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Thread: Where To Find a Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Where To Find a Mandolin

    Hello, I am a student and am therefore on a pretty small budget, but I am also looking for a nice mandolin to play. Where can I find good deals on decent mandolins?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Classifieds this forum to start !
    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 !

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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    The Mandolin Cafe classified ads are definitely a good place to start! The classified ads come from both private parties and businesses, and you will see a lot of variety there. The site home page also has ads for cafe sponsors who can generally be relied upon to have a variety of mandolins. Try looking on their sites for current stock. You'll also see that those businesses often post in the classifieds , but they generally have other stock as well. Some of those businesses may have ways for you to see a mando in person - if they happen to be in your area it might be worth a call.

    What are you playing now?
    What's your budget?
    What is your general location?

    There are a number of posts on the forum about mandos for beginning players, so look around some - you'll find lots of information and advice. Try doing some searches.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Hey keitho, I was also a student when I bought my first mandolin. I got what was at the time (nearly) the cheapest instrument available (like, maybe one teensy step above a $50 Rogue). It was a lot of fun and I hung onto that mandolin for years, but I have to say—you get what you pay for.

    Like others have mentioned, definitely check the classifieds for good deals on used instruments. Eastman makes great instruments for the price, but if those are too steep, I know people really like Kentuckys.
    Eastman MD504
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Just starting out I don't think it makes that much difference what brand you buy ! You just have to make sure it is in good playing condition, setup properly and it would be great if you can locate a local instructor to get you started out properly so you don't learn any bad habits and have to unlearn anything ! I started out on an Eastman which was a good instrument ! I have finally graduated to Girouard and Ellis instruments ! Not sure my playing has graduated to this point but my pocket book has !
    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 !

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    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    I live in suburban Chicago and while there are some real quality guitar shops within an hour drive, I can’t find one that stocks more than a few mandolins. One would think this close to one of the major cities in the world you’d be able to find some mandolins, but I can’t. I’ve tried Guitar Center and Sam Ash but often pick up instruments that aren’t remotely in tune and dubious set -up. so, I’ve stopped looking there. I am on a call list at a quality shop that said they’d call if they got something in that is in the range of what I’m looking for. You might try that. I’d suggest Elderly as a highly reputable shop.

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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed McGarrigle View Post
    I live in suburban Chicago and while there are some real quality guitar shops within an hour drive, I can’t find one that stocks more than a few mandolins. One would think this close to one of the major cities in the world you’d be able to find some mandolins, but I can’t. I’ve tried Guitar Center and Sam Ash but often pick up instruments that aren’t remotely in tune and dubious set -up. so, I’ve stopped looking there. I am on a call list at a quality shop that said they’d call if they got something in that is in the range of what I’m looking for. You might try that. I’d suggest Elderly as a highly reputable shop.
    I would second for Eldarly!
    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 !

  9. #8

    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    I agree with those folks saying that setup is crucial to a beginner. Many guitar-oriented businesses don't know how to adjust mandolin actions.
    My pet peeve is string height at the nut - many instruments I see have painfully high action in first position, which will definitely discourage a novice player.

  10. #9
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Hi Keitho,

    Welcome to the Cafe and to the world of this engaging little instrument. Careful though, mandolins are highly addictive and can lead to a lifetime obsession! That's actually a good thing though.

    The Cafe has some great dealers as sponsors. In particular, I have had great experiences with The Mandolin Store (NFI). Here is their URL https://themandolinstore.com/

    You can glean much information just by looking through their web site and watching their videos. If you call them on the phone, they are very congenial and will speak with you honestly about the pros and cons of various choices. I have purchased from them and can vouch for the quality of their set-ups. Even if you have to stretch your budget or wait a little while to save for the purchase, I think you will find it worth your effort.

    In any event, welcome to the Cafe. You have found a great community of people willing to help you into this world.

    Best wishes,

    Bob
    Purr more, hiss less.

  11. #10
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed McGarrigle View Post
    I live in suburban Chicago and while there are some real quality guitar shops within an hour drive, I can’t find one that stocks more than a few mandolins. One would think this close to one of the major cities in the world you’d be able to find some mandolins, but I can’t. I’ve tried Guitar Center and Sam Ash but often pick up instruments that aren’t remotely in tune and dubious set -up. so, I’ve stopped looking there. I am on a call list at a quality shop that said they’d call if they got something in that is in the range of what I’m looking for. You might try that. I’d suggest Elderly as a highly reputable shop.
    Guitar Center and Sam Ash are like that everywhere. In the Chicago area, try Guitar Works and Hogeye in Evanston, the Different Strummer in the Old Town School of Folk Music and Down Home Guitars in Frankfort. In Oak Park, Smeltekop Repair sometimes has cool used stuff. He does a great setup, too.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Right now Iím playing a Rogue RM 100A, which Iím making work for now but frankly isnít really cutting it. Iíd be willing to spend about $500-$1000. I am currently located in Maryland.

  13. #12
    Be Wild Zach Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    That's a good budget for a "next" instrument!

    Depending on what type of music you play a grand gets you just about the best, American made flat tops out there!

    For a more traditional bluegrass sound (and look) it gets you a really nice pac-rim instrument.

    Where to buy (irl) can be challenging cause most local shops dont have great inventory.

    The classified are great and buying used can save money. Sometimes folks are open to offers... it's worth asking. Otherwise, although it's old school, a phone call to The Mandolin Store (whom I've delt with-great experience) or other reputable, cafe sponsors can go a long way and can get you a better sense for the instrument and investment.

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    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Depending on where in Maryland you are, there's House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park and Melodee Music in Sterling, Va. Both carry mandolins in your price range.

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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric F. View Post
    Guitar Center and Sam Ash are like that everywhere. In the Chicago area, try Guitar Works and Hogeye in Evanston, the Different Strummer in the Old Town School of Folk Music and Down Home Guitars in Frankfort. In Oak Park, Smeltekop Repair sometimes has cool used stuff. He does a great setup, too.
    A strong second to Guitar Works Ltd and Hogeye Music! Have been very happy to do business with both of them for many years now. GW just did a couple setups for me and they are spot on. Different Strummer sometimes has more mandolins in stock; I think it may vary. Down Home Guitars is also a very nice store and has been well worth the long (for me) drive down there to meet up with some of their stock in person. Owner Steve is also a (great) mandolin player, and I suspect that influences their stock.

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  19. #15

    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    I’m thinking of just saving up for a Northfield mandolin, but I want to get one in my hands before I make the final decision. Does anyone know if any store carries them in or around Maryland?

  20. #16
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    Default Re: Where To Find a Mandolin

    Call Northfield, and/or sign up for their newsletter -They commonly list out what instruments they are sending to which dealers. I imagine they can at least tell you if they've sent any to dealers in your area, then you can call to find out if they're in stock at those dealers.

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