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Thread: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

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    Question Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Hey everyone,

    Just turned 30 during this quarantine, I'm stuck at home alone in Italy and would like to buy a mandolin online to start doing a bit of playing.

    I play bass and dabble in classical guitar, and I would probably be mostly playing or trying to play classical music on the mandolin.

    I've been doing some research, and I must say I'm a bit stumped, since I know almost nothing of the instrument.

    I really like the look of the F-Style mandolins but the sound seems a bit punchy and 'sharp' ( pardon my wrong terminology ), while the classic sound-hole mandolins seem to have a warmer tone ( maybe more suitable for classical music? ). Bowlback mandolins seem to be out of my price range since I am trying to buy a new instrument.

    I'm looking to spend 500 Euros, and the two mandolins I was looking at currently were the Seagull S8 and The Loar LM-520. From the videos I've seen I like the Seagull's sound more, but The Loar seems to be a lot more appreciated, what might a newbie like myself be missing when looking at the differences? Also, I'm open to any suggestion in that price range.

    Another major factor in my choice will be if the instrument will be playable 'out of the box' as luthiers in my area will be closed for the foreseeable future, and I don't want to struggle with a complex set-up.

    Sorry for the rambling post, cabin fever is getting to me.

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Italy is the home of the bowlback mandolin, and they are well suited for classical play. Their 13" scale makes long stretches considerably more comfortable than the 14" instruments you've mentioned.

    Carlo Mazzacarra is heavily involved in making, restoring and selling these mandolins in Italy. If I were in Italy, I'd give him a call; he'd certainly have the ability to direct your search, if he didn't have exactly what you wanted at hand.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    You could speak to Carlo M but I highly doubt he has mandolins in that price range. Any mandolin would be fine for classical playing as ling as it is set up properly. I personally like bowlback mandolins but I hesitate to recommend them to people who have not played them. It can be frustrating to figure out how to hold them especially if you don't have any guidance from a teacher. Plus I don't think you can find a new one for 500€s. I don't know what else would be available in Italy from but I would look for an oval hole mandolin. If you can find a Kentucky KM-272 that might be a good one. I don't know if APC in Portugal sells in Italy or if you can order from them.

    The Seagull S8 is very well made and could be fine. I have not played The Loar model you mention but some other folks here surely have.
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    They are not the new instrument you seek, but how about an Antoine DI Mauro mandolin? There are several available in Europe and within range of budget. Christian Hamonic has two posted to the classifieds in France:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/145078#145078

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/151526#151526

    And there’s a slightly more expensive one at The Fellowship or Acoustics in the Netherlands:

    https://www.tfoa.eu/en/dimauro-antoi...specifications
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    This guy, Mandolinluthier in the South of France might have something that fits your needs. I haven't dealt with him personally, but other Cafe members have, and his reputation here is good. He's a luthier so his instruments are likelty to be set up well, and he does sell some new instuments. Worth contacting.

    bennyb

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    I've bought a couple of bridges from him. He's a pleasure to do business with.

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    And there’s a slightly more expensive one at The Fellowship or Acoustics in the Netherlands:

    https://www.tfoa.eu/en/dimauro-antoi...specifications
    My mother's side of the family is from Catania so it would be appropriate, and maybe I can eventually I can also get a DiMauro guitar to complete the collection, but I feel like they might go for a lot more.

    That last one you linked, would that be considered a flat-top? It's a awesome instrument.

    Quote Originally Posted by bennyb View Post
    This guy, Mandolinluthier in the South of France might have something that fits your needs. I haven't dealt with him personally, but other Cafe members have, and his reputation here is good. He's a luthier so his instruments are likelty to be set up well, and he does sell some new instuments. Worth contacting.

    bennyb
    He has some gorgeous instruments, I keep finding one I like to only realize a few seconds later than it's already been sold.

    Thanks for the suggestions guys, but now I'm really torn between these three:

    Di Mauro Model 10

    This absolutely gorgeous fluted bowlback. ( Although I can't really tell if I like the sound of it or not from the posted video and feel like the price-tag might mostly be because of the beauty of the instrument.)

    Or the Kentucky KM-272

    If anyone can tip the scales one way or the other that would be a huge helping hand.

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Personally, I'd go for the bowl.

    It's a far cry from a modern mass-produced instrument, the bling is not extreme, the fluted ribs generally go along with higher-quality.

    I assume you'd get a few days' trial to see if it suited you. The fact that it's far from a run-of-the-mill instrument should inspire you to throw yourself into enjoying it, and, let's face it, comparatively the flatbacks are, well, kinda boring.

    But I like bowlbacks. My first mandolin was a cheap Czech pawnshop bowlback, and I played it until the cheesy brass frets wore out. The one you're considering is a couple orders of magnitude better. I assume too that it will have been properly set up, by someone who knows what he's doing, which makes a lot of difference. Jump on it, and never look back.

    You already know you want it.

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    How much would it cost to buy from the Mandolin Store and have it shipped? I know they ship overseas.
    Loar LM-370

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

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Quote Originally Posted by Aimone View Post
    That last one you linked, would that be considered a flat-top? It's a awesome instrument.
    While it has a flat (as opposed to a canted) top, it would be considered a flatback (to distinguish it from bowlbacks).

