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Thread: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

  1. #1
    Sheila's at it again! Round2's Avatar
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    Default Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    I have a $400 (plus shipping) budget to spend on a beginner's mandolin. Presently I have a sub-beginner's mandolin that was about $150 and is less terrible than you might think, but I can now move up half a notch.

    I see a few choices: the Loar LM 310F is in budget, as is the Eastman MD305, the Luna Folk Series Trinity, Ibanez M700S, Kentucky KM 250, and others. I'm not opposed to used instruments, either.

    I understand what $400 will get me, and what it won't, but that's where I am right now budgetarily. Suggestions, please?

  2. #2
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    I had a Kentucky 272 (same as the 250 series, but oval-hole) and it was really nice for the price. Eastman puts out a good mandolin too.

    You are reading the classifieds twice a day, aren't you? Some great deals come through on used instruments.

  3. #3
    Sheila's at it again! Round2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Thanks, Louise. Those details are really helpful!

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Of the lot you listed I'd go for either the Eastman or the Kentucky - good starter instruments that you'll get a lot of mileage out of and also should be pretty easy to sell them if you desire to upgrade further down the line.
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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Kentucky and Eastman are the leaders in student grade level instruments. Either one will do you for a few years with a good setup. In my experience Eastman has a more "modern" Collings / Weber like tone and Kentucky has a more Gibson like tone. Definately go with a used "A" model. You will get the most bang for your buck. Enjoy the journey. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Agree with all of the above advice. Will add that if you buy from a Cafe sponsor it will come well set up. If you buy used on the classifieds it will likely be well set up, but no guarantee there. If you can do the set up work yourself, no worries. If not, factor in an additional 20-150 dollars to the used or big box store (ie, Guitar Center, Musician’s Friend, etc) depending on what’s required. The good news for you is that is looks like you’re < 1.5 hours from Surprize, where Brian< who used to do much of the excellent set up work at TMS store, now has a shop...
    Chuck

  7. #7

    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    This one from The Mandolin Store looks hard to beat at $399. Set-up and gig bag are included.

    https://themandolinstore.com/product...used-due-9-29/

    Lots of people get these "entry level" Eastmans and keep them happily for years.

    Jim

  8. #8

    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    My friend has an Eastman 305 that is jaw-dropping. They aren't all that good, necessarily, but they can be great!

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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    I bought an Eastman 305 about a year ago and I have been extremely happy with it. Bought it from The Mandolin Store who put a really good setup on it. I think I got one of the "good" ones. I play with a couple of other mandolin players, one has a Collings MT, the other just got an Ellis. I am not going to say that the Eastman is any where near as good as they are, but it isn't bad, and both of the other owners like the tone and volume of it. I have no plans to replace it any time soon, but I may buy something better and just keep the Eastman too.
    Richard

    Eastman 305 mandolin
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    OME 11" banjo
    Pisgah 12" banjo

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Eastman or Kentucky. I've never played a The Loar that I liked. I also agree about using the Cafe classifieds. Buying a good used instrument is the way to go.

  11. #11
    Sheila's at it again! Round2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Thanks to all of you for your responses. I am grateful for your thoughts on the matter. An Eastman 305 (used) is on its way to me. I am a happy camper.

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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Round2 View Post
    I have a $400 (plus shipping) budget to spend on a beginner's mandolin. Presently I have a sub-beginner's mandolin that was about $150 and is less terrible than you might think, but I can now move up half a notch.

    I see a few choices: the Loar LM 310F is in budget, as is the Eastman MD305, the Luna Folk Series Trinity, Ibanez M700S, Kentucky KM 250, and others. I'm not opposed to used instruments, either.

    I understand what $400 will get me, and what it won't, but that's where I am right now budgetarily. Suggestions, please?
    My first instrument was a $150 Ibanez I bought on Amazon. It got me started but it was not a great instrument. I bought a Kentucky KM-250 from the classified here for $395. What a difference. I preferred the radiused fretboard and the sound had much more clarity. The quality is clearly better. I have since purchased a J.Bovier and while its a nicer looking instrument than the Kentucky, I can't say it sounds any better although it sounds different. Good luck

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    Default Re: Please help me choose a beginner instrument

    Quote Originally Posted by Round2 View Post
    Thanks to all of you for your responses. I am grateful for your thoughts on the matter. An Eastman 305 (used) is on its way to me. I am a happy camper.
    You chose well!

    Rob
    2020 Sawchyn Beavertail
    1950's Stradolin

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