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Thread: I'm buying a Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default I'm buying a Mandolin

    I'm new to Mandolincafe.... I'm getting ready to purchase my very fist Mandolin.
    I've played guitar for the past 45 years... so this is all new to me.

    I would appreciate your input.

    I'm considering....
    Washburn M108SW New for $560 I love how rustic it looks
    Washburn M118SW New for $790 I love the binding
    Loar LM-520-VS New for $600
    Eastman MD315 New for $699 Leaning toward this one
    Kentucky KM630 Used Good Condition $630

    I will be using it for the enjoyment of learning to play something different.
    I will probably play it some at my church..when and if I can play it.
    This will most likely be my one and only purchase of a mandolin.
    Thanks again for what advise you can give.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    One and done is pretty tough. I'd play a scale and a couple of chords on every mandolin you can get your hands on and pick the one that feels the best in your hands.

    I bought the first bargain I came across, an Olympia OM-6SW. After playing it for a few months I discovered that I needed a wider neck. After playing dozens of mandolins I found the one that seemed to fit my hands near perfectly. As soon as it gets back from the shop I'll sell the Olympia.

    I always start a new instrument with something I can resell easily because I don't expect to know what I want until I log a lot of playing hours.
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  4. #3
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Hi hope you find the right mandolin for you. There neat to dabble on. Im a beginner on the mandolin as well.
    Welcome to the Cafe

  5. #4
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    What kind of music do you want to play? I wanted to play Italian and such originally and moved into Celtic with a smattering of BG and Country. Because of this, I started with an Old Vega bowl back and then added an Oldwave Oval A. So in order to really narrow down the search you need to know what you would like from the instrument or at the very least the type of music you will gravitate to initially.

    I wonder how each type, oval, f, or bowl back would sound in your church. Perhaps when no one is in you could play a tune from each type of instrument in your church and see how they react? Maybe that would lead you to a style of build? Just a few thoughts.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

    Creativity is just doing something wierd and finding out others like it.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    This will most likely be my one and only purchase of a mandolin.” ..... I’ve heard that before.

    I think the best choice would be between the Eastman and the Kentucky both in terms of sound and re-saleability but, ultimately, buy the one which sounds the best to you. Your problem will be that as your mandolin playing develops the more yiu will become attuned to what sounds better and what sound you like and you will go looking for something better.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    You like me I've played guitar a very long time, new to the mandolin and have become obsessed with the sounds. No one can decide for you and if you can actually play some that's your ticket, if you have to order online check with their return policy, worse case is you'll have to pay shipping back if it doesn't suit your taste and feel.

  8. #7
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    As Ray pointed out, The Eastman and Kentucky are your most likely candidates, based on their reputations - but as a guitar player I am assuming that you already have a good feel for action, playability, quaility of build, tone, etc., - so in the end, (as everyone else has said) trust your players intuitions and go for the one that feels and sounds 'right' to you . . . and keep us updated.

  9. #8
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    I got an Eastman MD315 in December and have played the heck out of it. I love the dark woody sound and easy playability. After playing lots of mandolins in the $1000-$7000 range over four months, I decided that I'd definitely keep the MD315, even if I end up buying a higher-end mandolin at some point. That freed me to replace the tuners with some nicer ones (Grover 309) and install a K&K twin pickup.

    My only caution is that the MD315 matte finish is prone to dings and scratches. I'm generally very careful with my instruments - my gloss finish MD505 looks great, and my Martin D18GE still doesn't have a ding on it after a decade - but after six months with my MD315 I was already seeing wear and tear on the front. (After playing a bunch of very old Gibsons and reading about the different levels of distressing on guitars from the Prewar Guitar Company, I decided to distress the top of my MD315. I'm sure it isn't for everybody, but now I don't worry about the occasional dings on the mandolin top!)
    Doug Brock
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  10. #9
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Welcome to the Mandolin Cafe. The sage advice is try as many as you can before you buy. You get more for your money in an A style than an F style. If used, be sure you can return it. In general, an F hole mandolin is more versatile than an oval but, if you really like the oval sound, get it! A good set up is key, but you've played guitar for 45 years so you know it. Strings and picks are great to experiment with for your sound.

