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Thread: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

  1. #1
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    Default Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    Hi all, I'm seeking direction/recommendations for a different mandolin in my life.

    For the longest time, I played a used Gibson F9 in my band (mostly folk-rock stuff). Having started out on a Kentucky mando, the F9 bowled me over and was the love of my life for a few years.

    Then I branched out a couple years ago. In a rare move, I bought both a 1922 Gibson A2 (lovely, but not great for gigging, at least in this band) as well as a used National RM1. Both completely blew my mind. I've gigged ever since with the National -- I've got the model with the Hot Plate pickup. Since I play a Tele at my band's show as well, I run both instruments through my pedalboard and amp. Not a traditional sound of course, but it's really worked well for me and for our music. I find the National extremely comfortable to play -- possibly due to the radiused fingerboard, which the F9 and A2 don't have.

    As much as a love the sound of the resonator mandolin, I've been gravitating back to the sound of the F9 recently. I absolutely adore that chunky, woody tone. But I don't love the feel of the F9 itself. Perhaps I've grown too accustomed to the wider string spacing on the National, but the F9 fingerboard makes my hand feel pretty bunched up. And I do think having a radiused fingerboard would make things easier. This wouldn't be for my band per se, but for other folksier/bluegrassier projects.

    I'd love to get some recommendations for an f-hole, "bluegrassy" mandolin, with a somewhat more "modern" design than the F9. I'm not sure that a wide-nut model is exactly what I need (maybe I just need to retrain my left hand a little), but it's something I'd consider.

    The first brand that came to mind from my days of shopping for my F9 is Collings. But I've been a little out of the mando loop, and would love to hear any and all thoughts. Many thanks in advance!
    Gibson F9 2002
    Gibson A2 1922
    National RM-1
    Kentucky KM-380

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    Sorensen. You pick the model.

  3. #3
    Registered User Bobby Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    I second the Sorensen., Can't wait for my Sprite to be completed..

  4. #4
    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    The Collings I have is a wide neck MT2. It has a warmer sound than the Gibsons I have played. It does though have all the loudness of Gibsons. It also has an ease of playing that is really nice, in my opinion.
    I have not played one with a pickup. But would find it interesting how they sound.
    Too. I would be very interested in playing a Sorensen. They do look VERY cool! And the sound clips and videos I have seen have proven very nice.
    Enjoy the search!!
    Eric Hanson
    Click #016/ Born on 2/29/08 - Sold to the next Conservator of this great mandolin!
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  5. #5
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    What I had posted would be of no help sorry, you seem to have a good idea of what you want. Are you looking for a custom build or an off the shelf model?
    Last edited by John Bertotti; May-26-2019 at 7:52pm.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    I would look at an Ellis or Girouard !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  7. #7

    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    You need to find a wide neck mandolin to play to see if that is your issue. A Collings wide neck should not be that hard to find. If you go to the Sorensen web site and the prices are in your range, go for it. I love everything about them.

    If you have that kind of scratch, grab a flight to Nashville.

    I've played two F 9s and they had the BG sound down cold. Hard to beat them, but a trip to mandoland would IMHO, be worth it.
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    Registered User Roger Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    If you want to move up from the F9, you might consider the Gibson F5 with the wider nut, or the Gibson Sam Bush mandolin. If you favor that Gibson sound, you need to get a Gibson.
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

  9. #9
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    Want something REALLY modern? Here's my Top 5 Crazy Post-Loar F-5 Style wish list:

    1. Monteleone Radio Flyer
    2. Monteleone Grand Artist
    3. Rigel G5
    4. Sorensen anything, especially the newer stuff
    5. Brentrup Stealth

    Anyone of them would blow the doors of the jam, just when it came out of the case. The bluegrass police would have to give them a pass; lots of ancient tone growl and bark in them all, despite their modern styling.

