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Thread: Tacoma mandolins

  1. #26
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Why not get one of Steve's Redline mandolins , or a Mid Mo-Big Muddy ?
    help make the US balance of trade with Asia look better .

    Do You Have to order those Asian Made ones you list, from their US distributors & retail outlets,
    and then have the product shipped back across the Pacific ?

    Or use Australian retail outlets to similar result, nearly round trip shipping..


    or are there Thai Bluegrass music mandolin clubs to sell instruments to...
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  2. #27

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Why not get one of Steve's Redline mandolins , or a Mid Mo-Big Muddy ?
    help make the US balance of trade with Asia look better .

    Do You Have to order those Asian Made ones you list, from their US distributors & retail outlets,
    and then have the product shipped back across the Pacific ?

    Or use Australian retail outlets to similar result, nearly round trip shipping..


    or are there Thai Bluegrass music mandolin clubs to sell instruments to...
    I love the looks of the American custom mandolins, but am not likely to be in the USA to try one out anytime soon, so the balance of trade might not get any help from me, I'm afraid.

    I do get back to Britain once in a while, and if fortunes improve even a little, I'll be able to pick up a new instrument sometime soon. (As a total aside, my first ever novel was published in Britain today. I won't link anything here so as not to fall foul of forum rules/etiquette, but it is called Yin Yang Tattoo). Sadly there's no money in writing books, but hey, you never know, eh?


    ron

  3. #28
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    anyhow , Who you get it thru matters ... repeated ad infinitum, Setup, Setup Setup ..

    Retail dealer spends time doing the fine details the factory production quota demands don't give time for.

    or at least the dealer should ..

    I got used instruments sent from the classifieds, i take them down to be gone over, locally.

    If you have no similar service , you need to go thru some seller who does.
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  4. #29

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    anyhow , Who you get it thru matters ... repeated ad infinitum, Setup, Setup Setup ..
    Understood, thanks. There are a couple of decent music stores I go to in Britain where the techs will be able to do a professional set-up, and if I do manage to pick up a new instrument, I'll be sure to ask them to do so.


    br

  5. #30
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    yea, Nashville is literally half way around the earth from you,
    London is much closer, .. Australia closer yet .

    there are a few builders there making American style Mandolins,
    down under, ...

    Have you found the Builder's database on the top of the page ^ ?

    Yea, site drooling is a normal reaction..
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  6. #31
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I had drifted away from checking in here mostly because of other time demands but also in no small part because of some of the almost autonomic responses that come whenever anyone asks questions about a particular mandolin that some folks here don't think is a "real" mandolin. This morning I decided, perhaps against my better judgement, to search for Tacoma mandolins and found that some things simply don't change.

    Among my seven mandolins, I own a Tacoma M3E. Of all my instruments, it has the best neck and the fit and finish exceeds that of my Eastman 615 which is no slouch in those departments. It does not sound like the Eastman; if it did, my wife would have wasted her money to buy me the Eastman for Xmas. It also does not sound like any guitar I own or have played. It sounds like a flat top mandolin, which is what it is.

    While I don't take issue with anyone saying they prefer one sound to another, stating that a Tacoma mandolin does not really sound like a mandolin is, in addition to being a bit over the top, an implied slam against those folks who bought Tacoma mandolins knowing what we were buying and, in particular, knowing that we were buying mandolins. Statements of that sort add nothing, other than personal bias, to the body of knowledge that some folks come here to tap into.

  7. #32

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I bought an M2 to use for canoe trips and travel, based on suggestions from my luthier regarding durability. I paid $275, which is ridiculously cheap for an instrument that sounds as good as it does. Besides that it happens to have great action. It's loud enough for outside playing with other guitars and inebriated singers. Does it compare to my high end mandos? No, but the price was right and it sounds great for a very low priced mandolin.

