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Thread: First Purchase Recommendation

  1. #1

    Default First Purchase Recommendation

    Iím new to the cafe here and fairly new to the mandolin. I started learning back in January and am mostly self taught. I have been learning on an old cheap mandolin but am now ready and confident enough to move forward with my first real purchase.

    Iíve been doing a lot of research and I think Iím leaning towards Kentucky or Eastman. Iíve been playing around a lot with a family memberís Kentucky KM-805 and I love it. I havenít gotten my hands on an Eastman yet, but Iíve found a few online that seem nice. I want to buy a middle ground mandolin thatís going to last me a long time. Nothing thatís too much over my head, but nothing too cheap either. Any suggestions on specific mandolins to look for?

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    What type of music are you interested in playing and what is your budget?
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  3. #3

    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    I meant to include that info in my initial post!

    I am primarily playing bluegrass, and I’m trying to stay under $1,200, but willing to spend a little extra if it’s worth it.

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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Haven't yet played one personally, but old Gibson snakehead mandos have great punch. I linked an example below but you can likely find one cheaper somewhere. https://www.elderly.com/products/gib...41684879147199
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  6. #5
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaP98 View Post
    I meant to include that info in my initial post!

    I am primarily playing bluegrass, and I’m trying to stay under $1,200, but willing to spend a little extra if it’s worth it.
    In your price range, I’d be looking for an A5 — no scroll but f-holes — made of solid woods. If you’re patient, you can occasionally find one from a U.S. builder such as Flatiron, Ratliff, Silverangel, or Summit. If you’re not, then the best option currently available is probably this one:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/189314#189314
    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

  7. #6

    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    I think you're in a great price range to get a quality mandolin.

    For bluegrass, I like the sound of an Eastman 515 Varnish. There's several on Reverb in your price range. One from The Acoustic Shoppe here:
    https://www.theacousticshoppe.com/sh...-x63570663.htm

    This Weber Yellowstone A was post awhile ago in the classifieds but appears to be active. It's a little out of your range but could be a forever mando,
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/188080#188080

    There's a Lafferty on Reverb that might be worth a look. Some of these were made stateside but this model was made in China. Might inquire at the mandolin store about that model.

    You just missed some Weber Gallatins and Gibson A9 in your price range so you may want to be on the lookout and watch the used market for awhile. NFI and happy hunting!
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Agree that an A-5 style would be a good choice. Especially in that price range. A Kentucky KM-900 or KM-950 would probably be a fine choice if you can find one used. (There is one Craigslist in Minneapolis, MN right now at well under that price).

    Otherwise you might be able to luck into a Gibson A9 at that price. Have not played one of those but they seem to get good reviews.
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    Registered User Chris Fannin's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    I've been playing about 3 months and I'm pretty happy with both my Eastman MD315 and Northfield Calhoun. Both under $1000.
    Eastman MD315 Mandolin

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Agree that an A-5 style would be a good choice. Especially in that price range. A Kentucky KM-900 or KM-950 would probably be a fine choice if you can find one used. (There is one Craigslist in Minneapolis, MN right now at well under that price).
    $750 https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/c...504287310.html
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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  11. #10

    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Thanks everyone for the help so far. It’s definitely given me some more ideas of what to look for. I’ve been mostly looking at f styles before. Good to know I should look more towards A. Keep the ideas coming if you have em!

  12. #11

    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    What’s the general consensus on Laffertys? I like the looks of it on reverb. Found a video online of them playing it at the mandolin store. Sounds good to me. Would that be a smart purchase or should I keep looking?

  13. #12

    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    You can confirm with the mandolin store but here is what I understand. There were some Lafferty models that were Eastman either 515 or 615 made for The Mandolin Store and labeled Lafferty. The one on reverb is an Eastman. I saw some posts that Audy Ratliff of Ratliff mandolins made a few Lafferty's but not sure. The styles I have seen were made by Paul Schinder of Summit mandolins (previously worked for Gibson). The did not have all the bling but should be very good mandolins and a good value. Ratliff mandolins makes a value line called the Country Boy and if you can find an A5 CB used that would be a good option as well.
    Eastman and Kentucky make good mandolins, like any maker some will be better than others and a few will be very good. I would like th try the varnish Eastman that was mentioned above. Softer finish but does allow the wood to open up a little more. I have had several Kentucky mandolins. I currently have a KM-756 (all 750 series are the same except for finish color). It is a terrific mandolin and all I would really need.
    Here are some in the classified that would be worth a look
    Howard Morris from Oregon makes a nice mandolin, He mostly makes A's and you don't see F5's very often. Has a radius fretboard and a non-adjustable truss rod (old Gibsons did not have adjustable truss rods until the early 20"s) Great value in a handmade F5. https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/190098#190098

    I know nothing about this builder but looks nice and the seller speaks pretty highly of it. https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/190014#190014

    I have seen the Gatti mandolins posted, and he is a newer builder but is getting some good reviews. I think his new ones go for around $1800 plus shipping from Europe, so above your budget. There is a used one for sale as well. https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/189421#189421

    Good luck in the search, there are quite a few good options.

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    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    This Morris is in the classifieds at the moment. I have a Morris 2-point F hole - it's fantastic. Lots of good reviews on the Cafe regarding Howard Morris and his instruments. IMHO, if you're heading down the bluegrass road as you indicate, I would highly recommend a F model. Don't see too many BGers shredding with an oval hole A model. USA built and tested.

    mandolincafe.com/ads/190098#190098

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    I have no problems with Kentucky or Eastman. They are very popular options. Or any of the mandolins recommended above.

    It is hard to recommend a specific mandolin however, when I don't know what kinds of music you are chasing after. (Like, "what kind of shoes do you want?" versus "get these, I like them.") If not predominantly bluegrass, for example, you might pursue a flat top rather than an arch top. Because of market forces, flat tops are often a better deal than arch tops and especially F styles arch tops. Meaning potentially more bang for the buck at the same price.

    Something to look at in this wheel house is Big Muddy, though a squint at this site's eye candy section - flat top page is a good idea.

    Good luck
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    Registered User dwc's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    NFI, I would jump on the Flatiron A in the classifieds.
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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by dwc View Post
    NFI, I would jump on the Flatiron A in the classifieds.
    I was just coming to post the same: https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/190224#190224
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Make sure to leave a little room in the budget for a setup. You can also do it yourself, of course, and one of the Cafe members, Rob Meldrum, has a killer setup book that he'll email you of you send him a request at rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject. Either way, it makes a world of difference in tone & playability of any mandolin.
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  20. #18
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    This one would qualify though a bit above budget:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/190354#190354
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
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    2007 Hester A5
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    2015 Black A2-z
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  21. #19
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    What was it? It sure went fast!
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  22. #20
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    What was it? It sure went fast!
    This one: https://themandolinstore.com/product...mandolin-2012/
    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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  24. #21
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    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

  25. #22

    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Thought of you when I saw this. NFI
    https://reverb.com/item/57033909-201...l-a-5-mandolin
    Girouard Concert A5
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    Trillium Mandola
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  26. #23

    Default Re: First Purchase Recommendation

    Reverb has 3 American made Breedloves in your price range. Worth taking a look. Nothing wrong with the cheaper Crossover imports but the Bend Oregon Breedloves are a clear step up.
    Girouard Concert A5
    Girouard Custom A4
    Trillium Mandola
    Dunwell B-1 Bouzouki
    www.singletonstreet.com

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