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Thread: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

  1. #1
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    Default Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Hi all,

    I have recently been searching the classifieds and various websites looking for possibilities for my next mando. I currently have an older Weber Gallatin F and looking for something (used, not necessarily new) higher end, somewhere around the $5-6k range with some wiggle room.

    I have come up with a list of mandolin builders that I am currently watching for, and would like to know if anyone has any that I should be adding or checking out. This isn't a quick process in my books, so I am just adding to a list of instruments to be watching for.

    Current List:

    Stiver
    Kimble
    Apitius (current favorite on the list, but they don't come around too often)
    San Juan
    Heiden...?
    Duff
    Elkhorn
    Ellis

    Thanks for any info in advance. Open to general tips on looking in this range as well! I'm in Colorado so not super close to any of the big stores, but I'll get down to Denver Folklore every once in a while.

  2. #2
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    You might be able to find a Red Diamond A in your range. Or a RL Givens A-6. An you've already got some good ones on your list.

    If you like the Gallatin sound, a Weber Fern might be something to move up to.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Buying used can get you a great instrument for a reasonable price, if you know more or less what you want and what they're worth. Sounds like you're looking to take your time, so that will be to your advantage. One that has been known to pop up used in your price range is: Campanella. You may also consider a Collings, and I've heard good things from a friend who recently got a Girouard.

    I will also second Hanks observation about the Weber Fern, but it kind of depends on what you're looking for - do you want something "not Weber"?

    Do you have an idea what you're looking to get out of a "better" mando? That may help you recognize when the right opportunity comes along. What kind of sound are you looking for? What music do you want to play?

    You might consider having a prioritized list with stuff like sound, playability, aesthetics, and have an idea if, or how much you care about things like, for example, neck profile. I really like the feel of the Weber neck profile, and don't so much like a V-shaped profile. The normal Collings rounded V doesn't put me off too much, but I do notice it. On the other hand, I really like the pronounced compound fretboard radius on the Collings. The Collings wide neck has a more rounded back profile and a slightly chunkier feel, which I find very comfortable. I tend not to like flat boards as much, but for some things it doesn't bother me. While you're searching, you should play everything you can get your hands on, to improve your frame of reference. I hope you enjoy both your quest and the result!

  5. #4

    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Wienman

  6. #5

    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Would you prefer an off the beaten path mandolin? Your budget would buy you a nice Gibson or a Northfield Artist or the previously mentioned Collings, but I understand the need to be different.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  7. #6

    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Franzke
    https://www.mfstrings.com/about.html

    Clark - in your price range, A style or 2 point
    http://www.clarkmandolins.com/

    Last time I was in Denver Folklore Center, they had a really nice Turkey Creek!

    If I were in your shoes, I'd contact Geoff at iii mandolins and go play his instruments. He can custom build one for you and they are very sweet!
    http://www.iiimandolin.com/

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  9. #7
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    With your budget, the world is your oyster. It would be worth using a bit of your budget to travel to someplace where you can try a variety of different mandolins. The right one will find you.

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  11. #8
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Quote Originally Posted by CombustionToad View Post
    Hi all,

    I have recently been searching the classifieds and various websites looking for possibilities for my next mando. I currently have an older Weber Gallatin F and looking for something (used, not necessarily new) higher end, somewhere around the $5-6k range with some wiggle room.

    I have come up with a list of mandolin builders that I am currently watching for, and would like to know if anyone has any that I should be adding or checking out. This isn't a quick process in my books, so I am just adding to a list of instruments to be watching for.

    Current List:

    Stiver
    Kimble
    Apitius (current favorite on the list, but they don't come around too often)
    San Juan
    Heiden...?
    Duff
    Elkhorn
    Ellis

    Thanks for any info in advance. Open to general tips on looking in this range as well! I'm in Colorado so not super close to any of the big stores, but I'll get down to Denver Folklore every once in a while.
    Absolutely ! In that price range you can get a NEW Girouard ! Won't find any better workmanship and your ears will love the Girouard sound ! Built by Max and Laurie Girouard !
    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 !

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  13. #9

    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Randy Wood, for sure.

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  15. #10
    Registered User mtucker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Quote Originally Posted by violinvic View Post
    Randy Wood, for sure.
    I agree, thereís a used one in the classifieds now for under $5k, thatís about half price from a new one. Youíd have to check it out with an approval period.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/145688#145688

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  17. #11

    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Olde Town Pickin' Parlor in Arvada (Denver suburb) has a good selection.

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  19. #12
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Great thread!

    I'll second the sentiment that the world is your oyster here.

    The high cost of mandolins has led me to value A styles above other styles, particularly used A styles. Kind of like a car, as soon as it's off the lot it loses monetary value, even if in perfect condition. So, there are significant deals to be had when buying a used A style mandolin. Heck, I even think a used Nugget or Dudenbostel A style can be had for under $10k, which says a lot considering how expensive new F styles of those brands cost.

    For $5k-$6k, you can get into a used Ellis A Deluxe or a new or used Collings MT2V, depending on the specs. Both are monster instruments that are as good as anything else out there. In that price range, you're really getting into what your preference is as opposed to whether or not it's "good." So, you can browse with confidence. I've always liked Hamlett's, Elliott's, Altman's, Sumi's, and yes, Webers. However, my $.02 is if you go Weber get one made before Weber was purchased by Two Old Hippies, as the best Webers I've played were from when they were still being made in Montana, but after 2005.

    Have fun!

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  21. #13
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Quote Originally Posted by CombustionToad View Post
    ... not super close to any of the big stores, but I'll get down to Denver Folklore every once in a while.
    Then you should also be close enough to the Olde Town Pickin' Parlor in Arvada (NFI). Only visited once for an hour or two; a bit bigger than the Folklore Center and equally inspirational.
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

  22. #14
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Custom Ratliff
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

  23. #15
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    This....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/145117#145117

    Pava works in the Ellis shop and builds a great mandolin.

    I doubt you will find a Heiden in your price range.

    Good luck with your search.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  25. #16
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    I have always wanted to test drive a June and a Jacobson

    Have fun 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)

  26. #17
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Avenue Guitars in Manitou Springs, outside of Colorado Springs is a great shop.

    https://www.avenueguitars.com/
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  28. #18
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    I have always wanted to test drive a June and a Jacobson.

    Have fun 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)

  29. #19
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Not to keep piling on, but Skip Kelley, Steve Sorenson, Don Macrostie (Red Diamond), and Ken Ratcliff are building some fine instruments right now. Don's are the most expensive of my little list, but A styles periodically pop up used in the 6K neighborhood. Also, I've recently played two Northfields (NFS and Big Mon) that were outstanding instruments.

    At that budget your options are outstanding...best bet is to try to get somewhere that will allow you to get your hands on as many as you can. Good luck!!
    Chuck

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  31. #20
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Might be able to find a Nugget in your range or, as Hank mentioned, there're Givens' out there, too.

    I wouldn't rule out a new instrument from one of the builders you mentioned. I thought a new Kimble was out of my range, but it turns out Will had a batch where he was trying out some new things and I am now the proud owner of A model #266, that is the perfect complement to my Northfield F5S.

    It's worth an email or phone call to the builders you mention just to ask about what they have cooking...

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  33. #21
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Quote Originally Posted by Alfons View Post
    Buying used can get you a great instrument for a reasonable price, if you know more or less what you want and what they're worth. Sounds like you're looking to take your time, so that will be to your advantage. One that has been known to pop up used in your price range is: Campanella. You may also consider a Collings, and I've heard good things from a friend who recently got a Girouard.

    I will also second Hanks observation about the Weber Fern, but it kind of depends on what you're looking for - do you want something "not Weber"?

    Do you have an idea what you're looking to get out of a "better" mando? That may help you recognize when the right opportunity comes along. What kind of sound are you looking for? What music do you want to play?

    You might consider having a prioritized list with stuff like sound, playability, aesthetics, and have an idea if, or how much you care about things like, for example, neck profile. I really like the feel of the Weber neck profile, and don't so much like a V-shaped profile. The normal Collings rounded V doesn't put me off too much, but I do notice it. On the other hand, I really like the pronounced compound fretboard radius on the Collings. The Collings wide neck has a more rounded back profile and a slightly chunkier feel, which I find very comfortable. I tend not to like flat boards as much, but for some things it doesn't bother me. While you're searching, you should play everything you can get your hands on, to improve your frame of reference. I hope you enjoy both your quest and the result!
    Thanks for the insight. In general, I was looking for something other than Weber, not because I don't love my Gallatin but because I like change and, if possible, would like something a bit "different". I play mostly bluegrass and have considered adding Collings to the list... there are just so many models that I tend to get lost when I search for Collings.

    Thanks again for the tips! Anything at all helps and it's good for me to be thinking about specifics like you mentioned.

  34. #22
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    In general, I was looking to stray away from the bigger companies like Gibson/Northfield/Collings, but a good sounding and high quality instrument is the top priority. I have been keeping Gibson on my radar... do you have any tips for looking in the Gibson range?

  35. #23

    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Hamlett (Sunburst on this site). I’m an oval guy but Johns f-holer will never leave my side. The build quality is above Collings (MT2-O owner also) and the sound and versatility are astounding. He built the thing exactly how I wanted it and every single person who has played it has tried to buy it or borrow it off me.

    Where n Colo are you?
    Gunga......Gunga.....Gu-Lunga

  36. #24
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Quote Originally Posted by ColdBeerGoCubs View Post
    Hamlett (Sunburst on this site). Iím an oval guy but Johns f-holer will never leave my side. The build quality is above Collings (MT2-O owner also) and the sound and versatility are astounding. He built the thing exactly how I wanted it and every single person who has played it has tried to buy it or borrow it off me.

    Where n Colo are you?
    Thanks for the post, will check him out. I'm near Boulder.

  37. #25
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin Considerations -- Add to my List

    Quote Originally Posted by CombustionToad View Post
    Thanks for the post, will check him out. I'm near Boulder.
    One of John's F-5's just hit the classifieds.........

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/145842#145842

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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