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  1. #1

    Default Builder or Company

    I am looking into getting a nice Mandolin, around $3500. I want an F-style or colorado style. What would you guys do, find a builder or get a Webber, Collings, etc? I like the more bulky neck with a flatter fret board. I know that I can get more with a A-style, so no need to say that. This will be a player for me and an heirloom. I like to play all kinds of music (covers, bluegrass, etc.) Thanks

  2. #2
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Beyond my admitted bias toward supporting builders over factories (being a builder myself), if you have specific likes and dislikes such as "I like the more bulky neck with a flatter fret board", a custom builder is the obvious choice IMO.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I haven't hear a better sounding mandolin than my Weber.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Builder or Company

    which one do you have?

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I'd second what John said -- if you have specific ideas on what you want, i'd go with a custom builder. And while you may get a ready-made mandolin faster, the custom builder, I'd think, would produce a true heirloom in a one-off instrument specific to you and your interests that would make the mandolin very you-centric for future generations. my 2 cents.
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  7. #6

    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I second Weber, they make solid mandolins in that price range.

    What is a Colorado style mandolin?

  8. #7
    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I think it depends on how soon you want it. If you have one built, you might have to wait a quite while. With your budget you could probably find great a used Collings , etc. and have it sooner.

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    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I, too, would like to hear more about this Colorado style.

    Also, I don't know how many individual builders of note make an F for $3,500 these days. Ratliff and Ratcliff do, but who else? As far as the bigger makers, you've got the Weber Gallatin at about $3,000 and the Northfield F5S for a few hundred more. I'm probably missing some, but the point is that an "heirloom" F style for $3,500 might require purchasing something used.

  10. #9
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    This in the classifieds.....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/161837#161837

    NFI
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    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Registered User Willem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    My preferred route has been through the independent builders. I started with Howard Morris and then Matt Ruhland. Both provided excellent experiences and mandolins and I was able to support builders in my home state of Oregon. With Matt I was able to be involved in the process from picking the wood all the way through final set-up. As Tom Sanderson mentioned above, it did take just under a year to get the completed mandolin. This isn't meant in any way to say you won't get a great instrument from one of the companies mentioned, just my personal preference to support the independent luthiers.
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  13. #11
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Muth may do an f-style in that price range? He's in Canada.

    Seems few bench-made f-style mandolins are sub-$3,500?

    Stiver used may really be the answer?

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I would seriously look at the classifieds. A lot of choices there.
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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Yeah, we have no idea what a "Colorado style" mandolin really is -- this would not seem to be a term of art in our world, anyway. But I think the suggestion of a custom builder is great, and you might want to consider two great builders from -- drum roll! -- the beautiful state of Colorado. That certainly ought to qualify as "Colorado style," I think:

    1) luthier Don Paine, of Pomeroy mandolins, in Glenwood Springs, CO. see here: http://pomeroyinstruments.com/
    2) luthier Robb Brophy, of Elkhorn mandolins, in Durango, CO. see here: http://www.elkhornmandolins.com/

    They both make excellent instruments! I have an early Pomeroy F5 that I absolutely love (se my avatar picture), and I have another coming on custom order, with a slightly shorter scale length (13-1/2", instead of 13-7/8" or 14") for my small hands. As you can see, I voted with my pocketbook for Don Paine, and he can make a custom neck profile that fits your needs and desires.

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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    I have an early Pomeroy F5 that I absolutely love (se my avatar picture), and I have another coming on custom order, with a slightly shorter scale length (13-1/2", instead of 13-7/8" or 14") for my small hands. As you can see, I voted with my pocketbook for Don Paine, and he can make a custom neck profile that fits your needs and desires.
    I immediately thought of this one from the classifieds:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/161968#161968
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I've played a Pomeroy before & liked it a lot. The one in the MC classifieds looks like a contender. You should play a bunch of mandolins, though, to get a really good idea in your head about your preferences - ff vs oval hole, strong fundamental tone or more open "modern" tone, radius vs flat board, wide vs skinny frets, V vs U neck profile, standard vs 1 3/16" nut, etc. This would help your discussions for planning a custom build, and it is neat to have that input into an instrument that you'll carry with you. However, buying the right mandolin used will save some $$, and a 48-hr approval can allow you to audition one or two.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I’d love to have an instrument from an independent builder at some point. Lots of good choices in the mandolin world. In the guitar world I’d love to have one made by Jayne Henderson. Maybe someday.
    ...

  19. #17
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    My suggestion would be to watch classifieds for a used luthier-made axe. While some factory made mandos are certainly high quality, if you ask me, there's just no replacing a solid handmade instrument.

  20. #18
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Pomeroy, Silverangel, Ratliff, and Morris are all great considerations. You could also message other builders and ask what they could do for you given current conditions...ie, there may (or may not) be ďEconoĒ options that could get you an outstanding mandolin with all the feel and tone minus some bling.

    Iíve owned a SA and will absolutely consider Kenís mandolins if (when??) I succumb to scroll envy. Iím also a little haunted by an awesome Pomeroy F style I played at Lowe Vintage a couple years ago that held its own with the Duff on the wall beside it...should have pounced...

  21. #19

    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I had a wonderful custom built f-style mandolin I enjoyed for many years, but found when I was ready to part with it (through a very reputable dealer I had dealt with for many other mandolin sales), that they would not take a custom mandolin in on consignment. They said that they would only deal with established/recognized brands that were more likely to sell quickly based on their previous experiences. Your experience with a different custom builder might result in a different outcome, but it is something to consider and determine before deciding to pull the trigger if resale is important. JMHO.

  22. #20
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Not to be contrary, but the suggestion to look for a used handmade mandolin misses the point. If you get a custom build you can get what you ask for and not settle for what is available (like when buying a factory instrument).
    There are good builders making F-style mandolins in the OP's price range, though many of them are not well known or well established (hence the bargain price) so it might take some effort to find some of them.

  23. #21
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I had a similar experience, Dave, with my Silverangel, but the dealer (whom I like and with whom I still do business) is primarily a guitar and banjo shop. They would consign it, but basically said they couldnít give me enough on trade to make it worth it. The Mandolin Store gave me a very fair trade in value on it and also sold it the first day it was on their website.

    But, the point is to get exactly what you want, and a custom build is the way to go if you donít like standard specs. Also, I try to buy based on the merits of the instruments without resale in mind. But, the brand is something to consider if you know youíll be moving on to something else eventually.

  24. #22
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Boeh, Cross, Buckhorn, Rag, Bulldog, and probably a few more are small builders who build around that price point. I'd check their websites, and maybe try finding some others to compare. But I would definitely recommend working with an individual builder
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  25. #23

    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Barry Kratzer's F models might be in your price range as well. http://bulldog-instruments.com

  26. #24
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    Default Re: Builder or Company

    I've had them from both sources, and it is the mandolin that matters most. If has to feel and sound right and of course you must like the way it looks. If you can get out and play a couple you will find what you like. I covered a luthier event for a magazine and played a mandolin that was great in feel and sound, but a bit rough in fit and finish. What are you looking for and what do you want from it?

  27. #25

    Default Re: Builder or Company

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric F. View Post
    I, too, would like to hear more about this Colorado style.

    Also, I don't know how many individual builders of note make an F for $3,500 these days. Ratliff and Ratcliff do, but who else? As far as the bigger makers, you've got the Weber Gallatin at about $3,000 and the Northfield F5S for a few hundred more. I'm probably missing some, but the point is that an "heirloom" F style for $3,500 might require purchasing something used.

    I have only heard them called that around here. But, then again, not many people talk about them. Its the pronghorn style. Sorry for the confusion.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Pronghorn

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