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Thread: Austin F Style Mandolin

  1. #1

    Default Austin F Style Mandolin

    Hi. I'm new to mandolins and to this site. Have played guitar for 50 years and having a bit of trouble fitting these old fingers onto the fingerboard of an Austin mandolin I picked up for cheap in a used bookstore in Tucson. (Ever too late to try a new instrument?)
    Anyway, does anyone know anything about Austin? Chinese manufacture... like Kentucky, Loar and the like? Maybe even the same factory?
    Sounds pretty good to these inexperienced ears, but damn hard to finger those tiny frets!!
    Any information welcome and appreciated.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Conneaut Lake, PA

    Default Re: Austin F Style Mandolin

    The Austin brand of instruments was created around 2000 or so to serve as a budget line for the same parent company that distributes Alvarez instruments. They were made in both Korea and China. I believe they are constructed of either partially or fully laminated wood so not in a class with Kentucky the Loar or Eastman. Those brands are all solid carved wood and very well regarded here for their quality to price ratio. The Austin would probably be more akin to Rogue and their many clones. Even though laminated the Chinese factory instruments can be ok for a beginner. The main problem with them is they don't arrive here set up correctly and often the new owner doesn't know that so they just play an instrument that plays with difficulty and sounds bad. Is yours that you bought in a bookstore set up correctly? I seriously doubt it. But a proper set up could set you back another 100 dollars or more if you can find someone. As for your playing difficulties many of us play both guitar and mandolin but the technique is different. A mandolin is not just a little guitar. It's more accurate to think of it as a plucked fiddle. For me, I have found that the left hand fingers should not go between the frets at a right angle to the frets like on a guitar, but it's more like pointing toward the fret. Additionally, mandolin requires a much lighter touch than guitar. You do not have to push the string into the fretboard. You use just enough pressure to contact the fret, no more. Some brands and models of mandolins have features specifically designed with the switch hitting guitarist in mind. Breedlove is a classic example but there are others. Features to look for that make things easier for a guitarist include a wide nut, radius fretboard, large frets, and closer string spacing within the courses. I hope this helps. Good luck to you! Take some time to do research here. Read old posts. You will find lots of information on technique that, if you take the advice, will really make things smoother for you.

    If you are in Tuscon you MUST make a trip to The Mandolin Store in Surprise AZ! Talk to Dennis Vance. A great guy and he carries just about any mandolin you could want. Dennis could tell you more about your Austin and maybe even set it up. Meanwhile you can play what he has in stock and get MAS (mandolin acquisition syndrome) like the rest of us!

    2016 Weber Custom Bitterroot F
    2011 Weber Bitterroot A
    1974 Martin Style A
    Fender Octave Mandolin c.2004-2008

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