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I’m thinking about a mandolin

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by stxrus, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. stxrus

    stxrus Poster Extraordinaire

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    After I get my LP Goldtop I’m thinking about a mandolin. I’ve been fascinated with them but also intimidated. All those strings on such a tiny neck

    As I begin my research I thought I’d ask here regarding makes, models, differences, etc. I’ll probably want to go with a better than student level model but I want something decent. I have no idea what the budget may be
     
  2. Oldsmobum

    Oldsmobum Tele-Holic

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    I recently got one of the Ibanez 510 (something like that) with a pickup in it... paid about $200. I already had one, but the intention was to travel with it. Also play it through amps for fun. Haven’t opted to bring it with me instead of a guitar anywhere yet though.

    it’s nice and set up well from the factory. Apparently, some went out missing the bracing under the top, and they collapse from string tension on the bridge pretty quickly as a result. The reviews reflect the issue, but mine has the bracing (it’s obvious looking through the f holes) and after about 8 months the top hasn’t budged. It looked far superior to the other options in the price range that I could see in person, plus the possibility of mandolin through a Mesa triple rectifier is worth the price of admission alone.
     
  3. Cpb2020

    Cpb2020 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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  4. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    First and most important: www.mandolincafe.com.

    Great advice, great classifieds. Use it!

    For your first mando, nothing much really matters. They all sound the same at first. Unlike guitar, you have to play mando for a while before you start to hear differences.

    Regardless of what you spend, a pro set-up can be a godsend — much moreso than with a guitar. The slightest problem can kill your playing.

    Now: Do you care about body style?:

    - A-style (arched top and back, simple pear shape, simple headstock)
    - F-style (arched arched top and back, scroll, points on body, fancy headstock)
    - flattop (tear- or pear-shape)
    - resonator
    - bowl back

    Or sound hole?:

    - f-holes (louder)
    - oval hole (richer)
    - resonator (Nationals are the loudest mandos in captivity)

    Or material?:

    - solid wood (louder)
    - plywood (not as loud)
    - maple (bright)
    - birch and other (warmer)
    - metal

    A-styles cost less than F-styles of the same quality. The decoration of Fs is expensive.

    Oval holes are more associated with Celtic and folk because they sound warm and complex. F-holes are the bluegrass standard because they're loud (as long as they're not plywood).

    And do you care where it comes from? Pacific rim mandos are cheap, but some people prefer to buy American or North American. There are a few good ones here for under a grand. If you want an A, Howard Morris comes to mind.

    If you want a made-in USA-solid wood instrument, check out www.bigmuddymandolins.com. From Canada, checkout www.seagullguitars.com.

    Also, there are used American Breedloves around. Be careful not to get one of their imports, though. They're not as good.

    Last: Keep in mind that fewer mandos than guitars get made. That means mandos cost more for comparable instruments. Don't panic. Take your time. And don't be surprised if you have to go through a few to find one you bond with.

    So! Tell us more about what you're interested in.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  5. TheDavis

    TheDavis Tele-Meister

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    My former roommate got a rogue mandolin for $60 off Amazon and we were very pleased with it, totally playable and sounded good.
    Im sure like everything once you get into it a fancier one would be preferable but if you just want to dip your toe in the cheap ones are better than I would have thought and if you spend $60 now you can always fall in love and go get some master luthier build you one for lots of money or if you don’t fall in love you didn’t waste much.
     
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  6. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’m thinking about a redhead. :twisted:
    Seriously the other instrument that I have considered has been a mandolin. Then I remember that I struggle enough with guitar and bass. (I’d really like to improve on the bass but I think it’s hopeless.)
    The first time I noticed the mandolin was Maggie May.
     
  7. Sparky2

    Sparky2 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm thinking about a ham sandwich.

    With lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickle.

    :)


    As for the mandolin, I'm not going to be much help there.
    Never owned one, always sorta kinda wanted one, but never pulled the trigger.

    I like the sound of it on Steve Earle's song The Other Kind.

    :twisted:
     
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  8. stxrus

    stxrus Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks for the info. I truly don’t know. Aesthetically, I prefer the F over the A. I’m not sure how much Celtic music I’d be playing. More Dead, The Band sort of thing.
    Definitely a pickup is important.
    I’m just beginning to really think about this and realized how much i don’t know about the instrument
     
    Charlie Bernstein likes this.
  9. 985plowboy

    985plowboy Friend of Leo's

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    Me too.
    But, every time I try one I think that the neck is a popsicle stick.

    I’ll just keep watching Sierra Hull videos and perform vicariously through her.
    She is an amazing musician.
     
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  10. Cpb2020

    Cpb2020 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I’m terrible at all stringed instruments, but I think mandolin is more intuitive than guitar. And easier on my hands/fingers.
     
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  11. Cpb2020

    Cpb2020 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    So, The Pizza Tapes?

    5639EDB5-946A-4ED5-AB50-44549BFB2720.jpeg

    I’m no help re pickups for mandolin. I use a mic.
     
  12. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    That's everyone.
    Get an F

    Better yet, get an F octave mando :cool:

    See? so easy a girl can do it :p
     
  13. Dave Hicks

    Dave Hicks Friend of Leo's

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    Good info above, so just posting one of my favorite mando performances:

     
  14. Cpb2020

    Cpb2020 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    And here’s one by Chris Thile that I’ve always liked:

     
  15. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have one of those I bought on a Musician's Friend SDOTD for $49. I was also actually surprised at how playable it was. I did change the strings and make some minor adjustments to it though.
     
  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    One problem with a good mando is more than any other instrument it sounds better from across the room.
    If you can try a few, sit close to a facing wall, in a small room with no carpeting, facing into a corner, or played by somebody else sitting across from you.

    New production brands at affordable prices that all sound good from one sample to the next?
    Never seen such a thing but I've read about those unicorns on the net!

    Of course it's sorta true that you can start with an OK $200 instrument, but for me I just want to hear nice tone when I struggle to learn a new instrument.

    I've had five mando's, a nice sounding cheap antique flat top & back, a nice sounding antique solid woods bowl back, a nice sounding luthier made A style, a nice sounding 1917 Gibson A something that had one grade more than the base inlays package, and now a fairly cheap Chinese F style all carved solid woods called "Old Hickory".

    I think the cheapo I paid $179 for used is the best of them all, which is and is not odd considering that Chinese craftspeople do make good instruments if told to do so.

    For home and learning, I'd forget the idea that oval hole is for Celtic and consider that it sounds a little nicer while you're playing it.
    Or in general they project more side ways to your ear and less straight across the room like an F style.

    If you want a pickup, maybe just buy an electric for a start?
    Too many are four string though, which is IMO ridiculous.

    Good luck!
    The thing that has made the mando harder for me to play now is that my fingers need to curl so tight that it's harder to play than guitar where my fingers are curved more gradually.
    The tuning is odd at first but I also learned fiddle early so it made more sense.
     
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  17. TheDavis

    TheDavis Tele-Meister

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    I like the idea of getting a mandolin or uke or something different as a way to help the struggles on the bass or guitar. They are voiced so differently that it can take you to a fresh and new place. It can give you a break from frustrations on your guitar while still playing music and you’ll probably put less pressure on yourself on a mandolin since you’re not a mandolin player, it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad and that can be freeing to just find the music inspiration and enjoyment. I find this can lead to improvements on guitar playing as well.
     
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  18. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    Mandolin was the first stringed instrument I learnt - great fun instrument where I seem to be able to switch my brain back to the different tuning.
    I currently have a budget model that I acquired as a swop for a beater Fender acoustic with a cracked back. Something low end is fine for learning on.
     
  19. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You could pick up a nice 1934 Loar for about a hundred and fifty grand. Then again, maybe something cheaper until you get the hang of it. I've had a midrange priced mandolin, and I'll guarantee you in the long run if you stick to it, you'll wish you'd have gotten something used that sounded and played good. Eastman's around 500 to 800 bucks would probably get you there. Mandolins are just obscenely priced for what they are.
     
  20. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    F styles look way cooler than A styles, but generally speaking A styles in the lower price ranges sound better. I used to play a little music with a guy who had a used Gibson A style which had some sort of pickup in it, and he could play just about anything that came up and make it sound pretty good.
     
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