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Thread: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

  1. #1
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    Default Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Hi Everyone!

    I'm just getting back into playing after about a decade off.
    My old Fender knock around for sub-$200 was ideal for a broke college kid, but I'm setting my sights higher these days. Given I've been away so long, though, I'd love everyone's feedback on good options in that $500-1,000 range. I play all across the spectrum of bluegrass-folk-jazz-blues, etc, so just looking for a good clean versatile sound where I can get myself around the fret board.

    Thanks! TJ

    PS, I've stayed relatively up to speed on Grisman, Thile, etc., but if y'all have any favorite mando albums of the last few years, I'd love to get my ears back in tune to a broader scope of what's new and wonderful in the space.

  2. #2
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Watch for a used flatiron a, either a flattop or an archtop. There are other good choices, this is just my preference in this price range.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

  3. #3
    Registered User Mando Morsi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    I just saw this on the classifieds: https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/145042#145042

    NFI and I have never even heard of this builder, I actually just clicked on the add because we have similar last names��

    but it looks nice and could be a potential steal. May not be a bluegrass hoss, but it should be pretty versatile. This opinion solely based on looks and description, so take it as you will. However a new american hand made arch top instrument under $1,000 is certainly a nice price.
    1989 Stiver F5 (Dakota)
    1921 Gibson A2 (Molly)

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  5. #4
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    In that price range you are likely to get the best instrument for your dollars with either a Kentucky of Eastman mandolin. A model instruments require less handwork than F models and as such are better buys. A Flatiron from the 80's and early 90's is also a great choice if you can find one . Flat top mandolins have a different tonal palette than an arch top instrument. They are less expensive as arching the front and back of the instrument is adding a process and cost. Be patient and your mandolin will come to you. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  6. #5
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Howard Morris has an A5 in the classifieds for $995. I think he's built more than 400 at this point, and lots of people are happy with them.

  7. #6
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric F. View Post
    Howard Morris has an A5 in the classifieds for $995. I think he's built more than 400 at this point, and lots of people are happy with them.
    Sonny Morris lives near me, and I've played over a dozen of his mandolins and fiddles. All are consistently great bang for the buck. NFI.

  8. #7
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    This old article is always worth a read:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...s_001443.shtml

    If i were shopping in the $500-$1000 range, I’d probably look for an old player’s grade Gibson oval like this one:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/144695#144695

    http://www.fiddlersgreenmusicshop.co...gibson-a-style

    It may not be collectible, but it’ll play that grass you want on your couch and excel on the folk / jazz / blues portion of your repertoire.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
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    2011 Passernig F5

  9. #8
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Is his name Howard or Sonny? Or both? I'm getting confused
    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

  10. #9
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Agree, either an old Gibson oval hole A or a Morris. Have played only one Morris but it was a very nice instrument. Both in build quality and sound.

    The vintage Gibson market is very weak right now, IMO. You should be able to find an A Jr or A for under $1000 that doesn't need work.

    https://reverb.com/item/27352791-gib...ndolin-pumpkin
    https://reverb.com/item/26386518-gib...-mandolin-1918

    No affiliation with either. Just found with a very quick search this morning.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 1941 Strad-O-Lin, 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 1950's Californian
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  11. #10
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Thanks for this help everyone! I'm a compulsive hunter of such things, so I will certainly take my time and wait for my next one to find me. And I'll get to do so much clicking-down-rabbit-holes in the meantime. Hooray!

  12. #11
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Lots of options of which I have not played but have heard good things about. Howard Morris comes off the top of my head. As to those that I have experience with include several lower and middle priced Eastman / Kentucky. I never seemed to bond with any of these as all to me sounded tinny. Additionally I have come to the realization that the look and glitz of an F Style does not do anything for me. The added benefit of allowing me to get more bang for the buck with an A Style.
    I now have one of Kentucky's A Style Master series with a radius that I bought used in the Cafe classifieds for $850.00 I find to be light years better than my previous Eastmans / Kentucky's. It is the best sub $1000.00 mandolin I have ever played allowing me to not miss so much my Collings when I'm traveling. I have never played another Kentucky Master series so I do not know if mine is exceptional or how much difference the Cumberland Acoustic Bridge it came with influences it's tonal qualities.
    Good luck and happy shopping.
    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 (Current campfire tool)
    Rogue 100A (Spare canoe paddle)

  13. #12

    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Is his name Howard or Sonny? Or both? I'm getting confused
    His name is Howard, but goes by Sonny.

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    Gunnar 

  15. #13
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Is his name Howard or Sonny? Or both? I'm getting confused
    His actual name is Howard Morris but his friends all call him Sonny. He introduces himself as Sonny. We jam at our local Old Time Fiddlers club.

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  17. #14

    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    There's a sweet looking Gibson F9 on the classifieds for $1,000(#144830). Sale is pending,but just an example of what $1K can buy.

  18. #15

    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Someone has to suggest going over budget. Stretch and get a Silverangel.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  19. #16

    Default Re: Ideas for a mandolin, $500-1,000

    Eastman 515V (perhaps slightly used) can be excellent sounding and a lot of mando for the money. Some are better than others.

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