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Thread: Contemporary Mandolin Sound

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2004


    I am looking for a flatback mandolin that has a warm sound with some sustain.
    Simon Mayer (in describing the sound he liked) said something like "A sound with the note having a bloom after the initial attack- like a classical guitar."
    Can anyone recommend any modern builders that make something like that? ($1500- 5000)

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2003


    I own a Collings A-model (note: the original design, not their new entry level model). I play classical mandolin, more or less exclusively. The Collings is a superb instrument, superbly made with a clear, warm tone, and excellent sustain, and easy to play. I've used the Collings in solo and ensemble settings (small groups, and large mandolin orchestras). Currently I have Thomastik's on it; I've also used D'Addario flattops, which are fine. The street price for a new one is low 3K; used ones (difficult to find) can be had for mid-to high 2K, depending on condition. I came to mandolin from a classical guitar background. I think the Collings is the best choice (at least it was for me) from the "small production shop" flatback market, although one can certainly find excellent alternatives (Breedlove, for example). Someday I hope to find a Lyon-Healy Model A in perfect condition that is reasonably priced (the hard part, finding an expensive one is not that difficult).
    Robert A. Margo

  3. #3
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY


    mandolynne, when you say flatback, do you mean really flat or are you referrinmg to carved back (and top)? There is a difference. To me the Lyon & Healy sound is what you describe. Not too many makers are copying that one with the exception of maybe Doug Woodley. I think tho in reality a vintage L&H will cost you less than a Woodley and with less waiting time.

    If you are talking true flatback then there are a lot more makers.

    I also think the other alternative is the Vega cylinder backs for that sweet sound.

    Frankly, I feel that my Pandini bowlback has some of what you describe. Sweetness with sustain.


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  4. #4


    Mandolynne, while I am not in the business of either selling or promoting any particular type of mandolin, I must say that the attribute of [QUOTE]"the note having a bloom after the initial attack" is inherent in bowlbacks.

    This is not to say that this quality is not to be found in other types of mandolins but, if you were to ask me for a white wine that is "crisp, lightly acidic/citrous, dry/floral", I could not help but blurt Sauvignon blanc!

    In plainer terms, I second Jim's remark.
    It is not man that lives but his work. (Ioannis Kapodistrias)

  5. #5


    anything with a soundhole by the neck should give you more overtones, I dont know about the sustaine.

    I know my bowlbacks have all the things you described, especially my new baby...but even my cheapo has sustaine and overtone .

    I read that you are not even interested in considering a bowlback?

    what about an F-4, if you got the $$ !!

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