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Thread: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

  1. #1

    Smile 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Hello I am posting here because I am looking at purchasing my first mandolin.
    My background is that I played cello for about ten years (up to about 3rd cello suite proficiently), and then can play some easier songs on piano and classical guitar. I am starting to grasp musical theory.
    I am mainly interested in using the mandolin I will purchase for three primary reasons. Each reason contains about equal weight and were ordered at random.

    Reason: I want to eventually be able to play choro both on bandolim and on cello. I am pretty sure that since most choro is written for bandolim solos and cello and mandolin share fifths tuning that I will learn the form more quickly on a mandolin to eventually transfer that over to cello if I decide to do so. It will help me explore.

    Reason: I would like to be able to transfer my classical pieces from cello to mandolin. I'd prefer not transposing all of the pieces up a fifth as it would just bother me. I would use it as a way to get a new perspective on my cello pieces.

    Reason: I would like to join some jam groups of various music styles that happen in town. They are not really anything beyond amature musicians meeting up. They mainly play fiddle tunes, folk, and bluegrass. I'm sure everyone here knows what I am talking about.

    Considering these three primary priorities:

    I am wondering if: I should buy a used eastman A series mandolin and then a mandola as well and just play either instrument dependent upon my objective at the time.

    Or if I should order a five course bandolim from Brasil. I have the opportunity to use a luthier who has a good reputation and would do it for a pretty reasonable price considering it is a handmade good. It will be significantly more expensive than purchasing a used mandolin and a used mandola here but the value for a quality instrument may outweigh that.

    Will having the fifth course really throw me off considering I am already fairly "fluent" with fifths tuning from my cello playing and have some dexterity from playing guitar for a number of years? Enough of an adjustment to only want to purchase a four course instrument?

    Since bandolims have a different sound from their american counterparts, would it probably be inapporpriate in a mandolin jam style setting? I think once I have more money I could buy an American instrument but would it fit in well enough for several years?

    I am using music only as a hobby rather than any kind of profession so I just need to see if it would make more sense with the limited amount of time I have to:
    Learn on the five course bandolim now that would be good for playing classical and choro my main intersests.
    Or: Learn on a cheaper four course american mandolin and a mandola for a number of years and then hope to find a bandolim at a reasonable price in a few years? I think one of the main reasons I would not want to do this is that mandolins and mandolas have separate scale lengths so I'd rather just learn the first time. Might be easiest to just purchase one mandolin for life instead of learning separate skills and then transfering over later.

    One of the main expenses in purchasing a Brazillian instrument is that the shipping and insurance is a large and sunk cost. That coupled with it being a different enough instrument from the American Mandolin is one of the reasons I am considering starting with the five course Brazilian Bandolim that is well made and paying the premium for one I will not need to upgrade ever.

    Might be better to buy once now instead of multiple now and then again later. Although once I am proficient I could see myself playing bluegrass as well and would purchase an instrument dedicated to that at the time.

    Further last question: It would only cost $100 to have the bandolim constructed electrically instead of acoustically. Would it make sense to have that installed if I will never be playing professionally but if later I might need to resell it.

    Thank you,

    I know the post is not too clear but I am trying to weigh several different possibilities.

    Best,

    Tom!

  2. #2
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    If you are mostly interested in choro and you have the cash for a custom instrument the bandolims are quite nice though very different from more standard American-style mandolins. They use lighter strings and, I believe, maybe more radiused fretboards. Still you can use them for any music you like. As far as cost though there are American makers who can make you a 10 string instrument, if that is what you want. Lawrence Smart and Girouard come to mind as fine builders who have built ten-strings. I know there are a few folks here who play 10-strings of north American makers.

    Classical pieces from cello music: many of the more popular ones often played on mandolin like Bach Celo Suites are readily available using same fingerings as cello but transcribed for violin. Look them up on IMSLP.org. Lots of similar pieces transcribed for violin from cello music.

    Personally, I would not go crazy and buy multiple instruments to fill what you think your needs will be months or years from now. Work within your budget and get something to start. Then follow your path to where you want to go.

    As far as cello in choro: that could be pretty interesting and I assume you are an advanced player. If you can play those tunes on cello at roda de choro speed ten that would be wonderful. Otherwise I would also listen to the bass lines that the 7-string guitar players to glean what you would play while others are taking a break. Cello might work nicely for that.
    Jim

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Offhand, since you want to play choro and classical, I'd suggest the 5 course bandolim. One instrument to deal with, has the range you want, and no need to upgrade.

    Best of luck!

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    Registered User MB-Octo's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    How does the cost of the custom Brazilian instrument compare to these?:

    https://reverb.com/item/32787669-tho...ndolin-mandola

    https://reverb.com/item/26366666-jes...a-2014-natural

  6. #5
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Quote Originally Posted by MB-Octo View Post
    How does the cost of the custom Brazilian instrument compare to these?:

    https://reverb.com/item/32787669-tho...ndolin-mandola

    https://reverb.com/item/26366666-jes...a-2014-natural
    There are members here who play both of the makers above as their main instruments. I think Tom Wright plays a Buchanan 10-string.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
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    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  7. #6
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Who is the Brazilian luthier you are considering? In addition to shipping costs you also have to factor in US Custom charges age dealing with CITES regulations depending on the woods this luthier would use.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
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    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

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  9. #7

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    There are members here who play both of the makers above as their main instruments. I think Tom Wright plays a Buchanan 10-string.
    MB-Octo, The new instrument with shipping, taxes etc would probably cost about the same as the Jessen if I get the five course with the pickup installed. (Which the Jessen also has a pickup.) I don't forsee myself using the pickup in any kind of situation for at least 5 years but if I may spend the extra $100 to have it installed if it is better to install it while performing original construction. I don't forsee myself ever selling the instrument but I am young so life could happen in the future and I would need to recover some of the costs.

    DavidKOS. Thanks!

    Jim I just listened to the music he had on sound cloud. I really liked the sound so that could be a good alternative. Was nice to find the music anyways, he is really good!

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  11. #8

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    If you are mostly interested in choro and you have the cash for a custom instrument the bandolims are quite nice though very different from more standard American-style mandolins. They use lighter strings and, I believe, maybe more radiused fretboards. Still you can use them for any music you like. As far as cost though there are American makers who can make you a 10 string instrument, if that is what you want. Lawrence Smart and Girouard come to mind as fine builders who have built ten-strings. I know there are a few folks here who play 10-strings of north American makers.
    The more radiused finger board might be kind of nice for me actually coming over from cello... hahah. Good to know that it should fit into a group well enough. The American ten strings look amazing. Unfortunately they are pretty far out of my current budget.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Classical pieces from cello music: many of the more popular ones often played on mandolin like Bach Celo Suites are readily available using same fingerings as cello but transcribed for violin. Look them up on IMSLP.org. Lots of similar pieces transcribed for violin from cello music.
    Thanks for the resource. Could be another option to just play up a fifth. I think though I'll either get a lower course on a mandolin or get a mandola as well. I will be travelling for work a lot of having a quiet easy transportable instrument is one of the reasons I thought a mandola could be good. If I am already getting a mandola though and spending the time to learn it then it would be nice to be able to play mandolin so I could access that repertoire. Will be nice to be able to transfer pieces I already know so I can spend time more focused on the technique.... Once I get past the "investment period" on mandolin I think it could add a new cool perspective to my cello playing. Will definetly be nice to be able to transfer a lot of the skills from cello over though!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Personally, I would not go crazy and buy multiple instruments to fill what you think your needs will be months or years from now. Work within your budget and get something to start. Then follow your path to where you want to go.
    Probably the right way to go. At this point I'm thinking I'll either go for the bandolim now and just learn on a 5 course instrument to start or If I get intimidated by the price I'll probably get the MD505 or buchanan to start.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    As far as cello in choro: that could be pretty interesting and I assume you are an advanced player. If you can play those tunes on cello at roda de choro speed ten that would be wonderful. Otherwise I would also listen to the bass lines that the 7-string guitar players to glean what you would play while others are taking a break. Cello might work nicely for that.
    Yea, Yo-Yo Ma did a cd with some choroes "obrigado brasil" that is really cool. Unfortunately I don't think at my level I'd have a ways to go before I could join into a group. I think you have the right idea though where I could just replicate the bass part from the 7 string for now. There are not any choro groups where I live in Reno Nevada right now but I have seen that there are groups/workshops in the bay area and PNW I could join once I am proficient. It'd be fun to bring both instruments and play in the groups.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Who is the Brazilian luthier you are considering? In addition to shipping costs you also have to factor in US Custom charges age dealing with CITES regulations depending on the woods this luthier would use.
    I am talking with Joćo Batista who used to live in Sćo Paulo but now he lives in Joćo Pessoa. It is in the Northeast so shipping costs are typically more expensive from there unfortunately. I didn't even think of CITES. He recommened that we do the Bandolim made from Beech. He has been using that or rosewood but rosewood is restricted. I live in the desert but it is not unlikely that I will move the PNW in the future so he said the Beech wood "faia" will be more resistant to humidity changes.
    I think he uses Ebony on the fretboards so that would be in Appendix II of the CITES. From what I have seen that would require an export but not an import permit. The Bandolim would probably cost about $1650 including the electronics and exchange rates, etc. I think it will be around $300 for shipping, insurance. I didn't really think of the VAT. Various calculators online have made it kind of pricy.

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  13. #9

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Thanks for the replies Jim!

  14. #10

    Default Re: 1st Mandolin. Purchase Nice Bandolim or Eastman MD505? TYIA

    Hi, I am posting since after two weeks of scouring the internet, sales, and researching mandolins/bandolims more than a person should I ended up making my desicion. I am posting here so anyone who researches in the future can have help. I ended up choosing a mid-misouri M1 to start. Here is some info I found out though.

    I liked the Brazillian Bandolims, and the batista the best. I talked with Joao Batista who has a great reputation and he replied quickly. He currently offers two models for 10 string bandolim, one in jacaranda brasil (brazilian rosewood) and the other in faia(beechwood). I am pretty sure the link on his webpage for contacting him does not work. However, the email account did. He ships to the US via Fedex from Joao Pessoa Paraiba. (It is in the Northeast of Brazil and will likely have higher shipping costs than from Rio or Sao Paulo I am guessing, but cannot say for sure as a major port is in the same state as Joao Pessoa. It would probably be better to have your instrument air mailed though...) He said it would take him at least 3 months to get one ready due to the COVID pandemic.

    Since I live in the desert he recommended faia since it is less susceptible to humidity changes. Rosewood would shrink and crack and I am not going to get a lutheir made instrument just to let it break.

    Here is my understanding of importing from Brazil, I have never done this and am only posting it for informational purposes so you know where to start. Don't use it as definitive information, you should only get that from the governments.
    CITES regulations make importing brazillian rosewood difficult. I did not finish researching it but if it was acquired before June 1992 it is ok. Otherwise it is listed in Appendix 1 for CITES. Cites no longer applies to most used musical instruments since November 2019. However, Brazillian roeswood remains on Appendix 1. This means it will require a permit to be shipped. Other commonly used materials on the bandolims, ebony( appendix 3), and pau ferro (2 I think) are also subject to CITES so you probably need a permit.

    The tax for mandolins can be found via customs. Check the Brazilian consulate site though as they list a regulation GSP. (Set to expire for goods not in the US by Dec. 31 2020.) that do not have to pay import taxes on due to being from areas that require economic development but do not compete with american made products. Apparently this qualifies. Look in the regulations specifically but I think if the sender puts an "A" before the customs number then you can avoid that tax. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that you need to have them write it with a marker somewhere on the box.

    I want to get the Batista but ended up not being able to justify spending the additional money during this pandemic and before I have started developing skill on the instrument. My college roommates are from Joao Pessoa so I might go back there one day and hope to pick one up in person. Don't know If I will be able to make it happen though.

    I researched american instruments that would end up working for now. There are not a lot of ten string american instruments out there and most of them cost about as much as the Batista.

    I ended up deciding that since I'll be travelling with the instrument a lot for work I would like a smaller instrument. Also, since I am beginning getting a larger mandolin to start with would not leave my hotel neighboors very happy and would be harder to travel with. I decided to get a flat top since Bandolims are nearly flat tops and have oval holes.

    I decided I wanted to get a Big Muddy of a wood that does not dry up too easily in the desert. I decided a mahogony or a walnut type would work best. I decided I would watch reverb, the classifieds, craigslist, etc for a month or two to find if something would turn up. I ended up getting a Mid Missouri M1 that had been professional set up with a softshell case for about $350 including shipping and tax. It will really suit my needs to start learning on the instrument. Playing cello tunes up a fifth and an octave has thankfully or unthankfully been something my ear cannot tell much of a difference with. The mandolin tuning will work well with the choro pieces which are normally only played on the top four strings. I'll be able to see how far along I take mandolin and if it becomes worth upgrading to a Bandolim or to an A-style with F-holes for bluegrass one day.

    Thank you for the help everyone.

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