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Buying Mandolins

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thespionage 05 Mar 05 - 11:15 AM
Spot 05 Mar 05 - 11:30 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Mar 05 - 12:12 PM
Spot 05 Mar 05 - 12:35 PM
open mike 05 Mar 05 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 05 Mar 05 - 12:53 PM
cool hand Tom 05 Mar 05 - 02:45 PM
mooman 05 Mar 05 - 02:51 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 05 Mar 05 - 04:28 PM
thespionage 05 Mar 05 - 04:38 PM
mooman 05 Mar 05 - 05:54 PM
mooman 05 Mar 05 - 06:05 PM
thespionage 06 Mar 05 - 12:22 AM
goodbar 06 Mar 05 - 01:02 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 06 Mar 05 - 01:11 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 06 Mar 05 - 01:34 AM
thespionage 06 Mar 05 - 02:45 AM
mandotim 06 Mar 05 - 03:19 AM
jonm 06 Mar 05 - 03:20 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Mar 05 - 03:51 AM
mooman 06 Mar 05 - 06:59 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Mar 05 - 12:00 PM
thespionage 06 Mar 05 - 12:33 PM
Mark Ross 06 Mar 05 - 06:28 PM
wilco 06 Mar 05 - 06:37 PM
thespionage 06 Mar 05 - 09:31 PM
Grab 07 Mar 05 - 06:34 AM
mooman 07 Mar 05 - 06:51 AM
GLoux 07 Mar 05 - 08:19 AM
Willie-O 07 Mar 05 - 10:12 AM
GLoux 07 Mar 05 - 11:03 AM
Mark Ross 07 Mar 05 - 11:08 AM
thespionage 07 Mar 05 - 11:20 AM
GLoux 07 Mar 05 - 12:49 PM
GLoux 07 Mar 05 - 12:51 PM
GUEST 21 Aug 09 - 03:39 PM
PHJim 21 Aug 09 - 05:36 PM
Willie-O 21 Aug 09 - 10:06 PM
GUEST,Jon 22 Aug 09 - 03:26 AM
GUEST 23 Jan 10 - 12:27 AM
GUEST 23 Jan 10 - 12:29 AM
Rog Peek 23 Jan 10 - 07:00 PM
Wesley S 23 Jan 10 - 08:41 PM
Willie-O 24 Jan 10 - 02:05 PM
GUEST 13 Jun 11 - 07:35 AM
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Subject: Buying Mandolins
From: thespionage
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 11:15 AM

I play guitar, I am learning banjo, and I have dabbled in mandolin. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that a "beginner instrument" is never a good idea. I am having trouble finding new mandolins, of decent quality, which cost less than $2000. The only names that I have heard have been Gibson and Breedlove and I can find few retailers for them. Calling up Mandolin Bros. is still an option. (I live on Long Island and go to school in New Paltz, NY.)

What do you think? Thanks.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Spot
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 11:30 AM

Well...you are dead right about "starter" instruments...That word generally means "crap"....!! Do you want an F-style, A-style or Celtic or .....?? There'sa few horses-for-courses out there! I'd have thought there were many makers in your part of the world with suitable items..Have you tried "Weber"..."Collins".. (I have an MT2), Tacoma...Fursch... Prusch.. Try "The Acoustic Music Co" in UK....He has more than Mando Bros in stock... Go to Mandolin Cafe ..Fylde Guitars and Oakwood Instrumentsin UK..really the list is endless if you do a bit of research...Use "Ask Jeeves" etc...Out there is waiting your ideal piece of kit...
                      Good luck and dont give up....
                        Regards to all.....Spot


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 12:12 PM

You should be able to get a workmanlike Kentucky flatiron for about £300 GBP, and even a Hathaway (English, handmade) for double that.

Or go to Ireland and try for a Docherty.

But even if you are better than a beginner do you really need a virtuoso instrument? If not, why not try a Crafter? Their bowlbacks have many admirers, and they plug well too.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Spot
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 12:35 PM

Oops...should have spelt it "Collings" with a "G"...!! Try Washburn, Sigma, Rigel....I'm sure for $2k you'll get summat excellent...(Actually, dont try Washburn... I had a bad experience with an F-style some years ago...the tuner buttons broke twice in a fortnight on a new one...!).Right...got to go now...eating Mexican with my mando player tonight and already full o' preprandial gins and tonics!!! Just got time for some old English ale(s) bfore dining...!! Enjoy your quest....
                         Regards to all....Spot


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: open mike
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 12:36 PM

http://www.mandolincafe.com/
well i looked up the Gilchrist mentioned on the mandolin cafe
and it is 16,000 so you probaly want to look furth3er!!
There are 48 mando family instruments listed at ELDERLY
several under $1,000, a few under $500.

