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Thread: Future octave mandolin player question?

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    Default Future octave mandolin player question?

    Iím sure this has been asked before but any recommendations on buying a good quality octave mandolin for a long-time musician taking up this new instrument? Thanks.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    Do you have a budget in mind? It might help people make appropriate recommendations.
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    while I have always said I am not very impressed with Eastman, a friend of mine purchased an Eastman Octave ( under 1K) , and I got a chance to play it - I have to admit I was impressed with the tone and playability, so its not a bad place to start.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    Here's the thing I always point out - market forces. We all know the initial sticker shock when we first started shopping for mandolins. I can get a very good quality, playable new acoustic guitar for $300 to $500. To get a comparable new mandolin is going to cost about three times that.

    Part of the reason for this is there are something like 1000 to 10,000 guitar players for every mandolin player, even when you include all the multi-instrumentalists.

    I think mandola, octave mandolin and mandocello are even more of a niche. Probably 1000 mandolin players for every one of these. I think your best bet is to try and find a good used Weber, or oher custom builder (Joe Mendel, Tom Jessen, or on the higher end Austin Clark, Andrew Mowry, Fletcher Brock, etc.).

    Otherwise its going to Eastman, Hora, Trinity College, etc. which are serviceable but not in the same league.

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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    a friend found and purchased an octave mandolin within 2 weeks of discovering the mandolin cafe classifieds. this included getting additional photos and sound files. so that's a good route to take.

    you do not say where in the world you are, but here in Canada, there are good local makers on the West Coast (i.e. Nyberg), Central (sawchin beavertail) and Eastern. so "buy local" works, too.

    octave mandolins are all different, but do make sure the one you buy has an adjustable truss rod (some, built in the 1970-80-90-ies do not have it).

    you can also start with a GDAE tenor guitar if you see one (I had a 1960-ies Harmony f-hole job).

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    Likes quaint instruments poul hansen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    Thomann has Hora mandolins at very good prices and good quality. Or buy from Hora itself.

    I have one for sale in Denmark ;-)
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    I started out with an Eastman MDO305 which confirmed my inclinations toward the OM but felt a little stiff & sounded a little thin. I got a Weber Gallatin OM which has a larger body and much fuller tone. My next OM was a Northfield flat top guitar bodied OM that I love. The longer scale increases sustain & l love it for blues. It works well for drone chords too. I also got a Pono MND30 with a cutaway for upper fret access but it also has a little snappier feel that I think is because of the 12th fret neck joint vs 14th.

    The Eastman is under $1K but the others are double or more. Well worth it in my view but, budget aside, it depends on what you’re looking for tone-wise. GBOMs have unique sound unlike other mandolin family instruments so I’d recommend trying before buying.
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    [ATTACH=CONFIG]203481[/ATTACH
    ]There's an Austin Clark in the Classifieds, if you want to jump into the deep end of the pool. It worked for me. I never played an octave, barely knew what it was. But I was attracted to a gorgeous Austin Clark and have enjoyed every minute with it.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by j4music; Sep-25-2022 at 12:18pm.

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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?


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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    I bought a Sawchyn Beavertail OM for $1500 Cdn, and itís excellent. Very easy to play, good intonation, rich strong sound and really clean precise build quality.

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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    Quote Originally Posted by malarz View Post
    Iím sure this has been asked before but any recommendations on buying a good quality octave mandolin for a long-time musician taking up this new instrument? Thanks.

    Youíll have to decide how you want to approach learning a new instrument. A year ago my first foray into instruments of the mandolin family was, and still is, an Eastman MDO-305 octave mandolin. Itís no way the be-all and end-all of octave mandolins but once I gave it a good setup Iíve really enjoyed learning on it. Sure itís a bit nasal and lacks bottom but I bought it to learn on, not for recording or concerts. Bang for the buck is the soul of this little goodie. So if you ďneed toneĒ keep looking but if youíre interested in learning to play, the Eastmanís a great deal.

    Iíd be interested in trying Eastmanís new MDO-605 just to satisfy my curiosity. My goal, should I grow some skill, is to order a Lawrence Smart or a Fylde OM. Iíll readily entertain the idea of checking out others as they come to my attention.
    Finished my rookie year and still determined to learn!
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    I started off 10 years ago with a used Weber Gallatin which featured a massive old school sized neck. It turned out being more effort than it was worth. So I sold it. Recently I spent half as much on a used Eastman MDO-305 which has a much speedier neck and good tone. Maybe not as refined as the Gallatin but at least I can play it. There isn’t much use a fine instrument if you can’t play it.

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    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Henry View Post
    ..... There isn’t much use a fine instrument if you can’t play it.
    I heard that somewhere.......
    Not all the clams are at the beach

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Henry View Post
    There isn’t much use a fine instrument if you can’t play it.
    One use is that the greater number of people who turn their hard-earned cash into fine mandolins then the greater number of fine mandolins on the market.

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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    I forgot to say I've had a few Octaves and 10 string "Citterns", some lower end, some that just didn't click with me and other I really liked. I had a few David Freshwaters, and also the Weber Gallatin and now a Weber Black Ice and Eastwood Electric. I played guitar a long time before playing mandolin and so am drawn to the longer and wider neck. I must confess the John Paul Jones Triple neck on the cover of Zepplin 3 may have had a lot do with my fascination for citterns, zouks, blarges, octaves, mandocellos and mandolas. Back in the 80s There was a Kicking Mule tune book with lots of what looked liked medieval etchings of people playing wierd stringed instruments, that did not help one bit. After the Gerald Trimble records, there was no turning back. So I definitely did not stay where I started, and I do think the market has more better quality octaves available now than in the 90's and 2000s.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

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    Default Re: Future octave mandolin player question?

    A lot would have to do with what you intend to play. In general a longer scale length has more sustain and is good for rythm and partial chords. If you want to do a lot of melody work, then a shorter scale length will help. If you include the bouzouki in this group the scale length is all over the map. From around 19" to over 26".
    Bob Schmidt

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