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Thread: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

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    Default Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Just wondering, particularly of pro and semi-pro musicians here: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs, or do you have a workhorse instrument that's 'good enough' to play in public? Let's assume normal style gigs, not outside in the snow or sun or roughhouse bars without a bottle screen

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Quote Originally Posted by maxr View Post
    Just wondering, particularly of pro and semi-pro musicians here: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs, or do you have a workhorse instrument that's 'good enough' to play in public? Let's assume normal style gigs, not outside in the snow or sun or roughhouse bars without a bottle screen
    Iíve always been of the mindset that I buy the thing to play, so Iím gonna play it. But Iím also not bothered by character marks or dings either.

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    For me to be happy with my playing and the gig, I want to take my best sounding and playing instrument. It might not be the most valuable or beautiful mandolin that I own. I have been severely disappointed after a gig when I played a lesser instrument. There are many of the best mandolin players in the world that take their #1 mandolin to their gigs. That's how they get their sound. And usually those instruments show wear and tear from gigging or just playing it all the time. That is what it's all about.

    But to answer your question specifically, currently I play a Northfield Big Mon for all my gigs and traveling. And I have a stunning Gibson Fern GoldRush that will never leave my house.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Yes indeed!

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    I take my best to gigs as well as jams -- it is my main playing mandolin. I have a pretty decent backup mandolin that I'll use for riskier weather, venue or travel situations, and I'm glad to have it. But I vastly prefer playing my main playing mandolin whenever I can.

    Keep in mind, my main playing mandolin retailed for around $4K in 2002 and I got it used for significantly less than that, so it's not like I'm talking about a $10K-$20K (or more) mandolin. (And FWIW, I bought my backup mandolin brand new on a blowout sale for $199; it had formerly retailed for just under $1K.)

    There are a few things I've done with both of my mandolins to help them stay fresh and not so worn out, and some of those things may improve how they sound... I use a ToneGard, an armrest and a pick guard on both of my mandolins. And on my main-playing mandolin I also have Gold Evo frets and a speed neck, and I've upgraded to a James tailpiece.
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Me too. Why take and inferior instrument to a gig. I want to play the instrument I enjoy playing most and sounds best. Yes it shows as I play in many not so great environments, but as others have said, "I bought it to play".
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    More of the same hereÖ

    Back when I was playing lots of local and/or regional gigs I used my nicest/priciest mandolin for just about everything. For a while it was the only one I owned so I didnít have a choice.

    Over time and after lots of instrument trades I eventually got to the point of having a fancy pants mandolin and a much less expensive one. Fancy pants goes just about everywhere with me, except camping or parties. I havenít done much camping lately and avoid the types of parties where an instrument may get damaged, so itís mostly fancy pants everywhere these days.

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Depends on where I'm going. To play at church, yes. At jams, not usually (but I take the #2 instrument.) I rarely take out the one I take on vacation/travel with.

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    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    i use my best one, not just for gigs but for pub sessions where all sorts of mayhem can happen.
    It's not my most expensive, it was only a few hundred quid, but it's irreplaceable, so is most valuable.
    Bren

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Hell yes!

    I only have the one real mandolin and I take it everywhere I want to play except vacation (fear of theft and transport mishaps). Next vacation is a plane trip and I won't be staying in a hotel, so I expect this to change to yes too.
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    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Yes, because I want to sound the best that I can.
    Livingí in the Mitten

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    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    My best is my acoustic instrument, so any acoustic gig it's the one i use. I have a bridge mic on my second-best, and that's the one i use when i'm powering up.
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    We'll get into the tall weeds really quick if I try to differentiate between best and best-sounding. But cost considerations are easier to define. I would never take my most expensive instrument to a gig - not the kinds of places I play and the amount of drinking that audience members undertake there. I just got the blessed F-4 half a year ago, for goodness' sake. I want to take care she doesn't get roughed up. But I will take, with no reservations, either of my plain As. They're seasoned warriors and in no way collectors' items (until I become famous, that is ). Also, they are both modified, with Fishman bridge pickups wired to 1/4" endpin jacks for easy amplification. I doubt I will ever do that to either the F-4 or the A-4, the second-most expensive instrument in my collection - not that they're museum-quality, but I don't think it's right or necessary to cross that line. In any event, I still prefer the sound of the plain As to either of the pricier ones. Burying the lead a bit here, but they are my best-sounding instruments, to my ears, so that's what I'll use. And I am fine with that. So fine.