    Anyone interested in discussing the contribution of said instruments to a registered 501(C)3 is invited to be in touch privately. :-)
    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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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    As an aside from the main topic, I visited the Sorensen website and on the home page the business is described as a "one man shop". Can this be? With a wide product offering of high quality instruments how can one man do such a thing? Of course I believe it's true but I want to drink whatever he's drinking.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    Most if not all builders build to order in small batches or individual instruments. They don't have one of everything ready to go. Occasionally you will see a finished instrument for sale on their web pages, but these are often mandolins taken in trade for new ones. I imagine once you have built one model you can build another of that model from whatever jigs you've made.

    If you cruise the what's on you bench thread you can get a picture of how a particular builder works. There is a lot of drying time where I imagine the next batch gets started. Some small output builders just advertise a finished instrument in the classifieds as they are made. Many ways to work. I've even seen semi retired builders quit taking orders and just build as they please with no pressure.

    Even well known brands like Weber have six or eight builders. Same with SCGC for guitars . They have many models. Mandolin is a small batch business untill you get to factory built imports.
    Silverangel A
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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    I was strongly considering a move away from my F-9 two years ago, my left hand was just never comfortable and my left thumb was always hurting after playing. Then I had the F-9 pro re-fretted with banjo-width Gold Evo frets, and at the same time I and the V-profile neck re-profiled to a C profile (with a french polish speed-neck). That made a huge difference for me and at this point in time, for me this F-9 is a lifetime instrument.

    My other mandolin has a radiused fingerboard and while I like the feel of that neck, I like it for its C-profile and its wide frets. To me the radius is almost imperceptible especially after comparing both of my mandolins, but also after playing radiused fingerboard instruments with wider necks.

    As others have suggested, I'd recommend testing a radiused neck mandolin, but I'd strongly suggest that a fair test would be a mandolin which also has a strong V profile and narrow frets like the F-9 has. If you test a mandolin that has a radiused neck but doesn't have those two features, at least in my experience, you won't be learning what you're really asking about.

    You might possibly get better value in having your F-9 pro modified to better fit your needs.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
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    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
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  15. #13

    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    I'd set a budget and then play everything you can around that price.
    I played a Pava F5 Pro the other day that knocked my socks off!
    Like this one: https://themusicemporium.com/new-arr...Fern_NAMM_2017

  16. #14
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    I had an '02 F9 that I purchased new. Could not get used to the neck - exactly 1" at the nut with a pronounced V-shape. So I moved it along and lucked into a varnished F5 - the luck was buying it without seeing it...
    Anyway, I still think about that F9. Killer sound and I sure like the way they look.
    I would give serious thought to what Don suggested. At that time I didn't know that a refret and shaping the neck might be an option.

    Good luck!

    Kirk

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  18. #15

    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    As the `nutty professor` of this forum, I'll chime in and say that string spacing is more than just nut width, it's how the nut itself is cut. New nuts are pretty easy to have done and can make a big difference. You can't fix a flat fretboard that easily though. 1" isn't much to work with though, the more standard 1 1/8 is a lot more flexible.

  19. #16
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    At the risk of jumping into a nearly bottomless conversation pool here, given the many many fine builders out there, I'll just recommend one for you to consider: Kimble.

    Bluegrass sound, with his more contempory approach to building and components.

  20. #17
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    Not a lot of big mandolin shops in your area besides Retrofret, maybe a road trip is warranted e.g. Music emporium: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ork-City-Shops

    Besides that, hit as many festivals, jams, workshops etc as you can and play as many as you can. Also consider the suggestion above about doing some combination of radiused fretobard, .080/043 type frets and Florida scooping, that combination is a pretty frequent request for luthiers.
    The Keepers: Kentucky km900, looking for next one
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    Default Re: Moving past my F9...looking for recommendations.

    Again with this statement by the OP "I'd love to get some recommendations for an f-hole, "bluegrassy" mandolin, with a somewhat more "modern" design than the F9." Go listen to Danny Roberts play the Sorensen Stratus. They aren't my cup of tea, I am more of a traditional guy, but man if I was in the market for a "new wave" looking instrument that would be #1 on the list.

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