Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 28

Thread: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

  1. #1
    Registered User sja33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Apex, NC
    Posts
    8

    Default Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Hi ya'll. Have been doing my research on first purchase. Need advice.
    Price point <$500
    Play alone
    Acoustic
    More folk than country
    A over F style would be my understanding.
    Thoughts?
    Solid top. Yes or no
    Solid sides and back. Yes or no
    Oval hole vs. F holes
    Wood type?

    Any recommended brands would be most appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,354

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    For acoustic folk played alone within your price point, I’d look for a domestic flattop with an oval hole. Brands to consider would include Flatiron, Big Muddy, Gypsy, Redline, or a Mid-Missouri like these ones:

    https://reverb.com/item/39015043-mid...i-m-2-mandolin

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/167578#167578
    Last edited by pheffernan; Mar-07-2021 at 1:46pm.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  3. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:


  4. #3
    Registered User sja33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Apex, NC
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Thank you, will look into these recommendations.

  5. #4
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,349

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    I love flattops, but if you can't find one in your price range you might check out the Kentucky KM-270, 272 and 276. These are arched top oval hole mandolins that are a great value.

  6. #5
    Registered User Steve 2E's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    231

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Great recommendations above. I would also check out an Eastman MD 304. There’s a used one on Reverb that’s accepting offers.
    https://reverb.com/item/39259367-eas...style-mandolin

    Oops, sorry the one I linked is a 305 with F holes. Still might be a good deal to get your feet wet.

    Here’s a 404 that might work.
    https://reverb.com/item/39171003-eas...mandolin-black
    Last edited by Steve 2E; Mar-07-2021 at 3:49pm.

  7. #6
    Registered User sja33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Apex, NC
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    thanks all for that advice (minor thing I left off... I'm left handed and am looking for a lefty Mandolin)

    Thoughts on a Morgan Monroe MMS-2S/L brand or a Goldtone GM50 (two I found as lefty)

  8. #7
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    7,553

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    look for words like, "Solid" and, "Hand carved." I'd direct you to an a-model with f-holes. They are the most versatile of the mandolins.

    I'd gravitate to Eastman or Kentucky and get the one with the key words you can afford.

    I love flat-top mandolins. I love the understated function of my Flatiron 1N.

    I love oval hole mandolins. I'll keep my Gibson paddle head for (likely) ever, or it goes to the kids!

    I just think the arch-top with f-holes the Swiss Army knife of mandolins.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  9. The following members say thank you to fatt-dad for this post:


  10. #8
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Key West
    Posts
    13,154
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    I'm pretty sure converting a righty to a lefty isn't that difficult. It involves turning the nut and bridge around 180°. The nut is easily done, but you might have to buy a new bridge, as the compensation will be different. Someone more knowledgeable on this than I will have to guide you here. There is probably a proper procedure for removing the nut without damaging anything. It only needs to be done because of the diameters of the grooves for the strings. I've only ever had to deal with this once, and that was because the nut came loose on its own and needed to be glued back in.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    Lucinda Williams and Eric Von Schmidt (who would have turned 90 5/28/21), the night devotee met hero (and both my heroes)

  11. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    6,189

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    I'm pretty sure converting a righty to a lefty isn't that difficult. It involves turning the nut and bridge around 180°. The nut is easily done, but you might have to buy a new bridge, as the compensation will be different. Someone more knowledgeable on this than I will have to guide you here. There is probably a proper procedure for removing the nut without damaging anything. It only needs to be done because of the diameters of the grooves for the strings. I've only ever had to deal with this once, and that was because the nut came loose on its own and needed to be glued back in.
    You most likely will have to get a new nut and bridge. If the nut is cut and set up correctly it tapers back from the front. When you reverse it it will have the wrong taper and filing it correctly will most likely make it too low without shimming. If you don't mind a shim, which I don't, it could work, but it will not simply work without re filing the slots to angle back toward the headstock. So you would need fret files or someone do that. A left handed bridge saddle could be purchased and hopefully will fit the foot. Since the foot should have been fitted to the top of the mandolin simply changing the saddle will work here.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  12. #10
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,354

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Quote Originally Posted by sja33 View Post
    (minor thing I left off... I'm left handed and am looking for a lefty Mandolin)
    It’s not a minor thing. In the niche market of mandolins, the lefthanded instrument is an additional niche, meaning limited options particularly for used offerings. Any chance you’d consider increasing your budget?