  8. #33
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Borzelleri View Post
    I had drifted away from checking in here mostly because of other time demands but also in no small part because of some of the almost autonomic responses that come whenever anyone asks questions about a particular mandolin that some folks here don't think is a "real" mandolin. This morning I decided, perhaps against my better judgement, to search for Tacoma mandolins and found that some things simply don't change.
    Unfortunately, personal bias is what you get when you ask for personal opinions regarding anything in an online forum. I routinely recommend Mandobirds for inexpensive emandos, I tout my Fender 62 Rigel copy as an inexpensive way to get an A/E instrument, and I enjoy my Applause beater guitar. But, that doesn't mean they're as good to my touch and ear as my Silverangel Econo or my Flatiron pancake, and I don't object to others saying they don't like them, especially if they throw out alternatives in a similar price range when people are asking for such advice. I also don't like the standard Kentucky and Eastman necks but still recommend them with the caveat that I don't like the skinny neck. Fortunately, in the < 500 USD mandolin market there are a lot of options...unfortunately, there is significant QC variation among all of them, and I don't blame those who report their negative experiences as well as their positive experiences, as people buying without the benefit of playing first need to know there's the possibility of a negative experience out there.

    I agree that brand snobbery is ridiculous and that the player is far more important than the instrument in producing good music...check out how many Epiphone, Fender, and Ovation mandolins there are in the Women With Mandolins thread...BUT, when people ask for opinions, there's no reason for people to not offer theirs...
    Chuck

  9. #34
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    ...snip...the player is far more important than the instrument in producing good music...
    ...snip...
    FWIW - If I owned a large volume, entry-level mandolin manufacturing concern, I would strongly consider throwing a large sum of money at an elite, recognizable mandolinist to endorse my mandolins, and to play one of them in ALL of my promotional materials... Estaban (a fine guitarist) has sold LOTS of guitars.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
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  10. #35
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    This is true, and there are more than a couple of folks out there who have endorsement deals with a specific dealer but find "the" mandolin by another manufacturer...let's just say there are some creative ways to change/cover the name on the headstock...

    Also, Estaban's nails scare me...
    Chuck

  11. #36
    Henry Lawton hank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    My first mandolin was an M3. Mine had a nice tone and was great until I got my Weber Fern. That was it hands down, there was no comparison of the power or dynamic response improvement of the F5. Of course tone and Volume were better too but the real hook for me was the feedback while playing the carved top and higher neck angle of the F5. I eventually found a Goldrush that did that again. To me it was even more powerful with lightening response and strong fundamental tone I really liked. I guess where I'm going with this is my F5 has a fast pop where my A4(and Tacoma M3) has sustain. This fact makes them play very differently. Again of course the tone and sound is very different too but to me the biggest difference is the way the two instruments respond to my fingers and pick. That balance between pop & sustain that you like is where your gonna find your mandolin.
    Last edited by hank; Nov-07-2010 at 10:11pm. Reason: correct mistake

  12. #37

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    VERY LATE reply - but I wanted to say something (and make my first post!).

    I bought a Tacoma about 11 years ago when I took guitar lessons at the Old Towne School of Folk Music in Chicago - and I took a lesson or two for the mando. At the time, I loved it, it was beautiful to look at, and I thought was quite loud (coming from a guitarists perspective) - I had no experience with any mandolins previously.

    I paid about $800 for it.

    I played a little, but then moved east and sadly, it was forgotten and put away for all this time. About 8 months ago I met a group of fellas that play music and we all live within walking distance to each others houses, so I've picked up the Bass, my Martin and Fender Telecaster, and I dusted off my old Mandolin - and it's added a great dimension to our group.

    a few comments on the positive side...:

    * Sound is great....I have more means these days and have played several others now including several Webers and other high end makes in the $1600 - $2400 range and the difference in sound doesn't warrant the difference in price.... although I have to say...to my ear.....the Collings MT models are outstanding - and I came close to purchasing. I am still proud at the high quality sound of my $800 mando.

    * playability is great - what I mean is that the fretboard is a bit thicker than these other mando's and coming from the guitar world it means to me that I can hit the notes and chords easily, action is great....this thin is just easy and fun to play, and maybe since I am now used to it, other mandolins (outside the Collings) were not as easy to me.

    * it looks 'different'...and I like that.

    a few negatives too:

    * it does go out of tune FAST if humidity changes (now I find myself thinking about those carbon fiber models - haven't played one though!)

    * finish is a problem - over the 10 years or so, the finish has cracked and bubbled, I brought it to a luthier and they told me it's cosmetic, refinishing would reduce the value, and recommneded I don't refinish it. They even told me it sounded great and they were impressed (this is a very well known luthier in the northeast).

    * tuning pegs are a bit of problem - they are all very tight and hard to turn (and a professional set up did not fix this)...and two pegs slip - adding to the keeping it tune problem...but when I get them 'just right' they stay.

