Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 51

Thread: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from now

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Brentwood Md
    Posts
    21

    Default How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from now

    I am in the midst of full blown MAS. I just have to have a great F5 style mandolin can't spend more than $4500.00. How do I get the right one when I can't go test driving? Advise appreciated.

    Lisa

  2. #2
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,912
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Quote Originally Posted by Grannycrowe View Post
    I am in the midst of full blown MAS. I just have to have a great F5 style mandolin can't spend more than $4500.00. How do I get the right one when I can't go test driving? Advise appreciated.

    Lisa
    At that price, it is worth flying somewhere for an overnight shopping trip IMO.

    Are there any festivals or jam gatherings in your area? That might give you a chance to see and hear a variety of makers, perhaps try a few out if the owners are kind.

    At that stage you are buying a `lifer' instrument and finding one whose neck feels great and whose tone really sings your song is worth at least a few hundred bucks.

    Good luck. I'd doubt there are too many stinkers in that price range. I know my list price $4500 A-style is a dream to me - but at that level, the tone and feel can be wonderfully personalized if you find a chance to try a variety.
    Collings MT2
    Breedlove OF
    Ellie eMando
    Schmergl Devastator

  3. The following members say thank you to Markus for this post:


  4. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Central Illinois
    Posts
    3,073

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Another $1000. And you should have enough for a Girouard ! Maybe a little less ! Max Girouard builds fantastic mandolins ! Actually, I just found out you can get a Girouard F5 for 5000. Bucks !
    Last edited by yankees1; Sep-25-2019 at 2:49pm.
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  5. #4
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
    Posts
    13,826
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Is it possible to get them with a return policy. Get it and play it for 48 hours and keep if you love it and ship it back if you don't? You may not get that for a custom build. You may for a new or used production mandolin. Better to be out a hundred bucks for shipping than $4k.

    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

    + Give Blood, Save a Life +

  6. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Brentwood Md
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Thanks for the suggestions. I will check around to find some good "try before you buy" options by way of decent return policies. You are right better to be out the shipping cost than to end up with an expensive wall hanger. Thanks for the great suggestions. The hunt continues.

    Keep a song in your heart,
    Lisa

  7. #6
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,052
    Blog Entries
    52

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Quote Originally Posted by Grannycrowe View Post
    I am in the midst of full blown MAS. I just have to have a great F5 style mandolin can't spend more than $4500.00. How do I get the right one when I can't go test driving? Advise appreciated.

    Lisa
    I would say that the first step is to give up the notion of "the right one" and just get one that you really really like.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  8. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to JeffD For This Useful Post:


  9. #7
    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    73

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Be very careful about falling into the try before you buy trap, especially regarding new
    instruments. A few months back a guy thought he could do that on a new Martin Authentic guitar from a very reputable dealer. He ended up with an instrument he didn't want.

    If you want a new instrument, I'd advise you to take a trip to a mandolin mecca and try any potential candidates out before any money exchanges hands. It would be worth it. If travel is impossible, then be upfront and completely honest with the dealer/seller about what you want to be able to do.

  10. #8
    Pittsburgh Bill
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    604
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Buy used from the Cafe classifies and ask for a 48 hour return with you paying shipping both ways if the mandolin does not tickle your fancy.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Spare canoe paddle)
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Pittsburgh Bill For This Useful Post:


  12. #9
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    My heart is in The South.
    Posts
    437

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    My recommendations:

    My first and foremost recommendation for anyone looking to make a sizeable investment is to go where the instruments are. Pick a location, take some of your budget and go on a road trip. The Music Emporium in Lexington, MA; Gruhn’s or Carter’s in Nashville, TN; Elderly Instruments in Lansing, MI; The Mandolin Store in Surprise, AZ, and the list goes on. There are really good retailers throughout the country. I’m not sure who would fit the bill in or closest to the Brentwood, MD area, but I’m sure many knowledgeable forum members will be more than happy to recommend some.

    Second choice: Check out Meetup.com for jam sessions in or around your area. See what other folks are playing in the style of music that you enjoy. This can offer you a first-hand view and auditory impression of instruments that you may or may not know about. Important: listen, ask questions during an appropriate time (like after the session is over), but don’t ask to play someone else’s instrument unless they suggest it.