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/166730#166730
    Last edited by pheffernan; Mar-08-2021 at 6:18pm.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  13. #11

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Might want to contact this place for info. A bit above your budget but they specialize in lefty instruments.

    https://www.southpawguitars.com/71-left-handed-mandolin
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  14. #12
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Key West
    Posts
    13,154
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    You most likely will have to get a new nut and bridge.
    Yeah, I thought that might be the case. I was hoping the OP would be able to save some money, being on a budget.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

    Blues Mando Social Group
    Gibson Mandolins Social Group
    North Florida Mandolin Players Social Group

    Lucinda Williams and Eric Von Schmidt (who would have turned 90 5/28/21), the night devotee met hero (and both my heroes)

  15. #13
    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Location
    San Tan Valley, Arizona
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Here's a new 305 (f holes) lefty at Reverb.com (a big professional sellers' listing place with ratings--eBay for instruments, I guess?) for $565 including shipping from St. Louis: https://reverb.com/item/35997802-eastman-md305l


    An Eastman MD 304L (A style, oval hole, Lefty) or 305L (A style, F holes, lefty) sells for $525 new. Check out our Cafe sponsor sellers, like the Mandolin Store or Elderly, or try the Acoustic Shoppe. Any of these sellers will set the mandolin up for you. I checked these 3 Cafe sponsor shops and they didn't have them in stock.
    As you shop you'll see that Eastman's "code" is easy to understand once you look at a few models and their designations.
    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

    Phoebe, my 2021 Collings MT mandolin
    Dolly, my 2021 Ibanez M522 mandolin
    Fiona, My 2021 GSM guitar-bodied octave resonator mandolin
    Charlotte, my 2016 Eastman MDO 305 octave mandolin
    Giuliana, my 2002 Hans Schuster 505 violin
    Louise, my 193x SS Maxwell mandolin

    Rich, my 1959 husband

  16. The following members say thank you to Sheila Lagrand for this post:


  17. #14

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    For acoustic folk played alone within your price point, I’d look for a domestic flattop with an oval hole. Brands to consider would include Flatiron, Big Muddy, Gypsy, Redline, or a Mid-Missouri like these ones:

    https://reverb.com/item/39015043-mid...i-m-2-mandolin

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/167578#167578
    The Big Muddy/Mid Mo would be my recommendation also. Mike makes a quality instrument.

  18. #15
    Registered User sja33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Apex, NC
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    thanks all for the info and advice. I'm down to two: Eastman 305L or the Big Muddy MW-0pc. Both same price, I've been taking with Mike from Big Muddy, and he would make me the LH version.

    so final opinions on those two?

  19. #16
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,354

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    For playing folk at home, I’d derive more satisfaction from a flattop oval made of solid woods by an independent luthier here in the U.S.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2014 Smart F-Style Mandola
    2018 Vessel TM5
    2019 Hogan F5

  20. The following members say thank you to pheffernan for this post:

    sja33 

  21. #17
    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Location
    San Tan Valley, Arizona
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Quote Originally Posted by sja33 View Post
    thanks all for the info and advice. I'm down to two: Eastman 305L or the Big Muddy MW-0pc. Both same price, I've been taking with Mike from Big Muddy, and he would make me the LH version.

    so final opinions on those two?
    I adore my 305s, but having an instrument made just for you by a respected luthier wins out over just about every other option. I'd choose the Big Muddy.
    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

    Phoebe, my 2021 Collings MT mandolin
    Dolly, my 2021 Ibanez M522 mandolin
    Fiona, My 2021 GSM guitar-bodied octave resonator mandolin
    Charlotte, my 2016 Eastman MDO 305 octave mandolin
    Giuliana, my 2002 Hans Schuster 505 violin
    Louise, my 193x SS Maxwell mandolin

    Rich, my 1959 husband

  22. #18
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    7,553

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    either seem to be good keepers. I also love flattops!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  23. #19
    Registered User sja33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Apex, NC
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Big Muddy on order, thanks again for everyone's input, opinions and advice.

  24. #20
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    767

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    I think you will be really happy with the Big Muddy. Which one did you order? I have an M-15 Mid Mo mandola; I really like the way it looks, sounds, and feels in the hand.

  25. #21
    Registered User sja33's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2021
    Location
    Apex, NC
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Mw-0

  26. The following members say thank you to sja33 for this post:


  27. #22
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    767

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Cool. Looking forward to hearing about it!

  28. #23
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,979
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    I would echo what pheffernan said about flattops, namely Big Muddy, and add, as others did, Eastman 304, 305 and Kentucky KM150. The Kentucky is the most traditionally bluegrass in tone, which is not what you pointed us toward. However, that sound can be used for a variety of music and you may like that as a jumping off point. These are all solid wood mandolins, and the later two builders are also hand carved. I hope that I haven't been redundant following the other helpful comments. I just wanted to add my thoughts. Best of luck and enjoy!
    2020 Pava Pro A5 Torrefied Varnish
    2007 Weber Diamondback F5 Prototype
    1930's Stradolin A5
    1912 Gibson A Oval

  29. The following members say thank you to lflngpicker for this post:


  30. #24
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,731
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    Quote Originally Posted by sja33 View Post
    Big Muddy on order, thanks again for everyone's input, opinions and advice.
    You made a darn good choice, which I expect you will be very very happy with. The next mandolin after this that you buy (of course you will) will not necessarily be an improvement, but just something different to satisfy MAS.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  31. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:


  32. #25
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    1,979
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Interested in picking up mandolin, advice on buying first.

    I posted without noticing that you had made your choice. Enjoy that Big Muddy. Great instruments!
    2020 Pava Pro A5 Torrefied Varnish
    2007 Weber Diamondback F5 Prototype
    1930's Stradolin A5
    1912 Gibson A Oval

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •