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Thread: Love the One You’re With

  1. #1

    Default Love the One You’re With

    Just got back from another excellent trip to Elderly Instruments in Lansing where I had a chance to play a ton of mandos. There was an Ellis, a Weber Fern and a Givens that really stood out.

    But the mando I kept getting drawn back to was a Northfield S series. The same mando I play at home.

    I happen to think Northfield can hang with any builder, but the margin by which I preferred it to the others has to be down to familiarity. I guess there really is something to learning YOUR instrument instead of always looking for the next upgrade.

    MAS cured... for now.

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  3. #2
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    I so want to go there! Also Carters, and haven't been to Gruhn's new location! I think Carter's would be my choice as they have a load of everything of quality be it mandos, guitars-acoustic and electric. I'd have to spend a few days there!

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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Quote Originally Posted by BeachMando View Post
    Just got back from another excellent trip to Elderly Instruments in Lansing where I had a chance to play a ton of mandos. There was an Ellis, a Weber Fern and a Givens that really stood out.

    But the mando I kept getting drawn back to was a Northfield S series. The same mando I play at home.

    I happen to think Northfield can hang with any builder, but the margin by which I preferred it to the others has to be down to familiarity. I guess there really is something to learning YOUR instrument instead of always looking for the next upgrade.

    MAS cured... for now.
    There is truth to this - you learn how to get the best out of the mando you play, and there is a learning curve (however small) when you are trying a new instrument.

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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    And the grass is always greener.....
    I stopped at the Fiddlers Green in Austin and could have spent the week there. Good Stuff.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Once you reach a certain base line of quality tone, and your F 5S certainly qualifies, it comes down to subjectivity, both in tone and feel, but also your personal relationship to your bank account. You can afford something and still not be willing to pay for it. I've been mildly looking at new F styles lately, and while I could spend $6k, I haven't found a particular instrument that would have me doing that. In fact I lean toward a different instrument each store visit. Northfield one day, Collings the next. When I go home and play what I've got, my home built mandolin is as good as what I just played, just like your experience.

    The exception being the Ellis. But I can't afford that nor would I sell a bunch of other stuff to make that happen.

    All this sums up my feeling that you should do everything you can to reach a threshold of quality, and that can be had with something modest like my Silverangel. Once you get there, you can leave a nice shop without a bad case of MAS. Sure, you just played a bunch of really nice mandolins, but you have one too. Something like an F5S for me is one of those nice mandolins and holds its own next to a Collings the could cost twice as much.

    I am open to the realization that those who have attained a high level of musicianship would be looking for an instrument capable of fulfilling their vision, and that for them that Ellis might be their base line of quality tone. I have nothing against a hack like me buying one either. Beauty for its own sake is a valid reason enough.
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Quote Originally Posted by LadysSolo View Post
    There is truth to this - you learn how to get the best out of the mando you play, and there is a learning curve (however small) when you are trying a new instrument.
    There also seems to be a phenomenon in which our mind and ears recognize our mandolin as the sound a mandolin is supposed to make. It can take a while to reprogram, more than a trip to Elderly.
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    Registered User Mike Romkey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Mandolins are fun. All mandolins. In my experience — and many may have better ears — learning what really sounds good is a matter of experience. I had a $100 composite mandolin I thought sounded great. Then a Collings MT. Then a Gibson F5. Then a Duff. Then a Red Diamond (the best of the lot). ... The more you play a mandolin, the more it “plays in,” and the more it sounds like you, because (this is just a theory) it plays in in a way that relates to the individual’s playing. ... Northfields are nice. I had one. It’s nice to have a selection in the stable. I play my F5 mostly, but I love my A2Z and my ‘24 F2 (which I traded an Ellis A for, maybe not the best deal ever). It’s a wide river. ... Planning a trip to Carter’s but it might cost me.
    “July 9” Red Diamond F-5, '12 Duff F-5, ’24 A2-Z, ’24 F-2, '13 Collings mandola.

