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Thread: Northfield F5S On the Way

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Northfield F5S On the Way

    Hi, Everyone:

    Just a little update. I am very excited to share I have a Northfield F5S on the way from my man, Dennis at The Mandolin Store. It should arrive today! :-)

    For anyone on the Cafe who has noticed some of my posts, I've been experiencing some buzzing issues on my Collings MT2 that was proving to be very difficult to sort out. I took it to a well-respected luthier a few hours away, who couldn't "see" any issues so made a few tweaks that were helpful for a while. A few weeks later, I then took it to a great local fellow who made some tweaks that also helped for a while. However, I was still not totally feeling it, so I finally sent it to Dennis who offered to do whatever it would take to make it so I was happy with, but by that point I felt it was time to move on.

    So, Dennis and I started talking about what else he had in the store that was what he deemed to be some special, and we found our way to an Englemen F5S he and people who've been passing through the store have been raving about. It was a step down in price for what I paid for the MT2, so Dennis was throwing in things left and right to balance it out. It was really great, and I was reminded as to why I keep going back to Dennis for my mandolin needs. He's a great businessman who establishes relationships with his customers first, listens to their needs, and then does his best to match what he has to what his customers want. It's been that way since I first bought an instrument from him back in 2008.

    As for Collings, I want to add the MT2 was the second Collings I owned. The first, a MT, was an absolute beast and I only moved on from it to "upgrade." It obviously didn't work out, but Collings was also trying to help me sort out the issue. They hooked me up with the first luthier I went to who was definitely a good person and a knowledgeable luthier. They also followed up with me to see how it was going. So, no complaints there at all. I think my MT2 was a rare exception to the Collings line. I'd buy from Collings again if the need/desire arose.

    So, the Northfield is on its way and it's bringing that good D-Vance/The Mandolin Store mojo with it. Gonna' be a great day!

    Stay tuned....
    Last edited by Kevin Briggs; Apr-04-2020 at 9:56am. Reason: Soften the tone

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Too bad about the Collings. Have had guitars over the years where that has happened and have had to move on from them. But you did get a good replacement. Was seriously contemplating getting a Northfield recently. To my ears, they are one of the instruments that have the sound I hear in my head. May you have many years of enjoyment with the new instrument.
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Kevin, I'm just curious. You say it was buzzing and a reputable luthier said it had a twisted neck. Has this all been corrected?
    Last edited by KMaynard; Apr-04-2020 at 9:41am.

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    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Bummer about your MT-2. My NF5S was a bit chunky in the neck, especially so around the heel. Sound wise it was comparable to the Collings. Hope it works out for you. Lp
    J.Lane Pryce

  5. #5
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by KMaynard View Post
    Kevin, I'm just curious. You say it was buzzing and a reputable luthier said it had a twisted neck. Has this all been corrected?
    Hey, KMaynard:

    Yeah, I don't know that I agree with that fellow, and I modified my original post so as not to spread misinformation. He was good, but was really a guitar guy and there just seems to be a disconnect between even really good guitar guys and mandolin-family luthiers. For example, I had to tweak the truss rod after I got it back from the first fellow, etc. That's why I finally just sent it to Dennis, because I knew he'd be able to spot a problem and even if he couldn't sort it out he'd know who could. He didn't feel there was one though, so I started thinking it's probably just that I'm not feeling this particular instrument. I was in pretty hard denial, because it's absolutely beautiful, has great volume, and plays like a dream. My curiosity peaked, I asked the fateful question, what else do you have in the store that might like, and the rest is history, haha.

    I really like Collings mandolins and think that MT2 (w/torrefied red spruce top, maple back, and sides) will be a lifer for someone other than me. :-)

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Lane Pryce View Post
    Bummer about your MT-2. My NF5S was a bit chunky in the neck, especially so around the heel. Sound wise it was comparable to the Collings. Hope it works out for you. Lp
    Yeah, man. It's a journey for sure. The highs and lows are something else. Just to make sure I get it out there/here, I was smitten by that Collings when I got it and played the heck out of it. It opened up quickly and in a profound way. It just stopped speaking to me I guess.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Northfield has done a fabulous job with aesthetics on the F5S. It just looks classier than an MF or an F9 for thousands less. Only one thing bothers me, and it’s directly related to cost. The backs range from ok flame, to almost nonexistent. I’m shallow that way. But it sounds and plays like the fine instrument it is. Certainly the equal of a Collings, just slightly less bright to my ears. I’ve not played anything close for the same price. It’s certain to give you hours of escape from reality.
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Curious as you didn't mention where the buzz was on your mandolin? Was it at the neck joint area by chance? If so Bass or Treble side or both? But sometimes if it isn't a great say dovetail fit or bad glue job or even a small case drop this will happen. Also a neck block that has moved? This has happened to me on a few mandolins one was a 37 F-7 conversion-Monster mandolin but I sold it as I had better and the new owner raves about it, I never asked if he got it fixed but its problem was the bass side at the neck joint. I believe it was the neck block moved and interfered with moving the riser block up?
    I'm no luthier just a modifier and tinkerer of sorts with mandos and guitars!

