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Thread: Mando flatiron buying advice.

  1. #1

    Default Mando flatiron buying advice.

    I am planning to buy a mandolin as a special gift. I have very little knowledge of mandolins and need some direction

    I have parameters that I need to stick by these are as follows.
    I.have some information that I have gathered about what type of instrument the person who will receive the mandolin is interested in.

    A. Flatiron mandolin F style
    B. I have no idea about the different types and what their highlights are.
    The gift is for a family member who generally plays Irish folk music as well as modern songs, I have heard him play an R.E.M track as well as Hallelujah that type of music.
    B I know he mentioned American made.
    He has had a really difficult time having had kidney failure which resulted in a transplant, during his recovery he bought and self taught from books and youtube totally amazing !
    The family have all chipped in with a max spend of £3000.
    Any help or guidance would be appreciated.
    We are in England so may be limited in access to mandolins?

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    The good news is that Flatiron Festival F-styles from the Nashville era (1998-2002 or so) are frequently available within your budget. There’s one in the classifieds here currently:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/152301#152301

    And there’s another on Reverb:

    https://reverb.com/item/31177218-gib...000-honeyburst

    The challenge is that both instruments are here in the States, and I don’t know what you’d have to pay in shipping / VAT / import fees to get one there.

    There is one listing from the U.K. that has been languishing in the classifieds for over two months but its asking price is well above budget:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/149069#149069

    Trevor at the Acoustic Music Co. in Brighton is a great resource, but I don’t see a Flatiron on his website currently:

    http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/

    Consider posting a WTB ad in the classifieds and good luck in your search!
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Thank you very much for going to all the effort to attach links it is going to be a great help.

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. I have found another Flatiron F5 in the Reverb site. It is priced at just over £3000 it has ivory bars on the fret board? I think that's what it is called normally dots. I asked the company (Dolphin) a question about the serial number because I had read that the first two letters tell where it was made because I know I have to buy a USA made one, I also asked for the model.
    I received a reply telling me it is a model F5 , wrongly thought they had model names list artist ect
    Then they questioned why I wanted the serial, I explained my lack of knowledge and they have not replied back.
    May I ask your thoughts on that Mandolin if you can find it?
    Again thank you very much for giving me so much help.
    Richard

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  7. #5
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    A 1996 model would have been built in Bozeman, Montana, after the Gibson acquisition which is not a bad thing. I am not familiar with that particular model, but I will say that Japanese dealers like Dolphin are not known for offering great value on their Reverb listings.
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  8. #6
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Granted that what you're proposing is a wonderful thing to do, but... it begs repeating an oft-given warning:

    A musical instrument for someone else, maybe fretted strings in particular, is such a personal thing that buying anything beyond entry level (where there's no expectation of wonderfulness) is often an exercise in futility. Would you buy them clothes without knowing their size? Probably not. So how can you buy a given fretboard width and/or contour without knowing how it fits their hand? Or their hand's particular level of flexibility, experience, and/or expertise? Or how the sound suits their ears (which are constantly evolving) and/or type of music?

    Best advise might be to simply take them shopping, where the above mentioned TAMCO is certainly a standout option over your way. The simple act of trying out an array of instruments is invariably educational, even if you only learn aspects of what you don't want.

    Just as a personal example, the nicest-for-me mandolin that I've played was a Czech-made bluegrass model (surprised the heck out of me and, yes, they're into that!), selling used for $7.5K or so, while the most disappointing instrument I've tried was a Gibson signature model, selling new for $15K at the long-lamented Mandolin Brothers in NY.

    It REALLY helps to know how they feel in the player's hand, and to the player's ears.
    - Ed

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  9. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    I would call Trevor below and tell him all that you said here and your price limit and I am sure he can advise you. Did your family member say he only wanted a Flatiron F style and nothing else would do? There are some wonderful even handmade instruments in the UK that would be appropriate for the music this person plays.

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Trevor at the Acoustic Music Co. in Brighton is a great resource, but I donít see a Flatiron on his website currently:

    http://www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk/
    Some good choices here in your price range.
    Jim

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Thank you both Ed and Jim all great advice and I get your points. The purchase is for a special occasion and to be fair because my brother has to completely isolate for a min 3 months we will now put the purchase back. I will take advice and contact the shop in Brighton which you mentioned and take my brother along for the purchase, no the big reveal that we were hoping for but realistically it's the best option. THANK YOU all for your guidance. Much appreciated.

  11. #9
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Sorry, TAMCO is closed during the virus. But hopefully in 3 months all will be back to normal, and best wishes to your brother.

    Trevor.
    Last edited by trevor; Mar-28-2020 at 5:31am.
    Trevor
    The Acoustic Music Co (TAMCO) Brighton England
    Over 100 mandolins in stock.
    www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk.

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    Registered User Mike Arakelian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    If you continue to look for a Flatiron, it will help you to know that the first two numbers in the serial number indicate the year the instrument was made, hence it’s age. For example the serial number 91052 tells you the instrument was made in 1991. Flatiron mandolins were made first in Bozeman, Montana, and then after acquisition by Gibson, in Nashville, Tennessee. I believe there have been some Flatirons supposedly made in China and priced considerably less than those made in the U.S. my advice would be to stay away from those if you should encounter one. Good luck with your search.
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  13. #11
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Arakelian View Post
    If you continue to look for a Flatiron, it will help you to know that the first two numbers in the serial number indicate the year the instrument was made, hence it’s age. For example the serial number 91052 tells you the instrument was made in 1991.
    While true for the Bozeman years, that convention changed in Nashville and was replaced by using the last and first digit of the serial number. So to use your 91052 as a (nonsensical) example, it would suggest that the mandolin was built in ‘29 (obviously Flatirons weren’t built in Nashville or anywhere else in ‘29).
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  15. #12
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by trevor View Post
    Sorry, TAMCO is closed during the virus. But hopefully in 3 months all will be back to normal, and best wishes to your brother.
    Trevor.
    Three months?! After talking about "herd immunity," apparently PM Boris J is getting super-serious about curve flattening. Wonder if it's related to his own health situation?

    Here, we flirt with "back to normal by Easter." Our local dealers have gone "on-line," closing their showrooms, but still trying to do business on a limited basis.

    Good luck over there, hang tough, better days ahead!
    Allen Hopkins
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  16. #13
    Registered User trevor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mando flatiron buying advice.

    Thanks Allen. Hopefully less than 3 months but who knows?
    Trevor
    The Acoustic Music Co (TAMCO) Brighton England
    Over 100 mandolins in stock.
    www.theacousticmusicco.co.uk.

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