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Thread: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

  1. #26
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Stiver, all day long. Rigel if you aren't concerned about stink eye from the Bluegrass Police. Macica (upstate NY) for an off-radar killer A style mandolin and pricing that is kind to the wallet.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Eastman El Rey, Crafter M85E, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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  3. #27
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    I know there's diminishing returns as you go up but I can't imagine an A getting too much better than this one:
    https://themandolinstore.com/product...efied-varnish/
    I would have to agree Chuck! That's a very nice looking instrument and Pava has a tremendous rep. Thanks,
    Dan Brooks
    2017 Collings MT(GT), 2007 Eastman 815V, 1913 Gibson A1, 1912 Gibson A1, 1930’s Strad-o-Lin

  4. #28
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Greenspoon View Post
    Stiver, all day long. Rigel if you aren't concerned about stink eye from the Bluegrass Police. Macica (upstate NY) for an off-radar killer A style mandolin and pricing that is kind to the wallet.
    Hi Dave, Have knowledge of Stiver, but have never played one. The Macica sounds like an interesting idea!
    Dan Brooks
    2017 Collings MT(GT), 2007 Eastman 815V, 1913 Gibson A1, 1912 Gibson A1, 1930’s Strad-o-Lin

  5. #29
    Fiddler & Mandolin Player Dave Reiner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    I wouldn't mess with a Givens. No truss rod = future potential neck problems. Also this... even Givens A6 is not in the same class as a Kimble, Ellis, Northfield A5 Special etc...

    Givens is/was an important builder, but I see no justification for the prices that people seem to want for them...
    Well, we all like the mandolins we own :-).

    I know you have a few Kimbles, and I'm a giant fan of those as well, having owned an A5 and a two-pointer in the past.

    Dave
    '06 Gibson F4, '14 Gibson A4, '26 Gibson F5, '27 Gibson F4, '87 Givens A6, '91 Givens A6, '95 Monteleone Grand Artist

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  7. #30
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Reiner View Post
    Well, we all like the mandolins we own :-).

    I know you have a few Kimbles, and I'm a giant fan of those as well, having owned an A5 and a two-pointer in the past.

    Dave
    I have heard really great things about the Givens mandolins, Dave. No wonder you are glad to have them!
    Dan Brooks
    2017 Collings MT(GT), 2007 Eastman 815V, 1913 Gibson A1, 1912 Gibson A1, 1930’s Strad-o-Lin

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  9. #31
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Elkhorn1 View Post
    Hey Dan PM me or email me robb@elkhornmandolins.com
    You make a beautiful mandolin Robb! Wow, they are impressive. Thank you for sending me to your website.
    Dan Brooks
    2017 Collings MT(GT), 2007 Eastman 815V, 1913 Gibson A1, 1912 Gibson A1, 1930’s Strad-o-Lin

  10. #32
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    lflngpicker - your budget is right in the sweet spot for a lifetime A5! It is unfortunate that I can't recommend that you take a trip to Carter's or Gruhn's in Nashville at this Covid time to sit down and play as many as you can. You've had some great suggestions - some from serial monogamist mandoliners, and some from the MAS-afflicted. Be wary, it may fuel a restless lust for the acme of tone.

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  12. #33
    We're all mad here elbent's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Greenspoon View Post
    ...Rigel if you aren't concerned about stink eye from the Bluegrass Police.
    I just inherited a Rigel. What warrants the stink eye?

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  14. #34
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Always entertaining for me, how much we like spending other folks' money....
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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  16. #35
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by elbent View Post
    I just inherited a Rigel. What warrants the stink eye?
    The “bluegrass police” reference often comes up when you don’t do things EXACTLY the way traditional bluegrass was meant to be, the way Bill Monroe did it.

    The Rigel is an instrument that flies in the face of the traditional F5 mandolin look - but is known for their unique tone, ease of playability and the often incorporated pickup.

    I had a Rigel A+ that I loved and sold to my best friend when I moved up in the mando market. We’re still friends, and his Rigel still sounds good when I get to pick it
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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  18. #36

    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    I have yet to meet the bluegrass police, but I have met the Irish Session Garda. Some polite, some not so polite. In the grand words of Kevin Burke, a man who knows his way around a tune, "it really all depends on where you come from."

    There are zealots in every genre. As long as they are polite about it, I respect their viewpoints, to a certain extent.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  20. #37
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Glassweb View Post
    I wouldn't mess with a Givens. No truss rod = future potential neck problems. Also this... even Givens A6 is not in the same class as a Kimble, Ellis, Northfield A5 Special etc...

    Givens is/was an important builder, but I see no justification for the prices that people seem to want for them...
    I wouldn’t write off a Givens based on the truss rod. I’ve had mine for over 10 years had no issues. I also have a Pava A5 that is great, but if I had to keep only one it would be the Givens, it is an extremely powerful mandolin. I do agree the prices for the A6’s are really steep.
    2014 AL Smart F5
    2015 Pava A
    1988 Givens A
    1921 Gibson A
    2002 Martin D-18V
    1999 Huss and Dalton CM Custom
    Several Old Fiddles

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  22. #38
    Registered User lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by John Soper View Post
    lflngpicker - your budget is right in the sweet spot for a lifetime A5! It is unfortunate that I can't recommend that you take a trip to Carter's or Gruhn's in Nashville at this Covid time to sit down and play as many as you can. You've had some great suggestions - some from serial monogamist mandoliners, and some from the MAS-afflicted. Be wary, it may fuel a restless lust for the acme of tone.
    John, This is spot on, but also good writing! I am enjoying and grinning! I did decide not to go this route as I started with a dream and then became more practical. The thread is a good string thanks to the respondents and I hope it keeps going as it is providing great knowledge and exchanges of ideas. Humbly yours,
    Dan Brooks
    2017 Collings MT(GT), 2007 Eastman 815V, 1913 Gibson A1, 1912 Gibson A1, 1930’s Strad-o-Lin

  23. #39

    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    I do agree with the adage that at the higher price points you get to instruments that are all world class, pro level instruments, it comes down to what kind of tones and feel you want and it is hard to know without putting your hands on the instrument, and then even within one maker you can get a range. Finding that one instrument that speaks to you is great, whether that means going to Nashville or figuring out a way to hunt and peck until you find it.

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  25. #40
    We're all mad here elbent's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by dang View Post
    The “bluegrass police” reference often comes up when you don’t do things EXACTLY the way traditional bluegrass was meant to be, the way Bill Monroe did it.

    The Rigel is an instrument that flies in the face of the traditional F5 mandolin look - but is known for their unique tone, ease of playability and the often incorporated pickup.
    That makes sense. I have the G-110 which is made to look like a mini electric guitar. It's adorable and to my untrained ear sounds great. But then again, I'm the type to like a break from tradition It's the only mando I've gotten to play so far. I'd love to try some others.
    1996 Rigel G-110

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  27. #41

    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    The hunting and the pecking are getting harder as the supply pool continues to shrink. Quite a few dealers are looking for inventory right now.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  29. #42
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    "Givens is/was an important builder, but I see no justification for the prices that people seem to want for them..."

    I have owned a new custom A-3 built for me by Givens hinself, and owned a mint A-6 mint purchased form the first owner. I have played a few others.

    I respectfully agree with your comment.

    One other consideration is NNS ( narrow nut syndrome) Givens have a tendency toward very narrow.
    ]
    There are the following trite words (paraphrased).. "play a lot of them until you find the "one"..."
    I agree.

    I am an A style or dual point fan by choice. Having owned a few F5s.. not my favorite.

    When I asked Gilchrist to make an A style...Gilchrist himself told me .. " the A models sound like, and play as well, as the F models. F's take longer to make but the return is higher for the time spent". He was not interested, at the time, in making an A.

    If I had my druthers, I'd be looking for an original Phoenix.

    Why? By my standards:

    Best design, materials and workmanship I have seen.

    And unlike the majority of mandolins, an original.

    The very same reason I owned Seiffert classical mandolins. An original with no compromise.

    Best of luck in your quest.


    PS

    Price (to me) is not a deterrent to purchase. Let's presume a $6000 budget...Whether higher, or lower, than my intended budget.
    I am not looking for what all the other kids have, or a status symbol. I don't look at price, I look for quality and value.

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  31. #43
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Without a doubt a Girouard !!
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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  33. #44
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Jeff Hildreth: “If I had my druthers, I'd be looking for an original Phoenix.”

    I can agree with that. Beyond the mandolins I own, none of which cost more than $3100, I find it very hard to imagine that (for me) there is a significant ratio of benefit to cost for spending more dollars (even if I could afford it, which I cannot). Caveat: I have never played a $6000 mandolin.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674 (Thomastik 154-M strings)
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  35. #45
    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    The OP´s premise is an A-5 style (bluegrass-) mandolin.

    Therefore I would exclude "different" looking instruments (Rigel, Cohen, Gerhard etc.).

    What I am particular about in a traditional A-5 style mandolin (modeled after/inspired by the one and only Lloyd Loar A-5) is the looks.

    Some modern makers give the A shape a more teardrop look. I strongly dislike that. I am particular to the pear look of the old A-4 yet with F-holes. In comparing mandolins you will see that many makers forsake the "old" look. That´s sad.
    Olaf

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  37. #46

    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    If you are willing to look at a lesser known builder who is doing great things with A5s, check out Andy Mueller of Muleskinner Instruments (http://muleskinnerinstruments.com/) in central Vermont.

    NFI, but he is a friend and bandmate of mine so I have had the opportunity to play most of the mandolins that have come off his bench. He also built me a dread style acoustic and is in the process of finishing two GBOMs (his first), one of which will be mine.

    I know he currently has these two mandos in his shop and they are priced a bit below that 5.2k threshold you were looking at. His attention to detail is really something. One is a pretty traditional maple back and sides and an englemann top. The other is...well, a bit out there, but GORGEOUS. American Sycamore back, sides and neck and an addy top.

    Smaller builder in terms of mandos, not yet fully "on the scene" but those who have played his instruments also seem to give them glowing reviews at festivals and such. Plus, you would have the opportunity to either pick from the few he has around the shop or work on a custom build from a hell of a nice guy and talented luthier.

    Video of the two mandos with pricing info included in the video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPaQ1eS9Yrw

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  39. #47
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    I know there's diminishing returns as you go up but I can't imagine an A getting too much better than this one:
    https://themandolinstore.com/product...efied-varnish/
    As one who owns a Pava, I will agree that they are excellent (and I need nothing better,) but if I suddenly become wealthy an an Ellis 2-point happened into my path, well, I wouldn't say "no." And I looked at a Collings MT2 when I was looking at my Collings MT, and I bought the MT. Cheaper and I liked the sound better. Just sayin'...

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  41. #48

    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    The OP´s premise is an A-5 style (bluegrass-) mandolin.

    Therefore I would exclude "different" looking instruments (Rigel, Cohen, Gerhard etc.).

    What I am particular about in a traditional A-5 style mandolin (modeled after/inspired by the one and only Lloyd Loar A-5) is the looks.

    Some modern makers give the A shape a more teardrop look. I strongly dislike that. I am particular to the pear look of the old A-4 yet with F-holes. In comparing mandolins you will see that many makers forsake the "old" look. That´s sad.
    I don't know that OP stated he wanted a bluegrass specific A5 and even so, saying that body shape has to match the Griffith is a pretty strict definition of a bluegrass mandolin. Plenty of great builders making fantastic bluegrass mandolins, including Matt Ruhland who has had a chance to study the Griffith. Not to veer this too far off topic, but the attached photo is my Ruhland #30 next to the Griffith. You can see the difference, but #30 can produce all the bluegrass you want. Lot's of other builders in that camp. Click image for larger version. 

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  43. #49

    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    Eek, now I've gone on down the rabbit hole: So here you can see 3 modern bluegrass mandolins. I think the Duff in the center is closest to the Griffith shapewise, to the right is a Kimble which is slightly narrower and the Ruhland to the left. They all can deliver the goods, though. Click image for larger version. 

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  45. #50
    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Dreaming of a Great A5 under $6000

    I hope I get to see the Griffith A5 in person some day.....

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