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Thread: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

  1. #76
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldtimestrings View Post
    OK, fair enough. But you do realize that it wasn't your post that I was joking about, right?
    Yes, but it started with mine. That is, the term which got repeated originated in my post.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  2. #77
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    You should see what happens when I go to a BG jam with my Washburn bowlback. First the hairy eyeball, like a brought a lute or something. But then I blow the banjo's hair back with volume of the thing, and there is no problem.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  3. #78
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Hmmm ... I didn't know bowlbacks were loud. Knew about the sustain, of course. My 1917 plain A is so loud I had to keep turning it down on the PA till it was running at about .3! And unplugged it holds its own at jams. Haven't run into a banjo yet; looking forward to that ...

    It's a vast improvement over my late lamented F-12. It may not have that sexy, futuristic, other-worldly look, but its sound - and that is what matters - is rich, full-bodied, expressive, flexible, and suitable for any kind of music I play on it. If I ever run into a strictly traditional bluegrass jam with it, I'll have to compare how it sounds against other mandolins. Until then, though, I'm just gonna keep pickin' and grinnin'!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  4. #79
    Registered User Douglas McMullin's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    My a-hole has a woody tone with plenty of decay.
    Easily the funniest line I have read in quite some time! Especially when you consider your user name. Long live childish humor till the day I die!

    Add me to the list of A players for everything, including bluegrass. My MT beats the doors off of plenty of those unsymmetrical mandolins! As others have said though, play what you have and never give it a second thought.

  5. #80
    Registered User Lefty Luthier's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    As an experienced builder of F5 mandolins and H5 mandolas, I can say with no reservation that whether one has an A type or F type makes no difference providing the soundboard is properly shaped and it has TWO tone bars. It is nearly impossible to achieve the dynamic range of a well built F5 or H5 with a single cross bar as many oval hole instruments have. Recently I built a custom mandola that has a single cross bar and oval sound hole and, despite an enormous amount of tuning effort, it cannot compete with the classic design for BG bark but sounds marvelous nonetheless.

  6. #81
    Registered User Charley wild's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    I recently purchased a MK A-plus model and am very satisfied with it. The store owner played eight or ten other mandolins for me most of them F-style (all imports but "name" imports)) and for the money the Kelly was the best buy. A couple of the F's sounds as good for sure but for the price difference not a whole lot better. Two of the F's he played about thirty seconds and I told him to hang them back up. No projection at all. We played around with these mandolins for two or three hours so I got to hear them all as much as I wanted. I love the looks of an F- style but for the money I just couldn't justify one right now. Maybe in the future but it won't be because I'm not satisfied with what I have.

  7. #82
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Played my old Givens A-model in bluegrass bands for many years (in Virginia, to boot) and got nothing but compliments. About the instrument, of course. Plenty of chop, great overall volume, woody tone, and fine playability. Does excellent in an old-time jam, sounds great when I try to play swing tunes. I love it.
    Also have a wonderful Hamlett blond A-model, and a new Bryce 2-point. Makes the old Hutto F-5 seem out of place. (Just kiddin') As has already been pretty well clarified, it's the player that makes the biggest difference. I wish I were able to get the sound out of my mandos that others do when they try mine out.

    Just wanted to lend one more voice to the "A" testimonials.

    [And Charley Wilder, I love your quote about cynicism. Its origin?]

    BTW, I have what I sometimes think is a permanent dimple on my right thigh from that blasted F-5 "horn." Right uncomfortable.

    Joe H

  8. #83
    Registered User Dan Hoover's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    wow...i don't think you be a odd-ball if you showed up at a/jam w/a A...but..i take it your a dude?so if you showed up in pink pumps and a mini skirt..ummm??you might be odd-ball??well,someplaces...its how you play,and its who you play with..if someone's gonna look down because of the build of the mandolin..then i'd say their ego's just a little too big for me...and obviously they don't really love the mandolin as much as you or i or most of us here...thats why we're here...right?we all dig the mandolin..love the sound it makes..whatever style we play...bluegrass/jazz/celtic/rock/ reggae/whatever??...did i say reggae???yeah,i did...
    if you dig...do it...i must go practice now,my dog is waiting...cheers

  9. #84
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Hoover View Post
    ... did i say reggae???yeah,i did... if you dig...do it...
    Yes, you did. Example: Pete Rowan at Winterhawk 15 years ago, maybe more, doing a great and greatly extended version of "No Woman No Cry" with just him and a Japanese mandolinist whose name I don't (but someone else will surely) remember. I remember this as being 45 minutes, but I dunno, how is that possible? It did go on and on but it was a great example of Pete's - and the other guy's - control of dynamics. It was a closing slot on Saturday night, and he was a bit late showing up and went way late (rumor for both concerned psychopharmalogical excursion) - so late I started running out of tape, then batteries ... ... they didn't put him on last again for years ...

    Example: Several of them at my myspace page (shameless plug thinly disguised as opportunity for others to learn ), incl. "Waiting In Vain" and "Walking On The Moon," improvisational explorations with live reggae/jam band. Mandolin works really well with reggae and calypso, in my opinion, and also lends itself to many other "world music" genres, including American "bluegrass" music.
    Last edited by journeybear; May-18-2009 at 8:09am.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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  10. #85
    Registered User Charley wild's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Joe,
    The quote is mine. I was working at Purdue U. years ago. We had students working with us part time. One was a writer for the university newspaper. He was working on a column about college kids being too cynical. He was a sharp-fun kid and we were always jiving around and I just threw that line at him right off the top of my head. He used it. One of my lines that actually got published! lol

  11. #86
    Registered User Dan Hoover's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Yes, you did. Example: Pete Rowan at Winterhawk 15 years ago, maybe more, doing a great and greatly extended version of "No Woman No Cry" with just him and a Japanese mandolinist whose name I don't (but someone else will surely) remember. I remember this as being 45 minutes, but I dunno, how is that possible? It did go on and on but it was a great example of Pete's - and the other guy's - control of dynamics. It was a closing slot on Saturday night, and he was a bit late showing up and went way late (rumor for both concerned psychopharmalogical excursion) - so late I started running out of tape, then batteries ... ... they didn't put him on last again for years ...

    Example: Several of them at my myspace page (shameless plug thinly disguised as opportunity for others to learn ), incl. "Waiting In Vain" and "Walking On The Moon," improvisational explorations with live reggae/jam band. Mandolin works really well with reggae and calypso, in my opinion, and also lends itself to many other "world music" genres, including American "bluegrass" music.
    i did,i did say reggae...i did...sounding like tweety-bird.
    well that would have been a very cool show..and i add that i followed a link,and liked what i heard...very cool..love diamonds on the soles...love most anything by paul simon,one of the greatest american song writers...and not enough can be said on bob marley..
    any style of music can surely be played on this addiction,obsession of mine...including good-ol-bluegrass...all in fun...never too serious...

  12. #87
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Thanks for the kind words. Sometimes I think I'm just goofy in the head, playing the kind of music I do on the instrument I've chosen, spending so much time and effort and money devoted to this, ah, enterprise. Then every now and then I get some positive feedback, which helps to make it worthwhile.

    Doesn't necessarily disprove the original premise, however ...
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

    Furthering Mandolin Consciousness

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  13. #88

    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    I have an Eastman 815 (F), a newly acquired Alvarez F-model, and a cheap Kentucky 380s (A model). I play bluegrass.

    Now, I know Eastman is a Pac-Rim, but it is arguably the "best" Pac-Rim mando (although Jade is looking pretty tasty). It is a great instrument, with beautiful tone. The same goes for the Alvarez.

    But my $300 Chinese Kentucky A model beats the hell out of my F-models of higher quality. The first few times I played with a certain group of "if its not bluegrass, its not music" purists" (or If its not Gibson, its not a mando; not Martin, its not a bluegrass guitar, you know the kind), there were skeptic glances, and Im sure doubt that I can play, since I carry a "lowly" A-Model.

    That changed as soon as I played. My $300 Pac-Rim more than held its own against a very nice collings and a 60's era Gibson F-5. The chop and volume were much louder than either of these $3000+ instruments.

    Now, these same skeptics are offering me good money for this little gem.

    So don't worry about other peoples opinion. I have been playing and attending bluegrass shows/jams for years, and I have seen MANY amazing musicians carrying A-models. On average, I think A-models have a better chop than F's, as they tend to be slightly "brighter". It's a personal preference, but I really like them for bluegrass.

  14. #89

    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    I guess the "A" does look like its home here.
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  15. #90

    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    I am still at a loss over your remark that you couldn't find a decent mandolin for $1500...I guess I must be a peasant because I am happy with my Eastman MD 304........one man's junk is another man's treasure.....ho hum...oh, but I am not a bluegrasser...I play folk-blues and Jug Band.

  16. #91
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by ifakesummando View Post
    I am still at a loss over your remark that you couldn't find a decent mandolin for $1500...
    Just be aware that remark was made seven years ago, so things may have changed since then...?

    And $1.5K doesn't go as far as it used to, I guess.
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  18. #92

    Default Re: "A" style mandolin for bluegrass?

    Quote Originally Posted by ifakesummando View Post
    I am still at a loss over your remark that you couldn't find a decent mandolin for $1500...I guess I must be a peasant because I am happy with my Eastman MD 304........one man's junk is another man's treasure.....ho hum...oh, but I am not a bluegrasser...I play folk-blues and Jug Band.
    This is an old thread, of course, but based on the way the question was asked, I read "domestic f-style" as a qualification. Since he was having trouble finding a good domestic f-style mandolin for $1500, he wanted to consider domestic a-style mandolins.

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