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Thread: Best budget mandolin UK

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    Default Best budget mandolin UK

    I live in the UK and I haven't played a mandolin since I was young. I still have my old Tatra mandolin with a bowl back. I would like to buy a mandolin suitable for playing folk style music. I need something fairly easy to play as my hands are a bit arthritic now. I think I can still pick out a tune though and would like to join in with some of our local musicians. Before the pandemic, we were holding regular monthly sessions with loads of people of all abilities joining in. We're hoping to start up again this year. I need some help with choosing a mandolin. Can anyone recommend something that isn't too expensive, please?

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    There’s na awful lot out there which I wouldn’t give house room to; what’s your budget?

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Up to about 150. It depends how expensive my car repair is today.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    It needs to cut through this lot! Accordions, fiddles, guitar, recorder. Something with a spruce top would be good. Is the Ozark 2001 any good?

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    I think it is very subjective but some mandolins are louder than others but in truth it is unlikely when you are surrounded by so many instruments that you will be able to cut through- especially if there are a few banjos. The Ozark is a Portuguese/German style instrument and they appear to be priced at about 115. Here is one that has had minor use:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mandolin-...MAAOSwl1dgQ11m

    Here's a thread and one of the regulars here- who makes mandolins says she recommends the model:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...guese-mandolin

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    There seems to be very few decent mandolins available second hand in UK at the moment, Jillity, and Ebay new prices are mostly very little less than you'd pay in a decent shop.

    Cornwall - I'm not sure there's an obvious source for affordable mandolins in Cornwall (I spend half my time i Falmouth), so you might find one by asking around...Craig's Music, Bodmin sell strings etc at very good prices but only list one 85 mandolin. Trevada Music in Redruth have a couple of 150/200 Pilgrim ones. Modern Music in Truro may be worth asking. The Guitar Doctor (Heamoor near Penzance) and Hannah Sedgwick Violins in Penzance are unlikely to have one but may know someone locally like a mandolin teacher who might help you. Project Music in Exeter are part of a small chain - good prices. They Sell Eastman mandolins, which start at just over 500 and have a good reputation, see other posts on this site - if you're in Exeter sometime it may well be worth a look if that fits your budget. Apart from the fact you may not be able to get there to play them, I'd recommend Eagle Music in Huddersfield, they specialise in mandolins and banjos and are very helpful - they sell a wide range from 130 to 000s, set up instruments before shipping them, and should give good phone advice on what works in more affordable ranges - I bought mine from there. Hobgoblin Music is a chain of folk instrument specialists so should have some in their nearest shop at Bristol. There is a craft mandolin and guitar maker in Cornwall called Cas Davey, at Davey Mandolins. Those may well be out of the price range you have in mind, but they probably know local players and teachers and may be able to put you onto someone who has one for sale. All of these have websites you can Google by name, and some eg Eagle Music have useful info about mandolins.

    The website here seems to be fairly evenly divided between Eastman (304/305) and Kentucky (150/250) brand mandolins in the budget range, with advocates of The Loar and one or two other makes. However, 'budget' here often means 500 and more, but if you search the Forum here you should find cheaper ones mentioned. One problem with that is you may find UK generic brands (like Pilgrim) are sold under different names in USA, and most of the contributors here are US based. Good luck with your search!

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jillity View Post
    It needs to cut through this lot! Accordions, fiddles, guitar, recorder. Something with a spruce top would be good. Is the Ozark 2001 any good?

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    Have you considered a tuba rather than a mandolin? Seriously though, you'll have to have fine hearing to pick out the sound of your mandolin with five or more accordions, at least two fiddles, and, I'm assuming, more guitars than I can see in the same room. I wear hearing aids, and if I walked into that session, I wouldn't take my mandolin out of the case.

    p.s., I don't know how I happened to be fiddling in a photo of a session in Cornwall? Is that where I go when I'm asleep? Well, I do have Cornish ancestors -- a distant cousin perhaps? (My hair's turned more white than grey since this photo was taken.)

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    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Hmm - think I've seen one or two of those faces before in other bands. Looks like you need a LOUD mandolin. Advice here on that is generally that the ones with F holes (a bit like a violin), often called 'bluegrass' mandolins, tend to be louder and more cutting than the ones with round or oval shaped sound holes, but that's not always the case. The Ozark recommended above looks like it may be deeper bodied than most 'bluegrass' style mandolins, in which case it might not have the sound you'd need (?). There have also been posts here recommending some inexpensive plywood top mandolins which are loud and cut through - anyone remember details?

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    The chances of cutting through that session of instruments are slim with any brand or make of mandolin. You need to be realistic about that. But playing along is still fun, and remember that you will probably sound louder to others than to yourself because the sound projects in front of you.

    Go to your nearest Hobgoblin shop and try a few mandolins. This comparison should help you identify what kind of volume and playability you want. The Ashbury-branded instruments may not satisfy mandolin snobs, but they're far from being junk. You'll find a decent mandolin at a fair price there.

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    Question Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Loud session ? National resonator mandolin RM1 https://www.nationalguitars.com/rm1

    (You will have to get in the Order Queue while you save up the full price)






    Or a banjo mandolin if a 4 string "Melody Banjo" you can double the ITB an octave higher & copy their techniques ..

    a 150 mandolin will mean a small pub session with quiet players giving you allowance..



