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Thread: Buy without trying

  1. #26
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buy without trying

    I have had similar experiences to others. All but one of my instruments I purchased without playing it first (and even that one I knew I was gonna buy anyway - the custom Spira). I only had two not work out the best but, they were both used and I was pretty much able to get back out what I paid for them when I was in my mando wrangling days.

    I think the best thing is to at least had an example of the the brand in hand or get descriptions of neck profiles. Some builds have clubbier necks some have thinner, there are C,D, and V shaped necks and, in general, they are pretty consistent across a maker. I also agree, at 2-3K especially, used, you can get a powerful mandolin.

    I can't speak to any of the pickup advice as I have never been down that road.

    Jamie
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  2. #27
    Resident Hack
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    Default Re: Buy without trying

    Fair enough. Here's where things stand.

    I started playing mandolin about 8-9 years ago on a $100 instrument in church. Completely self-taught, I brought it into practice with my outlaw country band and eventually played it enough to feel justified in graduating to a $500 model. In the 6 years since then, I have been improving my bluegrass chops but continuing to play songs and styles not generally associated with the mandolin. Mandolin has become my main instrument and the limitations of my current instrument are evident. MAS firmly set in and I would like something that has great tone, value, playability and looks.

    What I got out of this conversation is that I need to limit my sources of shopping to here, reverb and a handful of trusted sources of known makers. I'm fairly sure I know which makes I am shopping for. Surprisingly, this economic disaster has not resulted in a glut of people having to give up their less-used quality instruments. Prices are still pretty stable, so I will concentrate on learning and honing my chops while I wait for a really good deal to come along. Hopefully that way I can feel I deserve to spend what I proposed. As pointed out, $3000 will get a lot of mandolin. I'm not convinced I play at a level deserving more than a $1000 - $2000 instrument but a collection of threads here already tells me what to look for in that range.

    I think, in the meantime, I also need to research some of the terms used in describing the sound of these instruments. I need to know more about what words like "throaty" and "bark" denote as well as the difference between classic and modern bluegrass sound. These are all things I did not think about before starting to shop.

    My need for amplification stems from playing onstage with an outlaw country/southern rock band. It's not a "fine listening" situation where tone reproduction requires a great mic and quiet audience. I'm not above kicking in the gain channel on my amp and ripping a solo that is more reminiscent of Skynard than Grisman. Back in the fall, I was playing paying gigs every month. Now, I am not sure what the future holds. I play mostly by myself at home, so want a great playing/sounding instrument. I just need to take my time, as I am pretty sure this is my last instrument.

    Current instruments
    Morgan Monroe RT-FM1 (generic F-style with built in preamp and undersaddle pickup)
    Eastwood Ricky (knockoff of the old Rickenbacker electric)

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    I am interested in your spin of things.

    What kind of mandolin are you interested in?

    What kind of music would you use it for?

    Anything else youŽd like to talk about concerning your search for the right instrument?

  3. #28
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buy without trying

    I think you have a good strategy, keeping to trusted sources.

    I would totally disagree with two points you have made. I comment because I would like to give everyone who reads this thread something to think about. And I have waited till I thought you had a lot of good responses and good advice.

    My philosophy problem #1 is the idea of a pro or semi pro instrument. There are folks making money in playing music that have spent no more than what you indicate for a budget. In fact I would guess the number of "professionals" with an instrument more expensive than your budget is kind of rare.

    I am going to guess but I think it is accurate, that most folks who buy instruments significantly more expensive than your budget, are not professionals, but enthusiastic players who have the resources from whatever their day job is. For two reasons. One is I don't think there are many professional mandolinners making enough money to justify a whole lot more expensive instrument. Especially when they can get the sound and feeling and playability they for less money. Secondly, professionals tend to keep a kind of professional perspective about their gear, as tools of the trade. A good reliable hammer that gets the job done and allows the artist to concentrate on building beautiful houses. (There are exceptions of course.)

    The #2 philosophy idea that I think we disagree on is the idea that the amount you spend on an instrument need have any correlation to where you are at as a player. That you have to deserve the instrument you purchase, by being sufficiently competent and experienced. My view has been that the first mandolin you own is to see if you like it. But once you have fallen in love and know that you will be playing for ever, you should spend as much as you can on the very best instrument you can afford.

    The second mandolin I bought, after the first one self destructed in a hot car one summer, is an instrument I still cannot deserve all these many years later. It has many secrets to unlock and I will always be able to learn from it.

    Get the very best you can afford. And may it always intimidate you into pushing yourself further towards feeling like you deserve it. May you always own and play an instrument that makes you keenly aware it is not the mandolin that is holding you back.

    With respect..
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  5. #29
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Buy without trying

    One mandolin that created quite a buzz at this past year's NAMM was the new Zeta acoustic-electric A-style mandolin...

    https://zetaviolins.com/mandolin-acoustic

    A bit more then your stated limit and not sure about axailability.

    At the lower end of the stage ready but respectable, mandolin, is the Eastman 615....

    https://reverb.com/p/eastman-md615-sb-f-style-mandolin

    Less then your listed price point but widely available.

    Good luck with your search!
    Last edited by Charles E.; Jul-29-2020 at 3:24pm.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  6. #30
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    Default Re: Buy without trying

    I totally agree with your disagreement. I was simply explaining where my mind was at.
    What any one person thinks they deserve and what they actually deserve are almost always two different things

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    My philosophy problem #1 is the idea of a pro or semi pro instrument. There are folks making money in playing music that have spent no more than what you indicate for a budget. In fact I would guess the number of "professionals" with an instrument more expensive than your budget is kind of rare.

    I am going to guess but I think it is accurate, that most folks who buy instruments significantly more expensive than your budget, are not professionals, but enthusiastic players who have the resources from whatever their day job is. For two reasons. One is I don't think there are many professional mandolinners making enough money to justify a whole lot more expensive instrument. Especially when they can get the sound and feeling and playability they for less money. Secondly, professionals tend to keep a kind of professional perspective about their gear, as tools of the trade. A good reliable hammer that gets the job done and allows the artist to concentrate on building beautiful houses. (There are exceptions of course.)

    The #2 philosophy idea that I think we disagree on is the idea that the amount you spend on an instrument need have any correlation to where you are at as a player. That you have to deserve the instrument you purchase, by being sufficiently competent and experienced. My view has been that the first mandolin you own is to see if you like it. But once you have fallen in love and know that you will be playing for ever, you should spend as much as you can on the very best instrument you can afford.

  7. #31
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    Default Re: Buy without trying

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    At the lower end of the stage ready but respectable, mandolin, is the Eastman 615....

    https://reverb.com/p/eastman-md615-sb-f-style-mandolin

    Less then your listed price point but widely available.
    I have, of course looked into this area as well.
    To anyone reading this later looking for advice, threads about the differences between the Eastman 615 - 815 vs. Kentucky KM1000 - 1050 - 1500 are in abundance here.

  8. #32
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buy without trying

    Quote Originally Posted by MitchStein View Post
    I totally agree with your disagreement.


    If we ever meet up I will get the first round of adult beverages.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
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