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Thread: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

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    Question Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Howdy folks,

    After reading the forums and window shopping in the classifieds for a while, the time has come for my first post!

    I'm proud to pick on a Northfield Model M and looking to expand. I play a lot of country, bluegrass, and folk music with a band who has a fiddler player so the cut is important. The large frets, tone, playability, and aesthetics of the Model M are "chef's kiss" to my eyes and ears so I want the next addition to be very similar but slightly different if that makes a lick of sense.

    I'm thinking about staying in the Northfield line since I'm such a fan and have a question: the A5 special or the NF-F5S/NFF2S? I'm deciding between getting an oval since my Model M has ff's but I specifically need something to cut so will likely stick to ff's whether I go with another A or diversify with an F. Has anyone compared these two models? My thinking is that the A5 special is the superior model since it is more closely aligned with the Artist series rather than the S-series. Open to any and all thoughts.

    In general, I'm looking for a mandolin similar to, but slightly upgraded from, the Model M for a price tag between $2500-$3500 (mostly interested in used, but open in general). If there is a Pava, Collings, Flatiron, or other brand/model that you think fits the bill, throw it out there! Thanks y'all.

  2. #2
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Do you plan to keep the Model M or would you consider trading it for additional value on something like a 4th Gen?

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/193494#193494
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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    You should keep the model M and consider this....

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/193791#193791

    After all we all need a F model and an A model.
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  5. #4

    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    I'm planning on keeping the Model M so unfortunately the 4th Gen is out of reach I play in a lot of groups and do a good bit of recording so two axes is a nice fail safe in case one needs a set up or any work etc.

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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Wow!! That's a deal right there! My only pause is that I really like the non-sunburst options that Northfield has been doing with their blondes, naturals, and black tops. BUT looks aren't everything and a deal is a deal so I'm definitely going to ponder that listing!

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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Head on over to Frank's Mandolin Kitchen. You'll hear a 100 tunes played on a Pava oval hole, a Collings MT2, an a Northfield A5 Special. There's a wide variety of genres represented ands they're all well played (and recorded) by your host Frank!

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...ndolin-Kitchen

    If you're intent on keeping the Model M, I would look hard at an oval hole to go with it. NF2-S might fit the bill. If you're willing to sell the M, you can really move up the food chain for a nice F hole.
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    My vote is for an NF-F5S. Was very happy with mine (that used to be Chuck's). The only reason I moved on it was getting the Brentrup. Had good cut and I really liked the tone. In fact, that instrument replaced a Collings MT. The Collings was a great instrument. Just didn't work in my larger band. Which doesn't play anything closed to bluegrass, but does have 6 or 7 musicians/singers.

    The outside idea would be to search for a used Big Mon. The larger body would definitely give a different voice. New it's out of your range (by a lot).

    Otherwise, keep your eyes open in the classifieds. Never know when a special deal shows up.

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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Do you plan to keep the Model M or would you consider trading it for additional value on something like a 4th Gen?

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/193494#193494
    That is a phenomenal deal and Kevin is a great guy to deal with. I'm pretty tempted myself other than I already have one just like it other than mine is a 2 piece back. Somebody hurry and snag this up before I have to, I really don't need it. I really don't need it, I really don't need it....
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Volume-wise, you'd get more volume out of a used Collings MT2 with an Adirondack top. If you are trying to be heard above a fiddle you are going to need a little more volume than the Northfield. I've owned both, and the Collings just pushes more air through the body giving you a lot more volume. I play with a fiddle player and an accordion player sometimes. I always found myself fighting a losing battle even playing a Big Mon.
    Last edited by Mandobar; Sep-29-2022 at 8:59am.
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    Volume-wise, you'd get more volume out of a used Collings MT2 with an Adirondack top. If you are trying to be heard above a fiddle you are going to need a little more volume than the Northfield. I've owned both, and the Collings just pushes more air through the body giving you a lot more volume. I play with a fiddle player and an accordion player sometimes. I always found myself fighting a losing battle even playing a Big Mon.
    That's so interesting! The only other mandolin player at my local bluegrass jam plays an MT2, and it's much quieter than my old F5S (which had an Engelmann top).
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    My #2 is an f5s and it's pretty great. It's not as loud as my Turkey Creek but it's still great. I would recommend anyone to get an f5s if theyre considering it.

    And if you have an A, you need to go with an F style
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Thanks everyone! I think I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for the F5S that has the perfect finish since Northfield has such a range of options. If anybody thinks of other "perfect matches" lemme know and I'll add it to my radar!

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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Quote Originally Posted by webber View Post
    That's so interesting! The only other mandolin player at my local bluegrass jam plays an MT2, and it's much quieter than my old F5S (which had an Engelmann top).
    There is a difference in the volume listening to someone play and the volume you hear as the player of the instrument. The only way to really tell is to have someone play each instrument facing you, and then listen. I have complained about the volume I was getting out of an instrument until someone else sat in front of me and played it. It was a totally different experience.

    Also, the tonal palette of an engelman topped mandolin (or guitar) is quite different than adirondack. adirondack has less decay.
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobar View Post
    There is a difference in the volume listening to someone play and the volume you hear as the player of the instrument. The only way to really tell is to have someone play each instrument facing you, and then listen. I have complained about the volume I was getting out of an instrument until someone else sat in front of me and played it. It was a totally different experience.

    Also, the tonal palette of an engelman topped mandolin (or guitar) is quite different than adirondack. adirondack has less decay.
    True, my MT (Engleman top) was nice, but much quieter to others in the Finnish band than my NF5S with Adirondack. In my duo, it didn't make as much difference.

    Then again, my Coombe classical flattop (also Adirondack) with flatwounds cut through the Finnish band (and larger jams) just as good as the Northfield. I wasn't sure about that, but there are some videos out there that show me otherwise.

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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Quote Originally Posted by vocalrest View Post
    Thanks everyone! I think I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for the F5S that has the perfect finish since Northfield has such a range of options. If anybody thinks of other "perfect matches" lemme know and I'll add it to my radar!
    There is this blond Northfield in the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/193658#193658

    NFI
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    There is this blond Northfield in the classifieds...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/193658#193658

    NFI
    That's a great deal on a killer mando
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Slightly outside your price range, but this appears to be a very good deal on a Northfield Big Mon. NFI and not associated with the seller - https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/194272#194272

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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Thanks everyone!! I pulled the trigger on that blonde NF5!! It should be arriving on Saturday (if Fedex lines up with my time at home for the signature)!! Thanks for all of the help! Though I pondered a Big Mon and other options, I just got hit with replacing my washer/dyer AND my truck broke down so I needed to keep it between the lines of my budget haha. I'll let y'all know how I like the new mando!

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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Congrats on your new purchase! I have a blonde F5S w/ Engelmann and really love the sound of it. That tailpiece is a nice upgrade too, did that on mine as well. The standard one is a pain for changing strings.
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Howdy friends, just wanted to let y'all know the F5S is a DREAM BOAT AND A HALF. I'm having a hard time putting it down and its inspired a lot of tunes already. Until I have enough money to potentially flip it and get a Big Mon, I think this one will be around for quite sometime! Thank y'all for the input

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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Northfield (& Beyond) Dilemma: A5 Special vs NF-F5S/NF-F2S

    Woot! We need pics, tho...

    Welcome to the F5S Fan Club!
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