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Thread: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

  1. #1
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    Default Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Hello, all!

    I have been extremely interested in Monteleones for quite some time now without ever having had the opportunity to play one. I live in Central Wyoming, where there isn't a huge mando scene, but I do make it down to Denver periodically for work. I barely missed playing a Monte for sale at Olde Town Pickin' Parlor in Arvada a while back and since then I've been trying to track one down to try. Does anyone know of any Monteleones for sale in the Denver area? Or any Monteleone owners who wouldn't be super freaked out by a stranger on the internet asking to play their very expensive instrument? I have a Cohen C# that I love dearly but there is just something so alluring about the Monteleones (especially the Radio Flyers).

    Thanks!

    Marta

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    You could check in with John through his web site and maybe he knows of the whereabouts of any in your area. A quick search shows only a few for sale out there and all near the East coast. Worse comes to worse. if you are serious about owning one, you could buy one on approval and ship it back if you didn't like it.

    I have a GA mandola I bought new from John and know a few folks around here (north of NY city) who play GA mandolins and one exquisite Baby Grand. They are very nice mandolins, of course. I have never played Radio Flyer but saw the one in the Met Museum show.
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Good point, Jim! I will send him an email.

    I have only seen one Radio Flyer for sale online, a beautiful A-style in Japan that was listed on Reverb. I just checked the listing again and it has ended, unfortunately. But I would love to try a Grand Artist.

    Thanks for your input!

    Marta

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    A friend of mine plays a baby grand exclusively. It is one of the best mandolins on this earth IMHO.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Jim

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Hot dang! New posting! Thanks, Jim! I couldn't pull the trigger on such an expensive instrument without playing it but it's nice to fantasize about. 😉

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    There is this Baby Grand in the classifieds at the moment...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/149044#149044

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Oh man! How do the Baby Grands sound?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    I believe that most of the BGs are f-holes—I am pretty sure that the one I know is. They sound just as good as the GAs I have played. Rich and full of tone.

    Hey, Marta. If you have the means to buy one it would be worth traveling East to DC area for one at House of Musical Traditions and Brooklyn for a GA at RetroFret. I guess that BG is near Seattle—maybe much closer to you?
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    There is a Grand Artist at Lark Street Music in New Jersey, also a standard Grand Artist and a 10 string at Carter Vintage in Nashville, and an ornate 10 string at Gruhn's. BTW, the Gruhn 10 string is half the price of the one at Carter's. All three shops have approval policies.

    I've played maybe three Monteleones, and they were not all equal; so yes, it would be to your advantage to try before you buy. Or at the very least, buy from a store that has an approval policy that they mean.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jan-25-2020 at 12:00am.

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    GA 10-string at Gruhn’s.

    I remember playing a 10-string at Mandolin Brothers and strangely was not impressed. I think the c-string was not right. Maybe it needed a heavier gauge. That one is odd with the inlays. I am on my phone but someone should post photos.
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    I would love to buy one eventually but it's going to take some planning and saving (though they are less expensive than many cars so I can justify the cost to myself). We are very early days in this scheme. At this point I'm trying to get my hands on a couple to play so that I can determine if the sound and playability are what I'm looking for. I would also like to see how my Cohen C# compares tone-wise. I was guitar shopping down at Olde Town a while back when I got to talking mandolins with one of the fellows there. I mentioned that I had a Cohen and he said, "Oh, they're really sweet sounding like the Monteleones, aren't they?" This piqued my interest (and if course I can't say, never having played a Monteleone). So, partly at least, I would like to find out if I should be expending so much mental energy daydreaming and planning or if I would be just as happy with the instruments I already have. MAS is quite the thing. 😉

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    I have loved the tone of the few Cohen mandolins I have played. When I was playing regularly in the NY Mandolin Orchestra back in the 1980s we had I think at least 5 Monteleones. I don’t know if I would say the Cohen sounded like a Monteleone—it sounded like a Cohen which was excellent. Frankly the price differential would not make much sense if you live the way your mandolin sounds. Monteleones would be like status and they certainly are fine instruments but you can get excellent tone out of less expensive ones.
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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    I had the opportunity to play three at one shop, one in for repairs, two on consignment. Each was different. Two were hardly played, one showed a lot of wear, and while not as attractive as the other two, was superior sounding. So, playing a few at intervals may not net you a deciding factor.

    The problem with many high end instruments is people bought them as investments and they have spent years in cases, not being played. It takes a while to get them to wake up and realize their voices, so it may take a while to really be able to tell what they actually sound like.

    I’ve played a few others, and while they were very nice looking, they sounded stiff. Again, they were all in perfect condition, having been played very little.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Thanks, Jim! You make a good point. As do you, Mandobar! That's kind of what I'm struggling with at this point. I do love my Cohen dearly but it is still a little tight on the high end. Of course I think it will open up a bit once I've put more time on it. I guess what I'm imagining from a Monteleone is a sweet sounding mando with more volume than I have currently. So a louder version of what I already have. I've been playing against a very well broken in Collings at jams recently and it can be difficult to be heard. But at the same time I don't really want a traditional sounding bluegrass mandolin. And if the Monteleones haven't been played in I would be up against the same issue anyway. Food for thought! I might be better off concentrating on finishing out my Cohen trio (which I plan on doing regardless. Dr. Dave is a treasure). Thank you very much for your input! I will still be on the lookout for Monteleones to try, though...😉

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    GA 10-string at Gruhnís.

    I remember playing a 10-string at Mandolin Brothers and strangely was not impressed. I think the c-string was not right. Maybe it needed a heavier gauge. That one is odd with the inlays. I am on my phone but someone should post photos.
    That GA 10-String Monteleone looks tempting. There is a photo of a less ornate but even more tempting one on page 115 of Walter Carter's book "The Mandolin In America." I too would worry that either the C or E string would be lacking depending on the scale and/or construction. There is a photo of a fan fretted Smart 10 string on page 118 that looks very intriguing. I'd be interested in learning more about these 10 string hybrid Mandola/Mandolins and who else is making them but perhaps that's for another thread.

    In the mean time I too have long admired Monteleone's designs in addition to the adventurous Cohen C# mandolins.
    Play that which you feel is groovy, get down with your bad self, and shake your money maker if it makes sense for you to do so.

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Another thing to try is to have the other player with the Collings play yours and compare volumes and tones. A lot of it comes from the player.

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Scotter, I had an opportunity to play a Smart 10-string with fanned frets that Matt Flinner had several years ago. They are really cool instruments but definitely feel strange to me. The tone was a little thinner than I expected as well (although I was playing quite lightly due to the close proximity of Matt Flinner).

    The Collings player and I have swapped mandos a few times, ajh, and he definitely has a heavier hand than I with my Cohen. That's a good point. I play in a duo with my dad quite a bit and he keeps nudging me toward getting a brasher instrument but I think a lot of it does come down to my playing style. And I am very happy with my C# (it's perty).

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    You might try different strings. Something a bit brighter.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Monteleones in the Denver Area?

    Also a good recommendation! I was just thinking about trying out some new strings. I've only ever played medium Elixer Nanowebs and medium D'Addarios on it, both of which I really like. I don't want to play down the awesomeness of my mandolin either, of course, because it is awesome. I don't think I've played it enough in the last several years to get it to open up to its full potential, unfortunately (something this thread has got me thinking about). And maybe the issue is more my dad's aged ears than my mandolin. Hard to say. 😉

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