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Thread: Northfield Calhoun

  1. #1

    Default Northfield Calhoun

    I have no experience playing an instrument but have decided to try and learn to play a mandolin. Here are some photos of the Calhoun model which I purchased directly from Northfield Instruments and received today
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  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to DGtryin For This Useful Post:


  3. #2

    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    Northfield has hit a nice price point yet again for a quality product. You chose well for a first mandolin.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  4. #3
    All in FredK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    The Calhoun is a sweet mandolin. After months of mulling it over, I pulled the trigger about 4 weeks ago and got mine from Elderly. It's a big change from The Loar and both have their place. Br1ck's right - you've chosen well for a first. Enjoy the journey and happy pickings!
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

    “The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.” - Vince Lombardi

  5. #4

    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    Quote Originally Posted by FredK View Post
    The Calhoun is a sweet mandolin. After months of mulling it over, I pulled the trigger about 4 weeks ago and got mine from Elderly. It's a big change from The Loar and both have their place. Br1ck's right - you've chosen well for a first. Enjoy the journey and happy pickings!
    Please write a bit about the "big change" from The Loar ?
    With my Calhoun I received the soft sided case Northfield sells for it, and they also installed a strap button. From Amazon I bought a Snark tuner, Levy's brand strap, and a String Swing wall mount hangar. I am all set except for the knowing how to play the instrument part

  6. #5

    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    Very nice. I have drooled over their Octave mandolin. I think you chose well.
    Loar LM-370

    “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  7. #6

    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    I also bought a Northfield recently, and I love it. These Calhouns look really cool. I'd love to try one. Great choice, and good luck with the learning.

  8. #7
    All in FredK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    Quote Originally Posted by DGtryin View Post
    Please write a bit about the "big change" from The Loar ?
    With my Calhoun I received the soft sided case Northfield sells for it, and they also installed a strap button. From Amazon I bought a Snark tuner, Levy's brand strap, and a String Swing wall mount hangar. I am all set except for the knowing how to play the instrument part
    My Loar is the LM-520 (F-style). It's louder than the Calhoun (A style) and is more conducive to Bluegrass. I love it but it is weaker on the bass end. The Calhoun has a deeper voice with more sustain. It's better in the mid and low range but is OK on the upper. I like it more for the gospel, hymns and folk genres. The Loar's neck feels thicker than the Calhoun. It's easier for me to get 4-finger chords on the Calhoun but it seems (to me) that I pick more fluidly on the Calhoun. Go figure! Maybe that's because I'm more used to The Loar. Both are great - just different.

    The Loar came from TMS and was well set up with a low action. It came with a hard case, too. The Calhoun, OTOH, came from Elderly. It too is well set up but it did not come with a case. I'm using the hard case for the Calhoun and a TMS acquired padded gig-bag for The Loar. I use a braided strap for The Loar, and I need it, because of the heavy neck. The Calhoun feels much lighter and I haven't felt the need for a strap.
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

    “The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.” - Vince Lombardi

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    Congratulations! The differences described above between the Loar (an arch topped, F hole instrument) and the Calhoun (flat top, round hole), will pretty much hold regardless of the brands involved, assuming, of course, reasonably similar quality of the instruments being compared. I recently sold a Flatiron 1N (pancake similar to the Calhoun) as part of a down sizing effort, but know that I'll miss it's different voice at some point. Of note, just because the pancakes aren't voiced to be bluegrass instruments, it doesn't mean that you can't play some bluegrass on it if you get the itch, it just won't project through in a jam like an arch topped, F hole instrument will do.

    I agree that you made a great choice for your first mandolin! In general, the flat tops are less labor intensive to make (so, less expensive), and because of that I think you can get a better quality instrument in that 500-1000 dollar range with them compared to the arch tops offered. My 1N (and the couple of Calhouns I've played in stores) was a professional quality instrument...can't say that about too many $500 arch tops (exceptions from Kentucky and Eastman noted, of course)...
    Chuck

  10. #9

    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    To get a truely satisfying low end with an arch top f hole takes an investment. Used, not too much more than a Calhoun, but a beginner can find the marketplace hard to navigate. Buying a quality flat top gets you a satisfying tone and a very playable instrument from the get go. As far as playing it, head over to mandolessons.com.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  11. #10

    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    Well, I've now put in several hours of "beginner practice"; watching instructional videos to learn about correct technique for holding the instrument, arm/hand positions, correct technique for placement of fingers etc...It is encouraging that each time I pick up the instrument, doing each of these basic fundamentals becomes a bit less of a struggle.
    To me the Calhoun is a beautiful , well made mandolin . I am thrilled to have one and spend time learning how to play it.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Northfield Calhoun

    There a few videos of musicians playing a Calhoun model mandolin, and the one linked below is my favorite. I really like the sounds that Nate Roberts, whom I think is known for his playing of classical music, is able to achieve from a Calhoun:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFHBq6c1IJ0

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