good luck. I have a Weymann Mandolute, and am quite happy with it,

My friend Larry at http://www.thinmanmusic.com in the S.F. East Bay Area has one for sale here:
http://www.thinmanmusic.com/mandolins%20&%20mandolas.htm
http://www.thinmanmusic.com/mandolinpics.htm
http://www.thinmanmusic.com/mandolins,Mandolas,octave%20mandolins,%20bouzouki.htm


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 12:53 PM

you can get very reasonable quality,
decent sounding far eastern made mandolins
for much less than £100 if you know what to look for
and shop around..

they're certainly not crap
and plenty good enough for beginners and experienced players..

heres a starter.. a very good to deal with ebay seller
who specialises in good quality 'budget price' mandos

http://search.ebay.co.uk/_W0QQfgtpZ1QQfrppZ50QQsassZsafetywoman67


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: cool hand Tom
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 02:45 PM

thats right punk,i bought my GF a johnson F style mandolin for peanuts it has an ebony fretboard inlays ect and it sounds great with plenty of volume too.I once had a kentucky mando once and this Johnstone is right up with it.

Regards Tom


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: mooman
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 02:51 PM

Richard,

Terry Docherty is based in Newcastle (as in North Shields) not Ireland (I play a Docherty octave mandola!).

Thespionage,

I can vouch for Davis as an excellent US-based no-frills reasonably priced mandolin, sold exclusively I think though Mass Street Music, Kansas.

Chris Baird makes very nice decent priced flattops. The link is to a current ad of his on the excellent Mandolin Cafe site. Another great builder is Brian Dean in Toronto. In fact, if you go to "builders" on the Mandolin Cafe, you can browse the websites of dozens of mandolin makers, both Stateside and in Europe and elsewhere. In Europe there are numerous great builders I could thoroughly recommend within your price range but I assume you're in the USA.

Peace, and happy hunting!

moo


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 04:28 PM

Young mando wizard Josh Pinkham plays a Kelly mandolin. His dad, Jeffrey sells a line of mandos at http://www.elvenwoodmandolins.com/ that I suspect are the same as Kellys but with his own brand on them.

If you're not familiar with Josh, follow the "Meet Josh Pinkham" link. And here's my favorite Josh Pinkham photo. CLICK! Yep, that's Chris Thile, David Grisman and Mike Marshall. And they don't play with Josh just because he's cute. The boy cooks.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: thespionage
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 04:38 PM

I would be going with an A-style (and I believe it would be wisest for me to purchase within the United States, being that I live there). The aesthetics that I would like would be something like Breedlove's Oregon or the Gibson that Parker Posey used in A Mighty Wind (I am sorry if that references offends anyone). Thanks for all your help so far.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: mooman
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 05:54 PM

Whoops...Brian Dean is in Montreal not Toronto!

moo


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: mooman
Date: 05 Mar 05 - 06:05 PM

thespionage,

If you like that style, you might like to take a look at

Laura Ratcliff's A models at $1700.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: thespionage
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 12:22 AM

I am shocked at the price of the Elvenwood mandolins; considering that some of them are 10-20% of the price of most mandolins on the market, I'm a little skeptical. What do you think?

Also: by Kelly I believe you mean Michael Kelly. Where would I look online for pricing?

Russ


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: goodbar
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 01:02 AM

hey! i love my 250 dollar guitar.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 01:11 AM

Elderly Instruments carries Michael Kelly mandos. Click. Their prices seem pretty comparable to what Jeff is charging for the ElvenWood brand considering that he's probably buying them directly from the plant in Korea or China whereas "Michael Kelly" (there is no real Michael Kelly, just a company name) is importing them and selling them to Elderly so your getting two markups instead of just one.

Odd thing about it, though, is that the instrument Josh plays has "Kelly" inlaid in script on the headstock whereas the Michael Kelly instruments have an "MK" inlay. Maybe his is just an older instrument. I did a Google search for "Kelly mandolin" omitting "Michael" and found no other builders named Kelly.

All I know for sure is that Josh's instrument sounds great and he loves it. Gibson gave him one of their top-of-the-line mandos with the stipulation that he be seen in public playing it. He liked the Kelly so much more that he wound up sending the Gibson back because he couldn't fulfill his end of the agreement.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 01:34 AM

Aha! I poked around in Josh Pinkham's website a little more and had a look at the Mando-zine "Children's Roundtable Interview". His mando is a "Kelley" with the extra "e". He says in the interview that, at the time, the guy had only built five instruments. I had Googled "Kelley mandolin" but didn't see anythig about a luthier by that name. Must just not yet have a website.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: thespionage
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 02:45 AM

Now that I know the truth about Kelly with one "e," I am not as excited about their product, unless I am mistaken.

