkins View Post
    How much did it cost to build that $175,000 Loar Gibson?
    To be fair, you’d have to adjust for inflation.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

  36. #25
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: How much does a Northfield actually cost to make?

    I have to say prices are down-wayyyyyyyyyyy down! and if you smart there is no way now one would pay that price of 175! I got my all original and very clean for just a shade over 100! and I'm not afraid to say that! Mine was relatively un-played for most of its life so when I got it, it needed play time! I know there are those that say playing one in doesn't mean a thing but I've had too many and they are WRONG! The more you play something the better it is IMHOpinion! Now its everything I knew it could be after 5-7 months of ownership. Best $ I ever spent! Price will go up again I believe as does Tony Williamson "I hope he don't get mad at me dropping his name, he told me he sold 3 Loars this year so, you know the deal of supply demand right?" Tony has the goods man, some awesome Loars so check his website out NFI jjust saying he's a KOOL Loar man to the fullest. And no I didn't get my Dec.1st 24 F-5 from him, it came from a private collection. Tony finds the best and may charge more but they are worth it to the player that wants it! Like I said its whatever the player will pay for the sound he wants right? So 7500 isn't so bad if its the sound you want!

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