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Thread: buying first mando without playing?

  1. #26

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    And you never know, you might just fall in love with the A style. I thought I'd want to move up to an F after having my first mandolin, a Kentucky KM505 (A style), but I found out that the A style is quite comfortable and beautiful. I ended up buying a (used) Collings MT2 with upgrades and am pleased after almost 3 years. I really have no desire for an F. Now, I am beginning to crave an octave mandolin and if I win the lottery a guitar shaped octave mandolin is in my future.

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  3. #27

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    I am in pretty much the exact same boat as you. I have a Stagg mandolin that was given to me that actually got me playing in the first place, but they are very low-end mandolins and the shortcomings are becoming too clear to ignore. (The biggest one being that it goes out of tune too quickly -- like during the first song I play after tuning)

    So, as a new member I appreciate all the answers here. I am quite intrigued by the Loar 600 -- especially at the 649 price point. But if I could find a better option pre-owned, I would consider that as well. The classifieds here are hard for me to browse because I don't know mandolins by name or reputation. If you told me the Stagg M50 is a good mandolin, I wouldn't have known any better until now because I own one. So I am reluctant to shop that way.

    All I know is I am drawn to the f-style and I want to keep the purchase price as far under $1000 as I can while still buying a good instrument that won't let me down as I improve my playing. I am mainly a guitar player, but damn, I am falling hard for this little instrument.

  4. #28

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    Would you consider the mandolin you've linked to a good value? I don't really know much about mandolin brands. In fact, this is the first I've heard of Ratliff.

  5. #29
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    With playability/ pre delivery set up , being crucial, who you get it from is as important as which one you get,

    I have bought from other players (via classifieds Here)
    then was glad I had someone to do the skipped setup work, locally..

    these were not my 1st mandolins..
    writing about music
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  7. #30
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    Mandroid brings up a good point. You may get a good deal from the lady whose father played but the mandolin has been setting in the closet for the last 15 years. But if you can't set up or there's no one close by to set it up, it's gonna cost a little more in time and/or money to find someone to get it done. That $500 mandolin may cost $600 or more before it all over. Most, if not all, dealers advertising here will set it up for you. Under your circumstances, that might be a major selling point.
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  9. #31

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    From my very limited time looking through details in the classifieds, reading comments from other members and trying to listed best I can online to tone, I'd suggest that the Ratliff listed is a great value. I've actually had a call with him to inquire about potentially building something in the future and his thoughts what i'm looking for, and I'd attest that he's an amazing resource that isn't building instruments as a hobby - it's his passion and from what others have said, they're fantastic, and fairly rare in coming up for purchase used.

    I'm heavily leaning toward buying a used luthier-made mandolin as I don't want to lose a ton of value if/when I go to resell if for something else...I think there's lots of good value to be found in the classifieds, and in every case, the sellers have been very forthcoming with information, additional pictures. If you find something you like and is at the right price point - reach out to the seller and inquire. Then go look through forums for comments/thoughts/opinions on it...

    I still haven't pulled the trigger yet - I'm very close...hope this is helpful

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  11. #32

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    Even those of us with a modest amount of experience, four years in my case, and who live in relative mandolin heaven, don't have access to very many brands, particularly one man shops. We each can relate and advise only what we have experienced. I have played many Eastman and Kentucky instruments. I do not know how they age, but new they lack a satisfying G string. Now if I bought an Eastman MD 315 or 515 in a vacuum, I'd like it. It is just there's this shop that stocks Northfield and Collings, so I got to sample those too. Like most things, quality costs money.

    All I can say from my little experience, is the Kentucky 900 and up is a pretty satisfying mandolin. A luthier built or small shop build is better, in most instances. That significant step can cost as little as $1000. I think there have been half a dozen used A styles in the classifieds in the last six months around that price.. People I think are reluctant to part with them because they really are pretty good, and any better, or the same with a scroll, is going to be a tripling of that figure.

    Having that used A will be an education. I would worry less about finding your ideal, and just jump on the affordable when it comes up. I'm kinda, sorta, looking. I don't particularly care for a sunburst, especially one that hides good wood. But buying used is more about finding the good rather than the perfect. I'd not discount 80% of the mandolins out there based on color. In some ways ignorance is a blessing when jumping to this level. I took a chance on my Silverangel I never regretted.

    There are always people looking in this price range. Decide you want something else, and you can sell it for what you have in it. Maybe eat the cost of shipping or PayPal fees.
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  13. #33

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    The more I read, the more convinced I am that I should drop my f-type preference for now. I won't be in any hard core blue grass scenes any time soon. In fact, the first song I learned to play was Losing my Religion, so my mandolin will see use in pop songs as well. If f-type really is only desirable because it looks like the Loar Gibson, then I can abandon it as a goal. I just want a better instrument and soon!

    Another huge weakness for me is as much as I love to look at beautiful instruments and play them, I am not a gear head. I just want it to sound good and play well. I don't care about the rig rundown -- I just want something decent in my price range.

