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  1. #1
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    Default new questions

    Hi again -

    These questions are all for F model instruments:

    Why is the tail end (is this called the peninsula?) - of the fret board scalloped?
    Is there a standard scale length/nut width for a fret board?
    If i was going to upgrade my current mandolin to an American made instrument with a $2500 price point where would I start looking? (not that I need another instrument - but it's always better to have 12 guitars than 1 - I'm thinking the same philosophy applies to mandolins)

    Thanks!

    Thomas

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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: new questions

    1) The peninsula is not always scalloped and fretted. Some people actually use those frets for old classical music. Scalloping removes pick click noise from the plectrum hitting the fingerboard in the sweet spot.
    2) Nut width is most often 1 1/4- 1 1/8" Scale is most often 13 3/4ish
    3) I don't think you can get a production model USA made F style mandolin for $2500. Used - maybe. From some small shop builders maybe.

    Jamie
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    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by lescaster View Post
    Why is the tail end (is this called the peninsula?) - of the fret board scalloped?
    Because a lot of people pick over that region [it does sound less bright than by the bridge] - scalloping helps avoid having the pick click from contacting fretboard.

    Quote Originally Posted by lescaster View Post
    Is there a standard scale length/nut width for a fret board?
    Width at nut is commonly 1 1/8" but some are wider [1 3/16"] or narrower.

    Scale length is usually the same.

    Quote Originally Posted by lescaster View Post
    If i was going to upgrade my current mandolin to an American made instrument with a $2500 price point where would I start looking?
    On the used market, IMO. I would save a bit more if set on F style US-made, but something from a small builder can be sometimes found for that price [esp used].

    As there is no significant tonal difference between an F style and and A a lot of folks like me go with the much less expensive A styles as for that price you can get some pretty amazing instruments used .... my 2017 Collings MT2 I bought a year ago used off the classifieds here for just over what you're looking to spend [and it's a lifer instrument that has great tone, volume, and plays unbelievably well].

    Good luck on your quest. IMO, it's hard to beat a trip to good retailer to play everything on their wall .... there's a range in tone between makers and we all have different tastes.
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    Default Re: new questions

    The end of an F style mandolin fretboard like you are describing is generally called the "Florida" for obvious reasons if you're familiar with a map of the USA. As Jamie has said people "scoop" the Florida to avoid the pick hitting that spot. Many times the sweet spot where people want to play is right on top of that spot. You might be able to get an early 2000's Gibson F9 mandolin in your price range or a little above. If you search the Cafe Classifieds right now there are 4 that are in or close to your price range. Search using the term "Gibson F9".
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by lescaster View Post
    If i was going to upgrade my current mandolin to an American made instrument with a $2500 price point where would I start looking?
    I've always felt that the Nashville era Flatiron Festival was the best value in that price range:

    https://reverb.com/item/31177218-gib...000-honeyburst
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    Default Re: new questions

    Collings A style for american made, or if you're willing venture outside of the US, a Northfield F, or a Kentucky KM1050 new... All excellent options.
    *2002 Collings MT2
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    Default Re: new questions

    Lets say for $2500 you can hope to get lucky, or buy something cosmetically challenged. For under $3000 Ive seen Gibson F9s, Northfield F5S, Ratliff Country Boys, Weber Galatians, Flatirons, and others. More is better, but Id increase quality at least one more time to the $4-5k level before buying more. We are talking used prices here. Once you get there, you can look at old Gibson teens ovals, mandolas, octaves, etc.
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  8. #8

    Default Re: new questions

    But do bear in mind that how good you sound depends mostly on how well you can play, and very little on the price of your instrument. YMMV.

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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    But do bear in mind that how good you sound depends mostly on how well you can play, and very little on the price of your instrument. YMMV.
    Wise words, but you get there by playing a lot, and I've found there is nothing like that base quality mandolin for wanting to make you play more. A used F that would do that is within the modest, for a solid luthier or small shop instrument, stated budget. They have the added benefit of removing any excuses you might be using as to why you suck.
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  12. #10
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Wise words, but you get there by playing a lot, and I've found there is nothing like that base quality mandolin for wanting to make you play more.
    I've found there is something even more compelling: It's when you have a sound in your head - in your mind and your heart and your inner ear - that you want to achieve. That can make you want to play more. You'll try to get that sound out of any mandolin you can get your hands on, and that pursuit will keep you playing.

    That base quality mandolin can provide you with the inspiration sometimes, and the challenge sometimes, and can even help you define that sound, but IMHO the pursuit of that sound will keep you playing.
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Wise words, but you get there by playing a lot, and I've found there is nothing like that base quality mandolin for wanting to make you play more. A used F that would do that is within the modest, for a solid luthier or small shop instrument, stated budget. They have the added benefit of removing any excuses you might be using as to why you suck.
    It is very true that feedback from a better quality mandolin causes a person to practice more - you keep wanting that good feedback, and you keep trying harder and harder to get it. Positive feedback, kind of like training a dog (LOL.)

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    Default Re: new questions

    There is a Kratzer for sale - are there thoughts on this mandolin?

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    Default Re: new questions

    Yes. Another mandolin I’d like the opportunity to try. Such is life.
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  17. #14
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    I've always felt that the Nashville era Flatiron Festival was the best value in that price range
    In fact, one just hit the classifieds:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/151464#151464
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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    2009 Passernig A5
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    Default Re: new questions

    Thanks! I have already emailed the seller requesting more pictures

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    Default Re: new questions

    How do you tell which era it is from? Is serial number - date of manufacture the only way?

  20. #17
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by lescaster View Post
    How do you tell which era it is from? Is serial number - date of manufacture the only way?
    It’s not the only way, as some specs (like elevated or integrated fingerboard) changed through the years, but the safest way is to look at the last number of the serial number followed by the first number as the year of production.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  21. #18
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    Default Re: new questions

    This is a dumb question but what years am I looking for?

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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by lescaster View Post
    This is a dumb question but what years am I looking for?
    Between 1997 and c.2003 according to Blue Book of Guitar Values.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by JEStanek View Post
    3) I don't think you can get a production model USA made F style mandolin for $2500. Used - maybe. From some small shop builders maybe.

    Jamie
    If by production you mean factory built like Gibson or Collings, you're right.

    But there are several small shop American luthiers who can build you a great hand made in the US brand new mandolin (A or F) for $2500 or less. Howard "Sonny" Morris and Tom TJ Jessen are two I'm quite familiar with and highly recommend.

  25. #21
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by lescaster View Post
    This is a dumb question but what years am I looking for?
    And look closely, as apparently there is some question about whether this instrument in particular is a later iteration made in China:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...fe-Classifieds
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
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    2018 Vessel TM5

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  27. #22
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    And look closely, as apparently there is some question about whether this instrument in particular is a later iteration made in China:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...fe-Classifieds
    Let me make it up to you. If you don't mind the pickup jack, this one would be an incredible value:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/151655#151655
    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
    2018 Vessel TM5

  28. #23

    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus View Post
    . . . Width at nut is commonly 1 1/8" but some are wider [1 3/16"] or narrower. . . .
    Yup. My Gibson snakehead A's nut is just an inch.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus View Post
    As there is no significant tonal difference between an F style and and A a lot of folks like me go with the much less expensive A styles as for that price you can get some pretty amazing instruments used . . .
    Yup again. And my eyes rest easier on A's. Beauty in function.

  29. #24
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    Default Re: new questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    And look closely, as apparently there is some question about whether this instrument in particular is a later iteration made in China:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...fe-Classifieds
    That one was an import.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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