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Choosing a mandolin in UK

Arnie 21 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM
Les in Chorlton 21 Feb 09 - 01:21 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Feb 09 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 Feb 09 - 01:47 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Feb 09 - 02:31 PM
Leadfingers 21 Feb 09 - 02:54 PM
Spot 21 Feb 09 - 06:02 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 21 Feb 09 - 08:57 PM
Les in Chorlton 22 Feb 09 - 03:49 AM
GUEST,Ray 22 Feb 09 - 09:30 AM
Ned Ludd 22 Feb 09 - 09:52 AM
Dave Hanson 22 Feb 09 - 09:54 AM
mandotim 22 Feb 09 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,English Jon..... 22 Feb 09 - 01:51 PM
GUEST 22 Feb 09 - 02:09 PM
Spot 22 Feb 09 - 02:58 PM
Sven Baserat 22 Feb 09 - 04:55 PM
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Subject: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Arnie
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM

I've decided to invest in a flat-backed mandolin as an alternative to playing guitar all the time. There seems to be quite a range, but I'm not looking to spend over £200 and most seem to be made in China. Are Ashbury mandolins any good and is there a difference in sound between oval hole and f hole versions? I don't need an electro and I'd be looking to use it for accompanying guitar or autoharp, mainly for American folk and a bit of gospel music (Canaan's Land etc..). Any advice gratefully received before I part with my hard-earned readies!


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 01:21 PM

If at all possible go to Hobgoblin in Manchester and ask Ken if you can play a few. Try tenor mandolas as well and go by how they sound and feel. Pay as much as you can possibly afford and then some more.

L in C


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 01:28 PM

If you are planning to pay American and gospel you want that fat chop sound, so you probably want a carved back, carved-top F hole.

Test using the instruments on each side of your head. Be wary of Hobgoblin advice - I have seen some bad.


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 01:47 PM

When you say 'tenor mandola' Les - do you mean a 'mandola,' an 'octave mandolin' or a 'mandocello'? (many say there's technically no such thing as a 'tenor mandola' - I wouldn't dare comment!) ;-)

I have a very cheap eastern european half-round back from The Music Room (less than £100?), which I still enjoy playing. I think the Hobgobs sell the same brand. It's good and loud (due to the back), narrow at the nut for easy fingering, and wide at the bridge for easy picking. For sessions I actually prefer it to my Oakwood, which cost MUCH more.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 02:31 PM

I went through this a couple of months back. As I'm not interested in the bluegrass sound, I wound up with a Kentucky oval-hole model (made by Saga). QUite reasonable sound, good intonation. I bought it from an internet vendor called Mandolin Hut--it came to $325(US)--226 GBP-- including a very nice hard case, an electronic tuner and some other goodies. I'm quite pleased with it.


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 02:54 PM

Personally , I dont really trust Hobgoblin - Its a Thirty Year Old attempted rip Off , puts ME off , and I HAVE seen seen some Crap overpriced stuff at festivals - Music Room are MY Vendor of Choice .
And a GOOD second hand instrument will be a far better deal than a New one , unless you are following Tom Bliss to Oakwood , or something in that price range .


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Spot
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 06:02 PM

Allo everybody...

Good advice from L.fingers...Go for a used Oakwood teardrop...I've had one for mebbe 8 years now...excellent tool!! Definitely not a bluegrass special but otherwise very versatile and loud, if you want it to be.Very wellmade and good to play...Dont go for Chinesies!! Except maybe an Eastman - there are one or two good ones out there!!Try and pay another hundred quid if you can and go for a decent
second hand one...good luck!! :-)


             Regards to all.....Spot    :-)


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 06:25 PM

But I think, from the statement of needs, the OP nees a bluegrass belter...


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 08:57 PM

If you know what to look out for,
its easy enough to find perfectly adequate
playable / well intoned new Chineses mandos
for less than £50.
I've got 2 or 3 that are good enough for playing out
in rowdy live sessions,
without too much concern or reason for heartbreak
if some drunk accidently trashes them.

Don't forget the Chinese have been expert woodworkers
and fine musical intstrument craftsmen for several millenia...

wise not to underestimate potentially good
value for money bargains these days..


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 03:49 AM

I have a Korean Vintage Mandola - as to a viola is to a violin - a fifth down. Cost £300 sounds and plays better than I do.

