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Thread: Northfield Mandolins

  1. #1

    Default Northfield Mandolins

    In December 2020 I received a slightly customized (back binding added, blacktop, honey amber back and sides) A5 Special mandolin from Northfield. I have wanted to share my thoughts since it arrived and today is the day...

    It is incredible. I still play in awe of the tone that it produces and the ease with which I am able to coax that tone from the mandolin. This was a major investment for me (I know their are MANY more expensive instruments, but for me, on my income, this level of investment is extremely significant!) and as I waited for the mandolin to arrive I will admit I wondered “Will it really be worth it?” It is. It has exceeded my expectations and I can not wait to get it out of its case, and I find my self playing significantly more music than I have in decades.

    The depth of tone combined with the exceptional volume exceeds anything I have experienced before. While I have never owned a top quality instrument before I have been lucky enough to spend time playing some wonderful instruments and my Northfield A5 Special equals the best of what I have heard. The note clarity and separation (I think these are the right terms) are incredible. I can hear the notes that make up the chords I play in a way I have never before experienced. It is just an incredible mandolin, and I am so grateful to play it everyday.

    My experience through the ordering process with Northfield was also exemplary. Derek was wonderful to work with, he kept me apprised of the instruments progress, and delivered the mandolin almost exactly on the initially proposed schedule (despite the challenges posed by COVID related delays). In short the service is as good as the mandolin.

    This is long already so I will sign off. If you are considering a Northfield I think you will be thrilled with what you receive. I know I have been. Many thanks to the whole Northfield staff.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    <Violates forum posting guidelines. We get it. Every discussion that arises on this subject we hear from you and your single anonymous opinion. Please move on somewhere else on the internet where this kind of trolling ad nauseum is welcome. It is no longer welcome here.>
    Last edited by Mandolin Cafe; Feb-16-2021 at 10:28am. Reason: violates forum posting guidelines

  3. #3

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Hi Aaron, welcome to the Cafe. Glad you like the Northfield, I’ve had my F5M for going on 6 years now and I still love it, enjoy!
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    <Violates forum posting guidelines. We get it. Every discussion that arises on this subject we hear from you and your single anonymous opinion. Please move on somewhere else on the internet where this kind of trolling ad nauseum is welcome. It is no longer welcome here.>
    <Violates forum posting guidelines>

  5. #5
    Registered User J.C. Bryant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Fantastic! I enjoyed reading, on this frozen morning, you elation and excitement over your Northfield. I, too, have been bitten by the Northfield bug of late and find them to be fantastic mandolins. I also really like the Collings I have experienced. But for you, I say fantastic and keep on playing and enjoying! It feels good to feel good!

  6. #6
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Glad your enjoying your new mando.
    At the price they command, I would expect nothing less than what your feeling...enjoy!
    2020 The Loar Supreme LM700 VS

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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Beale View Post
    In December 2020 I received a slightly customized (back binding added, blacktop, honey amber back and sides) A5 Special mandolin from Northfield.
    Was yours the one they posted on IG that everyone was assuming was a new model? That mandolin looked gorgeous!

    Congrats on the Northfield!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    I've said before that in 50 years of playing mandolin my Northfield BigMon F5 (2016) is the best mandolin I have owned. I once played a 1927 Gibson F5 Fern which is probably the only mandolin which I can recall being on a higher level and I've handled and owned hundreds.

    I would match my Northfield against anything.

  9. #9
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Congratulations! I have posted this before regarding Northfields. September 2019 I paid a visit to Elderly Instruments when passing through Michigan. I stayed several hours and played every new and used mandolin they had on display. To my ears the best sounding mandolin I encountered was a new F Style Northfield. I was really blown away by it and so tempted to buy it, but the looks of F styles just don't do it for me. Had it been an A style it would have been going home with me.
    I don't know if it was an anomaly or if it was typical of Northfields but it was one fine sounding mandolin.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

  10. #10
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Congrats!

    In the spring of 2019, I was in Austin and spent an afternoon at Fiddlers playing everything they had on their wall. The instrument I kept coming back to was the Northfield F5S, and that was after playing several instruments that were upwards of 2-3x the price hanging right next to it. If it would not have been a wide neck, I probably would have walked out with it, even though I was really looking for a A-style. When I got back home, I found one at Morgan Music and had that one in my hands a week later.

    Those guys got something really good going on up in Michigan...
    Last edited by Kevin Winn; Feb-16-2021 at 5:44pm.
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  11. #11

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    Those guys got something really good going on up in Michigan...
    I don't know how much is actually "going on" in Michigan." They build their mandos in China (as lots of other makers do as well). I'd never buy anything made there if I could avoid it, but I'll give credit to Northfield for at least admitting it on their website, which in my experience is more than most other builders will openly do. I know that many of you couldn't care less about this though. And yes, I hear they make some very fine mandolins.

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  13. #12
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by esslewis View Post
    I don't know how much is actually "going on" in Michigan." They build their mandos in China (as lots of other makers do as well). I'd never buy anything made there if I could avoid it, but I'll give credit to Northfield for at least admitting it on their website, which in my experience is more than most other builders will openly do. I know that many of you couldn't care less about this though. And yes, I hear they make some very fine mandolins.
    I have been under the assumption, perhaps falsely, that their Master or perhaps Artist models were made in Michigan. Now that I have written this I'm certain someone will be eager to educate me on this.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by esslewis View Post
    I don't know how much is actually "going on" in Michigan." They build their mandos in China (as lots of other makers do as well). I'd never buy anything made there if I could avoid it, but I'll give credit to Northfield for at least admitting it on their website, which in my experience is more than most other builders will openly do. I know that many of you couldn't care less about this though. And yes, I hear they make some very fine mandolins.
    Might be a good time to educate yourself then. Published 18 months ago here: Northfield Introduces Three New Michigan-Made Instruments. And a reminder that delving into nationalism discussions is not the purpose of this Forum, nor are those welcome here. Plenty of other places on the internet that welcome that kind of thing.

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  16. #14

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Hi everyone - happy reading - really hope this helps.

    https://www.northfieldinstruments.co...rthfield-works

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  18. #15

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by esslewis View Post
    I don't know how much is actually "going on" in Michigan." They build their mandos in China (as lots of other makers do as well). I'd never buy anything made there if I could avoid it, but I'll give credit to Northfield for at least admitting it on their website, which in my experience is more than most other builders will openly do. I know that many of you couldn't care less about this though. And yes, I hear they make some very fine mandolins.
    Help us reconcile your February 11 post about your new Eastman 314 with what you've said above.

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  20. #16
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Aaron
    welcome to the Northfield tribe, and to the Mandolin Cafe, both being in the top tier of all things mandolin.
    i have owned a couple of F 5 Northfields and have always found each one as being a high quality instrument. unfortunately, i like to try out different makers and somewhat abide by a "one in, one goes out rule", which i don't always employ-lol

    I am smitten with every A5 Special that i see. I have never had the opportunity to play one, but they sure have it going on in the looks department. Northfield has developed a reputation for building/supplying high quality builds with excellent playability and tone. Very dependable in all areas, and the customer service, as you've already experienced, is as good as it gets.

    we need to see pictures-many pictures covering all areas of that new pristine A5 Special.
    Guarantee it will look very Special!

    d

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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    I currently have two Northfields - an F5S and a Calhoun. Both are absolutely incredible in tone and playability. Can only imagine how great your special A5 special is. Like was said above, all of the pictures please!!

  23. #18
    Registered User Lane Pryce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Those NF A5’s are something to behold. Talk about eye candy. If the tone is as spectacular as the look then it’s in a league of its own. Would love to see photos and a hear a sound clip. Welcome aboard.
    J.Lane Pryce

  24. #19

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Those A5 Specials do look amazing. Also, totally concur about Northfield quality - I've played several and all of them have been great. I've had my F5S for almost 6 years now.

  25. #20

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Thank you for the enthusiastic review and congratulations on your new A5 Special. I have to admit to longing for this mandolin since first encountering it on the Northfield website several years ago. I've posted elsewhere about my appreciation for the people I've encountered in my interactions with Northfield. First class individuals all around who are making excellent mandolins.

    At the risk of hijacking the thread, my only reservation is the relatively softer nature of the finish as I'd hate to scratch up such a find instrument. What is your experience thus far, as well as that of others who own spirit varnish finished instruments?

  26. #21

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Leester View Post
    Thank you for the enthusiastic review and congratulations on your new A5 Special. I have to admit to longing for this mandolin since first encountering it on the Northfield website several years ago. I've posted elsewhere about my appreciation for the people I've encountered in my interactions with Northfield. First class individuals all around who are making excellent mandolins.

    At the risk of hijacking the thread, my only reservation is the relatively softer nature of the finish as I'd hate to scratch up such a find instrument. What is your experience thus far, as well as that of others who own spirit varnish finished instruments?
    My experience with the finish has been very positive. So far, I haven’t caused any visible wear, scuffs, or scrapes. That being said it is a thin finish and I suspect less durable than lacquer. In time I suspect I will inflict a scar or two and hope to keep playing often enough and for long enough to gently wear away portions of the finish.

    Somewhere on YouTube their is a conversation between Adrian at Northfield and Mike Marshall where Adrian comments on the finish as having been formulated for its acoustic properties first and foremost. I think we have grown accustomed to finishes that prioritize durability over the acoustic quality of the instrument, and from my understanding that is not the approach at Northfield.

    The tone, volume, and sustain on my Northfield A5 Special inspires me everyday. I wouldn’t trade any of that for a more durable finish.

  27. #22
    Registered User TheGourdsFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    I've had my F5S (2018 model) almost 3 years now...pretty much cured MAS for me.
    Read about them for a few years, and finally got my hands on one at Fiddler's Green on a trip to Austin.
    I may have actually bought my last mandolin--completely satisfied.
    I have a friend that has an Artists Series, while it has more artistic bling, I don't think I could justify the upgrade.
    (But I would like to find and try out a Big Mon in the wild).
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Praying the freezing situation in Texas does not ruin any instruments located in music stores and homes without power. Beautiful Northfield mandolins must survive, because I have plans for owning one someday soon.

  29. #24
    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Leester View Post
    At the risk of hijacking the thread, my only reservation is the relatively softer nature of the finish as I'd hate to scratch up such a find instrument. What is your experience thus far, as well as that of others who own spirit varnish finished instruments?
    I got mine used, and it had a few dings in the top; I have added a couple through various mishaps, but that's not really too much of a concern with me. I also recall watching the YT vid that Aaron mentions, and I'm good with the concept of the finish being chosen for tonal reasons first. The cosmetics of an instrument are secondary for me, especially one which will never leave my possession. Having said that, I love the way my F5S looks, dings and all...
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

  30. #25

    Default Re: Northfield Mandolins

    I owned a recent F5S and thought they struck a nice balance with the finish. Part of the reason these are popular is because they sound good in the music store, and part of the reason they sound good is the finish lets the wood vibrate. I wouldn’t describe it as soft - in fact, it was more durable than I expected it to be. As a basis of comparison, it didn’t wear as easily at the thin finish you’d find on custom shop electric guitars. I walked away with the impression that Northfield had dedicated a lot of effort to developing a finish technique that sounded good and protected the instrument

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