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Thread: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

  1. #1
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    Default Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Hi, I'm looking to get back into playing mandolin for the first time since about 2009. I haven't kept up with makers and models, so I'm looking for suggestions.

    I'm thinking I'd like an A-style, blackface, wide nut, f-hole probably, lightweight and resonant (sort of the Santa Cruz Guitar Company version of a mando if that makes sense). Don't mind buying used, especially if there's a fair return policy. Budget would top out around $2,500 or so.

    Thanks.
    Mike
    Grasp things by the smooth handle - Tom Jefferson

  2. #2
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    I would suggest you look for a used Collings MT like this one that sold at Mando Mutt.....

    http://www.mandomutt.com/products-pa...lack-face-sold

    Good hunting!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  3. #3
    Registered User nultylynch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    The MT's have gone up a bit in price nowadays, especially with a gloss top and a wide nut...might luck into one on the marketplace
    https://themusicemporium.com/product...wide-used-2013

    I have this mandolin (MT with a gloss top and wide nut), but in a sunburst, and adore it.
    Collings MT Gloss-Top Wide Neck (2015)
    Breedlove American OO (2013)
    Martin 000-18 (2016)
    Guild D-35 (1976)
    Paramount Style A (1927)
    Vega Little Wonder (1916)
    Ibanez AVT1NT (2019)

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  5. #4
    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Travel and find them,
    Pick 'em up,
    Play 'em
    You'll know when you hear/feel it.

    Billy
    Billy Packard
    Gilchrist A3, 1993
    Stiver Fern, 1990
    Weber Fern, 2007
    Gibson F4 Hybrid #1, D. Harvey 2009
    Gibson 1923 A2
    Numerous wonderful guitars

  6. #5
    Registered User nultylynch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    If you're not 100% on the black finish, an American Breedlove or a Rigel could fit your specs. The Breedloves all have wide nuts (to my recollection) and some Rigel's do. This Rigel (NFI, just a store local to me) has a 1 3/16" nut. There's a few up on Reverb (again, NFI)/
    I'm quite happy with my Breedlove (an American OO). The neck is a bit chunkier than my Collings, but still comfortable. There aren't any A models on Reverb right now, the other body styles (their interpretation of the F and their K) are either love or hate, in my experience. I personally love the looks of the K and don't care for their F. I bought my A model versus a K because it was $700 less. I bought my Breedlove to keep at work to have something to practice here that feels similar to my Collings (as you're probably noticing, the options for wide nut mandolins is more limited).
    Collings MT Gloss-Top Wide Neck (2015)
    Breedlove American OO (2013)
    Martin 000-18 (2016)
    Guild D-35 (1976)
    Paramount Style A (1927)
    Vega Little Wonder (1916)
    Ibanez AVT1NT (2019)

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Packard View Post
    Travel and find them,
    Pick 'em up,
    Play 'em
    You'll know when you hear/feel it.

    Billy
    That’s the best way to do it, but not really a practical option in my situation.
    Mike
    Grasp things by the smooth handle - Tom Jefferson

  8. #7
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    MikeVB: What did you play back in 2009? What did you like or dislike about it? Would you want something similar or an upgrade to that? Since you are in the lower end pricewise of the boutique mandolins—not so sure you can get new as rough equivalent to Santa Cruz—you might have to forego the black finish in preference to tome and playability. You will open the range of opportunity if you are not dead set on that finish.
    Jim

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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    MikeVB: What did you play back in 2009? What did you like or dislike about it? Would you want something similar or an upgrade to that? Since you are in the lower end pricewise of the boutique mandolins—not so sure you can get new as rough equivalent to Santa Cruz—you might have to forego the black finish in preference to tome and playability. You will open the range of opportunity if you are not dead set on that finish.
    I played a StewMac F5 that I built from a kit. Took about 6 months off my life working on that thing every night, and the finish wasn't attractive. But I carved and sanded until it was lightweight and resonant. Played it happily for several years before going down the clawhammer banjo rabbit hole. A fellow MC member (I think in TN) offered me what it cost me to build it, including lots of expensive SM tools. I wasn't attached to it or playing it, so I put the money in a nicer banjo at the time.
    Mike
    Grasp things by the smooth handle - Tom Jefferson

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Jim’s questions and observations are good and knowing about your previous instruments’ +/- qualities will help guide us. The general rule of thumb when comparing mandolins to flat top guitars regarding pricing is to double what you’d spend on a flat top to get a comparable mandolin. Where that analogy fails to hold true is with lesser known builders who are hidden gyms, so to speak. I’m loving my Skip Kelley A5 that I paid right at $3000 for a couple of years ago (that’s equivalent to some $5000 plus A and F style mandos I’ve played), and I previously had a Silverangel Econo A that was a beast and I wish I hadn’t let get away, but the Kelley is so good I wasn’t playing it so I turned it and some cash into an OM.

    In the spirit of not trying to upsale you with a Kelley (though I would look used, as he’s made some black ones), I’d recommend contacting Ken Ratcliff of Silverangel. He relatively recently did a batch that were black topped with a “black ice” B/S that looked really good, IMO. I bet he’d make you a wide nut mando you’d love for quite a while without too crazy of a wait, as his output is really phenomenal for a one man shop, and his work is very, very good! Much better quality than the price would indicate, IMO.

    Otherwise, look for used Collings. Eastman and Lafferty may be options as well, and I’ve seen some Kentucky KM 1000/1500s that we’re black topped as well…good luck!

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Thanks for the suggestions. These give me some good jumping off points for exploration.

    I'm not set on each and every desired spec. It's just kind of a wish list of what I'd like in a mando right now.
    Mike
    Grasp things by the smooth handle - Tom Jefferson

  12. #11
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Uh, oh... I think Music Emporium was reading this thread, although the price is $1000 above what you want to pay.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/180171#180171
    Jim

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    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  13. #12
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Another contender in the classifieds but still above your stated limit....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/180257#180257

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Another contender in the classifieds but still above your stated limit....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/180257#180257

    NFI
    Someone must've snatched up whatever was advertised.
    Mike
    Grasp things by the smooth handle - Tom Jefferson

  15. #14
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions requested for this array of desired attributes

    It was a 1995 blacktop Smart A5 with some pinky rash for $3250. It sounded really good on a linked video.
    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

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