  13. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    2,086

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    shop via trusted instrument vendors such as ,ThemandolinStore, Avenue Guitars, Elderlys, Gregboyds, musicemporium. All will have a return period and all will tell you to the best that a human can, all about the mandolin you choose. Definitely buy used, all the above will have used from time to time.

    Some of the shops may even send you a soundclip if you request. I have purchased from all the above and found each to be trustworthy, respectful, and very efficient in shipping and help after the sale(if needed). I would also send an email to Northfield Mandolins, as time to time they have shopworn instruments they sale thru the workshop within that price range you listed.

    Montana Lutherie(Bruce Weber), has used instruments from time to time for sale likewise.

    for example:
    right now Avenue Guitars(father/son owned operated), have 3 very nice used mandolins in your price range(2 Collings, 1 Weber)
    https://www.avenueguitars.com/collec...ed-instruments.

    Elderlys had a used Apitius F style a short while back in your price range, and other brands. Themandolinstore and Gregboyds have used mandos consistently.
    Girouard Instruments makes wonderful mandolins, and at times will have a used one for consigned sale-inquire with them.

    I am hours away from any shop that carries mandolins, everything I've ordered has been over the phone.

    And do not forget the classifieds here on the Café. I have purchased and sold thru the classifieds with 100% satisfaction.

    also, very important, is that many of the above will ship out a mandolin that has been checked over very well, with a good setup, typically all you will need to do is adjust relief and bridge height to suit your preference.

    good luck
    d

  14. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to darylcrisp For This Useful Post:


  15. #11
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    My heart is in The South.
    Posts
    437

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Quote Originally Posted by darylcrisp View Post
    shop via trusted instrument vendors such as ,ThemandolinStore, Avenue Guitars, Elderlys, Gregboyds, musicemporium. All will have a return period and all will tell you to the best that a human can, all about the mandolin you choose. Definitely buy used, all the above will have used from time to time.

    Some of the shops may even send you a soundclip if you request. I have purchased from all the above and found each to be trustworthy, respectful, and very efficient in shipping and help after the sale(if needed). I would also send an email to Northfield Mandolins, as time to time they have shopworn instruments they sale thru the workshop within that price range you listed.

    Montana Lutherie(Bruce Weber), has used instruments from time to time for sale likewise.

    for example:
    right now Avenue Guitars(father/son owned operated), have 3 very nice used mandolins in your price range(2 Collings, 1 Weber)
    https://www.avenueguitars.com/collec...ed-instruments.

    Elderlys had a used Apitius F style a short while back in your price range, and other brands. Themandolinstore and Gregboyds have used mandos consistently.
    Girouard Instruments makes wonderful mandolins, and at times will have a used one for consigned sale-inquire with them.

    I am hours away from any shop that carries mandolins, everything I've ordered has been over the phone.

    And do not forget the classifieds here on the Café. I have purchased and sold thru the classifieds with 100% satisfaction.

    also, very important, is that many of the above will ship out a mandolin that has been checked over very well, with a good setup, typically all you will need to do is adjust relief and bridge height to suit your preference.

    good luck
    d
    +1 on Avenue Guitars. Excellent shop with terrific service.

  16. #12
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    DFW, America
    Posts
    3,242

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    I’d take a $500 road trip to a good shop with the remaining $4k in hand and try a bunch of mandolins. Money talks.
    “Don't suck the fun out of your hobby by making it results-based." -Ryan Holiday via The Art of Manliness podcast.

  17. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,054

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    You can call The Mandolin Store (NFI) and tell them the sound you are looking for, neck profile, etc and ask them for recommendations or what they have in stock that you might like.

  18. #14

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    If you buy used, it is hard to go too far wrong. You could buy two or three and not be out too much money. Of course this is far easier sticking to established names. But you then eliminate some mandolins you'd like, so in that case a road trip is in order. I'm constantly wondering about all those mandolins at Carters.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  19. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,678

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Ken Ratcliff from Silverangel will let you try one risk free. His mandolins have a sound all their own (which I like, but it’s not to everyone’s preference). And, his quality is exceptional for his prices, IMO. My Econo A compares favorably tone wise to mandolins in the 3000-4000 range based on trips to Carter’s and Gruhn’s, Lowe Vintage, and The Music Emporium. NFI.

