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Thread: Old v New

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    Default Old v New

    Looking at two different mandolins from the same builder; built 30 years apart. I like the features of both of them and both are comparable in their appointments. Not exactly the the same, but very similar in most respects. Priced about the same as well. Is there one that you would lean to over the other? Boutique type builder with a very good reputation. Thanks for the input.

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    Default Re: Old v New

    If the luthier has built very many, I would likely go for the newer one as quality has likely improved over time.

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    Default Re: Old v New

    If the 30 year old mandolin is in good solid shape it most likely was well built. The sound would be the deciding factor for me.
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    Default Re: Old v New

    I’d go for the one that sounded better.. Unless you’re buying a wall hanger.
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    Default Re: Old v New

    Buying the best sounding of two mandolins is of course the goal , but I submit is unreasonable for most buyers. Unless there is a marked difference or you are able to play the two at the same session in the same room on the same day (at least that’s how my playing goes anyway) then you are left with no direct comparison. Of course there are “those” instruments that shine from the start and those which blossom later in life and outshine the bulk of instruments in their age groups. I am unable to play either of these mandolins but trust the reputation of the builder and reviews from the cafe crowd. I know he builds rather exceptional instruments and has for a long time. I just wanted to see if the collective might have thoughts which were outside my own. Thanks

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old v New

    Who's the builder and then we can tell from the quality of the old vs the newer?

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    Default Re: Old v New

    Lou Stiver

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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old v New

    I know Lou as he's about 3 hours from my place, His mandolins are very popular here in Western PA! Its a toss up as his older ones sound GREAT and his newer ones sound GREAT! I'd try and play both then decide!

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    Default Re: Old v New

    Quote Originally Posted by hogans hero View Post
    Lou Stiver
    I played a new one a couple of years ago. Custom-build that the guy had literally just brought down from Lou's place that afternoon. One of the best instruments I've ever played. Offered to trade the guy my Brentrup on the spot and he declined...and I LOVE the sound of my Brentrup.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Old v New

    Quote Originally Posted by hogans hero View Post
    Buying the best sounding of two mandolins is of course the goal , but I submit is unreasonable for most buyers. Unless there is a marked difference or you are able to play the two at the same session in the same room on the same day (at least that’s how my playing goes anyway) then you are left with no direct comparison. Of course there are “those” instruments that shine from the start and those which blossom later in life and outshine the bulk of instruments in their age groups. I am unable to play either of these mandolins but trust the reputation of the builder and reviews from the cafe crowd. I know he builds rather exceptional instruments and has for a long time. I just wanted to see if the collective might have thoughts which were outside my own. Thanks
    Since you are unable to play either mandolin before you make your decision, you'll never have evidence that you made the wrong decision.

    Seriously, you're probably going to get a great mandolin with either one. You said that one mandolin is 30 years older than the other one, but you didn't say how old they both are. Stiver started building mandolins full-time in 1978, but he had already been building for a while before then. I can't comment on his mandolins specifically, but I would guess that by 1980, he had things pretty well dialed in. However, I'll also agree with Panama_Red that builders generally get better over time, and their ability to select primo wood also gets better.

    Since you originally stated that the two mandolins are "very similar in most respects. Priced about the same as well.", the main advantage I see in buying the older mandolin is that it has probably opened up a lot more. However, if that newer Stiver is already at least a few years old and has been played a bit, there won't be as much of a difference in that regard.

    Bottom line: I'd recommend getting the newer one and, no matter which one you choose, not looking back to wonder about the one you're leaving behind.
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  11. #11
    Davor Tomasic
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    Default Re: Old v New

    Quote Originally Posted by hogans hero View Post
    Looking at two different mandolins from the same builder; built 30 years apart. I like the features of both of them and both are comparable in their appointments. Not exactly the the same, but very similar in most respects. Priced about the same as well. Is there one that you would lean to over the other? Boutique type builder with a very good reputation. Thanks for the input.
    Get both and sell the one you like less. But don't advertise that here...

  12. #12
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old v New

    Every Stiver I've played was strong. One that got away was an A5 from the late 80's & I regretted that for a long time. I've since satisfied (somewhat) my search for tone and playability, but a Stiver would be on my short-list for sure if I were actively looking. I don't think you'll get a dog with either. Good hunting!

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    Default Re: Old v New

    Thanks everyone for weighing in. You have confirmed my thoughts on all fronts. The interesting thing to me is that in this case at least, age doesn’t matter. I do realize that we aren’t talking about pre war v modern stuff, but I am somewhat surprised that the 30 year gap is not really a factor. I do know that I’ll end up with a great piece no matter which one I pick (so to speak).

  14. #14
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Old v New

    Quote Originally Posted by Crobanjoman View Post
    Get both and sell the one you like less. But don't advertise that here...
    Actually, if you have the capital in reserve to do this, it's not such a crazy idea! You should be able to sell the one that you prefer least for almost exactly what you bought it for, less the price of shipping and advertising the new sale (2% here on the MC). Assuming the mandolin costs around $5,000, that would come to about $100 for the ad cost and about $150 for the shipping and insurance, or an extra $250 out of your pocket to be able to try both mandolins. Also, if the two sellers would each offer you a 48 hour (or longer) period of evaluation, you could return the mandolin that you preferred the least and recoup purchase cost (less shipping, $150) without having to re-sell it yourself (saving the $100 ad fee, and not having to wait as long to get back your purchase cost). So, by spending from $150 to $250 (and possibly less), you could do a direct, A-B comparison of the two Stivers, and choose your favorite. This is a small investment to make compared to what you're planning to spend on a mandolin. Of course, you have to have enough capital in the bank (over $10,000) to pull this off, but it's certainly worth considering, IMO.

    Another possibility would be to contact both owners and ask them if they would be willing to ship you their mandolins, entirely at your expense, to try them out, and guarantee that you will purchase the one or the other. Who knows? They might be willing to go with that.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Old v New

    I owned one of Lou's from the 80s that was great. I played another from the 90s I think that was also really incredible. His early mandolins are really great.

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