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Thread: Disappointment

  1. #1
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    Default Disappointment

    Well, I had a disappointing experience today. There was a local ad for a '77 Givens A style mandolin for $2500. The headstock inlay indicated it was probably an A5 and the ad owner said it was in "great condition." I figured at an offer a bit less than $2500 it would probably be a pretty good deal for an older Givens. When I saw it the wood looked pretty good with a one piece back and it was in cosmetically decent shape. But, the tuners were cheap replacements with no bushings and almost impossible to turn. The base of the tailpiece was probably a replacement and there was no cover. The bridge, instead of thumbscrews, had regular hardware nuts and the saddle was all the way down to the base. The action was pretty high at the 12th fret. To top it off it had strings from the 19th century -- not only dead but, mummified. So it had no volume and it was impossible to get a good read on the tone. All in all I was looking at a new tailpiece, new bridge, probably a new nut, new tuners and, in all likelihood, a neck reset. Reluctantly, I passed because I just didn't want to begin with $2K plus all the work without a much better idea of what the end sound would be like.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Disappointment

    A pass for sure.

  3. #3
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Wise decision, you did good passing, work sure isn't cheap, neck reset for sure!

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Dodged a bullet.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Bummer - so close, yet so far . . . .

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    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Better to be disappointed and walk away than disappointed with the purchase you shouldn't have made but did anyway. Been their both ways and walking away is definitely better. At least you ended up with a story of what could have been. Keep looking; better choices will come along.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Registered User tbown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Better to be disappointed and walk away than disappointed with the purchase you shouldn't have made but did anyway. Been their both ways and walking away is definitely better. At least you ended up with a story of what could have been. Keep looking; better choices will come along.
    Amen Brother!
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    I've walked away from numerous instruments! One was a 37 Gibson F-5, the dealer for one wanted way too much, it was in serious need of a neck reset, I offered 3 really good mandolins as trade or partial but when he said he needed my 3 mandolins and 10G! I was like no way, I'll have to put in a grand or more for the neck set, frets, nut and bridge work! I walked away. The F-5 had great tone and volume but just wasn't worth all that $ to me! If he would've done an even swap I would've put the $ into her and not whined at all-even if I had to throw in a grand with my 3 mandolins that would've been kool with me!
    Dealers are in it for the $/some profit as hey they have overhead etc...but some get down right greedy!

  10. #9
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Disappointment with the dollars still in your pocket is better than disappointment without. You read the writing on the wall. You did right.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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  12. #10
    Rush Burkhardt Rush Burkhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    OTOH, in the '70's, Bob Givens was working, periodically, with the team at GTR (George Gruhn, Tut Taylor and Randy Wood). The instrument you describe was likely influenced by that relationship. A5's, similar to that described, sell today for considerably more than $2500. If one could buy that mandolin needing tuners, a bridge, a tailpiece, even a neck-set and additional setup work for a price in that region, sounds like a deal to me...for a piece of luthiery history.

    I realize these things are situational; imagine if that wood could speak!
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  13. #11
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Rush Burkhardt View Post
    ...imagine if that wood could speak!
    It would say, "Who the hell put these crappy tuners and funky-a*s bridge on me? And where's my tailpiece cover? Hey, I'm a respectable mand'lin, jus' tryin' to get a couple G's an' a new owner, and you stick me out there lookin' like this? Talk about embarrassin'..."
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  15. #12
    Player, luthier, tech Andy Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger Bob View Post
    All in all I was looking at a new tailpiece, new bridge, probably a new nut, new tuners and, in all likelihood, a neck reset.
    Not to mention potential need for at least a refret to bring neck relief back into line on a 40-year old instrument without an adjustable truss rod. Sounds like a good buy for a luthier.

  16. #13

    Default Re: Disappointment

    I have a '78 or '79 A-5 Givens that I bought directly from Bob via phone and US post. There was a long period of time when I didn't play the instrument living as I was in the tropics of SE Asia. It sat rusting in its case. When I returned to the USA, I had a luthier redo the neck to get rid of a bow (no truss rod) and fix up some binding that had fallen out. It cost $550, but I figured that I would not be able to buy a better mandolin at that price point. Now I have a tone monster that is 40-41 years old.

    At $2,500, you could put $500 into repairs on that mandolin and have something worth $4-5k.

    Givens tailpieces are cr@p. The top fell off mine a long time ago and I never bothered putting it back on. So what? Cosmetic. I had to swap out the Grover tuners last winter but Greg Boyd had an exact replica pair available for a decent price and they fit in without having to redrill any holes. Givens didn't use bushings on his A models (at least mine doesn't have them) but I have had no problems with tuning. What I do like about the Grovers that he used is that they are something like 26:1 worm drive which allow very precise tuning. I have another mandolin with 16:1 tuners and I have a hard time dialing in to pitch especially with the A strings.

    Just my opinion.

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  18. #14
    Registered User jdchapman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    If it sounds dead now.... You could put it $500, and maybe it'd wake the thing up, or maybe move it along and break even, I guess, but I'd rather not buy a project like that unless I know I could make a profit. And not every Givens ends up worth 4K.

  19. #15
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    Chapter 2. I consulted with a pretty well known luthier, showed him some pics and described what I saw. His opinion is that it doesn't need a neck reset at all. He said a planing and refret look to be the right answer for far less $ than a reset. Hmmmm.
    '06 Collings MT
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  20. #16
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disappointment

    That does shed a bit more light on it, but your Luthier's thoughts are based on photos, not an in-hand exam. Would the seller allow an in-hand exam by your Luthier as a condition of sale? Might be worth exploring, if there is any doubt in your Luthier's mind about the photo diagnosis.
    Purr more, hiss less.

  21. #17

    Default Re: Disappointment

    It's a tough call, especially since you can't hear it until you spend the money -- cost of mandolin plus repairs. If it turns out great, it could be a bargain, both soundwise and investmentwise......(if that's a word.....)

    Not a mandolin corollary, but about 15 years ago, I was at an estate sale in a popular neighbor with nice homes selling in the 250-350K range. Well, this house was the worst one in the neighborhood, the elderly owner had heath problems and was going in a nursing home. He was selling a few old items, mostly junk. Making conversation, I asked if he was selling his house. He said yes and he wanted $50K for it. I immediately got excited, but suddenly my nose picked up on the fact that he had about 10 cats inside. I went room to room and saw the potential, but couldn't get past the urine smell. I know from all the home improvement shows that they can make the smell go away, but it was hard for me to get excited about spending $50K on cat pee, even though it was severely underpriced. I had first chance at it and I passed. Well, obviously, somebody bought it, fixed it up and resold it. Now, all those houses go for $450-600K in that neighborhood. And, I bet the current residents never knew about the cat pee.....

    So, in my case, I don't regret not buying the house, even though making the money would have been nice.....

    A mandolin is a different story.....and a different set of problems, IMHO.

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