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Thread: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Hello all,

    I am looking for some up-to-date advice on various aspects of selling mandolin family instruments to pursue a better instrument (already read a lot of past threads on these questions, but markets changes, etc. make me want to pose the questions again).

    My situation:

    own a fairly old Breedlove Quartz OF that I bought used in 2009, with an internal Schertler Dyn-M pickup installed. I also own a Weber Gallatin A style Mandola that I bought used in 2013. I have found that I play the mandola less than I expected, as I find it's mid-range to be lost among guitars in the ensembles I play in.

    Considering this, I am thinking of selling both the mandola and my mandolin to upgrade to a Collings MT, Pava Satin, Girouard, or some similar level A style mandolin. I am realizing that financially I will not be able to upgrade the mandolin without selling the mandola for probably ten or more years, and it seems a shame for my main instrument to be of a lesser quality than one I struggle to find a place for.

    My questions are:

    1) If a mandolin is not currently in great playing condition, is it better to sell it as is, or fix it up to sell? My Breedlove has a small chip in the finish near the top of the headstock, the frets likely need to be replaced, the tailpiece cover rattles, the tuners are really cheap, and the pickup works inconsistently (which I think is an issue of it's attachment to the body, rather than electronics). The condition of the instrument does not do justice to the quality of sound it is capable of producing. In part I've held off getting some of this work done for a while because I felt like spending that money would set me back on saving up for an upgrade; I anticipate the types of mandolins I am considering would be my sole lifelong mandolin.

    2) What are the pros and cons of consignment or trading in versus private sale on the Cafe? I live just north of Austin, so I have Fiddler's Green as an option for that kind of thing.

    3) For purchasing one of the upgrades I am interested in, I see myself as having two options: a new purchase that I could test out in person at Fiddler's Green (which will be at the top end of my budget), or a used purchase without being able to play the instrument before hand. I am thinking that the pros of a new purchase would be that I get to break in the instrument myself with my own playing over the years, and that it will come in peak condition in every way (esp. set up), and that it would be easier for me to be able to play the instrument before buying. However, used instruments don't necessarily lose value if the price is right and you keep it in good condition, may be had for significantly cheaper (and allow me more options at my price point), and will potentially have a more developed sound. Is that a generally fair assessment?

    This is a long one, but I appreciate any advice you can give on any of these questions!
    "Yeah, well, you know, thatís just, like, your opinion, man."

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    As a purchaser, I would not want to have to do a refret. The chip in the finish would be a non-issue to me. If the tuners work correctly (hold the strings tight,) the fact that they are cheap would not bother me. The tailpiece rattling would annoy me, and I don't use electronics, so I would want them gone (that's a personal preference, some people like them.) I don't know if others agree with me, but that's my opinion as to what to fix and what you could ignore.
    Consignment gives you less money but you avoid hassle. How much do you want to avoid hassle?
    Fiddler's Green may have used instruments - you could possibly have a win-win - trade in on a used instrument you could try out. Again, just my humble opinion.

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Lots to cover here. I'm not qualified to talk value other than the Weber is going to be valuable to a buyer who wants quality and not break the bank, so I'd price it a bit higher and see what reaction you get.

    I'd sell the Breedlove as is. Let the owner decide what frets it needs. I've found no particular value to pickups on resale.

    I hate to say this, but use your local stores for research. Play everything you can, find what you might like, and be sure to drop $30-40 every visit for the experience. Who knows, you might find something that fits your budget. You might find an MT two hundred bucks more than one in the classifieds. Buy it for the comfort factor. Your money will go further used for sure. Fiddler's Green does get used instruments too. A store can't offer anything close to what you might want in trade. If you have a mandolin worth $1500 and you are buying a $6000 instrument they can make you a better deal.