    Quote Originally Posted by Aimone View Post
    If anyone can tip the scales one way or the other that would be a huge helping hand.
    It would be interesting to hear an audio sample from Di Mauro, whether from Christian Hamonic or The Fellowship of Acoustics, before making a decision. I have been unable to find one.
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    I agree with Jim in post #3 about a Kentucky KM-272. This link should give you plenty of information, along with an audio/video clip:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...+km-272+review

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    I have an S8, it’s kind of cool but not getting much play these days. Good for travel, under-desk at work, that kind of thing. I paid $370 Cdn new, frankly I think you could do better for 500Euro and I wouldnt pay that much for one. I am not a fan of the flat fingerboard. But you are correct that they tend to be set up out of the box and not something you’re going to start trying to customize, since the parts are mostly unique.

    The Loar suffers from the disdain of people like me who think their use of the name (which they paid Gibson for, which proves to me that Gibson is prone to errors in judgment) is tacky, and inevitably people get tired of saying things like “my The Loar x4hamsandwichwhatever” because the extra article sounds dumb, so said people say “my Loar”, which is a crime against all that is holy and good in this world. Cause we know what a Loar is and that ain’t it. (Thank you for using the full name btw, I can see that you are a good person.) You are right though that they have achieved some degree of acceptance in the budget-utility grade, bluegrass style mando world, that is of course why they bought the name.

    Any Eastman model is better than either of them. Mandolins with F-holes can be very effective for classical music with their excellent projection. Hope you can get ahold of something that pleases you in this crazy world we are currently inhabiting.

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    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Quote Originally Posted by Aimone View Post
    My mother's side of the family is from Catania so it would be appropriate, and maybe I can eventually I can also get a DiMauro guitar to complete the collection, but I feel like they might go for a lot more.

    That last one you linked, would that be considered a flat-top? It's a awesome instrument.



    He has some gorgeous instruments, I keep finding one I like to only realize a few seconds later than it's already been sold.

    Thanks for the suggestions guys, but now I'm really torn between these three:

    Di Mauro Model 10

    This absolutely gorgeous fluted bowlback. ( Although I can't really tell if I like the sound of it or not from the posted video and feel like the price-tag might mostly be because of the beauty of the instrument.)

    Or the Kentucky KM-272

    If anyone can tip the scales one way or the other that would be a huge helping hand.

    The Puglisi fluted bowlback mandolin has much better quality materials. The cheaper instruments, guitars as well as mandolins, 'paint or stain' cheaper quality wood. (As in the model 10)

    These are two different styles of mandolin, and three if you consider the bluegrass style. I'd listen to recordings of similar instruments. (I think the DeMario would be considered a German style?). In any case audio examples of the three types of mandolins are everywhere.

    The other consideration is that the fluted back feels a bit different than a flat back mandolin or guitar.
    I have both and only the scale length seems to matter. And I adapt to it fairly quickly.

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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    get the best A5 you can afford. Classical? Just check out Ekaterina Skliar on YouTube! She plays a Gibson A5. They were made to play everything. Not just bluegrass!

    f-d
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    The Puglisi fluted bowlback mandolin has much better quality materials. The cheaper instruments, guitars as well as mandolins, 'paint or stain' cheaper quality wood. (As in the model 10)

    These are two different styles of mandolin, and three if you consider the bluegrass style. I'd listen to recordings of similar instruments. (I think the DeMario would be considered a German style?). In any case audio examples of the three types of mandolins are everywhere.

    The other consideration is that the fluted back feels a bit different than a flat back mandolin or guitar.
    I have both and only the scale length seems to matter. And I adapt to it fairly quickly.
    I agree with DougC. I actually have a DiMauro mandolin that needs some restoration. So I can't say I definitely know how it sounds properly set up with strings and all but just handling it, it feels less responsive than a quality, lightly-strung Italian bowlback. Puglisi mandolins are probably the most respected of all the Catania-made bowlbacks. That one that Dave Hynds has looks quite nice and at a decent price.

    On the other hand, I agree that most decent quality mandolins would be fine for playing classical. Best to get one (if possible) that pleases your ears most of all and that feels easy to play.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Mar-30-2020 at 3:32pm.
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Buy the fluted bowlback, before I do. I need no more mandolins, but it looks great, and the price is remarkably reasonable for what it is.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
    Buy the fluted bowlback, before I do. I need no more mandolins, but it looks great, and the price is remarkably reasonable for what it is.
    I don't know if you, Bob or the OP bought this but it is now marked on this page as SOLD.

    Also, for the OP, as far as the sound in the video. That mandolin is strung with GHS Ultra-lights which is usually my first choice to start off and see if a mandolin is worthy of a better string. I prefer Dogal Calace RW92b Dolce strings and they make a world of difference on vintage bowlbacks to my ears. I, too, would not go with the tone I hear from that video but, with no offense to Dave H, I think he could have just plucked the strings and played some clean notes. I also thi k he just used his phone for the video.

    However, it may all be a moot point. I guess the page I linked above shows what was sold or still available.
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Not me. I hope the OP broke down and made the call.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob A View Post
    Not me. I hope the OP broke down and made the call.
    Had anyone looked at that page before? It is only marked sold there not on the individual mandolin page.
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    Default Re: Buying myself my first mandolin for my 30th. Need help

    I looked at it a few days ago; not marked "sold" at that time.

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