    Oh and YES Dennis is very generous and an all around 100% dealer that will help unlike many others out there that I've had the negative pleasure of dealing with! So congrats on the new Northfield-I had one of the first Northfields in all the Traditional F-5 model when there were 2 to choose from # 50ish? My buddy bought it but I may get it back as he wants something else I have so that will be awesome as I sold it new and he's broke that baby in and last I played it, it was very surprising!

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    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Sorry to hear about the buzz on the Collings MT2. I wonder what caused it since you were happy at the start with it. Look for what it is worth a very good bluegrass musician made a comment to me out of the blue that he could not understand why Collings mandolins had a slight buzz when fretting. Maybe it was ever so slight. My Collings MT has none of these issues. It will be interesting to see how the F5S turns out. Just be aware that the spacing of the string courses on the Northfields are set up slightly different to the Collings. That might take some tweaking too.
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    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Oh you could have gone for a torrefied top back and sides Collings MT Mandolin.
    Nic Gellie

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    Registered User Nick Gellie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Putting my luthier hat on. When I first got my used Collings MT there were some slightly worn frets 1-5. So I took off the strings and carefully removed the slight divots by using 400 sandpaper wrapped around a stick and followed by Stewmac polishing papers. Frets came up like new. Before that there was some slight buzzing depending on how I played it. I am wondering if playing the heck out of it might have caused some fret hollows and hence the buzzing when fretted.
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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Welcome to the F5S club. I love mine like my children....
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  13. #13

    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Let's spare a moment for Dennis when he tries to sell that Collings after all this publicity about its shortcomings.

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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron McMillan View Post
    Let's spare a moment for Dennis when he tries to sell that Collings after all this publicity about its shortcomings.
    The Collings is a very good mandolin. As you can see here, I absolutely loved it when I got it:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ngs-MT2-Review

    After playing it a ton, it developed some setup issues I grappled with for a few months, and I ultimately sent it to Dennis, who I knew would be able to give me the bottom line. The bottom line he gave me was he just need to work on the nut a bit, which he did, and then said it was back in action. However, MAS was already in full effect and I swapped it out.

    Anyone who gets it will have a great instrument. It just wasn’t for me any more.

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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    You’re gonna love that F5S - they’re great instruments.

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny60 View Post
    You’re gonna love that F5S - they’re great instruments.
    Thanks, Johnny!

    Yes, I've been able to put a bit of playing time on it since last night and it is a pleasure. I've owned a bunch of mandolins, and I'm always amazed at just how different they are. This is, for sure, like no other mandolin I've owned.

    I'll post a full review probably by tomorrow morning. :-)

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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron McMillan View Post
    Let's spare a moment for Dennis when he tries to sell that Collings after all this publicity about its shortcomings.
    My guess is it will be sent to Collings to determine what if anything is wrong with it. They are perfectionists.
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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by cayuga red View Post
    My guess is it will be sent to Collings to determine what if anything is wrong with it. They are perfectionists.
    My view - after having owned it for half a year - is it doesn't have any fundamental shortcomings. In fact, the fundamental tone is wonderful, it looks absolutely amazing, and it plays very easily although the Collings neck profile wasn't quite for me (I felt the same about the MT I owned prior to it). A month ago I recorded on a friend's album with it and it came through great. It also takes amplification very well through a Schertler DYN-M pickup and Schertler Yellow preamp. The issue is moreso my finicky nature and my history of acquiring and trading mandolins over the past 20 years. nothing has cured my MAS yet, although the MT2 did for a while and now it seems the Northfield F5S is.

    I'm convinced the buzzing was due to the setup, which my local go to guys weren't able to address. They are guitar repair luthiers and we know that doesn't always translate to the intricacies of mandolins. What I can say with 100% confidence is whatever Dennis has to say about it is the truth, so if he says he tweaked the nut and it sounds great to him, he means it. Whowever buys it is going to a great deal on a barely used MT2 with all torrefied woods.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    The issue is probably my finicky nature and my history of acquiring and trading mandolins over the past 20 years. nothing has cured my MAS yet...
    Well, you are certainly in good company here, Kevin. I’ve seen you go through several instruments on here over the years and I always enjoy your initial enthusiasm and the detailed reviews you post. I think I liked your old Weber better than them all, though. That was a great instrument.
    ...