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    Registered User JAK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    IMHO you never know if you really like your mandolin better than ones you play at a music store, unless you bring your own mandolin to that store and compare it to other mandolins. That's the experiences I've had anyway.
    John A. Karsemeyer

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Am really looking forward to trying things out there as we pass through town next month. Been many a year since I've been there. And, yes, a Nashville trip would be nice again some time. Haven't been to Carters or the new Gruhn or Cotton music.
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  13. #10

    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Quote Originally Posted by JAK View Post
    IMHO you never know if you really like your mandolin better than ones you play at a music store, unless you bring your own mandolin to that store and compare it to other mandolins. That's the experiences I've had anyway.
    This is true and a real eye opener. I did this inadvertently by asking for advise on my Silverangel's setup. It was tweaked a bit then handed to me in the mandolin room at Gryphon where I did direct comparisons. That is when I realized it was as good as Northfield and Collings. It would be a subjective judgement. All had rich quality sound.
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  14. #11

    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Ironic, this thread! I was in Nashville yesterday as my band was playing a show. We stopped at Carter's and I wanted to play the Ruhland F5 I had heard was there (I was going to post this in the "in praise of matt ruhland" thread, but then saw this). I currently play a Northfield NF-5S. I played the Ruhland, but also spent a few minutes with all of the other quality F5s in the main room including: Poe, an Arches build, an Apitius, Duff, gosh I can't even remember the others as its been a long day and I drove home to Chicago through the night. Anyway, I experienced the same thing you describe! These instruments were all fantastic in their own individual way, and I barely scratched the surface of each ones sonic capabilities. But, only 1 or 2 stood out to me as being (to put it super bluntly) $2,000-$4,000 better sounding than my 3 year old Northfield. Many good points and thoughts given by previous posters on this thread. I can totally see how one's ear could become "biased" to playing a singular instrument, and maybe that's what happened to me. I will keep shopping for the next F upgrade. I love my Northfield and am impressed with it all the time, but I do desire more in certain aspects of tone. That being said, in my personal opinion, that Ruhland was the best F5 in the room at Carter's. Sorry for the long rant, awesome OP.

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  16. #12

    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    I think we would all be advised to really pay attention. Once in a blue moon, you find something that is so captivating that an hour or two goes by before you come up for air. Recognize this for the rarity it is and do not hesitate to buy. My rule number 1 is to only play mandolins slightly out of my comfort zone, no more than a thousand or so. But when you get that feeling be prepared.

    This is how I came by my Epiphone Texan, a guitar not without its issues. I could sell it in a heartbeat to any number who have heard it, despite its cosmetic challenges. It pretty instantly fit my hands. Played it four hours and went to the bank.

    It is that feeling and no other that will part me from my cash. So I play and enjoy my shopping experiences waiting for the magic. I was within ten minutes of buying an MT when my Silverangel showed up in the classifieds for a lot less. Going from my Eastman, any well made mandolin would have been a huge improvement. Now improvement is more illusion. Things are more different than better.
    Silverangel A
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  17. #13
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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    I brought my much-loved MT into a music store recently, to compare it against a couple of F models. I played a new Collings MF, and a very nice used Stiver F. Both of the F's sounded great, of course, differen from but not "better" than my MT - in fact, I liked the sound of my MT the best of the 3. I would have had to drop at least $2.5k above what I could get for my MT for either of these fine instruments. I left the store especially happy with the mandolin I already own. (*whew*)

    Cheers,

    Rob
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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    A "new" or different mandolin played in a music store, or a jam session doesn't change the sound or playability of the mandolins I have at home, but there is MAS. If a mandolin speaks to me I try my best to buy it. I don't replace one that I already have, they are still as good as ever,that is why I have a house full of mandolins, each one is my favorite when I play it. I'm a firm believer that you don't sell instruments you just buy more

  19. #15

    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Those MT's are so very sweet sounding. One of my favorite mandolin sounds on the planet comes from I believe it's the MT with I want to say torrified Sitka top. I could be wrong, do they put more than just the Engelmann on those? Wonderful value...

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    Default Re: Love the One You’re With

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Growth View Post
    Those MT's are so very sweet sounding. One of my favorite mandolin sounds on the planet comes from I believe it's the MT with I want to say torrified Sitka top. I could be wrong, do they put more than just the Engelmann on those? Wonderful value...
    yep, torrefied Sitka top MT. I have one, its wonderful.
    d

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