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Thread: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

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    Default Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    I want to upgrade within my semi limited budget. Any opinions on these welcomed. Thanks.
    Mark

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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    I've only ever heard good things about Girouard instruments, and I've heard quite a lot.
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    Fatally Flawed Bill Kammerzell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    My Mandolin Instructor Ryan Rogers, of the Dirty Grass Players, loves his Girouard. He also speaks highly of both Max and Lauri and the help and service he's received from them.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    I'm biased as I own a Girouard Concert model meself and couldn't be happier with it - working with Max and Lauri was fantastic from start to finish, they're making stunning instruments that both look and sound beautiful.
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    If you see one buy it.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    I think they are great mandolins.

    The fit and finish are beautiful. To my ears they are a versatile mandolin. Comfortable with bluegrass but not confined to it.

    I owned a Girouard A5. I bought it with a wide nut. I went from a 1 inch narrow to 1 3/16 inch wide nut and it was too much to get used to. In hindsight I should have just told Max and got a 1 1/8. Instead I went on my whole typical buy/sell/trade thing. Nothing wrong with the Northfield I ended up with but I hope I wind up with a Girouard again sometime.

    If a Girouard speaks to you, buy it. You won't be disappointed.
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Whats not to like...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/163294#163294

    Very happy owner of a Girouard mandolin, and as stated by others, Max and Lauri are wonderful folks to deal with.

    NFI
    Last edited by Charles E.; Nov-29-2020 at 11:54am.
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    I own a concert F4 and an A oval ! Love both and you couldn't work with better people than Max or Laurie ! Workmanship second to none ! Fantastic voice !
    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: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Whats not to like...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/163294#163294

    Very happy owner of a Girouard mandolin, and as stated by others, Max and Lauri are wonderful folks to deal with.
    This might just be the only one for sale right now. When I last spoke to Max he said he was very busy, and the three that were at TME seem to have disappeared. Right now inventories just seem to be evaporating, especially at this price point. If you think you may want one, and you see one- grab it!
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Whats not to like...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/163294#163294

    Very happy owner of a Girouard mandolin, and as stated by others, Max and Lauri are wonderful folks to deal with.
    As of a couple of months ago, before the recent case number spike, Sylvan was letting people make appointments to try instruments out. Depending on where you are in North Cali, the road trip could be worthwhile —- especially if they have a Pava in stock at roughly the same price point for a side-by-side comparison. To my ear, I think that the “better” tone of the two is a matter of personal taste. They also have a more expensive Weber Fern A that could give you an interesting comparison. If that is the same one that has been there for years, they might be willing to drop the price a bit, if you get tempted and have a stretchable budget. The Girouards and Pavas generally only last weeks or months there. There also are several great places nearby to get takeout lunch.

    If possible, try out the instrument(s) in one of the electric guitar rooms. You’ll get a more accurate sense of each mando’s tone in there.
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Thanks all for the replies. Yes Marcus CA the one I'm looking into is the one at Sylvan. I'm a few hrs north. A bit closer to Gryphon where the have a slightly used Pava A Player.

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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    A great and unique tone. Very solid workmanship. I bought the mandola version, but have played an A5. Any need, and I would go for it with no hesitation.
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Well I can tell you I love mine and remain very happy with it. I can't say if the same would be true for you, but I can say I can't really come up with anything negative to say about it for my tastes. I also cant say I don't drool over other mandos from time to time, but all I really need to do is pick mine up and play it and that mostly goes away. If my budget was higher, I possibly would have gone on a different direction, but it wasn't so I didn't.

    Couldn't find anything at all wrong with fit or finish when I got it. It was only about a month old at the time. It sounded & felt great and quickly sounded & felt even better with a bit of playing. There's a ding or two now from my carelessness if you look in the right light or with a magnifying glass.

    If you held a gun to my head and told me I had to change something about it, about the only thing I can come up with would be to make it an F style, just because they are sexy. Also if it could self replicate, bring me money & good luck, or transform into an octave mandolin on command that would be awesome. It would be ok to make it louder too, but that's just because loud feels good. It don't think it needs it. I have been next to some real cannons in a jam or two which made it seem quiet, but the guitars and banjos sounded comparatively quiet too.

    The soft V neck shape, compound radius fretboard & 1.125 nut width feel great to me. Graceful and easy to move around on in comparrison to my Eastman 415bk & kentucky 272.

    Depending on pick/strings & to my ears, the sound I like that comes from it is resonant, punchy and chimey. Round, not shrill. I would not describe the tone as "woody" though, mostly fundamental note. I will say that I haven't been able to capture a recording of it that I think reflects what I hear when I play it, but I don't have the skills, room or gear to get a good recording anyway.

    It can tend towards "brash" & bright to my ears with certain strings (80/20 bronze in particular) & bright with certain picks (less than 1mm, hard plasticky materials like a couple v picks I tried. I tend to use 1.4mm primetone picks and medium gauge strings in either phosphor bronze (coated or not) or monels from Daddario or Curt Mangan, but like to try new things.

    A few months ago, I moved out of my house of 12 years and into a rented room, I left behind decades and thousands of dollars worth of musical instruments and expensive hobby/collection gear (telescopes, bicycles, tobacco, pipes, a motorcycle...more). Also had to leave 3 cats I love as much as anything ever, and my name on the mortgage of a house I don't live in.

    It sucks, but I pretty much only have room & money for necessities (necessities being a relative term). I don't even have a real bed to sleep on. But I do have my Ensemble A5. As long as I can keep food in my belly and a roof over my head, I think everything but my dog and my mandolin will go first. Maybe not the wisest choice, but nobody ever accused me of being overly rational and not for a moment have I wished i brought something else instead.

    Whatever you have or end up with, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frost View Post
    Whatever you have or end up with, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.
    Perspective! Thank you Frost. Best of luck to you.

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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    I'll add my praise to the chorus. I've owned my A style from max for about 5 years now, and I have no desire to look for anything else.

    Mine sounds very open and full, with plenty of sustain; sweet and balanced, with a little more emphasis on the low end.

    Here is how another Girouard that I played was described, and I think the description is spot-on: “Typical of Girouard mandolins, this one has even balance across and up and down the fingerboard, so every note shines through, with excellent sustain, and a bold, balanced tone...the right balance of brightness, volume and warmth to cover bluegrass chops as well as jazz and other styles.”

    You will not regret the decision. If you can even find one for sale.
    Chris Cravens

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Maybe a ridiculous question but is it common for higher end pieces to have varnish drips or splatter visible through the F holes? Obviously not impacting the tone or structure but I did notice drip stains around the label.

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    I don't think it's a ridiculous question and I noticed it too. Wasn't sure what it was though. I don't know if it's common, but it's not on mine.

    Another note, if I remember correctly (questionable) the price on the Pava is what I paid for my Girouard in 2018, and the price for this new Girouard is more than I had available for a purchase at that time. Had these two mandolins been available to me at these prices back then, I most likely would have a Pava instead of a Girouard. Based on what little I have heard of them, I suspect I would still be very happy.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    The real problem with these threads is they create a lot of interest in the instrument(s) being discussed, and sometimes by the time people make up their minds, the instrument in question disappears (literally) into someone else's possession.
    There's nothing better than first-hand experience.

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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    The real problem with these threads is they create a lot of interest in the instrument(s) being discussed, and sometimes by the time people make up their minds, the instrument in question disappears (literally) into someone else's possession.
    I second this. By the time spent wondering about drips, the mando might be gone. I've dithered undecidedly about an instrument, gotten advice from others, focused on small issues, and in the mean time had the instrument sold without warning, and left me wondering what might have been. And full of regrets.

    If the positive testimony you've received on this thread and a multitude of other threads in praise of Max and Laurie's work isn't enough to move you to purchase, then you should probably start looking elsewhere.

    I'm attempting to be blunt; I hope it doesn't come across as rude. Good luck in your search.
    Chris Cravens

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    I second this. By the time spent wondering about drips, the mando might be gone. I've dithered undecidedly about an instrument, gotten advice from others, focused on small issues, and in the mean time had the instrument sold without warning, and left me wondering what might have been. And full of regrets.

