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Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin

mdshec 12 Jan 11 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,Ray 12 Jan 11 - 10:26 AM
nickp 12 Jan 11 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,HampsteadDirtFarmer 12 Jan 11 - 11:17 AM
Will Fly 12 Jan 11 - 12:12 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Jan 11 - 12:27 PM
The Sandman 12 Jan 11 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,HampsteadDirtFarmer 12 Jan 11 - 01:50 PM
Spot 12 Jan 11 - 02:47 PM
The Sandman 12 Jan 11 - 02:52 PM
mdshec 13 Jan 11 - 12:09 AM
GUEST,Ray 13 Jan 11 - 06:02 AM
mdshec 13 Jan 11 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Ray 13 Jan 11 - 12:58 PM
Wesley S 13 Jan 11 - 01:51 PM
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Subject: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: mdshec
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 07:23 AM

Came across this forum and read some of the reviews. So I thought I would ask for some advice.

I have no background in musical instruments but decided about 8 months ago to learn to play the mandolin. Picked up a Fender FM100 starter pack and a few books. It has served me well in the learning phase. However, I am starting to find that it is actually rather hard to play chords cleanly.

I was thinking that something with a radius fretboard would do the trick. I don't want to go broke getting a new mandolin, but I don't want to be frustrated either.

I was thinking about getting a Eastman 505 or a Kentucky 254. But have recently seen that Eastman has a 300 series model that has about the same specs as their 505.

Any advice to a beginner that is starting to get frustrated with their current mandolin would be helpful.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 10:26 AM

I don't think you will find a radiused fretboard any easier than one with a flat board assuming both are set up correctly. Visit the Mandolin Cafe discussion boards - this has been discussed to death.

I know nothing about the Kentucky mandolins but, at the cheaper end of the market, I don't think you'd go far wrong with an Eastman. One thing to bear in mind - from my observation, the cheaper/lower-numbered models don't seem to sound any worse than their expensive/higher-priced siblings. All you seem to get is a mandolin with a little more "bling". The only criticism I've heard about them is that the finish can sometimes be a bit on the soft side so they can mark easily.

I don't know where you're located but if you're in the UK the best place to buy a mandolin is undoubtedly TAMCO in Brighton. (Other than being a three-times satisfied customer I have no connection with the place. I also live 250 miles away; which is probably a good thing!) Trevor stocks Eastmans, and other things to druel over, up to around £13,000. One thing you can be sure of is that whatever you buy from TAMCO will be set up correctly which is more than I can say for many of the UK's dealers who don't seem to know one end of a mandolin from another.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: nickp
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 11:16 AM

Speaking as someone who owns a number of mandolins, including a radiused fretboard one, I would say that what you need is a slightly wider - but flat - fret board. Frome memory the Fender and indeed a large proportion of current models by most makers have a similar sized narrow fretboard. Look round and find one that is slightly wider and try that. The two I prefer to play appear to be a little more than 1/8 inch wider at the nut than most. At work at the moment so I can't give actual sizes.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: GUEST,HampsteadDirtFarmer
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 11:17 AM

I would recommend Hobgoblin as the best place to buy a Mando. As a beginner visiting one of their shops, I was astonished at the selection they had just in that one branch which I estimate to have been somewhere between 30 to 40 instruments.

Apart from the aforementioned Kentucky range, they had an impressive number of high-end UK craftsman-made instruments as well as a broad range in the sub 100 quid area. Suffice it to say, I felt I was in the safe hands of specialists whose selection and experience ensured that I wasn't going to be fobbed off with anything unsuitable because of a limited franchise and a modest commitment by, say, a general or rock music shop who were doing the odd folk instrument as a sideline.

The staff were interested and very helpful in finding the exact best instrument (and a case for that instrument) for my budget and abilities. I suppose when all's said and done, Hobgoblin are specialists and folk and acoustic instruments are meat and potatoes to them. You wouldn't go to a garage to get your horse shod.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 12:12 PM

It may well be worth looking round for a quality second-hand instrument. I have a custom-made instrument which is excellent. At the moment, on eBay, there's a s/h mandolin by Lewes luthier Richard Osborne - 4 years old and just £500! Thus may be out of your price range, but I can assure you that this looks like a real bargain.

Richard Osborne mandolin

The problem with Hobgoblin is that you really must try a number of instruments. Most of their stuff - apart from some Fylde and Breedlove stock, is made in China or Vietnam. Some Chinese-made stuff is good - the higher priced end of the range - but much of the lower-priced stuff is vary variable, ranging from reasonable to crap.

If you're in the US, I think you stand a better chance of a satisfactory instrument at a reasonable price. TAMCO in Brighton has a huge range, but not many cheaper ones (last time I looked).


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 12:27 PM

Go into a shop with lots of mandolins and play lots of them until you feel you have found what you need. Spend more than you intend - it's always worth it if you know what you want

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 01:22 PM

contact Anthony Black, Tyne and Wear, UK


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: GUEST,HampsteadDirtFarmer
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 01:50 PM

Do you have to say: 'the ice is theeck on the Wear theees Weenter? Eet is said that you know about the Mandoleens? Pravda?'


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: Spot
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 02:47 PM

Last remark made me laugh out loud!! Nice one HDF!!

Regards to all Spot :-)


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 02:52 PM

pm me for info, they are bloody brilliant


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: mdshec
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 12:09 AM

Thank you all for the great responses. I do live in Texas. but the closest mando shop is still over 200 miles away. So I will still have to buy over the internet.


Have any of you played on a Loar mandolin? Their measurements seem to be little larger then that of a Fender but not by much. They are also at a better price point then an Eastman. I am trying to keep the price between $400 - $500 U.S. Dollars.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 06:02 AM

I thought that 200 miles in Texas was classed as "just down the road". If you want to hear from the experts - particularly in the US - you really should have a look at Mandolin Cafe.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: mdshec
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 11:02 AM

I have looked at the Mandolin Cafe, but for some reason it won't let me log into the BB's. I keep getting message that says password expired and it won't let me go in and reset it. That is one reason I have posted here and at Folk of the Wood.

And yes 200 miles in Texas is classed as "just down the road."lol But, I really don't feel like driving that far just to find out the mandolin store does not have a very large variety in the imports. Most of the sights I have hit, they all seem to carry Weber, Pheonix, Breedlove, Gibson etc. Which are all out of my price range. Trying to stay below 500.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 12:58 PM

I obviously can't replicate what's happening when you try the cafe forum but if you scroll down to the bottom of the forum page there's a "contact us" option which includes a "can't log on" button.


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Subject: RE: Review: Looking to upgrade my mandolin
From: Wesley S
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 01:51 PM

I used to live in Ft Worth and - yes - 200 miles is just down the road apiece. How much do you think you can afford to spend on this upgrade? That might help us out. There are some Webers that might be in your price range.


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