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Thread: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

  1. #1
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Everything about mandolins is subjective individual preference but decades of posts seem to demonstrate that members love to read and hear others experiences and thoughts on mandolins - so here is my recent experience.

    For months I have been cogitating, scratching my head, about a new mandolin. I emailed with some great, great builders who showed remarkable patience, but I finally decided on looking at four specific mandolins held by The Music Emporium. Jordan helped me. He was absolutely super, patient, and very talented! Importantly, he was not at all pushy. He made the whole experience both enjoyable and educational. He handed me the mandolins I went to see: a new Campanella A, a 20 year old Red Diamond A, a Collings MT2-V, and a Northfield Big Mon and gave me a room to experiment. The mandolins varied almost $3000 in price range, but price did not influence my decision. Before arriving at TME I thoroughly expected I would come home with the Campanella. MUCH to my surprise there was no contest; no question; and no confusion: the Collings sound (for my interests and taste) was perfect. By the way, I have strung it with a set of EXP75 strings.

    I particularly wanted to share this experience for those who may be concerned about the sometimes asked questions regarding the large production mode of Collings as compared to a one-man shop. These were ALL excellent mandolins but for me the Collings was way out front. Others may have chosen differently. That's just the beauty of individual instruments.

    Here are some pics:
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    Last edited by Tim Logan; Oct-15-2020 at 11:44am.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress

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  3. #2
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    I was at a truck show where folks gather and talk truck. And a friend of mine was lauding the advantages of a farm show in that you stand around and talk farming without actually having to do any.

    The threads are filled with similar experiences, where folks, faced with several choices of mandolins, surprise us, or me, in their choice. It shows how different our expectations and needs and wants are, and it shows how variable individual mandolins can be that the makers name is not enough to remove the need to try the dern thing out first. It keeps us coming back and talking and teaches us to be careful when generalizing from the specific.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    My guess is that if more folks spent more time using their hands and ears when shopping for an instrument, instead of focusing on names, specs, or a particular look; there would be a lot less instruments for sale.

    I'm glad you were able to find the instrument that fits you the best.

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    Pataphysician Joe Bartl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    I certainly envy your opportunity to personally handle these instruments. For so many, such an opportunity is a dream trip away.

    Joe

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  9. #5

    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    I waited two years for that Collings to be built. Bill picked that wood for me. I ended up trading it for a Campanella! LOL. (But I will admit, while I was waiting for the Collings to be built I bought two others almost like it, which I still have).
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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  11. #6
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Bartl View Post
    I certainly envy your opportunity to personally handle these instruments. For so many, such an opportunity is a dream trip away.

    Joe
    Yes, Joe, I am extremely fortunate to live two hours from TME. TME offers a marvelous opportunity to experience many excellent instruments. I will say, though, that my experience with their staff suggests that they would be top notch to work with even on a long distance purchase. They want the right match up between instrument and buyer. They listen to the buyer to really be clear on what he or she wants. I was impressed.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress

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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    I waited two years for that Collings to be built. Bill picked that wood for me. I ended up trading it for a Campanella! LOL. (But I will admit, while I was waiting for the Collings to be built I bought two others almost like it, which I still have).
    How wonderful - thank you for sharing that Mary! And a little bit ironic, eh?

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress

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    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Tim
    Nice to hear you found the mandolin that meets all your tastes and that you took such a practical approach to find the mandolin for you. I once took the same approach during a visit to Elderly. I spent several hours playing many mandolins, both new and used. To my surprise the best sounding/playing mandolin to my ears was a Northfield. I was anticipating a much higher dollar mandolin to be my mandolin of choice. Had it not been an F Style I would have been writing a check and taking a Northfield home.
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    I'm pretty certain that if I hung four pictures of the mandolins in question on the wall , blindfolded myself and threw a dart at them I'd be over-the-moon thrilled with wherever the dart landed. But alas , those pictures may be as close as many of us get to ' experiencing ' mandolins of that quality .

  15. #10
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Is that a one piece birdseye maple back? I want to say “slab cut” but don’t feel fully confident I know what that means?!?
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    When I went to Gruhn’s I played as many as I could from cheaply priced to very expensive ! To my ears I found that a few cheaper priced instruments as good as some very expensive ones ! I would have to say that more highly priced instruments did sound better than most cheaply priced 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 !