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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Sometimes the angle of the slot makes a great difference as to whether the string buzzes or not. If the slot is not cut downwards away from the fretboard side of the nut, one can get intonation problems as well. I remember with my MT I adjusted the angle of the slot on one of my treble strings, it made a huge difference.
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    My view - after having owned it for half a year - is it doesn't have any fundamental shortcomings. In fact, the fundamental tone is wonderful, it looks absolutely amazing, and it plays very easily although the Collings neck profile wasn't quite for me (I felt the same about the MT I owned prior to it). A month ago I recorded on a friend's album with it and it came through great. It also takes amplification very well through a Schertler DYN-M pickup and Schertler Yellow preamp. The issue is moreso my finicky nature and my history of acquiring and trading mandolins over the past 20 years. nothing has cured my MAS yet, although the MT2 did for a while and now it seems the Northfield F5S is.

    I'm convinced the buzzing was due to the setup, which my local go to guys weren't able to address. They are guitar repair luthiers and we know that doesn't always translate to the intricacies of mandolins. What I can say with 100% confidence is whatever Dennis has to say about it is the truth, so if he says he tweaked the nut and it sounds great to him, he means it. Whowever buys it is going to a great deal on a barely used MT2 with all torrefied woods.
    If it is really the case that all the Collings needed was some additional setup work, then this is a case of above and beyond customer service from the Vendor. I infer from your fist post that the vendor is crediting your original purchase price for a mandolin you have played a lot for 6 months and were initially very happy with. It sounds a bit like buyer's remorse, and you are very lucky that this vendor is bending over backwards to help you - he will certainly take a loss on this transaction. I hope you find the Northfield suitable.
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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    If it is really the case that all the Collings needed was some additional setup work, then this is a case of above and beyond customer service from the Vendor. I infer from your fist post that the vendor is crediting your original purchase price for a mandolin you have played a lot for 6 months and were initially very happy with. It sounds a bit like buyer's remorse, and you are very lucky that this vendor is bending over backwards to help you - he will certainly take a loss on this transaction. I hope you find the Northfield suitable.
    This is a really interesting reply touching on the morals and/or ethics of the deal. Thanks for spicing things up a bit.

    I think your point is I’m lucky the vendor was willing to take a loss just because I had buyer’s remorse, and therefore I will hopefully be satisfied with the new mandolin. While I appreciate you looking out for Dennis and pushing back against the fickle/gluttonous nature of MAS, a quick search to investigate the prices of a new - customized - Collings MT2 and a new Northfield F5S will give you a clear idea of the finances of the deal.

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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Briggs View Post
    This is a really interesting reply touching on the morals and/or ethics of the deal. Thanks for spicing things up a bit.

    I think your point is I’m lucky the vendor was willing to take a loss just because I had buyer’s remorse, and therefore I will hopefully be satisfied with the new mandolin. While I appreciate you looking out for Dennis and pushing back against the fickle/gluttonous nature of MAS, a quick search to investigate the prices of a new - customized - Collings MT2 and a new Northfield F5S will give you a clear idea of the finances of the deal.
    Ahh... i thought the Northfields were a lot more than that. Apologies for rushing to judgement. Enjoy the new mandolin!
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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield F5S On the Way

    Quote Originally Posted by Caleb View Post
    Well, you are certainly in good company here, Kevin. I’ve seen you go through several instruments on here over the years and I always enjoy your initial enthusiasm and the detailed reviews you post. I think I liked your old Weber better than them all, though. That was a great instrument.
    Thanks so much, Caleb. Yes, it's fun to be part of the The Mandolin Cafe's great community\, and to have these mostly virtual relationship with each other where we have the opportunity to follow each others' musical journeys. :-)

    That custom Weber Fern remains engrained in my mind as a true standout in terms of tone and presence. It was a monster mandolin, not so much in that it was like a Loar or like anything for that matter. It stood on its own and I would find a way to buy it if it reared its head again. As I think you saw, I tried to find it, and people here on the Cafe even chimed in to help, but the fellow to whom I sold it seems to be off the grid. I will add, as wonderful as it sounded, it was not the easiest mandolin to play. My left hand constantly hurt and you had to dig in to pull the tone out of it, making it kind of slow playing. So, I don't see it as an everyday working/gigging instrument. Still, I'd love to have it just so I could use it in situations that didn't require fast picking. Hopefully, it'll come around again.

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