As for Hobgoblin, Manchester the range is enormous the advice is excellent and you can sit and play instruments for as long as you like.

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 09:30 AM

I've known Ken from M/C Hobgoblin for nigh on 40 years and, whilst he may stock a good range, its not the greatest and certainly not the cheapest. I'm surprised nobody's mentioned it but probably the best range of mandolins in the world can be found at TAMCO in Brighton. Trevor's stock is second to none and he should be able to fix you up with a decent instrument for anywhere between £250 and £10,000 +.

I speak as nothing other than a satisfied customer. If you don't know the place check out the website - its like pornography for mandolin fanatics!
Ray


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 09:52 AM

Best thing would be to try Hobgoblin and music room, then maybe look at a few other shops. The downside of the two mentioned is that their instruments are mostly new. I play a tonewood all mahogany one (Music room) which was great for the price. (about £200)


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 09:54 AM

I'll second that about TAMCO and they are on line and have a great mail order service, if you're in the north, The Music Room in Cleckheaton and Eagle Music near Huddersfield are both excellent, good stock of instruments and all the staff are musicians, not just shop assistants.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: mandotim
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 10:56 AM

Another big 'yes' for TAMCO. Trevor really does have the mando market covered in the UK. If you really do need a bluegrass mando with that woody chop sound that is so important for rhythm playing, then I think you need to narrow your choices a bit. A solid woods carved top and back is a must, and these don't come cheap unless from the Far East. F holes seem to be preferred (oval holes tend to have a more open, ringing sound; fine for old-timey and Celtic stuff, but hopeless for bluegrass.) The debate between A-model and F-model body shapes rages still, but my own view is that it matters less than carved bodies and f-holes.
There are some bargains to be had; Eastman mandolins just get better and better, especially their mid to high end models. Look for a high end A model for real value. Right at the bottom end, Ozark (read 'Samick, Korea') make a very nice solid wood F model called the 2255. Nothing fancy, but well made, easy to play, loud and barks like a hound dog. Needs heavy-ish strings and a heavy pick to make it work well, as you really need to 'drive' the top. I have one, and Chris Leslie from Fairport Convention swears by his. I tend to gig with mine ahead of some fairly expensive American jobs, as it's just so easy to play. See info here
As always, the best advice is 'play a few, find one that speaks to you'!
Tim


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: GUEST,English Jon.....
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 01:51 PM

I know you've set yourself a budget (haven't we all!) but it's worth mentioning that I got a handmade instrument from Colin Kendall recently. Around £400 ish depending on wood / style etc, but INCREDIBLE - plays like a £1500 instrument - superb tone, bags of volume, great action etc. I'd advise you to save up a little longer then give him a ring and see what he's got in stock. He's ever such a nice bloke and he'll sort you out with something that blows anything else in that price range clean out of the water. It'll be an instrument you'll want to keep forever, and it's British, damn it!

Cheers,
Jon


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 02:09 PM

Thanks for all the advice folks. What I now realise is that I should really visit a shop with a range of mandolins and play a few before I buy one. I'll be up in W.Yorkshire next month so may well take up Dave H's advice and visit either Cleckheaton or Hudds (my brother lives in Slaithwaite). It also looks like £200 was a bit on the optimistic side - I can go higher and looking at TAMCO's website will probably have to. I'll post again when I return from Northern climes and will let you know what I ended up with - the next step will be learning how to play it!


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Spot
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 02:58 PM

Allo...

Of course, Richard B, OP does need a BG jobby..   I'm just so chuffed with my Oakwood, I sometimes canna see the wood for the trees!! ;-) Ok, I also have an Eastman 515 f-style... 500 quid and certainly OK but nowhere near as well made as the Oaky, for similar price.   In fact, the finish was so bad I took it all off and started again!! I also have an MT2 which is yet another kettle of fish!! That thing was megabucks but the Oakwood beats em all for VFM... (IMHO);-) ( I love em all really....)

                   Regards to all...Spot :-)


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Subject: RE: Choosing a mandolin in UK
From: Sven Baserat
Date: 22 Feb 09 - 04:55 PM

I must agree with English John. Colin Kendall is a fine luthier. You can't go wrong with one of his mandolins.


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