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Thread: mass produced instruments & size variations

  1. #1

    Default mass produced instruments & size variations

    I've been dragging my feet on a new (still beginner level) instrument for about a year now. I'm getting closer - maybe I'll have the guts for Christmas.

    I was just wondering if there are any of the mass producers known for instruments being slightly bigger or smaller than others? (You know like New Balance sneakers are known for being wider than Asics?). If they're all the same size, it doesn't matter, but would be looking to avoid anything known to be big (have kind of small hands).

    I'm at what the MCF considers a very low-end of the budget range - very low - it's just now I have a $50 Walmart special, and would like an oval hole step up from that. I play another instrument, so my budget is my budget, but it puts me at the low end of mass produced.

  2. #2
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    My personal experience has demonstrated to me that differences in standard mandolins to have small variances. Small differences in scale length & width, with the most significant difference in neck profile.
    Mandolas, however, I have found all over the board.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

  3. #3

    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Bill View Post
    My personal experience has demonstrated to me that differences in standard mandolins to have small variances. Small differences in scale length & width, with the most significant difference in neck profile.
    Mandolas, however, I have found all over the board.
    Interesting - it's the same with violins and violas. (My other instrument is viola - but my index to pinky stretch is MUCH bigger with my arm up in viola-holding-position, so the small hands never limited my viola choice - but I do have a bit of trouble in mandolin-holding-position - I don't know why).

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    I'm at what the MCF considers a very low-end of the budget range - very low - it's just now I have a $50 Walmart special, and would like an oval hole step up from that. I play another instrument, so my budget is my budget, but it puts me at the low end of mass produced.[/QUOTE]

    How low is "low"? In the mass produced market, you might look at the Kentucky 270 models or the Eastman 304, if you can find a used one it would help bring the cost down. Another option would for something like a used Big Muddy mandolin.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  6. #5

    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    I'm at what the MCF considers a very low-end of the budget range - very low - it's just now I have a $50 Walmart special, and would like an oval hole step up from that. I play another instrument, so my budget is my budget, but it puts me at the low end of mass produced.
    How low is "low"? In the mass produced market, you might look at the Kentucky 270 models or the Eastman 304, if you can find a used one it would help bring the cost down. Another option would for something like a used Big Muddy mandolin.[/QUOTE]

    Those are the 2 I'm looking at. The Kentucky is my current budget, but I might hold out for the Eastman

  7. #6
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    I have never played a Kentucky, but I really like my Eastman 305. I've had it for about a year now, and am still impressed with the workmanship and materials. The tone (IMO) is very good as well.
    Richard

    Eastman 305 mandolin
    Martin D16 guitar
    OME 11" banjo
    Pisgah 12" banjo

  8. #7
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    I should have added that I got it from The Mandolin Store. When asked, in their opinion, the Eastman was a better choice. Great service, advice, and a very nice setup on the instrument, too.
    Richard

    Eastman 305 mandolin
    Martin D16 guitar
    OME 11" banjo
    Pisgah 12" banjo

  9. #8
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    With the use of CNC machines, many factory instruments are quite similar in terms of dimensions.

    Still, when I worked for a major wholesale/distributor of musical instruments, and unpacked and checked hundreds (thousands?) of supposedly identical items, I noticed that in any shipping container full, a small % sounded better than the rest, a small % sounded worse than the rest, and the majority were quite similar.

    Small shop individual makers could run from the same sort of QC to those that varied wildly!

    Just an observation from real life.

  10. #9
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    The Mandolin Store has an Eastman 304 and a Kentucky 272 listed on their site at the moment, the Eastman is $40 less. If the OP is waiting till Christmas there is a good chance she could find a used one for less.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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  12. #10

    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    I'm not savvy with tracking down used instruments. I search various things on the internet and see new ones popping up for within a few dollars of each other, but can't find many used oval-holes (except on E-bay, but E-bay and Craigslist scare me - as I said, not savvy - I feel like I might not get the BEST price where I look, but at least I won't buy a bag of wood).

    I see the Eastman 304 now a lot at closer to the $510 point (like you pointed out), so that's good I guess I'll just scour relentlessly between now and Christmas and if I can't find a flukey super-steal, I'll bite the bullet at that ~$500 mark.

  13. #11
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    Heady
    If you follow the Cafe Classifieds daily between now and Christmas you are likely to find a used 304. Buy with a 48 hr. trial period with you paying shipping both ways if you are not satisfied. I doubt if the mandolin will be misrepresented. A good group of people utilize this forum.
    If you do not find a suitable used one by Christmas avoid the other sources you mentioned and instead buy from one of the Cafe sponsors. This will assure a good setup and excellent customer service.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

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  15. #12
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    I will reiterate what Bill says above. Buy from a reliable dealer who provides expert setup. You may pay less at some of the bigger venues like GC, Musician’s Friend or Amazon dealers but you will have to pay someone eventually for setting up the mandolin properly for playing. It will prob cost more in time or money.
    Jim

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  17. #13
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    Heady
    Do not rule out a used Morris. I have never played one but have only heard and read good things.
    Also, When you are ready to bite do not hesitate to write a "WANTED" ad here in the Cafe describing what you are interested in.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

  18. #14

    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    I started watching the classifieds and it already panned out
    I got a blemished 404 for the price of a 304 from the Mandolin Store.
    I can hardly contain myself - it's better than me - I will be the limiting factor for sure, but it's a little more motivation to practice with a little discipline

    Thanks - a year of me intermittently waffling and asking the same questions here is over - you steered me toward something that excites me

  19. #15

    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    Excellent. I'm guessing you are going to love that 404. I have a mess of instruments right now, but nothing gets played more than my Eastman 504. I just love the sound of the oval hole mando.


    Jim

  20. #16

    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    I'm so happy I could cry.
    What I thought was a scratch in the picture might have just been a finger print or something - it's perfect - I am a cynic so when I saw the one I wanted for a price I could afford, after waffling on the 304 now or the 404 later... I just thought there would be a catch. Like not a scam but a "Oh you didn't know, well x y and z are how it works - that's understood among more experienced players". But there was nothing more to it - it was just a great deal with a friendly salesman

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  22. #17

    Default Re: mass produced instruments & size variations

    My other mandolins don't fit in my Eastman case. Tells me Eastman (F) body's are smaller.

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