    Good luck on your quest.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post
    Considering this, I am thinking of selling both the mandola and my mandolin to upgrade to a Collings MT, Pava Satin, Girouard, or some similar level A style mandolin. I am realizing that financially I will not be able to upgrade the mandolin without selling the mandola for probably ten or more years, and it seems a shame for my main instrument to be of a lesser quality than one I struggle to find a place for.
    Target identified (priced high): http://www.fiddlersgreenmusicshop.co...14-girouard-a5

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post
    1) If a mandolin is not currently in great playing condition, is it better to sell it as is, or fix it up to sell? My Breedlove has a small chip in the finish near the top of the headstock, the frets likely need to be replaced, the tailpiece cover rattles, the tuners are really cheap, and the pickup works inconsistently (which I think is an issue of it's attachment to the body, rather than electronics). The condition of the instrument does not do justice to the quality of sound it is capable of producing. In part I've held off getting some of this work done for a while because I felt like spending that money would set me back on saving up for an upgrade; I anticipate the types of mandolins I am considering would be my sole lifelong mandolin.
    I don't think you're likely to get a return on investment for the cost of a refret. In my mind, you'd be better off simply depreciating the instrument a bit more than normal. For instance, if a Breedlove Of typically sold for $1000 new, and now changes hands in a private sale for around $700 used, then I'd be more inclined to offer it for $600 with full disclosure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post
    2) What are the pros and cons of consignment or trading in versus private sale on the Cafe? I live just north of Austin, so I have Fiddler's Green as an option for that kind of thing.
    The pros of consignment are that your instrument gains visibility from the shop's website and it gets into the hands of more potential buyers. You also won't have to deal with all of the tirekickers. The downside is that the shop will want its cut of the action, usually 10-20%, for services rendered.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post
    3) For purchasing one of the upgrades I am interested in, I see myself as having two options: a new purchase that I could test out in person at Fiddler's Green (which will be at the top end of my budget), or a used purchase without being able to play the instrument before hand. I am thinking that the pros of a new purchase would be that I get to break in the instrument myself with my own playing over the years, and that it will come in peak condition in every way (esp. set up), and that it would be easier for me to be able to play the instrument before buying. However, used instruments don't necessarily lose value if the price is right and you keep it in good condition, may be had for significantly cheaper (and allow me more options at my price point), and will potentially have a more developed sound. Is that a generally fair assessment?
    I would mention that one of the big pros of buying new is that the instrument carries a warranty to the original owner that often times is not conveyed when it is sold used. I would also echo Br1ck in that Fiddler's Green usually has used instruments that will allow you both the hands-on experience and the depreciation that you seek.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Thanks for the responses everyone! Went to Fiddler's Green yesterday and played a Collings MT and the Girouard that pheffernan mentioned above. The Girouard was just about exactly what I am looking for; the right general tonal profile that I like, but what really impressed me was its responsiveness at all volume levels, particularly in how it could draw a good sound out of a very light touch. Unfortunately that Girouard will likely be gone by the time I may be able to buy it, there were online inquiries even while I was there.

    Talked to them about general cost of a refret, and I am split on that. I am inclined to just sell my mandolin as is at a depreciated value, but this might depend in part on how soon I can afford an upgrade. This is the first time I have been to a shop like Fiddler's Green while also taking my mandolin along, and I must say I came away quite impressed with my Breedlove. It was maybe a tad quieter than some of the mandolins I played there, but for tone I think it stood up pretty well to comparison with everything they had; to my taste it was only clearly bested by the Girouard. That might be do to the fact that it is probably over 15 years old. If I were a wealthier man I would fix it up and keep it to give to a young player that is ready to upgrade from the standard entry level mandolin.

    Fiddler's Green wasn't interested in purchasing any of my instruments at this time, so I think the path forward is to pursue private sale of my Mandola, and I think I might see about putting in an order for a custom Girouard with just about the cheapest appointments Max and Laurie offer.
    "Yeah, well, you know, thatís just, like, your opinion, man."

