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Thread: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

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    Question ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Hi All, I've been a bluegrass fiddler for 14 years and I am expanding to mandolin. I own an Eastman 504 O-hole mando. I bought this mando for the couch, not for jams. It is time to replace it with a solid F-hole (and I am assuming) A-style instrument with the bluegrass bark that everyone wants. I am new to mandolin brands, but at this point I do think I can tell a better instrument from a poorer one when playing it. I am open to new or used. My price range is $900-$1200. Is that a realistic price range for what I am talking about? I'm hoping to get out of the cheapest mandos and into something I can stick with for awhile. In terms of instruments I can play in person, I live in the SF Bay Area and go to the Father's Day Festival. I am open to instrument makers with less name recognition, if they make decent instruments in this price range. I am watching youtubes and reading up, to educate myself. If there are any great Mandocafe threads you can point me to--I can't be the first person to ask this question--I'd appreciate that, too.

  2. #2

    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Jbovier. Howard Morris. Ratliff Country Boy.

  3. #3
    Registered User Willem's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    A Howard Morris A5 goes for $995 new. He often posts in the classifieds and will build custom. Great instruments! A quick search of Morris will bring up dozens of threads.

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    I’ll throw in for Howard Morris as well. In that range, I think he’s it, head and shoulders above the rest. However, Eastman has been known to nail it as well, and I hear there is a great MD505 at The Mandolin Store right now...

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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    You can get a used silver angel in that range, although it's not everyone's cup of tea. The others recommendations are great
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Morris, Silverangel, and Kentucky 900 series. Used Ratliff, Bulldog (Kratzer), and (rarely these days) Gibson A9 and Weber A styles pop up close to your upper #. Happy hunting!
    Chuck

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    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Flatiron A
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    I have no financial interest, and I have not played one of these, but they are spoken highly of around here. This one caught my attention, but I have neither need nor budget for it. Seems like a great deal though.

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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    I have no financial interest, and I have not played one of these, but they are spoken highly of around here. This one caught my attention, but I have neither need nor budget for it. Seems like a great deal though.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/147203#147203
    Never played one of these, but if it were me this would hit the sweet spot.

    If you don't like it, you can probably sell it for what you got it for or at minimal loss. Something custom made [Morris, Silverangel, etc] or a new mandolin can only be sold at significant loss. Provided you have 48 hours to approve it or send it back, used is a wonderful way to buy.

    IMO, when you're ready to buy your `lifer' and have experience, buying a custom or brand-new is a great way to get a unique and wonderful instrument. Until then, I would go with something easily re-sold.

    Used is always a little risky feeling, but the management here are very on top of false sellers and do their best. I bought my Collings from the ads here - the hour long chat about mandolins and music I had with the seller prior to buying reassured me as he was a super nice person and I could paypal him a couple thousand and relax about it.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    You can occasionally find a Gibson A9 in your range that would suit your needs.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Eastman 515. New, with lifetime warranty right in that range.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    A used A style something at $1200 would get you something special. That amount is a real gateway to the good stuff. A 900 or 950 Kentucky gets close.
    Silverangel A
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    A used A style something at $1200 would get you something special. That amount is a real gateway to the good stuff. A 900 or 950 Kentucky gets close.
    Agree. Eastman and Kentucky are making quality instruments. But all the earlier suggestions are accurate.
    Good luck!
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Wow, Thanks All of You for your suggestions!!!! I have loads to work with now. I plan to take it slow while I save up, and play as many mandos as possible. When I do purchase, I hope to do so cash (or paypal) in hand. Again, thanks so much for giving me some great tips on what to look for; Maybe I will be able to pass on the favor to someone else, when I am up to speed. Yay Mandolincafe!!

  15. #15

    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    There are gems out there in the $1200 used market. I think I paid $1400 for my Silverangel A style, but it was fully bound. An Econo would easily be had within your budget. A Kentucky master would be a big upgrade but not quite over the hump to lala land. Still, the only real alternative to spending over a grand IMHO. If you want a bright mandolin that is a no brainer can’t miss, you need to pony up $1800 or so and get a Collings MT. Still, my SA hangs with an MT, but has a very different tone you might love or not. I guess the same could be said of an MT, but you could sell it easily.

    One of the real bummers of the mandolin world is the lack of places to try all the worthy options. Still, my SA was a leap of faith.
    Silverangel A
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    Registered User archerscreek's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    I see more Eastman 300 and 500 series mandolins at bluegrass jams than any other by far. I recently read where the Mandolin Store put in a fall order with Eastman for three hundred mandolins or something like that. There's a ton out there for a reason.

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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    I have one of those Eastman MD515 mandolins and really like it. A very good instrument for the money I think. Mine is two years old now and sounds great. I did upgrade the case and bought a much nicer Gator brand case. Of course I installed a K&K pickup. Play it in church every week. Awesome.
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    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    It's hard to beat a Kentucky 900series in this price range. I briefly had one that punched way above it's grade.

  19. #19

    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    You could also look at an F-style Kentucky KM-1000 in the used range. I got one a few years ago, and this is truly a bluegrass mandolin. I am also a long time fiddler who doubles on mandolin, and the F-style is the way to go for me. It has the sound AND the look!

  20. #20
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISO Recs for Bluegrass Mandolins in the $900-1.2K rang

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Sheets View Post
    Flatiron A
    This one seems a great buy: https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/147940#147940
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

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