    I can't comment on those other than to say, I've been a long time Eastman owner (since 2005) and haven't heard that their quality has fallen a lot/at all. Good luck and enjoy the new instrument. The mandolin is a joy.

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  11. #10
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Get the Eastman. $0.2
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    "Imagine life without mandolin. Now slap yourself! Never do it again!" -Gunnar Salyer

  12. #11
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    I just noticed that the mandolin store has this used Eastman 315 for $499. If you are leaning towards this model, I would say grab it while it lasts...

    https://themandolinstore.com/product...15-f-mandolin/

    Cheers,

    Rob
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  13. #12
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisS58 View Post
    I'm getting ready to purchase my very fist Mandolin. I've played guitar for the past 45 years.
    What guitar do you play? That information might inform some of the advice that you receive.
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  14. #13
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    I had an Eastman 305 A style with fholes and itís a fine playing/sounding mandolin. Itís big excitement getting a new instrument but miserable if waiting on it to be delivered. Iím waiting on a new one now and tomorrow seems like an eternity

  15. #14

    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    I was leaning towards the MD315 as well when I went searching for my first mandolin. I played it against some others (as best I could having never played a mandolin before) and ended up with the MD515 because I liked the sound a bit better. All of the Eastmans were setup up well, no sharp frets protruding, no wiggly tuners, and such. I'd do the same thing over again, and I'll keep this one even if/when I buy another.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    As I'm still a ways off from my first upgrade it is exciting to watch you progress through the phases of mandolin obsession so quickly, CB Can't wait to hear your first impressions about the Pava when it lands!

  17. #16
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Of those listed, my vote is for the Eastman 315. Mine is better than any of the KM 630s or Washburns I've played. If you're willing to go A style Kentucky 505 or a used 900/950 might also get you a mandolin that's economical but potentially a "keeper." Good luck!
    Chuck

  18. #17
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    I'd recommend Eastman-I heard they have really upped their game since I played one like 10 years ago, Kentucky 900's are awesome or one of the many independent builders have eco models!

  19. #18
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    I would stay away from the Washburns etc.
    Go for Kentucky or Eastman.

    There are a lot of Eastman mandos in the classifieds at the moment.
    There is an MD315 for $500, which is the one you were leaning toward.
    Say there is a repair to the headstock ear, but it has nothing to do with sound or stability of the instrument.
    I would go that way, although under $1000 you are better off with an A style.
    There are several A styles in the classifieds too.

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  20. #19

    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    If there is a used Eastman at TMS, buy it now. They do list factory blem instruments on their site as used. They will tell you. I bought one and never found the flaw, and I tried. The 315 is my favorite Eastman model. They can sound very good.
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  21. #20
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    The only complaint I had with my 305 were the tuners. It definitely needed an upgrade

  22. #21
    Registered User Roger Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Well, the chase is all part of the fun. If possible, go play some of those on your list, and see what YOU like. I would not dismiss the Washburn M118SW out of hand.
    If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a vet.

  23. #22

    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    I've had my Breedlove Concert Stage for a year and a half. I still have my Epiphone that I bought in 1978. I play chords and sing... I'm hoping to expand my playing with the Mandolin.

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  25. #23
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisS58 View Post
    I've had my Breedlove Concert Stage for a year and a half. I still have my Epiphone that I bought in 1978. I play chords and sing... I'm hoping to expand my playing with the Mandolin.
    The typical advice around here is that you should expect to pay twice the amount of your flattop guitar for the equivalent archtop mandolin.
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  26. #24
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Eastman++
    My two most recent favorites of mandolins that I didn't need were a used Eastman MD305 and a new Eastman MD515 varnish. They both played and sounded really great. That 305 was a great deal.

  27. #25
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: I'm buying a Mandolin

    Welcome! I agree with the majority above that the Eastman and Kentucky would be the best all around choices. So glad you joined.
    2017 Collings MT (Gloss Top, Wide Nut)
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