    * a few times when I've hit the strings REALLY hard in a lead break - the G-strings have crossed on me - this has been annoying, but has only happened twice, maybe three times ....some have said this may be because it's a flat top and as such the strings after the bridge aren't at a severe angle like they are with an archtop, which may make them more prone to that movement...I don't know.

    * I don't like the tailpiece as someone else had mentioned - 4 hooks means doubling up the strings - that cand and should be changed - maybe that is a cause of the string cross over too?

    * I find the sound plenty loud enough when I'm jamming with my group and they are using accoustics, when they switch to their electrics I have a problem - I tried/am trying the Dean Markley pick up that you attach with putty - it works, but is very sensitive - touch the wire and it picks up the sound (not good) and the plug itself is problematic - I am considering other options (maybe that fishman that goes under the strings?).

    as a note - I am not a blue-grass player, I play folk music, rock and roll, some Irish and Old Time....examples include:

    Beatles, Greatful Dead, John Cougar, Rod Stewart, Eagles, Marshall Tucker, Led Zeppelin,
    and lots of traditional American and Irish music.

    overall, I love the mandolin, sounds good, easy to play, a few problems but I guess everything has it's pluses and minuses.

    hope that helps.

    Steve.

  13. #38
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenC View Post
    VERY LATE reply - but I wanted to say something (and make my first post!).

    I bought a Tacoma about 11 years ago when I took guitar lessons at the Old Towne School of Folk Music in Chicago - and I took a lesson or two for the mando. At the time, I loved it, it was beautiful to look at, and I thought was quite loud (coming from a guitarists perspective) - I had no experience with any mandolins previously.

    I paid about $800 for it.

    I played a little, but then moved east and sadly, it was forgotten and put away for all this time. About 8 months ago I met a group of fellas that play music and we all live within walking distance to each others houses, so I've picked up the Bass, my Martin and Fender Telecaster, and I dusted off my old Mandolin - and it's added a great dimension to our group.

    a few comments on the positive side...:

    * Sound is great....I have more means these days and have played several others now including several Webers and other high end makes in the $1600 - $2400 range and the difference in sound doesn't warrant the difference in price.... although I have to say...to my ear.....the Collings MT models are outstanding - and I came close to purchasing. I am still proud at the high quality sound of my $800 mando.

    * playability is great - what I mean is that the fretboard is a bit thicker than these other mando's and coming from the guitar world it means to me that I can hit the notes and chords easily, action is great....this thin is just easy and fun to play, and maybe since I am now used to it, other mandolins (outside the Collings) were not as easy to me.

    * it looks 'different'...and I like that.

    a few negatives too:

    * it does go out of tune FAST if humidity changes (now I find myself thinking about those carbon fiber models - haven't played one though!)

    * finish is a problem - over the 10 years or so, the finish has cracked and bubbled, I brought it to a luthier and they told me it's cosmetic, refinishing would reduce the value, and recommneded I don't refinish it. They even told me it sounded great and they were impressed (this is a very well known luthier in the northeast).

    * tuning pegs are a bit of problem - they are all very tight and hard to turn (and a professional set up did not fix this)...and two pegs slip - adding to the keeping it tune problem...but when I get them 'just right' they stay.

    * a few times when I've hit the strings REALLY hard in a lead break - the G-strings have crossed on me - this has been annoying, but has only happened twice, maybe three times ....some have said this may be because it's a flat top and as such the strings after the bridge aren't at a severe angle like they are with an archtop, which may make them more prone to that movement...I don't know.

    * I don't like the tailpiece as someone else had mentioned - 4 hooks means doubling up the strings - that cand and should be changed - maybe that is a cause of the string cross over too?

    * I find the sound plenty loud enough when I'm jamming with my group and they are using accoustics, when they switch to their electrics I have a problem - I tried/am trying the Dean Markley pick up that you attach with putty - it works, but is very sensitive - touch the wire and it picks up the sound (not good) and the plug itself is problematic - I am considering other options (maybe that fishman that goes under the strings?).

    as a note - I am not a blue-grass player, I play folk music, rock and roll, some Irish and Old Time....examples include:

    Beatles, Greatful Dead, John Cougar, Rod Stewart, Eagles, Marshall Tucker, Led Zeppelin,
    and lots of traditional American and Irish music.

    overall, I love the mandolin, sounds good, easy to play, a few problems but I guess everything has it's pluses and minuses.

    hope that helps.

    Steve.
    Steve...

    It sounds like you bought your Tacoma about the same time I bought mine. Your experience with your Tacoma is very similar to mine. The playability is (was, but I will get to that) outstanding. I loved the neck and the frets. The sound was that of a well built flat top mandolin and when plugged in, (mine was an M3E with a factory installed PU), it played full and balanced across all strings.

    Were it not for Fender closing their repair facility in Nashville, I would still be playing the Tacoma. As it turned out, the finish began deteriorating rapidly over the past year and I sent it back to Fender for a refinish under warranty (as the original owner, it had a lifetime warranty which included finish problems).

    Fender had it for about 5 months and about the time that I expected to hear about them shipping it back to me, I got a call from Fender Customer Service telling me that they were closing their repair facility and my Tacoma was one of 40 instruments that didn't get done prior to the closing. Long story short, we negotiated a swap for a $1,200 MSRP Princeton '65 Reissue tube amp.

    I really like the amp and I also miss the Tacoma, even though it had the poorest excuse for a tail piece I have ever seen.

    ...Bob

  14. #39
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I have played the Tacoma--sounded great. I own an Olympia that is likely their pac-rim model. Mine is an F with scrolls that I bought at a bargain price--volume and tone is quite adequate. It seems to hold its own during chops-- I get a kick when playing at a jam when some folks walk up with their heads tilted to the side to read the headstock and they seem to then offer their judgment on whether they accept it or not (some times I think that they may be bunch of biased snobs) If it SOUNDS good, then good enough.

  15. #40
    Registered User argonewt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    When at my first Mando Camp North, David Surette was one of the instructors. I asked for his help with a little waltz. I handed him my Tacoma M1 (pre-fender) and he played through the sheet music I had.
    When done he said - "that is one fine sounding mandolin. I didn't know they made these."

    I started out playing blues. The wider nut on the M1 helped me get my fingering down without smashing adjacent strings. The jumbo frets helped me with good tone. The instrument has great sustain and sound, as Mr. Surette attests.
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  16. #41

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I bought my M2 new in 2002, 11 years ago, for about $400. It is the only mandolin I have ever owned. I have been playing guitar for 30+ years and have played folk, rock, blues, bluegrass, country etc.. I have owned $35 pawn shop guitars and a Gibson Les Paul made in 1957. I have owned a Martin D28, D18 GE, 000-15S, a Gibson Hummingbird, Guild Jumbo, Taylor 12 string and so on. I was in a semi-pro rock band for about ten years that I used this mandolin to play REM's "Losing My Religion", LZ "Hey, Hey What Can I Do"; Shawn Mullins "Beautiful Wreck" with a drummer, electric bass and guitar on stage. I had a McIntyre Feather Pickup installed in it BTW. I am just bringing this up to let you know I have some experience negotiating musical tones in a variety of situations. I currently spend more time playing Scruggs style banjo at bluegrass circles but still pick up a guitar or the mandolin when I need to take a break from the endless learning curve of 5 string banjo or I just plain need it. I get in probably at least an hour a week on it but some months get 10 or 15 hours on my mandolin playing bluegrass, rock, blues etc...I always take it to Bluegrass festivals and Pete Wernick's banjo camp just to keep the balance right. Nothing like having 2 guitars 6 banjos and no mandolins in a circle. I have also taken it on trips where I have flown somewhere for business or pleasure so I can carry it on an instrument and it has been a life saver. It is a solid, well-made, good sounding little instrument. It does not sound as warm as my buddies Weber or as loud as my other buddies Collings "A-Style". The tailpiece is a nightmare for changing strings and I would like to change that. I have had the G string pop out of the bridge a couple of times when bangin' on it but easily fixed and it rarely happens so no biggie. I guess what I am getting at is I love it. I recently added a Zero Glide fret to it and the volume and brightness increased substantially and it resolved a couple of intonation issues around the 2 and 3 frets. I will probably switch to Monel strings on the next string change to tame the new brightness a bit. One of these days I'd love to get a great F-style arch top (hopefully) American made mandolin but until then this little flat top has been a great little instrument for me. I have played several other "starter" type mandolins such as Epiphone, Ovation, etc.. and it makes me grateful that they were making these when I was "in the market". Even if I get a high end mandolin I doubt that I would get rid of it except passing it on to my violin playing daughter some day and even that would probably be bittersweet. My two cents

  17. #42
    Registered User Tom Cherubini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Quote Originally Posted by jim_n_virginia View Post
    HOW do you figure that? I am saying DON'T let my opinion (or anybody's) opinion make the decision of whether you want a mandolin or play. Play it and decide for yourself.

