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Thread: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

  1. #1
    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Went to Carter Vintage to drop an instrument for a repair. I came with a laundry list of instruments I wanted to try, but mostly wanted to A/B their Heiden and Northfield GOMs. For the past two weeks, I have been playing my lovely Mowry GOM. The peg popped out while I was grabbing for a puppy. The instrument dropped top first on the floor and caused some non structural, cosmetic damage and why I was dropping it off, to protect the wood where lacquer had been scratched to the wood, sounds a lot worse than it was. Walter showed me the Heiden and Northfield and left me to sound test. I decided to try the Northfield first so to give it a fair shake. The Northfiekd has a really nice look. My expectations were high. I was immediately not impressed with the feel. It felt a bit loose. The tone was not as deep and rich as I would have liked. I was disappointed. Having played a number of Northfield mandolins, I did not think, at least this particular instrument, was special, unlike my reaction to their mandolins. I picked up the Heiden. What an instrument. Beautiful wood, finish and appointments. The tone was rich and pure, very precise. Were we not putting in a new garage, I might have figured out some creative financing to take that lovely home. Coming in I thought there might be a good chance that I might take the Northfield home, but that was not going to happen. I came out feeling that my Mowry, while not quite as sophisticated a sound as the Heiden, would stand pretty close. I would like to thank Walter for letting me try so many instruments. I wore out the high end mandolin room. To conclude, I realize that comparing a 4k to a 11k instrument is not fair. I was not disappointed with the Northfield compared to the Heiden. I was disappointed with the tone, sound and feel at any price point. Again, maybe that Northfield may have needed a setup. It was a fun and worthwhile trip.
    Tony Huber
    1930 Martin Style C #14783
    2011 Mowry GOM
    2013 Hester F4 #31
    2014 Ellis F5 #322
    2017 Collings MT2-O #3666
    2017 Nyberg Mandola #172

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  3. #2
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Thanks for sharing, Tony. I’ve found time spent in a high-end mandolin room can be revealing. There’s usually seems to be at least one winner in the room, and there seem to be surprising let downs as well. I played a few Northfields at The Mandolin Store recently, and I thought they sounded very good, although I was a little skeptical because of the made in China aspect. Next to the Gibsons, Collings, and Ellis, I thought they held up well. But, they’re all different, right?

    Thanks again for sharing your cool story.
    Last edited by Kevin Briggs; Nov-01-2019 at 10:24am.

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    Registered User KrittMoore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    I had the great pleasure of picking that Heiden Octave up from Michaels shop for a friend and was able to spend a few weeks with it. I had never been so drawn to an instrument. I’d put it down and instantly want to pick it back up. That Octave really has something special going on.

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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    I'm really happy with my flat top Northfield octave, but I don't have a lot of experience playing others either. I guess you're comparing the archtop since it was 4k. I played them both and preferred the flat top for what I wanted to do with it, but liked them both.
    Drew
    2016 Skip Kelley Vintage F-5 (#54)
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    I played a Northfield arch top GBOM at TME a few weeks ago along side a Girouard GBOM. The fit and finish on the Northfield was very good, and the tone was pretty good, a little louder than but not as complex as the Girouard. The 22 inch scale length was tough to play vs the 20 inch on the Girouard (which is true for all 22+ scale OMs for me, not a knock on the Northfield). I probably should have left with the Girouard, but "thought about it" for a few days and missed out on that one.

    That said, I played a Big Mon alongside a Pava F5, and the NF more than held its own. Both were very, very good mandolins.
    Chuck

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    I played a Northfield arch top GBOM at TME a few weeks ago along side a Girouard GBOM. The fit and finish on the Northfield was very good, and the tone was pretty good, a little louder than but not as complex as the Girouard. The 22 inch scale length was tough to play vs the 20 inch on the Girouard (which is true for all 22+ scale OMs for me, not a knock on the Northfield). I probably should have left with the Girouard, but "thought about it" for a few days and missed out on that one.

    That said, I played a Big Mon alongside a Pava F5, and the NF more than held its own. Both were very, very good mandolins.
    Interesting.... I was able to play two Pavas recently, also next to two Northfields, and I liked those Northfields more. I don't have anything bad to say about Pavas. The strings on them seemed a bit dead, which would certainly be a factor, but those Northfields sounded and played great. Now, it could also be that I had very high expectations for the Pava, and my expectations for the Northfield were not so high. Who knows!

  8. #7

    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    Thanks for sharing, Tony. I’ve found time spent in a high-end mandolin room can be revealing. There’s usually seems to be at least one winner in the room, and there seem to be surprising let downs as well. I played a few Northfields at The Mandolin Store recently, and I thought they sounded very good, although I was a little skeptical because of the made in China aspect. Next to the Gibsons, Collings, and Ellis, I thought they held up well. But, they’re all different, right?

    Thanks again for sharing your cool story.
    It took me a while to overcome my Northfield bias, but came to realize there was no fundamental difference between a fine craftsman in China, and a fine craftsman anywhere else. Australia, Chezk Republic, US, Canada, a mandolin is a mandolin, regardless of who made it. Northfield succeeds because a living wage with benefits is less in China than elsewhere. Every time I play a Big Mon back to back with a Collings MF, I have these thoughts. First, the Big Mon is fully bound, glossy finish, with inlayed headstock vs top binding and semigloss finish. Second thought is how qualitatively similar they are. Third thought, damn, $1500 is a lot of money. Forth thought, man it would be nice to have a Collings. Half the time I prefer one, half the other. I think the $1500 part would decide things.

    [
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    It took me a while to overcome my Northfield bias, but came to realize there was no fundamental difference between a fine craftsman in China, and a fine craftsman anywhere else. Australia, Chezk Republic, US, Canada, a mandolin is a mandolin, regardless of who made it. Northfield succeeds because a living wage with benefits is less in China than elsewhere. Every time I play a Big Mon back to back with a Collings MF, I have these thoughts. First, the Big Mon is fully bound, glossy finish, with inlayed headstock vs top binding and semigloss finish. Second thought is how qualitatively similar they are. Third thought, damn, $1500 is a lot of money. Forth thought, man it would be nice to have a Collings. Half the time I prefer one, half the other. I think the $1500 part would decide things.

    [
    Great points. I agree that I want them all. :-)

    For me, it’s also worth noting Collings has some mystique to it, which I think is due to when the company hit the market and who plays them. Collings mandolins came on the scene when Gibson was the only larger scale show in town, and was received very well. The reputation of the company is stellar, the instruments are top notch, and some notables owned and played them, like Jeff Austin, Kim Warner, Edgar Meyer, and Adam Steffey, amongst others. So, there’s a pretty substantial word of mouth mojo going on for Collings.

    The Northfields don’t have that yet, at least to the same degree. Mike Marshall would have to play them live and on albums for a little instead of his Loar to truly give his endorsement. So, I’m tainted by the perception that Collings has it going on and hopefully Northfield does, but hey, they’re new and of course I’d pay more for Collings, etc. and so on. Doing my best to set that aside, I do think the Northfields were great, certainly better than some others in the room that are “supposed” to be better. I’d welcome one in my home, and that newer economy A style they have is mighty tempting. I’ll add, to offer a varnished F style with full appointments for under $4k is an impressive accomplishment.

