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Thread: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    I am just getting started and I have a Loar. I bought it used for $200 and I think I got a good deal. I really enjoy playing it. I'd like to get a nicer instrument. When looking at brands what should I look for? I'd like something that will last and could be an heirloom for my kids. What brand and model would you folks suggest in the $1500 range? Thanks

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    I once sold a fine Collings MT for $1500, a Silverangel A5 for less. You don’t say what type of music you play or what kind of mandolin, but I’d be looking for a used instrument built of solid woods. If you are drawn to the F-style, you might consider something like this Ratliff:

    However, if you are open to an oval, you could enjoy something that will last and an heirloom for yourself (and kids) with a vintage Gibson:
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5
    2018 Vessel TM5

  3. #3
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
    Beaverton, OR, USA
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    I am a big fan of Bruce Weber's mandolins. If you are patient, you can probably find a used Weber Bitterroot or Gallatin in good shape for that price. You might have to do a little bit of bargaining. Or if you like a brighter sound, maybe a Collings MT. I suspect this is a good time to be a buyer, so don't be afraid to make offers below the asking price. In any case, the $1500 range has lots of good ones, some with well known names, some with lesser known names. And in that range, be sure to try before you buy or at least get a no questions asked return and refund commitment.
    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:

  4. #4

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    Howard Morris has one of his A models in the classifieds for just a bit over $1000 new, with 48 hr trial. Pretty, too! Other possibilities are a Kentucky 900 or 950. Some have said in response to situations like yours, that it may be better to wait until a budget of ~ $2000-3000 works, and I fully agree. At that point, lots of possibilities arise, such as a used Pava, Collings, Passernig, Silver Angel, and many others. I’m talking all A’s here, not F’s which will, with your budget, result in a scroll, but not anywhere as good of an instrument in all other respects. At $1500, it is a bit limited but if you’re patient, the “right” mando may just come along! Also depends on the music you want to play. Remember to have fun in your search; if it gets you crazy, take a break and start again a month later! Dean.

  5. #5

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    Thanks for the info. I am wanting to learn to play bluegrass and covers of songs in rock and country. I am not trying to join a band or anything I just love to play. I am learning Rise by eddie vedder right now and i love learning it and it coming together.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Central Illinois

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    May be difficult to find but a used Girouard A is worth looking for ! Check with Max as he may be able to help ! Fantastic instruments !
    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 !

  7. #7
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Richmond, Virginia

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    a-model, f-hole, solid wood, budget. I like the used MT choice!

    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  8. #8
    Registered User Mike Arakelian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Eastern N.C.

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    You should be able to find a very nice A style Flatiron for that price. Excellent mandolins with an excellent reputation. Flatirons can definitely qualify as “keepers”, and may even be the heirloom for your kids. They appear regularly in the classifieds. There are several nice A styles available in your price range now. Good luck.
    2007 Sumi F-5 Deluxe
    1991 Flatiron Performer A
    Martin D-35

  9. #9
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Saint Augustine Beach FL

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    These RAG mandolins have gotten positive reviews here in the past...


    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  10. #10
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Durham, NC

    Default Re: advice on purchasing a Mandolin

    One word of warning - a good $1500 mandolin is like a gateway drug!

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