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Thread: First mandolin for a Metalhead

  1. #1

    Default First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Hi all,

    First post and as the title suggests I am looking to venture into the mandolin world.
    A bit of background, I play guitar and have a decent collection from Strats, Les Paul's, Jem's to Taylor classical. I play predominantly metal and prog with a bit of Djent on my 7 string thrown in.
    I thought about the mandolin after hearing Chris Cornell's wonderful Nearly Forgot my Broken Heart. So my question, I am after an instrument that is not going to cost the earth and is going to be my one and only. What would say £750 get me? I am based in the UK so imports are off the table due to the extortionate duties.
    Suggestions greatfully and thankfully received. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Registered User Captain Kirk's Avatar
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Michael Wilson

  3. #3
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Welcome to the world of mandolins!

    I’m not in the UK, so I’m not sure what choices your goal of “no imports” will leave you at that price point. The commonly recommended Eastman mandolins are Chinese and would not be an option? Also, I was wondering about something like the Yamaha YEV104 electric violin (an electric might be less prone to feedback issues if you’re playing in a loud environment like “metal”?), but it is an import, too.

    Have you been to some music stores that carry mandolins? Hands on is always the best choice, if possible. In addition to tone and volume, there are so many variables with body style, neck shape, nut width, etc. Playing as many mandolins as you can will help educate you and help you figure out what instrument might work best for you.

    Also, if you get at all serious with the mandolin, your first mandolin being your “one and only” is VERY unlikely!

    Good luck!
    Doug Brock
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  4. #4

    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Hi Doug,

    Thank you for the information. Re. importing an instrument, I merely meant I would source only from UK sellers/retailers and I understand this may limit my choice somewhat. Cheers.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    You can always try searching the classifieds here using “£” as I just did. This one is an oft-recommended starter that would fit comfortably within your budget:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/190022#190022
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Hi Paul
    The UK is a bit of a wasteland for mandolins at the moment. Many music shops have closed in the last few years, prior to that, few of them stocked anything you could call a selection of mandolins and, apart from a few specialists, most of them knew little about the occasional mandolin they stocked. I’ve never heard of Chris Cornell so I have no idea of what sort of sound you’re looking for.

    The first thing to decide is what type of mandolin you’re looking for. Just like guitars, the different types sound “different” and each has their use. You choice is, roughly, flat top (round hole), carved top (round hole or F holes - ones without scrolls offer more bang for the buck than those with and usually sound no different) or electric (8 string or 4 string).

    If yiu could tell us where abouts in the UK you are, we might be able to point you in the direction of a suitable shop (if there is one!)

    Edit - the one suggested by pheffernan doesn’t look a bad deal. You can buy one new for £599 with a gig bag. The one in the classifieds appears to have a hard case.

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  8. #7

    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Hi Phefferman,

    Thank you for the link, looks a lovely instrument.

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  10. #8

    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for your insight, I have settled on an 'A' style mandolin but still unsure as to whether I should go acoustic or electro acoustic.
    A little info re. Chris Cornell, he was the singer with Soundgarden, a 90's grunge rock band, absolutely great voice. The song using a mandolin for the melody is a wonder. I highly recommend a listen, the tonal quality of his voice and the mandolin are perfect. Chris sounds so sad, little wonder.

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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Agree that Eastman 305 and Kentucky KM-150 are great places to start. For a slight step up the food chain Eastman’s 510 and Kentucky’s 500/505 models may be near your range used. I’m a big Chris Cornell fan as well…shame he’s gone…

    For electric options used Epiphone Mandobirds and Eastwood’s electric offerings are inexpensive and fun. I’ve got a Mandobird that screams through an OD pedal through my Blues Jr.

    Whatever you get, setup is even more crucial on mandolin than guitar, so make sure you factor that in if you’re not buying from a shop that does that well. Good luck!
    Chuck

  12. #10

    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Hi Chuck,

    Thank you for recommendations, I have a PRS MT15 tube amp running through a Marshall cab and a Boss Katana modelling amp. I imagine the interesting sonics that could be generated. But saying that I love the purity of ambient acoustic. I never plug my Taylor classical into my amps, just play it. Cheers.

