Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

  1. #1

    Default New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    Hello everyone, long-time guitar player here, interested in picking up the mandolin. I have been searching the forum and learned a lot in the past few weeks. However, as a complete beginner, I am afraid of making a bad choice.

    The most recommended starter mandolins (but still decent) seem to be the Eastman 305 and the Kentucky km-150. I really like the look of the eastmans (304/305) but I don't have the chance to try them. They would come at at least 600€.

    I am located in Europe and I have come across this mandolin from Richwood Guitars.
    https://richwoodguitars.com/products...pruce-top.html
    It seems pretty good on paper but it is hard to find more information or user reviews. This would cost about 450€

    Since my budget is pretty limited, I am also considering The Loar lm-110 honey creek. I can get it as b stock from Thomann for 200€ and save a lot, which makes sense since I never owned a mandolin before. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Crockett, TX
    Posts
    1,003

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    The Richwood looks good, especially since it comes with a luthier set-up. Otherwise, sight-unseen, I'd tell you to go with the Eastman.

    I'd be worried that the "The Loar" might discourage you, esecially if it is not set-up properly.
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Passernig Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

  3. #3
    Adrian Minarovic
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Europe
    Posts
    3,007

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    I've played few of the Richwood mandolins, one of them was the model in the link the other was kind of f style with simplified scroll.
    The A was pretty much generic chinese pressed wood mandolin with filler/glue visible in the neck joint nad other tight spaces. nice looking solid wood but not carved. The plates were a bit thin, IMO, and supported by heavier tonebars so the sound suffered. I was OK for beginner but I think carved Kentucky or Eastman has greater potential.
    Adrian

  4. #4
    Playing on the porch
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    A Hilltop in Central Texas
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    I think you are likeliest to be happy with the Eastman.
    ---
    2017 Eastman MD515 mandolin
    1928 Roth (Amati) violin
    1907 Foltz (Strad) violin
    20

  5. #5
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,907
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    Quote Originally Posted by Laroz View Post
    Hello everyone, long-time guitar player here, interested in picking up the mandolin. I have been searching the forum and learned a lot in the past few weeks. However, as a complete beginner, I am afraid of making a bad choice.
    At the expense of sounding kid of snippy, (my apologies in advance) let me go off a little bit on all the wonderful mandolin styles you seem to have passed over. You don't say what kind of mandolinning you want and you indicate you are a beginner and have never bought a mandolin before. So how do you know that you don't want a flat top or a carved top oval hole A style, (not to mention all the yummy bowl backs left on the shelf). Also, because of the relative popularity here in the usa of arch top f hole mandolins, the market may be softer for flat tops and oval holes, that may, in fact, be capable of doing everything you want a mandolin to do at a lower cost, (or higher quality at the same cost).

    I don't know the relative availability of these other styles outside of the usa, but I can't imagine they are rare.

    Just a thought, if not for you, for all those to follow with a similar goal. There is a whole lot more to the mandolin world than the f hole.

    Snippy, but submitted with respect...
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

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


  7. #6

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    I've heard 3 or 4 Eastman 305 and 505's that sound great. I haven't heard a very good Eastman oval yet

  8. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,961

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    Richwood's all-solid-wood, but heat-pressed and not hand-carved like the Eastman or the Loar Honey Creek. I sorta second JeffD's suggestions that you look into other types of mandolin available in Europe, especially if price is a major consideration. There are a variety of European-made instruments (quite a few made in Romania) that are generally available; flat-top styles, mostly, with a different sound from the carved-top, f-hole instruments you're considering.

    If you're aiming to play bluegrass, a carved-top, f-hole instrument -- either an A-model, or an F-model with the "scroll and points" -- will be closer to the sound you want. As a beginner, the main consideration is to get one that's properly set up, with the bridge height, fit and placement correct, the nut properly slotted, decent strings installed, and the neck checked for straightness and proper "relief." This applies to any type of mandolin you get.

    As a "long-time guitar player," you know about proper set-up. Mandolins differ from guitars, however -- especially the un-fixed "floating" bridge. You may end up buying from an on-line or mail-order firm that doesn't do shop set-ups, and have to either pay for one, or learn to do your own.

    Eastman mandolins are quite popular on the Cafe; I've owned a few myself (just one now). The "economy" Loar Honey Creeks don't get the same high marks, but appear to be decently playable. You mention the Saga/Kentucky KM-150, also a popular choice.

    If you can do hands-on comparative evaluation -- adapting your guitar skills to mandolin testing -- I think that's the best way to find what suits you. Not always easy to do, but in the end, the best path to buyer satisfaction, IMHO.

    Good luck!
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  9. #8

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    Thank you all for your replies. JeffD you don't sound snippy at all. Your response is very reasonable. Truth is I have been considering all the options but I wanted to keep the question more specific.
    I will admit I was mostly hoping to hear that the RIchwood was a great deal but I knew it probably wasn't. Comparisons between a-style, f-style
    f holes, a holes have been covered extensively in this forum and I didn't want to make another duplicate thread.

    I play mainly jazz/blues and some folk, but I would like to learn classical mandolin too. I am not particularly interested in bluegrass but I am open to it and I really like the sound of a carved top. A carved top oval hole seemed like a good compromise so my first thought was the Eastman 304.

    There are many bowlbacks in the market here. I am in Greece. There are many makers here. I am open to the idea of a Greek made bowlback since I get to try it but I am not sure if they are recommended for classical or structurally different from other bowlbacks. Would you consider something like this a better deal? http://www.matsikas.gr/en/Product-%C...BF-MD-303A_629 Thanks again for your time.

  10. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Edinburgh, Scotland
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    I haven't tried their mandolins, just a friend's bouzouki at a pub session, but Carvalho from Portugal look like good value in Europe. They're the flat topped, flat back style, which personally I find a lot more comfortable than a bowl back.

  11. #10
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Posts
    3,421

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    So how do you know that you don't want a flat top or a carved top oval hole A style, (not to mention all the yummy bowl backs left on the shelf). Also, because of the relative popularity here in the usa of arch top f hole mandolins, the market may be softer for flat tops and oval holes, that may, in fact, be capable of doing everything you want a mandolin to do at a lower cost, (or higher quality at the same cost).
    I saw this Flatiron pancake which would work well for blues and folk:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/176702#176702
    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

  12. #11
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Augusta, Maine, USA
    Posts
    1,140

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    Welcome to the wonderful world of mandolins! The folks here are a big help — as you've already discovered.

    Jeff and Allen are making a good point. Here's another:

    Like you and a lot of other mando players, I was a long-time guitar player.

    I discovered that mandolins are not like guitars. With guitar, a beginner can hear huge differences between instruments. Right? Mandolins: not so much so. They feel and sound pretty much the same at first. It's only with experience that your ear and touch start to notice differences. (Yes, the differences are huge. But they're not obvious.)

    So a first mandolin should simply be something you can afford and can stand looking at. (If you don't like looking at it, you won't want want to pick it up.) Get one, play it for a while, and take your time deciding whether you want to stick with it.

    If you do, that's when you should start thinking seriously about prices, types, and makers.

    My first mando was a $50 used plywood Fender. It was enough to let me know I wanted to stick with it.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  13. #12
    Registered User DogHouseMando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Los Alamos, NM
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: New mandolin question. (eastman, the loar, richwood)

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post

    So a first mandolin should simply be something you can afford and can stand looking at. (If you don't like looking at it, you won't want want to pick it up.) Get one, play it for a while, and take your time deciding whether you want to stick with it.

    If you do, that's when you should start thinking seriously about prices, types, and makers.

    My first mando was a $50 used plywood Fender. It was enough to let me know I wanted to stick with it.
    I completely agree with Charlie’s point here. There is absolutely nothing wrong with finding an affordable starter/beater mandolin and starting the journey from there. One of my first mandolins was a less than 100 dollar one that I bought cheap specifically because I needed one when I was working on the road the majority of the year. It’s still in my collection as backpacker mando for overnight hiking trips.

    If you’re game for investing in a quality instrument, my advice is to play a variety of them before buying. Plenty of shops out there with hidden gems.

Posting Permissions

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