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Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by burtf51, Jun 4, 2019.
I own a Breedlove & have been known to pretend on occasion
I have had several. Still have two Mando-lutes (1920s, Weyman) a 1920s Gibson MB-3 Mando-Banjo and a 1980s Flatiron Mandola. I went thru an Irish stage (reels, jigs, etc.) and still pick one up occasionally to get my fingers limbered up.
That is the exact mandolin I have. Kentucky 700? Awesome instrument.
I noticed that too. It was weird how much easier it is to pick out a melody on the mandolin. I think it does have something to do with the 5ths, and the double strung course.
I think the Eastman and Breedlove mandos are the best buy. But if you can go to a shop that has several in stock and play them all. The Eastmans at least are not all uniform quality.
F-style mandos don't do a thing that A-styles don't do. The main advantage to buying one is that you're helping subsidize a struggling luthier.
The math is simple. With an F, you're paying more just for looks. So dollar for dollar, you get more music from an A than an F.
And don't discount flattops, either. For instance, Big Muddy (Mike Dulak) in Missouri and Howard Morris in Oregon - both mentioned above - make flattops for well under a grand. (Howard also makes A's and F's at great prices.) I think Red Line in Tennessee makes flattops, too. And there are others. None are plywood. All are solid wood. You can get a wonderful instrument that way, and you won't look like a Monroe/Grisman/Bush/Thiele wannabee.
If you want a Breedlove, avoid their Crossover line. You'll get a much better instrument with their old Quartz and American lines: well-made, good-looking entry-level instruments.
A great source for used mandolins is the Mandolin Cafe classifieds. Good things turn up.
And for the most useful advice around, join the Mandolin Cafe forum. They're very friendly to newcomers to mandolin. They want more people playing - a lot like TDPRI.
Most importantly, a mandolin is not a little guitar! It's a completely different instrument. Approach it that way. You'll be glad you did.
This will give you a taste of what I mean: Mike Marshall
This was my experience as well. Its weird, I love playing it when I pick it up, but it will sit in its case for months while I play guitar. First love and all that, I guess.
I have a Gretsch branded A style with a piezo under the bridge. Nothing fancy, but it plays well, stays in tune, and is perfect for my skill level.
I have a Kentucky F-hole unit that's probably almost 30 years old and an EastWOOD foam green Mando-caster (Tele style). I play Celtic and bluegrass fiddle tune type stuff or use it as a color instrument in any other genre.
I started off on David Grisman's "10 tunes in 9 keys" which was cool because he includes some of his originals and the "9 keys" approach was also illuminating because for example D and G include a lot of open strings you can use with just the first 3 fingers whereas E and F are gonna cause a little finger bustin'.
I own & play a Ken Ratcliff A model. Specifically a Laura Ratcliff "Lady A" model that his wife, Laura, built. I'm sure Ken had a hand in it. It's a beautiful sounding instrument with a beautiful one piece back. You never say never but I do not see myself ever getting rid of this.
I'm definitely getting an A-Style but don't know about tonal difference between f/hole oval/hole, leaning towards oval hole at the moment. Trying to sell my Eastman E2OM to help offset my jones. I have an Eastman E10 OM that I really like a lot. Heard some good things from Joe K Walsh, I like his playing, he uses an A-Style but high dollar I'm sure...
Glad to see Mike Dulak getting some love on here. I was fortunate to work for him from '00 - '02 when it was still Mid-Missouri Mandolin Company. Mike is a great human and loves what he does. I can attest to the quality of his product as well, been playing my own Mid-Mo custom M4 for 18 years now.
The conventional wisdom turns out to be wisdom. For loud, f-holes are have an advantage - a plus for bluegrass. For rich tone, ovals have an advantage - a plus for other styles.
BUT - that doesn't mean that f-holes sound bad or that ovals aren't loud. There's more similarity of sound among mandos than among acoustic guitars, so both types of mando can be great for any type of music. The thing that makes the biggest difference in mandos is how they're played.
A lot of it is just optics. Bluegrass players like f-holes and F-style mandos for the same reason they like Martin D-18s: it's what they're used to seeing. Any loud mando or guitar will do the same job. Just listening to a recording, I doubt you could tell what's what.
I had a Flatirons A festival for years. When Breedlove stopped making the MIA models Musicians friend blew them out at half price. I love it so much I sold the Flatiron. It blew it out of the water IMO.
I've been seriously playing and building mandolins for 15+ years (couldn't afford a $3000 instrument). Mostly celtic, new england jigs and reels/contra-dance music. My wife is a bluegrasser so I do a little of that too. Building mandos is highly complicated, lots of compound curves, measuring to thousandths (take off 0.010" too much on certain parts of the top and you're toast!) Here's #5, I'm finally getting the graduations of tuning the top and back honed and this one sounds quite good. Woodworking budy gave me the board for the one piece back. I call this one Jurassic Park.
On mando, you spend half your time tuning and the other half playing out of tune!
Oh yeah, I play mandolin almost as much as I do guitar. My two main mandos are my Weber F-style acoustic and my scratch-built electric. The electric gets played in about 1/4 of my rock band's songs and is killer fun! And since there aren't that many people who play electric mandolin, it is a bit of a novelty
I have a Eastman 615, Its about 11 years old now. It gets a lot of use. It has been an excellent instrument.
Went on and bought an Eastman MD305 A. Should be here in a few days, it’s been a long spell since I messed around with a mandolin but looking forward to some new sounds
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I have two. A 1918 Gibson A and an Ovation. I played in a Celtic band (Lalla Rookh) for almost 15 years. We did three albums and played all over the western US. Since the band broke up, I've hardly played, but every now and then I pull one out and get lost playing Irish fiddle tunes that were in the band's set.
The Gibson has the widest grain spruce I've ever seen on an instrument and it's much mellower sounding then a lot of mandos. The Ovation, when used with a good EQ like my Baggs Para-Acoustic Preamp and a touch of reverb, sounds awesome, especially in a band mix. It's the one that looks like a little Adamas guitar, the top of the line model. They made a cheaper model that doesn't play or sound as good.
I have a friend with an honest to dog '20's Gibson F-5 Loar. It's the holy grail for a reason. It's just an amazing instrument. I don't think he tours with it anymore.
I play a Morgan Monroe, it's solid mahogany and the bridge is a lil different...it's a little less tinny or jangly to my ear and just feels right...like it better than Abt any Mando I've ever picked up...but I'm also very amateur lol