  17. #12

    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Tim, I to am a fan of Collings MT2-V mandolins. I have had two. I traded one in on a Derrington era 2001 Gibson Master Model. I love the sound of the MM. I also have another 2004 MM as well as a 2007 RSDMM which all have that bluegrass tone in spades. However, the last Collings MT2-V I purchased was an all torrefied version and I have just really bonded with this mandolin. The playability, the tone, the feel, it's just hard to beat in my opinion. Mine is in dark tobacco burst and done flawlessly, as they all come from Collings. Again, I'm a huge fan and if I could only have one mandolin, without out a doubt, I would pick my MT2-V as that mandolin. (I still want a Nugget A though )

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  19. #13
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Quote Originally Posted by dang View Post
    Is that a one piece birdseye maple back? I want to say “slab cut” but don’t feel fully confident I know what that means?!?
    Yes, it is. Jordan says that the Collings folks got it from Italy. I suspect Mary (see previous post) might have additional knowledge about the wood. Here is another TME picture (their photographs are so well done):

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    Last edited by Tim Logan; Oct-15-2020 at 1:45pm.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress

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    dang 

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    Fiddler & Mandolin Player Dave Reiner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    Yes, Joe, I am extremely fortunate to live two hours from TME. TME offers a marvelous opportunity to experience many excellent instruments. I will say, though, that my experience with their staff suggests that they would be top notch to work with even on a long distance purchase. They want the right match up between instrument and buyer. They listen to the buyer to really be clear on what he or she wants. I was impressed.
    I live only 5 minutes from the The Music Emporium and -- as an inevitable result -- have bought many instruments there :-) . They have an excellent staff.
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  23. #15

    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Did you get a look at the 2017 Girouard Concert A? I shouldn't be looking at it but I can't help myself!
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  24. #16
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Great story. TME has excellent service.

    I bought a mandolin from Jordan last year, essentially "over the phone," and it was a very good experience and outcome.

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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    My cousin lives down the road from TME in Cambridge. I have spent a lot of hours playing and gaining information from their knowledgeable staff. I have an MT2-O I bought from TME that has Italian spruce top and birds eye maple back and sides which looks very similar to the MT2V above, although only the spruce was designated as Italian. I have consistently been surprised going to top music stores and comparing different makers and models side by side, that my ear told me something that my mind would not have expected. As many of the makers that were involved in my story are my friends, I decided not to specify. Price is some factor, but above 10k not much. Playability, that is very subjective and can depend a lot on set up has often surprised me. As far as tone, that is so subjective, that I would have placed the Collings last in that group Tim described, just by reputation. What might sound best may depend on what a person is looking for. I would not pick a Red Diamond if I was looking for an instrument to play folk. Now grass, all day long. (This is not to imply that the RD can't play folk, but there are other mandolins that seem more suited to that genre. Thank you Tim for that great story. It brought back many memories
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    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    Did you get a look at the 2017 Girouard Concert A? I shouldn't be looking at it but I can't help myself!
    I believe it arrived at a later date....

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress

  27. #19

    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Tim,
    Enjoy you new mando! The mtv2’s sing with a beautiful bell-like texture...all the way up the neck!

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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Thanks for sharing your experience and congratulations on your new mandolin!

    I had a similar situation happen to me a few years ago... went to Dusty Strings to play the more expensive instruments (Northfield, Collins, Weber), left with James Wilson's number to build my Red Valley flat top!

    Happy picking!
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    The back is made from wood Bill bought on a trip to Italy. I believe it was set aside by the wood reseller as wood for violins. Collings had a limited number of sets. Somewhere there is a gorgeous F5 that was made for NAMM and sold by TME that has a similar back.

    People believe that all MT2 or MT2vs are similar. NOT!

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    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Mr. Logan, thank you for sharing your experience and congratulations on your new mando! Out here on the plains of Iowa, getting to a shop that has an actual selection is a bit of a trick, and nearly overwhelming when you do finally make it to one. I will say that every Collings I've had an opportunity to touch was top notch and 'keeper' quality. They seem to fit my hands better and there is something in the tone that sounds perfect to me. Luck was in my favor several years ago when a used MT became available and I had the resources at hand to make it all work. It's my main instrument now and I will never part with it.

    I'm glad you found yours. Have a wonderful trip down the rabbit hole!
    “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.” -- Aldo Leopold

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  34. #23
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    The back is made from wood Bill bought on a trip to Italy. I believe it was set aside by the wood reseller as wood for violins. Collings had a limited number of sets. Somewhere there is a gorgeous F5 that was made for NAMM and sold by TME that has a similar back.

    People believe that all MT2 or MT2vs are similar. NOT!
    Thank you Mary - it's wonderful to learn about the background of this mandolin!!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

    1925 Lyon & Healy Model A, #1674
    2015 Collings A (MT2-V)
    2018 Carlo Mazzaccara Lucia
    2020 Burgin Shanghai Octave Mandolin - in progress

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Campanella, Red Diamond, Northfield, Collings experience

    A Collings varnished mandolin should never be discounted. Congrats on a killer instrument!

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