  14. #34
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    This Eastman in the classifieds looks like a very good deal...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/152632#152632

    So does the Morris A-5 that just showed up, American made, one man shop for under a grand...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/152957#152957

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  16. #35
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    Quote Originally Posted by dpriest View Post
    Would you consider the mandolin you've linked to a good value? I don't really know much about mandolin brands. In fact, this is the first I've heard of Ratliff.
    Yes. It is a handbuilt mandolin from an established independent American luthier trading in the same price range as a factory built instrument from overseas. In my experience, mandolins are finicky creatures where minor tweaks can produce big differences. I generally trust someone who is willing to put his/her name on the headstock to make those tweaks.
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  18. #36

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    so to wrap this post up in a bow, I ended up connecting with the boys at banjo warehouse in ATL - they overnighted (seriously) my new Loar LM600. While it goes against a number of things I attest to (American made, luthier built), it allows me quickly to start playing. And - this is the kicker - after having an amazing conversation with Aubey Ratliff - it allows me to be in a position to have a new Ratliff r5 or country boy (f-body), come early 2021, when I'm ready for an upgrade from to an amazing instrument that I can appreciate - frankly because I'll be significantly more proficient in playing it...

    I'm thankful for all that commented, for all that provided opinion, for all that have given me greater insight in to this amazing community. While I may have gone against the grain, I'm excited that I was able to spend a solid several hours today play chop chords (man my hands hurt) and learning a few runs...thanks to all!!!

    For my next trick - I'm either ending up on ArtistWorks with Mike Marshall, or on Peghead Nation with Sharon Gilchrist, learning all I can...

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  20. #37

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    If it were me, and it was, I purchased a used Eastman 404 from the classifieds here last week.
    Locally Iíve looked at and played the base level eastmans, and also some of their higher end models.
    I wasnít sure exactly how the 404 would compare, but felt like overall their QC was good.
    After having it for a few days, and playing and and inspecting it, it-is definitely much more carefully finished than the 304 I looked at locally.
    And itís way above any of the Loars Iíve looked at. The fret ends are very carefully radiused and polished, I canít find a flaw on it.
    And itís perfectly set up. Maybe someday Iíll fork over the money for a Collings MTO, but thereís nothing about the Eastman that will hinder my becoming a better player.

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  22. #38
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    Quote Originally Posted by kpow View Post
    so to wrap this post up in a bow, I ended up connecting with the boys at banjo warehouse in ATL - they overnighted (seriously) my new Loar LM600. While it goes against a number of things I attest to (American made, luthier built), it allows me quickly to start playing. And - this is the kicker - after having an amazing conversation with Aubey Ratliff - it allows me to be in a position to have a new Ratliff r5 or country boy (f-body), come early 2021, when I'm ready for an upgrade from to an amazing instrument that I can appreciate - frankly because I'll be significantly more proficient in playing it...

    I'm thankful for all that commented, for all that provided opinion, for all that have given me greater insight in to this amazing community. While I may have gone against the grain, I'm excited that I was able to spend a solid several hours today play chop chords (man my hands hurt) and learning a few runs...thanks to all!!!

    For my next trick - I'm either ending up on ArtistWorks with Mike Marshall, or on Peghead Nation with Sharon Gilchrist, learning all I can...
    Smart move on your part.

    For 17 years, I had been picking a F9, after a few then came a KM1000 for back up, last year I picked up a LM700, sold the other two and haven't looked back.
    2020 The Loar Supreme LM700 VS

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  24. #39
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    My first mandolin was a The Loar LM 220, it was an okay mandolin to start on, I still have it to loan to people who think they want to try mandolin. Your The Loar will make a nice back-up mandolin when you get MAS and move up. Enjoy!

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  26. #40
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    I bought my Eastman MD-515 unseen and unheard, new from The Mandolin Store on sale for just under a grand. Amazing instrument and lifetime warranty. Win-win.

    Lots of fine choices on your list. A new 515 for a grand is a great point on the value scale for me; YMMV. In the meantime, good luck!
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Jerman custom 5 string electric, Eastman MD-515 & El Rey, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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  28. #41

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    My first mando was a Martin that I bought in new condition for $250 - in 1978. Even though I got to play it, I did not know anything about how to play one, so it was all a risk. Some years ago, I sold it. That is unfortunate. There was something sweet about it. (Ok - not the most exciting post - but I have hardly been out of the house!)

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  30. #42
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    A few years ago I stumbled across a new Weber Yellowstone A style for a very low price. Fortunately, I had the money in the bank and after some email exchanges I bought it. It has been a really nice mandolin but I was both lucky and in a position to make a decision quickly. I did check the Weber web site to make sure that the store was a Weber dealer which they were. So, keep looking. There are opportunities out there.

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  32. #43

    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    So you prefer the a-type? I am strongly considering the Loar linked earlier (it would be new), but I have that same amount money for something else. It is burning a hole in my pocket, so I want to make a decision soon. Sitting on my deck practicing mandolin seems like a nice way to spend the apocalypse.

  33. #44
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: buying first mando without playing?

    Quote Originally Posted by dpriest View Post
    So you prefer the a-type? I am strongly considering the Loar linked earlier (it would be new), but I have that same amount money for something else. It is burning a hole in my pocket, so I want to make a decision soon.
    A-styles are generally believed to provide more bang for the bucks burning a hole in your pocket.
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