    That said, there are lots of great options at that range for certain! My most recent foray to TME was a ton of fun. I was mainly there to check out their mandolas and OMs, but couldn’t resist trying out some Northfields and a Pava; I was very impressed with both. Had I been shopping the Pava probably would have been my pick, but the Northfields held their own, for sure. Collings, of course gives you consistent tone and quality as well, though with their recent price hike you may have to go used (which is perfectly fine).

    Happy hunting! Charles Johnson’s World Mandolin Headquarters in Virginia may be within reasonable striking distance...or it could be 6 hours away, I didn't check with Maps, lol. Truly, getting your hands on them is the best way to shop if it’s at all possible...
    Last edited by CES; Sep-26-2019 at 6:55pm.
    Chuck

  20. The following members say thank you to CES for this post:

    brose 

  21. #16

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    I'm two hours from Seattle but when I go there I plan to spend the time to try out mandolins.

    I signed up for a mandolin camp and got to hear 60+ instruments, most pro level, over several days.

    I seek out other area players to compare mandolins.
    1989/2019 Ike Bacon/Barry Kratzer F5
    1945 Levin 330
    192? Bruno (Oscar Schmidt) banjo-mandolin
    early Eastwood Mandostang
    2005 Tacoma CB-10 acoustic bass guitar
    Fender Tweed Deluxe clone

  22. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Andros Island, Bahamas
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    +1 on Elderly and the Mandolin Store. I've dealt with both and they're top notch. Ditto Northfield. Their very highly regarded Big Mon model is right at the edge of your price range. Their S series are well within it, and personally I'm thrilled with my F2S. Fiddler's Green in Austin, TX are excellent too; that's actually where I got the NF after seeing their ad for it in the Mandolin Café Classifieds.

    Speaking of which, the Classifieds on this site are actually the first place I'd look if dealing by mail. Some of the sellers there are very well established. In the recent past I've bought a fiddle from an individual and a mandolin direct from the maker, with both transactions being remarkably smooth. (OK, technically the mandolin hasn't quite got to my Caribbean backwater hermitage yet, but it's tracking as expected and the maker, Howard Morris, is an absolute pleasure to deal with.) Many of the sellers in the Classifieds will also arrange for a trial period of at least 48 hours. I'd seriously suggest having a look through there.

    Good luck, whichever way you go!
    Northfield F2S
    Howard Morris A-4
    Eastman DGM3 Mandola
    Eastman MD805PGE
    Miscellaneous tingums

  23. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Andros Island, Bahamas
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Another possibility that just occurred to me: try having a look at builders within feasible driving distance. You might start here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin...?search=States
    Northfield F2S
    Howard Morris A-4
    Eastman DGM3 Mandola
    Eastman MD805PGE
    Miscellaneous tingums

  24. #19

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Well, if you can't test play, heres what i have done. I live in Denver and finding mandos is hard. Low or mid priced, not so much, but otherwise, they aren’t around much.

    First, imho, typically, read a lot. Take testimonials with a grain of salt. Distinguish between experience and enthusiasm.
    Be patient, learn what a fair price should be. Check the classifieds, elderly. Gryphon, gruhn, carter vintage, etc. check them several times weekly.
    Second, it is my experience that at any price point, you will get, more or less, a certain quality of sound, finish, etc.
    As will offer greater price to sound value than an equivalent price F.

    I have purchased4 mandos sight unseen, and love each. 3high end Fs, one middling A.

    I learned as much as i could, knew features and market price of each when i was looking to buy.
    A trusted dealer can be a great help, but, do your homework!

    Simply, when you decide to buy, up front negotiate an exam and return, dont be shy, and, get an in hand description pre purchase.make a written list, nut, neck-straight, binding, twist, etc, , bridge, fret wear, dings, chips, cracks, repairs, originality, case, etc. this is critical and can save you money ahead of time.