  11. #9
    Registered User scapier's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    I haven't played a Northfield octave mando but I sure like how they look. I played one northfield mando and really dug it. the voicing was great. I just received my Heiden octave mando and it is truly an incredible instrument, versatile in tone, and with a strong clear voice. The jury is still out on what string gauges will be best, but boy is it a phenomenal addition to my music.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    It took me a while to overcome my Northfield bias, but came to realize there was no fundamental difference between a fine craftsman in China, and a fine craftsman anywhere else. Australia, Chezk Republic, US, Canada, a mandolin is a mandolin, regardless of who made it. Northfield succeeds because a living wage with benefits is less in China than elsewhere. Every time I play a Big Mon back to back with a Collings MF, I have these thoughts. First, the Big Mon is fully bound, glossy finish, with inlayed headstock vs top binding and semigloss finish. Second thought is how qualitatively similar they are. Third thought, damn, $1500 is a lot of money. Forth thought, man it would be nice to have a Collings. Half the time I prefer one, half the other. I think the $1500 part would decide things.

    [
    Hi Brick.
    I have both a Collings MF and a Northfield Big Mon. I find they have different voices, and appreciate each. The MF seems drier and cuts great in a jam. In fact, I'm often told it is louder than I think it is. The Big Mon has a rounder, fuller sound, and is what I pick up when I'm playing by myself. It comes through great when amplified in the band's PA. Both wear a set of Northfield strings, which are really a custom set of coated d'addarios. Bottom line, I like them both.
    One watch by night, one watch by day...if you get confused, just listen to the music play.

    1916 Gibson A1, 2013 Collings MF, 2018 Pomeroy Oval V style, 2019 Northfield Big Mon F
    1968 Martin D12-20, 2008 Martin HD28, 2016 Waterloo WLS Deluxe
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  14. #11

    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    I was at Carters recently and played that Heiden Octave. What a beautiful and well made instrument! To me the neck and action were so easy to play, and this is important for an octave with the larger strings and body shape. I have an Old Wave guitar shaped octave and to compare, I would say the Heiden was more refined in tone, and again impressed with the playability. I played so many instruments while there, I think I remember playing the Northfield and wasnít impressed. The Heiden is in a different class. I like my Old Wave very much, but my complaint on these Octaves is the G string is jangly and hard to get clear tones. If I didnít already have the Old Wave, and had the bucks there is no question the Heiden would be an excellent choice.
    Teri LaMarco

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    Great points. I agree that I want them all. :-)

    For me, it’s also worth noting Collings has some mystique to it, which I think is due to when the company hit the market and who plays them. Collings mandolins came on the scene when Gibson was the only larger scale show in town, and was received very well. The reputation of the company is stellar, the instruments are top notch, and some notables owned and played them, like Jeff Austin, Kim Warner, Edgar Meyer, and Adam Steffey, amongst others. So, there’s a pretty substantial word of mouth mojo going on for Collings.

    The Northfields don’t have that yet, at least to the same degree. Mike Marshall would have to play them live and on albums for a little instead of his Loar to truly give his endorsement. So, I’m tainted by the perception that Collings has it going on and hopefully Northfield does, but hey, they’re new and of course I’d pay more for Collings, etc. and so on. Doing my best to set that aside, I do think the Northfields were great, certainly better than some others in the room that are “supposed” to be better. I’d welcome one in my home, and that newer economy A style they have is mighty tempting. I’ll add, to offer a varnished F style with full appointments for under $4k is an impressive accomplishment.
    Yes, Collings has a definite mystique (or even snob appeal). I remember looking at the ads back in the day in the guitar mags (Are you getting enough guitar? Serious guitar? — something along those lines). It all drew me in and gave me a fascination with the brand long before I’d ever put my hands on one of their instruments. Either marketing really does work, or I’m a sucker, or both.

    Having said that, when I went to Fiddler’s Green five years ago to finally get my own Collings, I noticed a Northfield and picked it up. It was as nice as anything else in that shop and I’d have been proud to own it.
    ...

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    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    Heiden vs Northfield...Collins vs Northfield

  18. #14

    Default Re: Heiden vs Northfield GOM

    On GOBM - Mowry and Girouard are excellent! Have not tried the Heiden. I did try a Northfield and I do not think it was as good as the Mowry or Girouard. But it could have been the particular one.

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