    Maybe someday, if I ever play in a concert setting, acoustically miked, that may be different. It will also help greatly if my luthier can tweak the set-up on the snazzy ones to the point of them sounding as good as the As. I hope so (and I hope the As aren't eavesdropping), as that was a good part of why I shelled out as much for them as I did - looking to sound my best. I did use the F-4 for the lead work on one song on my latest recording project. Safe environment, why not? Besides, I need to justify the expense. Can't just own it and not use it!
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    I do not have the means to collect instruments that I don't play, every one I buy is to play. "Best" is subjective, though. I try to match the demands and expectations of the music and musicians at hand. My Eastman oval hole mandolin is better suited to certain applications than either of the hand built f hole mandolins I own are. It is hardly "better". Of course a Loar era F4 would do the same thing as the Eastman better and if I owned one I'd probably use it instead. The same for guitars and banjos I own. If one instrument is "best" in all situations then I wouldn't be able to honestly tell my significant other that I "have" to have this other mandolin or guitar.

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    I've always played all of my "best" instruments live, whether that's at sessions, gigs, or busking - to me instruments are to be played and as such they'll likely accumulate some honest wear, and that's fine with me.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Not mndln, but I used to gig a lot on a garden variety Yamaha A/E guitar, rather than my vintage flamenco. Since I was going through an amp in a large room, it was efficacious.

    Laurindo Almeida tells how he used to have "rooms-full" of guitars - but eventually eschewed them all for a Takamine E-90.
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Yes.

    (like everyone else I'll add some caveats...)

    I play in a Bluegrass Band. If we're playing on stage, with a (single) mic, I'll take my most valuable mandolin. It's been to many bars, festivals, farmers markets, weddings, etc. If we're just busking on the street in Portland I'll take a less valuable mandolin - not because of concerns about damage, etc. - because one of my less valuable mandolins is the loudest (and without the mic I'm competing with a banjo, fiddle, and our really loud guitar player).

    Kirk

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Well, of course, kinda.

    "Best" for each gig is often not my "most valuable" mandolin. In fact, my workhorse mandolin, the one I sound best on for most styles (a Rigel R-100), is the one I paid the least for.

    Same is true for my electrics – the one I sound best on (an old modified single-pickup Schwab) was the cheapest.

    It was when that thread about selling 'em all and which one would you keep was trending that I realized my potentially convenient financial outcome.

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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    I almost always take my best one. If it's a vacation trip, then I'll take a lesser instrument. Like others have said, I bought it to play, not to keep pristine.
    "Put your hands to the wood
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    And let your fingers find The Music in the Wood."
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Yes. But none of my instruments are worth that much money. Now, I would not take the Northfield to play outdoors in below zero (F) weather. That's the job of the Strad-O-Lin. (Unless MAS hits hard and I get another flat-top).

    As for guitars, have downgraded in the past few years to less expensive instruments that still do what is needed, so yes, in that case I would take my most valuable to a gig. (2021 Martin 000-15 Streetmaster).
    2000 Brentrup Model 23, Peter Coombe #248, Strad-O-Lin, Northfield F5SA, Gibson A Jr., Eastman MDO-305
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  40. #21
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    My best mandolin is the same one many gigging musicians would use as a beater to throw into an overhead compartment or leave outside unattended in a folding chair.

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  42. #22
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Funny enough, my worst mandolin is the one that hangs on my wall as it's signed by a bunch of folks. My other 2 are played pretty often - though my Newson (the "best" or more expensive) goes with me everywhere. My backup, (Gibson F9) is just that - a good backup for when I have to fix my other mandolin. I have 2 electrics that I don't generally play out - but only because I don't play the style they'd need right now.

    If you didn't take your "best" or "most valuable" mandolin to a gig, why did you buy it in the first place?
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  44. #23
    working musician Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Quote Originally Posted by mbruno View Post
    If you didn't take your "best" or "most valuable" mandolin to a gig, why did you buy it in the first place?
    Maybe you bought it to record?

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    Registered User grassrootphilosopher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Yes.

    But a lesson learned is to keep it in your case and the case locked. I once had a theatre gig. I was playing music to entertain the theatre goers in an intermission from a play. I played my old guitar. I was able to see the play and was offered to store the guitar in an office. When I retrieved my guitar I found that it had been at least taken out of the case by someone. How do I know? I cover the guitar with a piece of cloth in a certain way. The piece of cloth was put back wrong. Also the pick that I played with was missing. I was deeply agravated. I practically never leave my instruments out of sight anymore (except when I am in places where I know everybody feels like I do; they exist).
    Olaf

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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do you take your best or most valuable mandolin to gigs?

    Always play my best one for a gig, unless I need to amplify - then I use my best one with a pickup. For jams at friends' homes, I usually bring two, so that eventually all my mandolins feel some communal love. When I travel and am not camping, it depends, but often take my best. I haven't busked outdoors in ages, but have a carbon fiber mandolin for weather extremes or camping.

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