  13. #11
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Duh. I just realized in my response earlier that I suggested an electric VIOLIN, lol (YEV-104). I use mandolin and violin all the time and I guess they’re sort of blending in my head? (Actually, with the same tuning, I do occasionally practice some of my fiddle stuff on mandolin - the lack of bow on the mandolin actually helps me focus more on the melody and not worry about bowing patterns!)
    Doug Brock
    2018 Kimble 2 point (#259), 2019 Silverangel Econo A (#446), Eastman MD315, 2020 Morris Oval Flattop A, Eastman MDA315, some guitars, banjos, and fiddles

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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Greg View Post
    …and a Boss Katana modelling amp. I imagine the interesting sonics that could be generated. But saying that I love the purity of ambient acoustic. I never plug my Taylor classical into my amps, just play it.
    I have a Katana 100 v2 and a Headrush Gigboard. I thought I’d use them more with one of my mandolins that has a pickup and my electric violin, but at the moment I’m just enjoying the sounds of my mandolins and fiddles. I keep being tempted to take the Katana or the Gigboard to one of my jams, lol.
    Doug Brock
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Greg View Post
    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for your insight, I have settled on an 'A' style mandolin but still unsure as to whether I should go acoustic or electro acoustic.
    A little info re. Chris Cornell, he was the singer with Soundgarden, a 90's grunge rock band, absolutely great voice. The song using a mandolin for the melody is a wonder. I highly recommend a listen, the tonal quality of his voice and the mandolin are perfect. Chris sounds so sad, little wonder.
    I would check him out but I’ve no idea which song you’re talking about!

    By “A” style I assume you’re talking about F-hole? Those with F-holes tend to have a more focussed sound - think carved top jazz guitar rather than flat top - whereas round/oval holes have a more folky sound. F-holes also have a better bluegrass style chop.

    Whilst you may be able to find an electric/acoustic mandolin, unlike equivalent guitars, they are rare and tend to be at the lower end of the market. Pickups for mandolins tend to be after-market although Eastman did sell some instruments with internal soundboard pickups but I’ve not come across one recently. Fishman do make a bridge pickup but the general consensus is that it sounds typically nasal and nothing like your original mandolin. Unless you’re buying specifically to play with a loud band, I’d suggest you look for a mandolin you like and add a pickup later if you need to but bear in mind that this is likely to add a couple of hundred £ to the price.

    Eastman mandolins are probably easier to find in the UK. The only place I’ve ever seen a Kentucky for sale was in Scotland!

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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Greg View Post
    I have settled on an 'A' style mandolin but still unsure as to whether I should go acoustic or electro acoustic.
    “Electro acoustic” is something of a guitar concept and found on budget mandolins typically marketed to guitarists. My advice would be to buy an acoustic mandolin (like the Eastman) and then install a pickup as an aftermarket addition.
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Check out Belmuse Mandolin in Norfolk:
    https://www.belvoirguitars.co.uk/mandolins
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_Greg View Post
    Hi Chuck,

    Thank you for recommendations, I have a PRS MT15 tube amp running through a Marshall cab and a Boss Katana modelling amp. I imagine the interesting sonics that could be generated. But saying that I love the purity of ambient acoustic. I never plug my Taylor classical into my amps, just play it. Cheers.
    I totally get that. I primarily play acoustic mandolin, and if I could only have one instrument it would be my Kelley A-5, but it is fun to just wail on the emando from time time. Before the world shut down I was the adult supervision for our church’s youth band, and would sometimes use the ‘Bird in place of electric guitar for lead stuff. It was always fun to watch the faces of the kids when they first heard the mayhem coming out of that “cute little guitar,” lol.

    Again, best of luck in your search!!
    Chuck

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    The song mentioned earlier:



    Me visiting Chris Cornell in Seattle:

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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    For electrics, I'd second the recommendation for Epiphone MandoBird, with some reservations. They're discontinued, so their pricing may include some supply/demand or collectors' item inflation. Still, if you're persistent and patient, something might well turn up - even in the UK, as their relatively low cost during production years made them popular. I got two, used, off eBay, each for under $150 US. They were good starters, though the E string's volume needed some help. I used light strings, which provided a full two-fret bend, great for the rock, blues, and country I was playing. Eventually I graduated to a better-made and -sounding custom instrument, but they got me started. Should do the same for you.
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    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: First mandolin for a Metalhead

    Do a bit of listening on Youtube to the sounds of electric and acoustic mandolins. Listen to the sound of f hole vs open hole mandolins from the same maker and roughly the same price range. Youtube audio is never perfect, but you still get a sense of the differences at least. Wear good headphones or earbuds to really hear the differences. Some retailers post multiple reviews of instruments with the same player and mike set ups and that helps.

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