    If the positive testimony you've received on this thread and a multitude of other threads in praise of Max and Laurie's work isn't enough to move you to purchase, then you should probably start looking elsewhere.

    I'm attempting to be blunt; I hope it doesn't come across as rude. Good luck in your search.
    Thank you. Your statement was not rude or offensive at all. I'll take blunt. I'm blunt to a fault. I've been buying, selling and playing stringed instruments for years. Just fairly new to Mandolin. If this particular piece is sold partly because I mentioned it in a post I cant do anything about that. I appreciate all who joined in here. In fact I had the man himself send me a PM.

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    When I was recently searching for a new Mandolin, I communicated with Max extensively by email. I was astounded at his timeliness and thorough communication skills as well as his patience. I actually purchased another Mandolin rather than a Girouard but I believe Max would be a fantastic luthier to work with. Max is an outstanding communicator and a very thoughtful individual. As far as customer communication you could absolutely not go wrong with Max. He really is a very fine individual.

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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Markob View Post
    Thanks all for the replies. Yes Marcus CA the one I'm looking into is the one at Sylvan. I'm a few hrs north. A bit closer to Gryphon where they have a slightly used Pava A Player.
    If you're up for a longer day and a better story, you could stop at Gryphon, play the Pava, and then head down to Sylvan to play the Girouard. That won't give you a side-by-side comparison, but at least you'll be playing them only an hour or two apart. Be sure to play them in similar rooms, though. Then, if you like the Girouard better, buy it. If you like the Pava better, then stop at Gryphon on your way home. You'll need to make appointments at both stores, though, which will also give you the chance to make sure that the instruments haven't been sold yet.


    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    I second this. By the time spent wondering about drips, the mando might be gone. I've dithered undecidedly about an instrument, gotten advice from others, focused on small issues, and in the mean time had the instrument sold without warning, and left me wondering what might have been. And full of regrets.
    The ones that got away! I have had that happen, unfortunately, but I think that it's more common with used instruments than with new ones.


    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    If the positive testimony you've received on this thread and a multitude of other threads in praise of Max and Laurie's work isn't enough to move you to purchase, then you should probably start looking elsewhere.
    I'm going to respectfully disagree here. With so many of the American builders, I have seen a multitude of threads on the Cafe in praise of their work. That's why they have been able to stay in business. They're all building great mandolins! The key questions are about the feel of the instrument and the appeal of the tone, and those are personal preferences.
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus CA View Post
    If you're up for a longer day and a better story, you could stop at Gryphon, play the Pava, and then head down to Sylvan to play the Girouard. That won't give you a side-by-side comparison, but at least you'll be playing them only an hour or two apart. Be sure to play them in similar rooms, though. Then, if you like the Girouard better, buy it. If you like the Pava better, then stop at Gryphon on your way home. You'll need to make appointments at both stores, though, which will also give you the chance to make sure that the instruments haven't been sold yet.



    The ones that got away! I have had that happen, unfortunately, but I think that it's more common with used instruments than with new ones.



    I'm going to respectfully disagree here. With so many of the American builders, I have seen a multitude of threads on the Cafe in praise of their work. That's why they have been able to stay in business. They're all building great mandolins! The key questions are about the feel of the instrument and the appeal of the tone, and those are personal preferences.
    You both are correct ! This is the reason I went to Gruhn's many years ago and played mandolins from not expensive up to very expensive ! As a general observation, the more expensive sounded better than the less expensive ones ! However, I did find several less expensive one's that sounded better than very expensive one's ! You do need to play as many mandolins as you can before deciding which one sounds the best to YOUR ears and feels the best !After my experiment I ended up buying an A oval from Girouard ! Liked it so much I then ordered a F4 from Max Girouard ! Already have an A5 and F5 from Tom Ellis so my MAS is satisfied according to my wife ! I still dream about a F 5 from Max but my wife tells me to just keep dreaming !
    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 Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Girouard Ensemble A-5 opinions.

    This one just hit the classifieds.......

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/164278#164278

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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