Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 26 to 50 of 64

Thread: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

  1. #26
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.1646° N, 74.2083° W
    Posts
    23,863

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    A few years back a gentleman named Bob McRee started posting here regarding having mandolins built in China. He lived there. He was basically turning a shop of violin luthiers into a shop of mandolin luthiers. He was making great strides until he unfortunately got sick and passed away. Jade Mandolins had a brief but well received life here and I'm assuming those that bought them to the most part have kept them. It really does depend on who and what is driving the shop. If all they are trying to do is turn out something that looks like a mandolin you'll get something that looks like a mandolin. If they are striving to build good musical instruments you have to assume they will get there.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  2. #27

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    I have wrestled with the ethics of this situation myself. Lots of mandolin players (even talented ones) simply can't afford the price of entry for a really good mandolin. A Collings MT-2 (what I'd buy if I wasn't a builder) goes for $5,000 now. Over ten years of practice at building mandolins, I now can produce one that competes well with instruments in the $3-4K range (with my logo on the peghead, finding buyers just isn't working). The whole reason I got into building is because as a school teacher raising a family I couldn't afford thousands for a decent mando.

    As an amateur luthier, I work on a lot of people's instruments. I good friend/client of mine bought an Eastman F5 style (700 series I think) and it sounds better than anything else under $2,000 I've heard. Just retired, I now have the time to pursue flatpicking but not the money I had when working. After careful research, I just bought an Eastman copy of an HD-28. The fit and finish are flawless and it has a monster big sound. It's not a Martin and though I'd like to support the Martin Co, my finances and playing ability just don't justify it (slight pang of guilt). BTW, Eastman is in the process of joining forces with Dana Bourgeois so he can up his production (hiring more American workers at his facility) and upgrading machinery and producing a new line of guitars affordable to more people (most of guitars are in the $6k range) So it's a new world.

    IIRC, the Northfield company sources their wood here and ships it to China for production to their specs. I'm not sure if the finishing happens in China or here. It seems like a lot of inefficient shipping back and forth but it's obviously a model that works for them. I know the secret to producing a great mandolin lies in hand graduation done by an experienced craftsman. Collings is able to produce very consistent, responsive mandolins by CNC and deflection testing calibration, but I'm guessing instruments carved in China have more handwork involved. Like a lot of us on the forum, I love looking at and reading about $10,000 instruments but I accept it's never going to be a reality for me. -RB
    Last edited by Rob Roy; Aug-08-2020 at 4:23pm. Reason: grammar

  3. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Rob Roy For This Useful Post:


  4. #28

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    <Violates forum posting guidelines. No further warnings>
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Aug-08-2020 at 5:24pm.

  5. #29

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Anybody hear Mike Marshall on the Mandolins & Beer podcast? His latest album is the first one in like 40 years where he didn’t use his Loar. Instead, it was a Northfield. He added that the Loar has been parked in its case for about two years.

    One of Adam Steffey’s students won a Northfield at a festival. He took it to a lesson, and Adam contacted Northfield saying he needed one. Seen what he’s been playing most often for the last several years?

    It would be easy to write this off as two big name guys getting paid to play them, but I really doubt Northfield could afford to pay either enough to compromise their integrity like that. It’s a lot easier to believe they’re making excellent instruments that guys who can play any brand they like are choosing to play.

  6. #30
    Registered User Aaron Bohnen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    The Northfields I've seen, heard and played have been excellent. I instinctively like the idea of supporting the small-shop domestic luthiers but it's hard to take anything away from Northfield. Their business concept and novel organization is a first in this industry, and seems to be driven by passionate designers and skilled craftsmen with a real commitment to quality and development.

    They're also innovating continuously as they contribute to the evolution and growth of the mandolin family, its fans and players. I can't think of another builder who has done so much in so little time and I believe Northfield deserves real recognition for this.

    Granted their highest-spec models are expensive and getting pricier. Even though their top models now command prices similar to other high-quality luthier-built instruments, that's clearly supported by the market. This emphasizes the perpetual Cafe suggestion to try many mandolins in (and below and above) one's price range to find and learn what really speaks to you.

    I think it'd easy to be proud of a Northfield mandolin chosen this way, no matter where it was built.

    Enjoy!
    Gavin Baird F4 & F5, Weber Octar, Gibson K-1, Guild D50, Martin D35, Yairi DY-84, etc...

  7. #31
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Central Illinois
    Posts
    3,279

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Quote Originally Posted by rgregg48 View Post
    I have two mandolins, one Eastman which is nice for for the price, and one mid level American luthier built, Which is a better mando as you would expect
    I have never played a Northfield, but everyone I know who has played one raves about them!
    My problem is I just can't wrap my head around 4 to 6k for a Chinese instrument!
    On one hand, a great mando is a great mando
    And country of origin vs. price is a non issue.
    As narrow minded as I might be on this issue⁹
    It's weird.
    Anyone share this sentimemt?
    Let your ears and fingers be your guide ! Try one out as with any mandolin !
    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 !

  8. #32
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,056

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    The few Northfield mandolins I've been lucky enough to try out have all sounded special. A friend had a Big Mon at a workshop and it was better than my Collings MT and gave up nothing to a couple of different US made single person shop instruments. It became more what sound do you prefer.

    If I were looking for an F style mandolin, a Northfield would be on my short list.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1989 Flatiron Performer A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 2018 Eastman MDO-305
    http://ericplatt.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/LauluAika/
    https://www.lauluaika.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/Longtine-Pl...4404553312723/

  9. #33

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flynn View Post
    Don't get your panties in a knot. I am not judging or complaining, just noticing, and reminiscing.
    Most folks on this board are men...shouldn't that be don't get your boxers in a knot?

  10. The following members say thank you to GDAE for this post:


  11. #34
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,419
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    I have no question about quality here. But, why are instruments off-shored like this?
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  12. #35
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
    Posts
    2,383
    Blog Entries
    10

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    I have no question about quality here. But, why are instruments off-shored like this?
    Posted May 19, 2020 here:

    Northfield is not an Asian import company. It is not a business entity that solely purchases items from an external country and separate business entity and then resells in the U.S. for profit. The founders of the company are based in the U.S. and China. The employees in China are Northfield company owners and long-time employees, long-time friends of founder Adrian (in the U.S.) and highly skilled luthiers. Material and work is shared between the two. Wood is sourced in the U.S. and shipped for some models to China then sent back and final inspection, set-up, tweaking, if necessary, is performed in the U.S. A good part of the line is entirely made in Michigan as outlined in this feature article from 2018, Northfield Introduces Three New Michigan-Made Instruments. They are a very, very small organization and no other mandolin company is quite like them in that regard. Part of the U.S. based Calhoun production is intended in part to cater to a rapidly growing mandolin market in China, and when it breaks, it will be the biggest market on the planet simply due to the numbers.

    Further information on their web site.

  13. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Mandolin Cafe For This Useful Post:


  14. #36
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    421

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)



    I think sometimes it doesnt hurt to support your local builders. If some of the well known builders are so expensive. Buying a Asian made instrument is not a bad thing. But maybe check the quality first over the bling of it. Some are aweful to look at. And most scream cheaply made.

  15. #37
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,850

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    I think that Northfield is certainly the most talked-about mandolin right now.
    The most talked-about mandolin brand changes from year to year.
    I've seen an awful lot of brands and builders fade in and out of popularity over the years. I remember a fellow named Lebeda who was building a pretty good mandolin at an affordable price. For whatever reason, he seems to be off the radar now.
    We'll see how Northfield holds up.
    Me, I play with my hands and my ear. I play what sounds good and feels good to me. A brand name is not of primary importance to me.
    Neither is the country of origin, although I prefer to buy US instruments. We need all the help we can get these days. I do have a Chinese flat top guitar that I gig with that's pretty good, but I prefer to gig with an old Gibson when the environment is less cramped.

  16. #38
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    DFW, America
    Posts
    3,309

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Quote Originally Posted by John Flynn View Post
    My, how things have changed here over the years. When I joined this site, most people here would vilify any mandolin made in Asia as a matter of principle. There used to be terms like "POS PACRIMJOB" thrown around all the time. Now everyone is so enlightened and fairly self-righteous about it.

    Don't get your panties in a knot. I am not judging or complaining, just noticing, and reminiscing.
    I see your joint date is 2002; there was still a very real stigma in the acoustic world about “Made in China” (or anywhere other than the USA) then. I used to see this a lot on the guitar forums in those days. Even when I joined in 2006 the stigma was still there and I remember not wanting any mandolin Made in China. In general, I try to buy US-made stuff but that’s just my personal preference, though not always possible. I still think there is a stigma to some Chinese-made instruments (at least in the US), but things have obviously changed quality-wise for the better.

    I sometimes wonder how US builders will survive since most younger people
    I’ve known don’t seem to care about any of this stuff. They just know this guitar/mandolin/whatever sounds and looks good for $400, while the US-made one looks and sounds the same but costs a lot more. I remember some China-made Recoding King guitars that blew me away at a guitar show not long ago, all for well under $300. Things have changed a lot.
    ...

  17. #39
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,850

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Yes, times have changed. And that Chinese gigging guitar that I mentioned is indeed a high-end Recording King made in 2009.

    I paid $800, not much above dealer cost, and almost sold it a couple of times. Now I'm glad I held on to it-- I can use it on a cramped stage, which is what I see most of the time these days. Unfortunately, they discontinued the model because it didn't sell. It would benefit from a better set of frets, which I've been threatening to install for quite a while, but a lot of new US instruments would also benefit from better frets.

    The one that I'm sorry I let go was an Eastman 505 mandolin that was also good enough to gig with, and was certainly better than just about any Gibson A-50 I've ever played.

  18. #40

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    I'm an average player, social worker with a car that needs to be replaced. I'm now starting my 6th decade on the planet. In the 80's I bought a nice Nugget A5 deluxe for $1650. Over the years, I have spent my hard earned $$ on instruments rather than other material possessions. Somer of my favorites have included old Martins, Red Diamond A5, Apitius, Gibson(1) and on..I remember in the first days of Northfield I became upset because I thought their A5 price should be lower. So I pouted and didn't order one. About a year after that I purchased a used F5 Master model(their first version of the master model). That is the moment I replaced my pre-conceived notions with hands on experience. Since that day I have owned several Northfields. And while I don't currently own one, I intend to again in the future. It's just my limited opinion but to me that build exceptional mandolins. Truly outstanding. My .02

  19. #41

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    I have one of the Northfield 1st gen Master models built in 2014 and I love it. I paid considerably less for it than my friends paid for their ‘equivalent’ American made mandos that are not as good quality or value. Mine always gets compliments from jams and pros at camps and I could probably sell it and get most of what I paid for it back.

    You say you were not trolling so ok, but that was a heck of a loaded post for someone who has not been around the Cafe long. Do your research before you just throw out a uninformed and really somewhat rude post about a company and it’s product you knew nothing about. This is an international forum and people from all over the world are buying instruments from places other than the USA.

    Call Northfield and ask those very same questions of the workers producing the product and do some research, if you don’t know how to use the Cafe search function do a Google search and include Mandolin Cafe, you’ll have plenty to read.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  20. #42
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lower alabama
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevin View Post
    There is a very wide range of prices and quality in Chinese made instruments, just as there was in American until late in the 20th century. Almost every week someone posts a question about an inexpensive and somewhat cruddy made American bowl back on this forum. We tend to forget them and remember the higher end instruments, in part because they are so good but also because having been well made they have a better survival rate.

    I am primarily a bass player. My main upright bass is a bottom of the Line Shen SB80, made in China. It is a well designed and crafted instrument that ha served me well for ten years. I find it vastly superior to the American made Englhard basses made at the same time. There also are Chinese made bass shaped objects that are close to unplayable and tend to self destruct. The key is doing your research to find a good maker, not a country of origin.
    I've been playing a carved Shen as my main instrument since 2007. It gets better and better. BTW, Engelhardt went out of business, closed the doors. I think that's a shame.

  21. The following members say thank you to lowtone2 for this post:


  22. #43
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,850

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Shen makes good basses, good enough to make a living on. They are seeing quite a bit of use in orchestras now, and some orchestra players who have been using old Kays have been retiring them for Shens.
    For those who prefer US made instruments, Upton basses made in Connecticut are good instruments, and are available in several grades.

    Englehardts were better than Palatinos, but they were just not in the same class as Shen and Upton.

    Me, I paid off my mortgage with a Roth hybrid. Not an especially loud bass, but a very comfortable and friendly bass.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-10-2020 at 2:10am.

  23. The following members say thank you to rcc56 for this post:


  24. #44

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    A lot of good comments have already been provided so I will only share my personal experience.

    I've owned two Northfield mandolins, both purchased several years ago around the time I inherited a little cash and decided to buy a "real" mandolin. That was probably 5 years ago and I decided upon Northfield after asking for suggestions from this forum for the best bang for the buck. Both were great instruments and I'm contemplating a search for a used Artist Series model having since played and owned many more mandolins.

    Since then, Northfield continues to add new lines and styles of mandolins and the demand still seems to be high. Price has also gone up. If you believe in the supply and demand curve then it would seem that there are many people out there that share the same sentiments as me.

  25. #45
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Saint Augustine Beach FL
    Posts
    4,837

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    last year I visited Avenue Guitars and had a chance to play a gorgeous Collings mandolin in the 12K range and a couple of Northfield F-5's. The Northfields blew the Collings out of the water. It's not that the Collings was not a great mandolin, The Northfields were just better.

    Those new Northfield A-5 specials in the classifieds look pretty sweet too.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  26. #46

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    I have learned that everyone’s taste is different as every mandolin is different. It really does not matter much to me where a mandolin is made/assembled. It is the sound and playability that grab me. I have probably caught and released 20 mandolins, including a Northfield F5S, a Pava Pro, and a Gibson F9. My Collings MT, which I have owned for 8 years, is still my favorite - best sound and playability. My other keepers are a 1921 Gibson A2, and a hand built mandolin I snagged on EBay by a builder unknown to me (Blackwell). It needed some set-up, and now it sounds and plays great. I also have a Kentucky km1000 that is pretty great, lightweight and very punchy for the money - compared favorably with the Northfield. YMMV

  27. #47
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Quote Originally Posted by bigskygirl View Post
    This is an international forum and people from all over the world are buying instruments from places other than the USA.
    I come from another country, the USA's biggest trading partner, that buys billions of dollars worth of goods and services from the US. The US in turn buys billions worth of goods and services from us. As long as this Forum discussion is about the quality of Chinese instruments, I have no problem with it, but when hints of protectionism come into the discussion ("why are instruments off-shored like this?"), the discussion is getting political, and offensive to those of us in many other countries, whose consumer habits and trade agreements provide jobs for a great many Americans, and whose businesses often have partnerships with American businesses. I offer no opinion as to whether the present international economic system is good or bad. Let's keep focussed on the topic.

    By the way, I too held a bias against Chinese instruments, because, in the 1980's, a lot of cheap -- in both senses -- instruments were coming into Canada from China (I bought my kids Chinese beginner violins). When I mentioned this on the Forum,I was politely corrected by good folks at the Cafe, who let me know that my view was out of date. Again, as someone mentioned above, for my generation, "made in Japan" once meant cheap junk, an idea long forgotten.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  28. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Ranald For This Useful Post:


  29. #48
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,419
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Just to be clear, my question ("why are instruments off-shored like this?") was exactly in the opposite spirit of protectionism. It was more in a concern about worldwide ecology and fair labor. You've read much too much into it.

    'Nuff said.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  30. The following members say thank you to dhergert for this post:

    Ranald 

  31. #49
    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Cornwall & London
    Posts
    2,700
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    I've a friend who I would consider a serial mandolin acquisition junkie.
    He's been through a whole gamut of instruments (including Gibson Rigel, Phoenix & Weber) all personal taste stuff , but his last couple of upgrades were from an older Northfield to a newer one and now to the current top end Northfield. I really like the current one, it's exceptional in terms of quality and the sound it produces, a joy to hold and play. The fact that he's sticking with the brand made an impression on me. If I needed anything other than my Davidson I'd probably be looking to Northfield as a high quality option.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

  32. #50
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    645

    Default Re: Chinese made mandolins (Northfield?)

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    Just to be clear, my question ("why are instruments off-shored like this?") was exactly in the opposite spirit of protectionism. It was more in a concern about worldwide ecology and fair labor. You've read much too much into it.

    'Nuff said.
    Sorry, Don. I guess I did read far too much into it. It didn't seem in keeping with your attitude generally.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  33. The following members say thank you to Ranald for this post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •