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Thread: Your First Upgrade

  1. #51
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    My first significant upgrade was from a Weber Aspen II to a Pomeroy A4, then took a shine to a Weber Custom Gallatin F which was probably a sideways or lower move from the Pomeroy, but it was an F blah blah blah so I did it. Put a lot of miles on that Gallatin, so it worked out.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
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  2. #52
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    My first was an Aria A in about 1974 or '75. Fell in love with mandolin at a bluegrass festival in Cato, New York and had to have one. Kept it for a while, but couldn't make any headway on it, so off it went and I focused on guitar. Fast forward 20 years and I tried again with a Washburn A. It was impossible to play, and it went away. A few years later I tried again, this time with a Loar 520 that came new from the Mandolin Store, was appropriately set up and could be played in tune. Add in the resources found on YouTube and this time the instrument "stuck." I've been happily playing away ever since. The upgrades included a few old Gibson As, a Ratliff A, a Collings MT, a Collings MT-O, and the current lineup includes a Northfield Big Mon, a Collings MF and a Gibson A1. Each is set up properly, has a voice different from the others, and allows me to play without finger or wrist exhaustion. They are each a joy to play.
    One watch by night, one watch by day...if you get confused, just listen to the music play.

  3. #53

    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    My first mandolin was a Savanna what junk. Only took 3 weeks before I bought My Washburn A.
    Big difference and a whole lot better playability which I have had for a couple years. I just placed
    a deposit on a Club Jazz Apitius. I cant wait is my ability up to the quality, No.... but I don't care.

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  5. #54
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by spudpicker View Post
    My first mandolin was a Savanna what junk. Only took 3 weeks before I bought My Washburn A.
    Big difference and a whole lot better playability which I have had for a couple years. I just placed
    a deposit on a Club Jazz Apitius. I cant wait is my ability up to the quality, No.... but I don't care.
    what a beautiful instrument

  6. #55

    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    I am an old Dawg newbie learning on a Rogue RM-100A mandolin. The tuners work great on mine, however because of the stamped tin tail piece it had a "tinny" sound and the cover kept trying to give me a heart attack by jumping off often.

    The remedy was to remove the old tailpiece and replace it with a cast solid tailpiece. Had to do some minor work on the bridge and saddle and now it has a robust throaty sound (according to a friend who has been playing since he was a baby.

    Not sure how to post photos but if I figure it out will post stamped tin to solid cast tailpiece photos. Like I said, I am an old Dawg who has a smart phone that knows more than I do about how to use it. Aha, just found the insert image thing.Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #56

    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba Longfellow View Post
    I am an old Dawg newbie learning on a Rogue RM-100A mandolin. The tuners work great on mine, however because of the stamped tin tail piece it had a "tinny" sound and the cover kept trying to give me a heart attack by jumping off often.

    The remedy was to remove the old tailpiece and replace it with a cast solid tailpiece. Had to do some minor work on the bridge and saddle and now it has a robust throaty sound (according to a friend who has been playing since he was a baby.

    Not sure how to post photos but if I figure it out will post stamped tin to solid cast tailpiece photos. Like I said, I am an old Dawg who has a smart phone that knows more than I do about how to use it. Aha, just found the insert image thing.Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	185344Click image for larger version. 

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    Just noticed that I joined back in 2017 but have just gotten around to play the mandolin. Age does that to a person.

  8. #57
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    all of them in order:
    '40s Kay - Sold to a friend
    Shawnee Creek F - sent back - no good
    Loar LM-400 - sent back - cracked fret board binding still under warranty - sounded great
    Loar LM 400 - Sold - pretty but lack volume and tone
    Kentucky 1000 - Killer Mandolin sold it. Should not have
    Kentucky 1500 - Good Mandolin - sold it
    LaPlant F #38 - Sold it back to Lloyd to buy #179
    Gibson 2013 F5L - Received while waiting for LaPlant. Sent back - awful instrument, tight and no volume
    Gibson 2018 F5L - Same as above, played nice but just didn't care for so sent back
    Gibson F9 - Great instrument- sold only because really don't need.
    LaPlant F #179 - Great Mandolin. This one ain't going anywhere.
    Won't get another Mandolin until I can afford a great playing and sounding MM or a Loar.

  9. #58
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    The first mandolin I played was a Martin A flattop that a friend of mine lent me. This was around 1974 or so. I decided then to buy one of my own and when I was in New York City I went to the House of Musical Traditions, then located in the East Village, (now in Takoma Park, MD). I found myself an American Conservatory bowlback. Little did I know but that was a decent instrument. I played that one on an off and found out that it wasn't a cool mandolin. So I traded for a Vega cylinder back. Played that until I joined an old time band and couldn't hear myself. So I went to Mandolin Brothers and played every oval hole Gibson they had and came home with a 1919 Gibson A-3. The rest is, as they say, history.

    How to know when to upgrade? Ideally, if you can, play other mandolins when you can, whether in stores (not really so easy) or ask other folks if you can play theirs. Ue your memory or take notes. Read through the multiple recommendations here on the Cafe. Of course it is a large and sometimes contradictory resource but you can get a feel for what is the best for your price range. And start saving some money so when you find that one that might be the next one, you can buy it.
    Jim

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  10. #59
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Your First Upgrade

    At least you can buy a decent new starter mandolin these days.

    When I first started playing, the only new choices for starters were pretty bad imports.

    Upgrade choices were limited to antiques or maybe 2 or 3 imports of mediocre grade.
    Gibson was building junk when they built anything at all.
    A very small number of folks like Randy Wood and Bob Givens were hand building instruments in very small numbers.
    Steve Gilchrist was just getting started and nobody had heard of him.

    So, if you wanted a really good mandolin, you either bought a teens or twenties oval hole Gibson, or you had to beat the bushes to find someone who could build you a good f-hole mandolin.

    Slowly, imports of better quality became available. Flatiron made a brief appearance, then got sucked up by Gibson. Then the new Gibsons got a bit better, but they cost an awful lot. Then they got worse again. Now they're supposed to be pretty good if you can find one, but I gave up.

    Then one day, I looked around and there were 20 independent builders offering good instruments.
    And Collings started making mandolins, and Eastman appeared, and Kentucky cleaned up their act enough to compete.

    For me, the progression was from an import that caved in after a little over a year to a Strad-o-lin that needed tuners and a tailpiece to an F-4. The import cost $40, the Strad-o-lin cost around $80 plus 10 or 12 bucks for tuners and a used tailpiece, and the F-4 cost $1600. When I bought the F-4, A-1's cost a few hundred bucks.

    It occurs to me that if you like the oval hole sound, the old Gibson A's are a best buy. The cost is still quite modest, even if you want to have a modern set of frets installed.

    It's a lot easier for the beginner now, they have decent choices at affordable prices. For those who want to upgrade, there are a thousand choices.

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