    ...
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    is like dancing,
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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    I refrained from commenting when I saw your budget as there really is nothing which is likely to compete at that price point. You’re talking 1600+ for a used National and you might get complaints about the volume it puts out! A mandolin-banjo might be an option but they don’t sound that much like a mandolin (some say that they’re the instrument of the devil) and I’d look for a modern one rather than one of the more commonly available “old” ones you commonly see in the UK - or you’ll spend most of your time tuning the thing!

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Yes.. but then many sessioneers don't like to be drowned out by any one instrument. Is it more a case of just hearing what you're playing? If so, I reckon most decently loud mandolins will manage that, because the percussive 'pop' when you pick a mandolin string may enable it to cut through the fiddles. Also, how to say this...there are 6 piano accordions there - could be a volumefest. But many English folk accordionists who, err, remember the 1960s shall we say, play a sort of barrel-organ style with little attack, which mandolin might cut through. By the way, I wouldn't be tempted to amplify any imnstrument in that situation - it can lead to competitive amping, which is awful.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    I played with a stand-up bass player in years gone by who once turned up for a living room rehearsal with a 100 watt amp - the rest of us were completely acoustic. His sound was incredible. He claimed to have used the amp when his usual band (The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra) had a conductor who was fond of asking the bass section to play louder.

    I have a selection of mandolins - none of them within the o/p’s budget - and there are several of those I wouldn’t take to a session with 6 accordions; they just wouldn’t be heard.

    I’m sure it must be posisble to fit a banjo mandolin with a battery powered amp and speaker - I wonder if anyone has tried it?

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Banjo mandolin (banjolins, mandolin banjos, manjos?) are very loud. Even if I were going to an amplified session, I wouldn't hurry to amp mine. At Wembley Stadium, I would. However, a banjo mandolin, as Ray said (Post #11) is, acoustically, a very different instrument from a mandolin, and and may not be appropriate for your jam. Ragtime or 1920's blues, anyone? See the following thread:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...Mandolin-Banjo
    Last edited by Ranald; Mar-26-2021 at 11:28am. Reason: grammar (for the Brits!)
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    Have you considered a tuba rather than a mandolin?
    I play with a couple of community Cornish community folk bands, and a serious suggestion was made of adding a wind bass to one, if we could find it. It's an area with a lot of wind 'concert bands', and lots of brass players.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    I looked at Craig's music in Bodmin but they only had one or two mandolins in stock. I don't know when they'll be allowed to open again. There is a mandolin maker in Cornwall but his cheapest is 840. I've bought the one from ebay. It's the Ozark 2001 and should be good for what I want it for. It's mainly for mucking around at home and joining in with friends occasionally.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

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    Did someone mention a double bass? I used to play tea-chest bass with this lot. I sometimes played mandolin and guitar as well. This is back in the eighties I think. I shall mainly be playing the mandolin for fun at home. I expect they'll let me have a go on my own at one of the jam sessions. I'll have to get practising though as it's a long time since I played a stringed instrument. I have an accordion that I play very badly but do we really need another accordion?

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jillity View Post
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    Did someone mention a double bass? I used to play tea-chest bass with this lot. I sometimes played mandolin and guitar as well. This is back in the eighties I think. I shall mainly be playing the mandolin for fun at home. I expect they'll let me have a go on my own at one of the jam sessions. I'll have to get practising though as it's a long time since I played a stringed instrument. I have an accordion that I play very badly but do we really need another accordion?
    I'm relieved not to see myself in this band! Enjoy your mandolin.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Don’t mention things like tea-chest basses. Somebody is likely to start a lengthy thread about cases for them!

    Come to think of it, somebody was asking about the best sort of string to use but I don’t think it was on this forum.

    Enjoy your Ozark - the shop in Bodmin sounds pretty typical for the UK; only having 2 mandolins in stock.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Quote Originally Posted by Jillity View Post
    Did someone mention a double bass? I used to play tea-chest bass with this lot.
    Now all youse guys can see the massive venues we play here in UK. This looks like a fun gig if the rain doesn't drown you out. My personal best was a ceilidh dance in a cow parlour hosed down as we arrive - with the slurry pit over a half wall at the end of the building. Glad you got a mandolin, Jillity.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Im always wary of barn dances in barns; two come to mind in particular. The first was in an ex milking parlour where the floor sloped. Somebody spilled a pint at the opposite end and I watched the liquid gradually travel across the floor til it reached the band. The other was in a real barn with a real bull in a pen at one end. At the end of the night I noticed that everything - amps, instruments etc - was covered in a fine dust.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Dust - I played one English ceilidh in a barn which still had the chickens in it when we arrived, and everything had a visible layer of suspicious and none too fragrant dust at the end. We did play The Chicken Reel...

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    Hi Jillity, going on the pic you posted, that's really not a typical Session. Six squeezeboxes makes it a Squeezebox Band. The Sessions I go to are heavy on fiddles but generally one Melodeon and a Concertina. All you can do is choose where you sit so there's nothing blasting in you ear. Maybe there's a smaller quieter Session going on somewhere.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    I seem to end up in biggish sessions in South (ish) Cornwall - which is great as it means there are quite a lot of players there. Some of them are almost like 'folk orchestras', others are kind of New Age style, some are trad Irish, others typical English pub sessions, one or two specialist Cornish, there's a great mix.

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    Default Re: Best budget mandolin UK

    My Ozark 2001 mandolin arrived today. It plays okay but might be better with lighter strings. I have some on order. The sound isn't as bright as some mandolins but it's better than the old Tatra I've had for years. I haven't played for a very long time but I'm getting back into it. If I keep it up I'll go for something a bit better later on.

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