    Also when someone posts "What do you think of XX mandolin" be prepared for the answers you want and don't want. That's the way it goes on here.

    And you can try and hide YOUR cheapshot with a smilie but it's still a cheapshop
    He was joking!
    So chi sono.

  18. #43

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I purchased a Tacoma M2 some years ago-2002. My understanding is because of all the finishing problems Fender is giving original owners the option of replacing it with any of their products of equal value. My problem is I can't find the receipt so I can't take Fender up on this offer : ( . The store I purchased the mandolin from doesn't have records that goes back that far nor does the bank so I have absolutely no record of the purchase. All I have is an email stating that I'm "going out today to buy my first Tacoma Mandolin". For those of you out there that might have a similar problem with your Tacoma's call Fender's support contact and see what they can do for you. They seem willing to help you just need to have the original receipt. Receipts fade with time so I wonder what happens in those cases?

  19. #44

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    Yeah, it's a real shame about those finish problems with Tacoma instruments. I have a PR40 Tacoma guitar where the finish is bubbling in large spots and I know there's no relief from Fender for this, so this higher-end guitar has become my knock-around 6-string. Unbelievable.

  20. #45

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I owned a aTacoma M1 mandolin and have recorded a short song (melody only) with it, and also with a Kentucky pancake and A Kentucky KM-150 for comparison. All sounds good to my ears, hard to tell which is which.
    I only play melody with mandolins, no chord chops because I do not play blue grass. For me, Tacoma playability is better than the other two, probably due to its radiused fretboard.
    I do agree that Tacoma is not made for bluegrass.

  21. #46

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I also bought 4 or 5 bowlbacks so far and sold all of them because their sound are not thick enough for me, and very hard to hold straight for playing. Make no sense to me to waste effort to learn how to hold it.

  22. #47
    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I sometimes cruise the Guitar Center used section online. Saw a Tacoma mandolin on there recently for $300 in very good condition.
    ...

  23. #48

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    I own two Tacoma guitars, two basses and sold my Papoose, just didn't like the neck. Tacoma planned to have a carved mandolin. They made model numbers for them right at the beginning. They had a Nashville luthier build a prototype and it's even on the 2003 price list for $3000, but I can't find anyone that has ever seen one.

    Tacoma was about bang for the buck, $3000 guitar for $1800. My guess is they couldn't produce them at a price that fit their brand. The archtop mandolin model number were never used but they did come out with the flat top mandolin. Later they came out with a carved model made by Young Chang under the Olympia name. (photo below) which sold for several years before Fender bought them at the end of 2004 and several years thereafter under the Orpheum name, but the same instrument with the same model number, the only difference being gold color hardware rather than silver. The only price list I've found has it at $1265. The flat tops were $800 to $1250 in 2003.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    1989/2019 Ike Bacon/Barry Kratzer F5
    1945 Levin 330
    192? Bruno (Oscar Schmidt) banjo-mandolin
    early Eastwood Mandostang
    2005 Tacoma CB-10 acoustic bass guitar
    Fender Tweed Deluxe clone

  24. #49

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    How can one tell a Tacoma mandolin is pre-Fender or post ?
    Is the serial number good for this purpose ? Serial number of mine is E2325190
    Click image for larger version. 

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  25. #50

    Default Re: Tacoma mandolins

    They started manufacturing in 1997. Starting in '98 they went to letter prefixes:
    B 1998
    C 1999
    D 2000
    E 2001
    F 2002
    G 2003
    H 2004

    When Fender bought Tacoma in late 2004 they immediately dropped most of the models.
    1989/2019 Ike Bacon/Barry Kratzer F5
    1945 Levin 330
    192? Bruno (Oscar Schmidt) banjo-mandolin
    early Eastwood Mandostang
    2005 Tacoma CB-10 acoustic bass guitar
    Fender Tweed Deluxe clone

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