    Confirm the answers in writing. This is critical too. Because you will have a record should you return an instrument and they claim you damaged it. Photos too.

    Negotiate a call tag and insurance on any return, if you decide to return. A call tag is the seller picking up the instrument, via fedex ups, etc. it helps clarify shipping liability, ie keeping any claim for damage in return on the seller.

    Fret wear is ok, within reason. A refret can cost several hundred dollars.
    I avoid cracks. Period. An arch top instrument has much stress. Cracks are also potentially very expensive.


    I would listen to many mando samples on youtube too.

    This may sound simplistic, but, it is my experience, that generally, within a certain price point, guitars, mandos, banjos are , typically very comparable in sound and quality. Yes, there are certainly differences, and you may have certain strong preferences, but I wouldn’t worry too much about trying some mail order. Yes you eat the shipping, but, you may love the very first choice, if you do your research first.

    I have a brentrup, 02 gibson fern, and ellis special. Each is different, but,not that much. The price difference among them was about 3 k from cheapest to highest. They are overall very comparable. Different sound colors, but, still really very close overall. The boutique builds have a much better fit and finish.

    Look in the ads. Theyre are a lot of used mandos. As such, consider a brand or builder of repute to help with any resale.

    Buy used. Buy something you like to look at. Trust your own ears and hands.

  25. #20

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    While I've never owned a Collings, I've played enough of them and Northfields to use them as base lines for comparison when talking about the tone of some unknown mandolin in a far away location. That can certainly help whittle down the possibilities. Brighter than a Collings? No thanks, or sounds perfect.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  26. #21
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Brentwood Md
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Thanks again. You all have given me much to think about and I will do my homework. I have been checking the cafe's classifieds every day usually several times a day just in case a new sneaks in or to be sure I haven't missed one. I will be taking your kind advice and recomendations to heart as I continue the search. I got really excited about Charles Johnson's shop and was planning to take a drive down to Richmond to check out his mandolins. When I emailed him I learned he has moved to Florida. Kind of made me sad. OBTW when I said "right one" I meant one that speaks to me. One I just can't put down. One that quickens my heart.

    Keep a song in your hearts,
    Lisa

  27. #22
    Perpetually Confused
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Columbia, Md
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    I am not sure how much of a help I will be, especially since it's a little out of the price range you mentioned, but I have a Collings F5 you are welcome to come and play to get an idea on how they feel and sound. As mentioned, each individual mando has its own character, but many Collings of the same model tend be be similar in tone to give you an idea of what one will sound like if you buy one sight unseen. Feel free to PM me if interested and we can set something up!
    ===================

    Collings F5
    Goldtone MG6 Mando Guitar
    Too many guitars to list: Mostly Martin and PRS
    European Upright Bass
    Some Uilleann Pipes

  28. #23
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    26,436

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    It is amazing but I think this may be the only similar thread without anyone mentioning "best bang for your buck" in reference to buying an A model vs. F. Oops! I guess I just did. In that price range for an A model you are looking at higher end makers vs. the F models more mid-range. I know Lisa says she wants an F but to include the possibility of premium makers and still get the same tone and playability as their Fs might be a consideration.

    Actually, I just noticed that Markus said as much in the early opart of this thread, just didn't use "best bang for your buck."

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus View Post
    Good luck. I'd doubt there are too many stinkers in that price range. I know my list price $4500 A-style is a dream to me - but at that level, the tone and feel can be wonderfully personalized if you find a chance to try a variety.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  29. #24
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,678

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    Sorry about the misinformation regarding Charles Johnson! I had no idea they'd moved
    Chuck

  30. #25

    Default Re: How to choose a good F style mandolin when you are miles from

    I would think "test driving" would be the fun part of the experience.......I suggest a travel day just for that purpose. Internet flights are super cheap -- cheaper than putting gas in a car -- leave early in the morning, fly in, spend the day, buy your favorite, eat a good meal, and fly home that same day! Sounds like great fun to me!

    Why do the shipping/48 hour approval thing -- UNLESS you are looking for a certain special vintage limited edition type of thing?

    Anyway, just the way I would look at it, FWIW.....

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •