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Thread: Help me narrow down my search

  1. #1

    Default Help me narrow down my search

    I'm looking for a new Mando. I have a mid-2000's Kentucky KM-505, and I like it a lot - but my buddy has a ~1990 Gibson A-style, and while there are similar woody characteristics, his is *slightly* woodier, chunkier, warmer and has sweeter snap on the high end then mine does. It is subtle, but after 15 years of owning this Mando, I think I want to save up some money and try to find one that has more chunk and that sweet top end.

    It may be that I will need to go to a custom instrument. I think I can probably save close to $5K, if I sell a guitar or two and keep tucking away cash.

    I have considered a Collings, a Weber, and a few others - but what I'd like to do is first ask if anyone knows of a production Mando that would be a good option, and also get a few recommendations for a custom shop that might have some choices.

    It's a little extravagant, but I think I also want to get an F-style Mando. I could be talked out of this, but I imagine this will be the last Mando purchase I ever make, so I think I want it to be an F.

    Recommendations?

    Sorry if this is already posted - I did a ton of searches on "Looking for....", etc, but for some reason I did not find this topic...

    Johnny

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    Hey Johnny, I'm not sure where you live but if possible for you, I would highly recommend a field trip to Nashville to play on as many mandolins as possible. It could be worth the cost to give you an opportunity to find exactly what you are looking for and within your budget. There are 3 stores here now that have a fantastic mandolin selection in every price point. Carter Vintage, Gruhn's Guitar (just down the street) and recently The Mandolin Store moved here from Arizona. You could hit all 3 stores easily in one day and play on 40 or 50 mandolins, from just about all the makers. There's nothing quite like first hand knowledge.

    I live here so I do this a couple times a year just for fun. I am always amazed at the differences between the instruments and often I find a mandolin in the $3k to $5k range that I like better than the over $10k range. And it's just total all out fun to spend a day playing so many different mandolins. It has really educated me as to what I like and what the different builders create. It's also great to be able to play on the instruments that are in the $20k range, just to know what they sound and feel like. And if you really want to go all in, at Carter Vintage you can play on a real Gibson Lloyd Loar.

    That's my two cents.

    Note: Forgot to mention, with the pandemic still raging, you would need to call ahead to make sure these stores are allowing a limited number of customers in at one time, so you can socially distance while playing instruments. Most stores have opened back up here, but masks and distancing are required.
    Last edited by Nashville; Sep-18-2020 at 9:47am. Reason: additional info

  3. #3
    Hands of Pot Metal
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    You could certainly find a used Ellis, Kimble, Collings or maybe a Duff at the 5k point in an A. If it’s an F, good luck with your search.
    Play it like you mean it

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  4. #4
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    I went with a Pava Pro and couldn’t be happier. Made in the Ellis shop.
    2020 Pava Pro A5
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    1912 Gibson A4

  5. #5
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    Does it need to be new?
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    I second the idea of taking a road trip to Nashville. But you may need to call ahead and make an appointment due to the pandemic. I visited Nashville on a business trip a few weeks ago and tried to stop by Carter's and Artisan's but they wouldn't let me because I didn't have an appointment.

  7. #7
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    I only made it through the first 3 pages in the classifieds here before I found several F style Northfields and a couple Collings in the $5 k and under range. Not to mention vintage Gibson's as well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    Anything "new" will face a quick depreciation hit. Beyond that, there's the whole "opening up" discussion; many feel that a new instrument's ultimate sound will only manifest itself after being "played in" for a while. Finally, there's the sinking feeling you get when your dead mint mando gets its first dent, scratch or other cosmetic flaw.

    The Horror!

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  10. #9

    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    I forgot to mention that used is totally fine with me... thanks for the suggestions so far - Iíll check these out. A trip to Nashville would be fun - but I donít see that happening any time soon. :-)

    The Pava really sounds good to my ear...

  11. #10

    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnybregar View Post
    I forgot to mention that used is totally fine with me... thanks for the suggestions so far - Iíll check these out. A trip to Nashville would be fun - but I donít see that happening any time soon. :-)

    The Pava really sounds good to my ear...
    I will second the Pava. Bought one used on the Cafe. You will not be disappointed.

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  13. #11
    Registered User
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    You may want to think about old Gibson A models. There are many in your price range. Depending on what type of music you play, they are nice and sound good. Only issue is they are not great for bluegrass.

  14. #12
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    If it's gonna be your last mandolin, get something you are really thrilled with. That may mean waiting to get to Nashville, or one of the big dealers or a festival, where you can play a bunch of instruments and figure out which you really want.

    If you can't wait, find yourself a used Collings MT, Pava A or an old Gibson A for now, which will hold value pretty well and be a step up until you can get out and find your final mandolin to trade the A in on. Can't go far wrong with any of those.
    -Dave
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  15. #13
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me narrow down my search

    Northfield F5S, but I'm not biased (see avatar...)
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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