What's a good name of mandolin with a price that, I would prefer, is less than $1000 that could last me my whole life. I love my Maple Mountain banjo from Gold Tone and that retails at $900 (I got it for less, thank goodness).

Again, many thanks for the help thus far.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: mandotim
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 03:19 AM

Hi Russ! Welcome to the murky world of MAS; Mandolin Acquisition Syndrome! Be warned, one will not be enough. I have a lot of mandolins, but the best all-rounders in your price bracket I've played lately are Rigels and Eastmans. Rigel a-naturals are not all that common, but are available. Personally I would stretch the budget and look for a Rigel A+ Deluxe. Loud, sweet, and plays like butter. Eastmans are made in China, by the same guys who make really good violins and archtop guitars. They've transferred their skills seamlessly to mandolin making, and their A models are an absolute steal at the price. I played one that blew away a very nice Collings at four times the price. If you are looking for that old-timey sound, then look around for a teens Gibson A, although these are starting to get pricey for a good example.
Good hunting!
Tim


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: jonm
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 03:20 AM

I have a Fylde Octavius, which cost less than £500 (GB). Teardrop shape with round soundhole.

I didn't want an F-style - I'm left handed and play it upside-down.

Build quality is as near perfect as I can tell. Tone is wonderful and it is loud. Cedar and monogamy.

The variation in tone caused by moving your picking position or attack makes it much more versatile (I use it for English, Celtic and American folk tunes, some old-time and bluegrass, song accompaniment and rock-type soloing in an acoustic band) - some of the F-styles are one trick ponies, IMHO.

Roger Bucknall at Fylde is a great bloke and will happily talk through your requirements, then ship anywhere.

I stil have GAS, but it's cured my MAS for life. Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 03:51 AM

I stand corrected on location, but Docherty mandos are still v. nice.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: mooman
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 06:59 AM

Agreed Richard!

Richard

(but a new Docherty, that's if he's still making any more, would probably stretch the $2000 limit)


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 12:00 PM

Leadfingers, how much did yours cost?


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: thespionage
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 12:33 PM

Rigels are beautiful, but my most expensive instrument (out of acoustic guitar, electric guitar and banjo - all good instruments) is less than half of the price of most of the Rigels. Eastmans seem more of a likely contender...what is the general opinion on Eastmans?

Thanks.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Mark Ross
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 06:28 PM

You can get an old Martin A model mandolin for under a grand, check out George Gruhn's site.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: wilco
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 06:37 PM

I have a small music store in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I don't sell on the internet; people with real stores can't compete with the internet
"stores." I buy all of the instruments that I can, with finish flaws.
I have about twelve Michael Kelly F models with finish flaws. These are the top of their line. and they sell for $650.00 (US), plus case, and shipping costs. List Prices are $1100.00 to $1400.00 US.
    These are great mandolins.

Steve Daugherty
Mountain Music


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: thespionage
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 09:31 PM

How good of a name is Michael Kelly?

Russ

PS - Thanks for the offer Steve.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Grab
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 06:34 AM

You mean that NY really doesn't have *anywhere* selling folk instruments for people playing Celtic music? That can't be right, surely?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: mooman
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 06:51 AM

Michael Kelly instruments have a decent reputation and are built to good quality control in the Far East. Although they represent excellent value for money I would be inclined to say that, in your stated price range, you could probably do better however.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GLoux
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 08:19 AM

I think Mark's recommendation for an old Gibson A model is the best advice yet...although I don't think you'll find a bargain at Gruhn's. They are great instruments and they will hold their value.

I would also recommend keeping an eye out for a Strad-o-lin. They're inexpensive and great "festival" instruments.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Willie-O
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 10:12 AM

Look again GLoux: Mark said Martin A-style, not Gibson. And it's not a bad idea--the Martin instruments, which date anywhere from the 20's to (70's for sure, 80's???) are nice to play but undervalued because they are decidedly not bluegrass mandolins. (They don't "chop".) They are not powerhouses, but have lovely tone and guitar-like sustain. Great for Celtic and other tune-type playing.

There ain't no one-stop shop, Thespionage. And as usual, you can find good ones in the lower price range, but I wouldn't order one sight unseen and expect it to be one of the one-in-ten $200 mandos that are great (i.e., that I like. It's that subjective.)