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    You might ask them if you could put a down payment on the Girouard and have them hold it while you sell your other mandolins.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    You might ask them if you could put a down payment on the Girouard and have them hold it while you sell your other mandolins.
    I have no doubt that it’s a great mandolin, but it’s not a great price. There are new Girouards in the classifieds for $2600 and $3000:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/150740#150740

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/152023#152023

    And I seem to recall one from around that 2014 vintage in the classifieds somewhat recently for nearly a grand less. I was hoping there was a margin there to work out an equitable trade.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    I have no doubt that it’s a great mandolin, but it’s not a great price. There are new Girouards in the classifieds for $2600 and $3000:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/150740#150740

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/152023#152023

    And I seem to recall one from around that 2014 vintage in the classifieds somewhat recently for nearly a grand less. I was hoping there was a margin there to work out an equitable trade.
    Yeah, especially considering that one can get a new one with about the same appointments for three grand. It was a fine mandolin though. From playing that one and from conversations with Ben at Fiddler's Green, I think I have confidence enough in Girouard to work on a custom build mandolin; my one mandolin for life.
    "Yeah, well, you know, thatís just, like, your opinion, man."

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Several things come to mind. You like Girouard, and you’d probably like any Girouard. So you can keep an eye out for one in the classifieds.

    Or you can have the mandolin you own refretted and play it while you save. Often you pay a lot more for a little improvement, not that it isn’t worth it, and your mandolin fixed up might be just the thing for you. Maybe save some, sell everything, and buy your dream mandolin when you can.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Several things come to mind. You like Girouard, and you’d probably like any Girouard. So you can keep an eye out for one in the classifieds.

    Or you can have the mandolin you own refretted and play it while you save. Often you pay a lot more for a little improvement, not that it isn’t worth it, and your mandolin fixed up might be just the thing for you. Maybe save some, sell everything, and buy your dream mandolin when you can.
    I think that is the general track I will take. If the right deal pops up, I'll snag it; if not, maybe I'll be able to save enough to order a build from them before the next likely rise in pricing of their custom builds.

    The decision on whether to work on my mandolin though is much harder! It's really a question of how impatient I am with it's current state versus how long I want to wait to have enough to upgrade.
    "Yeah, well, you know, thatís just, like, your opinion, man."

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Does it really need new frets, or can the existing frets be leveled to make it play better.
    Big price difference.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    Does it really need new frets, or can the existing frets be leveled to make it play better.
    Big price difference.
    It may not need a total re-fret, I have to get that checked out. If so, it will be an easy decision to get the fret work done.
    "Yeah, well, you know, thatís just, like, your opinion, man."

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post

    This is the first time I have been to a shop like Fiddler's Green while also taking my mandolin along, and I must say I came away quite impressed with my Breedlove. It was maybe a tad quieter than some of the mandolins I played there, but for tone I think it stood up pretty well to comparison with everything they had; to my taste it was only clearly bested by the Girouard.

    It sounds as though you actually like the breedlove sound. I would consider putting the money into the fretwork - you may find that it is much better to play after you do that and you may be happier still with it.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post
    Yeah, especially considering that one can get a new one with about the same appointments for three grand. It was a fine mandolin though. From playing that one and from conversations with Ben at Fiddler's Green, I think I have confidence enough in Girouard to work on a custom build mandolin; my one mandolin for life.



    HAHAHAHHAH - Ok then.

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by John Adrihan View Post
    [/COLOR]

    HAHAHAHHAH - Ok then.
    To pull off a purchase of a 2.5 to 3 thousand dollar mandolin, I will have to draw up a contract with my wife, signed in blood, that this will be my last mandolin ever. So unless I think I may not be blowing smoke here, but who knows; maybe my wife's feelings about fine musical instruments will change over time. It doesn't help that she has a really bad piano and, despite being an accomplished pianist, she has barely a fraction of the desire I have to get a better instrument!
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post
    To pull off a purchase of a 2.5 to 3 thousand dollar mandolin, I will have to draw up a contract with my wife, signed in blood, that this will be my last mandolin ever.
    I hear you loud and clear, I signed one of those last year lol

    I would have told you to watch the classifieds here at this time of year [right before/after taxes] as there's a fair amount of good deals available. I bought an 2017 MT2 for under $3k here a year ago and it's all that - the owner just liked Northfield's sound and scroll better and wanted to upgrade a guitar ... so I lucked out.

