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Thread: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

  1. #1
    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    Hi Everyone,

    I was thinking about this today and thought it would be fun to see everyones favorite mandolins that theyve owned. No need to rank them, and no need to disparage other brands or make comparisons with mandolins youve liked less. Just a pure favorite mandolins youve owned love fest. No less than one (haha), no more than five. Ill start:

    Hamlett Two-Point
    Weber Fern F
    Morris A
    Collings MT
    Breedlove OF (USA)

    I love(ed) them each for different reasons. The Hamlett for its sweet power, brilliance, and sentimental value; the Weber for its throaty and muscular tone, the Morris for its tremendous value and Osage orange back; the Collings for its stunning balance and good sense; and the Breedlove for its innovation, deceptively traditional speak, and its low price point.

    And go!
    Hamlett Two-Point
    Eastman MD805
    Schertler DYN-M + Yellow
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    Kelley A-5–It’s got the tone, man, is beautifully made, and not done with the same burst as most, so a little unique.

    Rigel CT-110–I’d always wanted one and lucked into one that’s a bit more traditionally voiced than most I’ve heard, but still has the Rigel sound, which is a nice contrast to the A-5.

    Silverangel Econo—My “step up” mandolin. Was my main player for 9 years or so. If I hadn’t been downsizing when I got the Kelley I’d still have this one. Same for the next in the list.

    Flatiron 1N—My first “real” mandolin, at such a great price point.
    Chuck

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    The first good one I bought 35 years ago has always been the best: A 1917 Gibson F-4.
    Strange how that goes. Perhaps the best guitar I ever had was purchased around the same time. I still have them both.

    Since then, I've had several other good instruments pass through my hands, but those two have been the keepers.

    I also had an early Lyon & Healy style B that was particularly good and saw plenty of use, but I traded it off long ago.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    Most of the mandolins that are my favorites are those that listed in my signature below. The only ones missing from that list are my 1920's asymmetrical Washburn/Lyon & Healy Pro A and my 1904 No.3 Embergher bowlback. Those two are the ones that I would use for playing classical.

    Of course, I have way too many others, but these are each one of these has their own sound and feel.
    Jim

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    1924 Gibson A4 - 2018 Campanella A-5 - 2007 Brentrup A4C - 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin - Huss & Dalton DS - 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead - '83 Flatiron A5-2 - 1939 Gibson L-00 - 1936 Epiphone Deluxe - 1928 Gibson L-5 - ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo - ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo - ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo - National RM-1

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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    I play a bunch of different instruments, and mandolin perhaps not always my primary, so I've never had a lot of mandolins, but I'll name two...my first (Harmony Monterrey), because of the discovery that occurred with that first one...and now, this one...Click image for larger version. 

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    too many strings

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    1. Girouard Concert A - hands down the best mandolin I've ever owned and it's not going anywhere! Has cured MAS 100%, in December I've had it for 4 years and in that entire time I haven't considered buying another mandolin.

    2. Weber Custom Gallatin F - Only F style I've ever owned. I put a lot of mileage on that one and had a very strong bond with it. Got my head turned by people telling me I should get a "better" mandolin and have always regretted selling it.

    3. 1927 Gibson A-jr - if this one didn't have a flat fretboard it would've stayed, but I just prefer a radius one. It was a lovely wee mandolin though and I was sad to see it go.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
    1969 Martin 00-18




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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    I'll go:

    1993 Nugget A5 Dlx - my #1 always for tone and "feel"

    Tie: Sorensen Sprite and Ellis twin point

    2003 Duff F5 - X braced top

    '23 F2 that John Hamlett restored from the dead by seamlessly repairing a broken head-stock

    Wish I had them all; the two that remain are the Nugget and the Ellis. They keep me busy because each demands attention.

  12. #8

    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    I've got one those MK models that have a story here on the Cafe. They're not intended to be all that high-end/level, but the more I play it the better it sounds. I leave my "better" Eastman in the case.

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    Registered User urobouros's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    My #1 is my Englemann Big Mon. The Big Mon tone is definitely what I like and the fit & finish are perfect. My Northfield & Pono OMs are tied for #2. Their tone & feel are different and I keep them in different tunings so it's a toss up. Of the electrics, I have two Jermans, a 4 & a 5 string, and two OM Manndolins, an 8 & a 5 string, that are so awesome but different that I couldn't pick a fav among them
    2020 Northfield Big Mon
    2016 Skip Kelley A5
    2011 Weber Gallatin A20
    2013 Collings Mandola
    2021 Northfield Flattop Octave Mandolin
    2019 Pono Flattop Octave
    Richard Beard Celtic Flattop
    And a few electrics

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    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    My favorite is Gil 670 that I still own and play. However, if 522 (which I stupidly sold) were to be available again, I'd take it back in a heartbeat. I've also had a Heiden A and a Monteleone style B that were amazing instruments. The Monteleone would have been #1 if the neck were better suited to my playing style.

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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    My favorite is my Ellis. It sings so much better than I can play. If my left hand is paying attention and if my right hand caresses the string just right, it will sound gorgeous. Every time. I have a perfectly useful Eastman that brought me from the violin to the mandolin, but the smartest thing I ever did was buy an instrument that would always outperform me. My Ellis is an F5 Special and I do dearly love it.
    ---
    2021 Ellis F5 Special #564 mandolin
    1928 Roth violin
    2016 Eastman MD515 mandolin
    1907 Foltz violin

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    Registered User mandocaster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    My favorite is my Collings MF-5V. I bought it new in 2007 I got a partial refret a few years ago.
    My big regret mandolin was my early eighties Givens A-3. I sold it to help pay for the Collings. It was a wonderful sweet sounding axe and was LOUD.
    Mitch Lawyer

    Collings MF5V, Schwab #101 5 string
    1918 Gibson A, 1937 Gibson T-50 tenor guitar
    Jones OM, Hums bowlback

  20. #13
    Registered User John Rosett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    1985 Flatiron A5 Artist that I won in the Frets Magazine giveaway. I foolishly traded it away in 2003. If anyone knows where it is now, please let me know.Click image for larger version. 

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    "it's not in bad taste, if it's funny" - john waters

  21. #14

    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    Mowry, Phoenix Ultra, Black A-4. Also a Givens A-5 that I don't have pictures of.

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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    Quote Originally Posted by John Rosett View Post
    1985 Flatiron A5 Artist that I won in the Frets Magazine giveaway. I foolishly traded it away in 2003. If anyone knows where it is now, please let me know.Click image for larger version. 

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    Wow, you won the Frets magazine giveaway?? I always wondered if anyone actually won those things (since I did not...)
    too many strings

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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    I had a Varnish Fern I was pretty fond of but my Apititus Grand Classic is just smoking everything I put it up against. I’d be hard pressed to ever let it go.
    Apitius Grand Classic
    DAddario EJ74s
    Madura Triangular Tortoiseshell 1mm

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  24. #17

    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    My Girouard Concert A5 and Custom A4. Part of that is the fact that they are, objectively, good mandolins. Part of that is through trial and error I figured out the sound, look, and feel of what I like, which of course is subjective. They've cured my MAS. I can say with some confidence that I'm done buying mandolins.

    Still experimenting with the dola/zouk/octave part of the family. Might not be done there yet

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    Last edited by Chuck Leyda; Oct-14-2022 at 11:15am.
    Girouard Concert A5
    Girouard Custom A4
    Nordwall Cittern
    Trillium Mandola
    Dunwell B-1 Bouzouki
    www.singletonstreet.com

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    I've been debating whether to chime in, since my mandolins are in all likelihood "outranked" by most of those represented here. Still, I think there's a decent story there, and also it seems Gibsons are oddly under-represented here so here I go.

    My favorite would have to be my first, however humble - a teens Gibson A, a gift from my mom. I didn't know what it was, and it took a while to sort it out, even the basics like tuning. But I applied myself determinedly, and eventually it served as a means of expression, an interface between my internal thoughts and the external world, betwen the music I heard in my mind and the music others (and I) could hear. Everything following flowed from that. It sent me on my life's journey of discovery, travel, and adventure. It took me to places I'd never imagined I would go, to people I never imagined I would meet, to ideas I never imagined I would imagine. I wish I still had it.

    It travelled with me three of the five times I hitchhiked across the country. It ended up with my ex-girlfriend in Berkeley. I had acquired a mid-to-late 70s F-12, and couldn't very well hitchhike with two instruments. I had been seduced by the futuristic look of the F model, compared to the stodgy look of the A shape. It just looked more impressive, more sexy, more rock 'n' roll. This was my near-constant companion for thirty years. It was there for me through all kinds of changes. I even named her, Mandy Lynn (or, for formal occasions, Amanda Lynn). I wrote a great many songs and most of my best ones with her. She's probably my all-time favorite because of this, even though she was not the best. She never truly opened up, and may not have been able to; the woods and/or workmanship just weren't there, as I came to understand.

    I'm using the past tense in good part because she's no longer with me - stolen 15 years ago right out of my van while parked in the loading bay at my storage unit in broad daylight with security cameras all around. This loss had a silver lining, though as it led me to broaden my horizons in a few ways. In the process of putting the word out about the theft, I discovered the Mandolin Caf, which has led to learning so much more about everything mandolin than I had ever known or thought I would. It was here that I learned why Mandy Lynn would never be what I had hoped she would, having been built during a slack time for Gibson. So I turned my attention to replacing her with a Gibson A, partly because that was what I could afford, partly because that's the sound I liked - a better low-end response which would serve better as a backing instrument for solo gigs, and a more forceful lead instrument for the blues, rock, and country I like playing. I found one on eBay, and it sounded so good right out of the box, old strings and all, that I literally walked it from the shop it had been shipped to over to the gig and put it right to work. Eventually I named her Molly, the result of an amusing tale I recently recounted here. I also picked up another one, found right here at the Classifieds, so I'd have a spare to swap out at gigs when I broke a string mid-set, which was happening all too often during my time in a very high-energy band. This one's named Molly too, so neither one's feelings are hurt. Hey, George Foreman kept naming his kids George; I can do so too. Funny thing, they both sound so good, just the way I like them to, they are both my favorites nowadays. I picked up a 1922 F-4 last year, hoping to improve on what I had and also regain that fancy F model style, but it doesn't sound better to my ears. It might be just a bit too refined - which is likely what it's supposed to do, but I prefer the more down-to-earth sound the Mollys provide. I'm fine with that.
    Last edited by journeybear; Oct-14-2022 at 11:51am. Reason: just one more thing ...
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    My two faithful Strad-O-Lins, which have accompanied me to more musical events than any of my others. Jammed, performed, recorded, and just sat alone and "woodshedded" with first one, than the newer one I have now.

    And now, my Stahl (Larson brothers) mandola, which I have with me most times I need a mando-family instrument.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
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    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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  29. #20

    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    I've only owned 2 mandolins but I've yet to play a mandolin that I liked playing significantly more than my Morris F5. It's not the fanciest thing but the sound and feel are fantastic and it was very reasonably priced (especially compared to other US made F styles).
    I guess I'll just stay right here, pick and sing a while...
    2022 Morris F5 #482, 1995 Flatiron 2MB

  30. #21
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    I don't have any experience with modern high end instruments,

    but I love my 40's Strad-O-Lin, and my ratty '13 F2, and my Mid Mo M-15, and my Octofone.... and ....

    I guess I love them all
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  32. #22

    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    Looks like a good one to have around!

  33. #23
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    My ‘01 Flatiron Festival that I sold a few years ago. Great Gibson Nashville made F5G— similar to my newest Gibson F5G. I have had a number of others I really liked— including a Collings MT Gloss Top and a 1996 (Weber) Gibson A5G. I am leaving out a number of really super mandolins. These 3 were all keepers!
    I started on the guitar my dad handed me in 1962, and have continued as a guitarist all my life. In 1982 my wifes family passed down an old teens Gibson A4. It only took me 40 years to learn to play mandolin in 2013. Now I cant stop trying to get better. lflngpicker

  34. #24
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    I don't have any experience with modern high end instruments,

    but I love my 40's Strad-O-Lin, and my ratty '13 F2, and my Mid Mo M-15, and my Octofone.... and ....

    I guess I love them all

    If you don't love 'em, there's not much sense in having 'em.

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  36. #25
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite Mandolins Youve Owned

    A 2019 Big Mon with a "special Engelmann Spruce" top and figured maple body, and a 2009 Arches Flat Top Oval Hole "A." I regret selling it, but I know it went to a good home in New Zealand...
    One watch by night, one watch by day...if you get confused, just listen to the music play.

    2013 Collings MF, 2017 Northfield NF2S, 2018 Pomeroy Oval V style, 2019 Northfield Big Mon F
    1968 Martin D12-20, 2008 Martin HD28, 2016 Waterloo WLS Deluxe
    1978 Ibanez Artist "Flying Eagle" Masterclone Banjo

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