Those Elvenwoods look like a good deal though, might be worthwhile ordering one of their "A-styles"--Gibson A-50 style to be precise, with F-holes as a cheap go-anywhere festival campfire instrument. (And if it really sucks, you can leave it in the campfire) Parsing their descriptions, though, I am a bit suspicious of the materials. Thier most expensive "Legend", an F-5 knockoff, specifies very clearly that the top and sides are solid, carved spruce and maple. The less expensive A's are described as "Arched spruce top" and "Mahogany back and sides" while the general description of the instrument says "this very solid classic A model mandolin." This kind of wordplay smacks of E-Bay style marketing, where all Ephiphones are made by Gibson and Sigmas are Martins.   

It's also clear, as Bee-dubya and others implied, that these mandolins are made somewhere in the Far East, most likely Korea. (Or off-chance, Mexico.) This is made clear by omission, because if they were made in the U.S, Elvenwood would say so. This doesn't mean they are not fine instruments, at least the higher-end ones. Their value to me would be closely linked to how good the company is about honouring its money-back guarantee and warranty programs.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GLoux
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 11:03 AM

Whoops...thanks for correcting me, Willie-O...Martin Mandos are not nearly as valuable as Gibsons, though I'm not sure that makes them undervalued (how about "not overvalued"?). Your description of them is right on...they are very well made and nice looking instruments, but they just don't pack a punch...I think if Martin made better mandolins, they would not have stopped making them...

Bottom line in all of this is to play every mandolin you can get your hands on, figure out what you like, and buy the best one you can afford.

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Mark Ross
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 11:08 AM

Actually, Martin did make a carved top mandolin, The Blue Sky Boys played with one, in a one photo I've seen. But for the money they might be a decent buy. Bill Monroe was said to have been impressed
with Strad-o-lin mandolins, which are a hellova lot cheeper.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: thespionage
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 11:20 AM

I wasn't playing to buy a $200 mandolin "sight unseen," don't worry. But I've never purchased an instrument that cost more than $1000 either. Optimally, I'd like the mandolin equivalent of my Gold Tone Maple Mountain banjo.

Thanks for all the info.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GLoux
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 12:49 PM

Here's a


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GLoux
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 12:51 PM

link to an earlier thread on Stradolins.

Why is the Submit Message button so close to the Make a link link? So clumsy clods like me can look stupid?

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 03:39 PM

The mandolin that Josh is/was playing was built by Thomas "Skip" Kelley of Thomasville, NC. I was at Merlefest with Skip when he first showed it to Josh. Josh used it in the mandolin contest there that year. Elven Wood is a line of mandolins spec'd by Josh father from one of the Pacific Rim companies. Nice enough, I guess, but definitely not the same.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 05:36 PM

I went to The Twelfth Fret in Toronto a few years ago to buy a Gibson A model that was advertised for $1200. When I got there I saw some Eastman mandolins hanging on the wall. I'd never heard of Eastman before, but I took the Gibson and a few Eastmans into the back room with my Washburn and played the same thing on all mandolins. An Eastman A model blew away the Washburn and the Gibson and it was $300 cheaper than the Gibson. I bought the Eastman and have never been sorry about it. A great mandolin at a great price.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Willie-O
Date: 21 Aug 09 - 10:06 PM

As I was saying only four years ago, the Martin Mandolins ARE good instruments. But they are not bluegrass mandolins. Rather like flattop guitars that are not dreadnoughts, (and thus lack bluegrass cachet) this cuts down their resale value, but it doesn't mean they aren't great instruments. Sure wish I'd bought one for $300 when my local folklore centre decided to get it off the rack a couple of decades ago. Hesitation is fatal.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 22 Aug 09 - 03:26 AM

A guy I play with has a wood bodied Dobro Resonator mandolin from circa 1930. It sounds awesome.
Does anyone have experience of more recent resonator mandolins?
Can they recommend one to look out for?
Thanks


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 12:27 AM

Skip Kelley is now selling mandolins through a place called Mandomutt.com. Here is a link to #24. I know Skip well. He puts his soul into his building. Great guy and fine mandolins.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 12:29 AM

Sorry, Forgot to post the link

http://www.mandomutt.com/products-page/new-arrivals/skip-kelley-f-5-sn-24


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Rog Peek
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 07:00 PM

Eastman Mandolins

Rog


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Wesley S
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 08:41 PM

Jon - If you're still around I own one of the brand new National mandolins. I love it. Feel free to send me a PM if you want more details.


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: Willie-O
Date: 24 Jan 10 - 02:05 PM

I just read PHJims post from August and whaddaya know--I jdid the same thing. Got an Eastman 505 at the Twelfth Fret in their November sale. Fantastic instrument, real live-sounding top and plays slicker n snot on a doorknob. A-50 style--my fave!

W-O


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Subject: RE: Buying Mandolins
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jun 11 - 07:35 AM

Currently in S.korea. Anyone know where Sigma Mandolin Factory is located?


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