    I would watch the classifieds here. No idea how Covid will alter things, but a patient eye looking for a Girouard probably can find a deal pop up now and then that will make it go down easier at home.
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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    I've kind of been down this road before, here are my thoughts, FWIW.

    We're probably looking at some serious economic downside, which could last for years. Some will be affected much more than others, how it will affect you and yours only you can guess.

    Least expensive option?: Since the Breedlove seems better to you after comparisons, invest a little to make it as playable and good sounding as possible. Consider a Cumberland bridge upgrade. Sell the mandola, and hold onto the money, or use some to help your wife get a little better piano. I'd consider doing any selling now, before the economy worsens, assuming it does.

    Another less expensive idea: sell both and buy a used Kentucky KM-900 or 950 (around $1,000-1,200?). These get great reviews and I get the impression many consider them lifetime instruments. I went from a couple of $3,000 mandolins, to an MT, to a Kentucky KM-250, which cost me $549 (with case) new in December of '18. I bought it from The Mandolin Store, it came with a good set up. The reason I bought new was because of the set up and reputation of TMS. Also, my research showed that as Kentucky evolved their manufacturing locations, etc. the 250 was being made by their better facility and people, starting in 2018. It seems Eastman and J Bovier have both gone through this different plant, different quality thing over the years.

    I think I got a lot of mandolin for the money. I'm not suggesting you do the same thing, just giving an example of finding the best option from less consistent, lower end sources. I'm quite satisfied with it, BTW. Also, the Kentucky 500 series gets lots of good reviews, and I think used ones go for around $500. This option puts you in a quality import, which if you really want a small shop/small factory US-made mandolin, just won't cut it.


    If you really want the far better, most expensive (of what you've mentioned) mandolin sell both your instruments now and either get a Girouard or Pava. Or for a little less, an MT. In any case, you'll get much more for your money used, and from an individual. I've had great success buying and selling instruments on MC classifieds. As others have pointed out the three you want are from very consistent builders, so buying unseen is less of a risk.

    I've spent tons of time researching, looking for, buying and selling over the years, both with mandolins and guitars. I consider it a very enjoyable part of my musical life. But, I think it's easy to over think and obsess, so I'd try to not let that happen! If you buy wisely (and used) you can usually sell easily and for not much less (sometimes more) than what you paid when and if you want another change.

    Only you can decide what's best for you - I hope you enjoy the process and the result. Hope this doesn't come across as preachy, but you are looking for advice!
    Riley

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    Default Re: Need Advice on Selling/Upgrading Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Flynn View Post
    Thanks for the responses everyone! Went to Fiddler's Green yesterday and played a Collings MT and the Girouard that pheffernan mentioned above. The Girouard was just about exactly what I am looking for; the right general tonal profile that I like, but what really impressed me was its responsiveness at all volume levels, particularly in how it could draw a good sound out of a very light touch. Unfortunately that Girouard will likely be gone by the time I may be able to buy it, there were online inquiries even while I was there.

    Talked to them about general cost of a refret, and I am split on that. I am inclined to just sell my mandolin as is at a depreciated value, but this might depend in part on how soon I can afford an upgrade. This is the first time I have been to a shop like Fiddler's Green while also taking my mandolin along, and I must say I came away quite impressed with my Breedlove. It was maybe a tad quieter than some of the mandolins I played there, but for tone I think it stood up pretty well to comparison with everything they had; to my taste it was only clearly bested by the Girouard. That might be do to the fact that it is probably over 15 years old. If I were a wealthier man I would fix it up and keep it to give to a young player that is ready to upgrade from the standard entry level mandolin.

    Fiddler's Green wasn't interested in purchasing any of my instruments at this time, so I think the path forward is to pursue private sale of my Mandola, and I think I might see about putting in an order for a custom Girouard with just about the cheapest appointments Max and Laurie offer.
    I have a Girouard A4 and a new Girouard F4 arriving this Thursday ! Workmanship second to NONE ! Sound outstanding ! Nicest man ( Max) to deal with ! I really think Laurie , his wife , is the driving force behind their success !! Sorry Max, couldn't resist !
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