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Thread: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

  1. #1
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    Default Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    I had an interesting and validating experience today. I took my trusty 7-yr-old Collings MT to a local music store to compare with some other instruments - specifically a new Collings MF and a 2013 Stivers F they listed in their inventory.

    The Collings MF has a black top. I wasn't sure how I would like the looks, but in person it was simply stunning. the black adjacent to the flame of the wood sides and back is a really cool contrast. Fit and finish were excellent, as to be expected, and the setup was great. I played it for about 1/2 hour. It had quite a bright, punchy tone (partly from the Adi top) with a great chop. It played great and was pretty loud. But, compared to my MT, it didn't knock my socks off - it had a different sound flavor, but I liked the MT sound better.

    The Stivers was a beauty. This one was a satin finish. Nice big frets with a radiused board - fantastic playability. Very sweet tone - and a good strong chop. If I didn't already have a mandolin I like, I would have been in love with it. But, again, when I A/B'ed with my MT the sounds were a bit different, but I didn't feel like the Stivers was Better. I actually preferred the sound of the MT to both of them.

    This came as somewhat of a relief. The MF was about $6K, the Stivers was $3800. I could probably get about $1800 for my MT, which meant I would have to shell out an extra $2k for the Stivers. If it had really wowed compared to my MT, I probably would have brought it home (my wife was with me, we could have had the spousal conversation right there), but in the end it didn't seem like I would get a lot of added value for that $2k (besides the cred from an F and the cred from a Stivers, which is pretty cool).

    I had a fun afternoon, and I left there knowing that MY MANDOLIN SOUNDS FANTASTIC! Now back to practicing!

    Cheers,

    Rob
    2012 Collings MT, Honey Amber Gloss with Tone Gard

    Kentucky KM-276 (well, I used to have just one )

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  3. #2
    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    Congrats to you!!!
    I too have a Collings.
    I love the tone. I love the looks.
    I just wish I had a bit more time to enjoy playing it. it will come.
    Enjoy your wonderful mandolin!
    Eric Hanson
    Click #016/ Born on 2/29/08 - Sold to the next Conservator of this great mandolin!
    The search has ceased! (At least for now)
    Collings A-Style

  4. #3
    R-5, MT & A1 ('12. '13) lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    I appreciate you posting this! I have an MT and it has a very rich and full sound. It is hard to beat and the action, intonation, fit and finish-- fantastic. Play on, Rob!

  5. #4
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    I used to own a black top MT, I called it my poor man's Tim O model, lol! Later I was fortunate to get a MF5 that I still own and love, I had to sell the MT to accumulate funds to do so. I was again fortunate to find a blond MF here in the classifieds. I take both with me to gigs for that rare string break. I was smitten with Collings mandolins from when they first came on the market.
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

  6. #5
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    I had an MT for a while. It was a really good Mando. Shoulda hung on to it.....
    Never say "bouzouki" to a TSA agent...

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  8. #6

    Default Re: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    I recently did the same thing at Elderly Instruments. I took my 2008 Weber Yellowstone A. I sat there for a while and A/B'd it against a couple of Collings, an Ellis A5, a Stiver F5, and several other instruments on the wall. The only one I may have taken over my Weber was the Ellis. But, the out of pocket cost after trade would have been about 4k. I really can't say I heard 4k of difference between the two.
    Chris Dawson

    2008 Weber A5 Yellowstone
    2009 Martin HD-28

  9. #7

    Default Re: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    I'll be another to state this position. Once you get a nice small shop or single shop build, it becomes hard to justify another mandolin based on tone quality. It becomes a matter of looks, neck feel, looks, and looks. The tone becomes a matter of different, not necessarily better. Certainly that in itself is reason enough.

    Again I was presented with this at an open mic I played at this week. A friend and great musician had not planned on playing, as he was there to introduce his new daughter to folks, but I bring both a guitar and my Arches kit just in case, and asked him to play with me. He played with some others too so I got another chance to hear it from the audience. It is one loud mandolin. He handed it back to me with a man, I love that mandolin.

    But my Silverangel is so resonant and warm at home. This guy has a Pava, but it tends to disappear in a band. Just two flavors of good. One should have both. B
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  10. #8

    Default Re: Collings MT vs MF vs Stivers F

    I'll be another to state this position. Once you get a nice small shop or single shop build, it becomes hard to justify another mandolin based on tone quality. It becomes a matter of looks, neck feel, looks, and looks. The tone becomes a matter of different, not necessarily better. Certainly that in itself is reason enough.

    Again I was presented with this at an open mic I played at this week. A friend and great musician had not planned on playing, as he was there to introduce his new daughter to folks, but I bring both a guitar and my Arches kit just in case, and asked him to play with me. He played with some others too so I got another chance to hear it from the audience. It is one loud mandolin. He handed it back to me with a man, I love that mandolin.

    But my Silverangel is so resonant and warm at home. This guy has a Pava, but it tends to disappear in a band. Just two flavors of good. One should have both. But $1500 more or less will get you a base line measure of goodness in a world of rapidly deminishing returns.

    Those MTs certainly are a benchmark for great tone. And the almighty scroll is a benchmark for aesthetics.
    Silverangel A
    Michael Kelly LSFTB
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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