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Thread: Question you’ve all answered a million times

  1. #1

    Default Question you’ve all answered a million times

    I have a 100$ mandolin. Had it for 20 years. Moved to a new spot that allows me to dig in again. I’m definitely not advanced but getting to a point to justify getting a new one.
    Is a 1000+k mandolin “easier” to play or is that solely a matter of setup. I know this one plays and sounds like S... cheers

  2. #2
    Registered User Erin M's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2020
    The Beautiful Pacific Northwest

    Default Re: Question you’ve all answered a million times

    I'm not an expert in these matters, this is just opinion based on a lifetime of experience dealing with musical instruments. The usual warnings about a grain of salt apply. But... less expensive instruments - especially in the $100 price range - are obviously made from less expensive materials and less expensive assembly. What this means is that, to get a good setup, you might need extra work that will cost more (fret problems, sloppy tuners, etc... for example). Or it may have problems that at that price range don't justify the cost of fixing. For example, badly aligned neck, intonation problems due to slight offsets in fret positions, bad glue joints, and so on.

    I've always held that it's better to start with at least a decent mid-grade instrument rather than having to deal with problems with a lesser quality instrument that might hold you back. It doesn't have to be $1000+, there are many fine instruments in the $500-$900 range. But an instrument in the $100 range almost certainly has some issues (unless you're really lucky). And of course, you usually get better tone from a higher quality instrument.
    "Flow, river flow. Let your waters wash down, take me from this road, to some other town." - Roger McGuinn

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Columbus, GA

    Default Re: Question you’ve all answered a million times

    Get Rob Meldrum's publication and follow the instructions. If it still sounds bad, come back with the same question. Do a search on this site for information on how to download it free.
    David Hopkins

    2001 Gibson F-5L
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    Gibson F-4, (1916); Blevins Octave Mandolin, 2018
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    McCormick Solid Body F-Style Electric; Slingerland Songster Guitar (c. 1939)

    The older I get, the less tolerant I am of political correctness, incompetence and stupidity.

  4. #4
    Dave Sheets
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Buffalo NY Area

    Default Re: Question you’ve all answered a million times

    In many cases, you can set up a cheap mandolin to play pretty well (ie the Rogues and the like) and learn on it just fine. Search this site to find out how to request Rob Meldrum's set-up guide and you can do it yourself. It's definitely worth the effort.

    But, the sound is what it is. Better instruments sound better, and can be set up well. There are lots of threads on here about the best choice of mandolin for around $1000, lots of good options available.
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

  5. #5
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Beaverton, OR, USA

    Default Re: Question you’ve all answered a million times

    See my sig for how to get Rob Meldrum's setup book.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog:

  6. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: Question you’ve all answered a million times

    Aside from set up, a $100 dollar mandolin will no doubt be made of all laminated woods which never sound as good as solid ones, especially the tops. You can get a solid top instrument for less than $1000 dollars and may even get a good all-solid one for about $1000 or less. Ideally if you can play something in person that would be the way to shop but these days you might just buy from a reliable dealer many of whom advertise here.

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  7. #7

    Default Re: Question you’ve all answered a million times

    I went from a $750 Eastman to a $10k Gibson. I thought the Eastman played really well. The Gibson will setup to play effortlessly.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Question you’ve all answered a million times

    Quote Originally Posted by HonketyHank View Post
    See my sig for how to get Rob Meldrum's setup book.
    thanks! I'll give it a go.

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