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Old 04-11-2002, 07:59 AM
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Default another budget mandolin

I'm still searching for a budget priced (under $300 mandolin). I had mentioned in earlier posts about Fender FM52e and the Crafter models. In my search I have discovered the Dean Tennessee Acoustic Electric model. It supposedly comes from the same Korean factory as the Fender (and probably Epiphone and many others), but it has Grover tuners, a better pickup than the Fender and a replaceable endjack. It also has a solid select spruce top and mahogany sides and back and neck with a rosewood fingerboard. This is about $40 more than the Fender with cheaper parts and nato sides and back. Any opinions on this model from DEAN?
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Old 04-12-2002, 06:37 AM
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I've got a dealer that wants to sell me the Dean A/E mandolin for $200 w/hardshell case, which is 50% off list. It has a scratch on the headstock and one on the back of the neck. He says that they are in the finish only and he may be able to polish them out. Good deal? I'm not planning on being a professional mando player. Just to learn on and maybe play out occasionally if I get good enough.
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Old 04-12-2002, 07:08 AM
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The little Ovation is pretty nice but I think it was more like 350.00 JW
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Old 04-12-2002, 07:09 AM
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Mandolin? isnt that just a 8 string Uke? JW
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Old 04-12-2002, 07:22 AM
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I've heard the Ovations don't sound very good unplugged. More of a guitar like sound. Of course, I probably won't sound good either way! Maybe I shouldn't really be concerned about scratches if I'm getting the Dean for 50% off list.
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98 American strat, 06 Gibson LP Supreme, 05 Gadow Custom Single, 05 Gadow Custom Hollow, 04 Agile Goldtop, 05 Variax 600, 03 Splatter Strat, 04 Homebuilt Tele, Dillion John Lennon model, Gibson Flying V, Agile Valkyrie SG
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Old 04-12-2002, 10:28 AM
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I think I mentioned it on the other thread, but check ebay and music stores for a used Flatiron flat-top model (Cadet, 1N, etc.). They don't look like much, but they're well made, they play well, and they have a bright, gutsy tone that most inexpensive mandos can't touch. I got my 1N (solid spruce and maple) several years ago for $300 used.
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Old 04-12-2002, 11:41 AM
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I've been checking the stores here for months. They each have one mando, never a used one. Not much of a market here. I've also been checking Ebay. My pickins our slim since I want an acoustic/electric.
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98 American strat, 06 Gibson LP Supreme, 05 Gadow Custom Single, 05 Gadow Custom Hollow, 04 Agile Goldtop, 05 Variax 600, 03 Splatter Strat, 04 Homebuilt Tele, Dillion John Lennon model, Gibson Flying V, Agile Valkyrie SG
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Old 04-12-2002, 11:50 AM
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Sorry -- I didn't catch the acoustic-electric thing. It might not be as cheap as you want, but have you considered buying an acoustic and fitting it with a mando pickup? I've seen at least one that's built in to a new bridge that replaces the original. It would definitely give you more leeway in the instrument you buy.
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Old 04-24-2002, 12:02 PM
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Now I am thinking along the lines of the Kentucky 150s. All solid woods, adjustable truss rod and no electronics. I can get it for about the same price as the Dean a/e and Fender a/e w/case. I guess I can add the electronics at a later date if I figure out how to play it.
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Old 04-24-2002, 08:04 PM
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Saw a fender A/E mandolin for 209.00 today. Cant comment on how it played but it looked good. JW
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Old 04-25-2002, 04:21 PM
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Hello beatlenut.

Hope all goes well in your search and best of luck to you in that search.

If I may....a few words of advice for what it's worth. I've been messing with mandolins for around 15+ years.

Mandolins and fiddles(sometimes unlike some cheaper laminated guitars) are greatly affected in sound by lamination. There are a few mandolins made of solid woods out there including Mid Missouri, Webber, Tacoma and Flatiron that are worth a look.

Laminated mandolins(like the one you mention) can go dead real quick. I don't know why the smaller instruments go bad earlier when laminated but I'd stay away from Fenders and other such EuroAsian instruments.

Adding $50, $100, $150 to the purchase of an instrument such as a mandolin and fiddle can make a huge difference in the sound over a years time. Stay with solid wood instruments here.

Again for what it's worth.

R.L.
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Old 04-25-2002, 04:24 PM
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BTW,

Kentucky instruments made of solid woods that sold in the 80's for $450 or more sell for over $2,500 now. Kentucky instruments made of laminated woods that sold for less money a few years back....the owners can't give them away.

R.L.
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Old 04-25-2002, 07:33 PM
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We have a local mandolin builder here. Chestnut Mandolins. He builds some nice looking mandolins. They sound really nice when he plays them. JW
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Old 04-26-2002, 09:36 AM
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I'm a bit confused. The Kentucky KM150S and KM250S both say that they have solid wood top, back, sides and neck. Are you telling me they are laminated? They also say they have an adjustable truss rod which is a plus.
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98 American strat, 06 Gibson LP Supreme, 05 Gadow Custom Single, 05 Gadow Custom Hollow, 04 Agile Goldtop, 05 Variax 600, 03 Splatter Strat, 04 Homebuilt Tele, Dillion John Lennon model, Gibson Flying V, Agile Valkyrie SG
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Old 04-27-2002, 04:35 PM
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Beatlenut,

If I may, I would like to repond to your email on this forum as we may get some others who could add to this subject.

Re: the Kentucky mandolins.

Some instruments come with a solid top, solid sides and laminated backs....or any combination of solids and laminates. A salesman should be able to help here. Sometimes you can look inside the mandolin and see if the wood grain on the outside of the mandolin matches the inside woodgrain as in the case of a solid wood instrument.

Re: Truss Rod.

If the mandolin has one, there should be a truss rod cover I would think. I've never had to adjust the neck of any of my mandolins so I don't even know if having a truss rod is something that I would worry about.

Re: "Do F-models sound different than A-models?"

My experience has been that there isn't much difference in sound here within similar brands and quality instruments. There is a much bigger difference, IMHO, in the difference in sound between a mandolin that employs f holes and one with a sound hole in the center. There appears to me, to be more bluegrassy sounding mandolins with f holes(woody sounding) and more celtic/Irish sounding mandolins(brighter sound) with sound holes.

Similar sounding F style vs. A syle mandolins...the A styles are much cheaper. But for many, the F style is more popular.

Re: "Is a solid top good enough? The Kentucky KM360S is
> an F-model with I believe a laminated back and sides."

On fiddles and mandolins in particular, I'm not a fan of anything laminated. My opinion is that laminated woods go dead after a time and the surface area of the mandolin and fiddle is small enough that laminated woods affect sound to a large extent.

Re: "Does the shape and thinness make it(the mandolin) sound less > like a mandolin and more like a guitar when unplugged?

Hopefully someone else could respond here. My impression is that the thinner the instrument, especially fiddle/mandolin, the more unlike a mandolin(how's that for vague?) the instrument sounds.

I've had a few Flatiron M style(pancake style) mandolins. Very thin(all solid woods) but it had a big sound...brighter though than others I've owned built in a more traditional style.

The best fiddles/mandolins are carved instruments made to last a lifetime or more.

In the end, like any instrument, it will be the sound and playability that counts...within your budget. Recently a friend of mine bought a used Tacoma mandolin(all solid woods) for $400 and this instrument had a great sound.

My first mandolin was one that the family bought me back in 85'. It was a cheap Fender that they bought for $75. As soon as I figured out that I wanted to play mandolin, I sold that mandolin and bought an all solid wood mandolin and haven't looked back.

My main mandolin now is an F-Style built(in 87') by a luthier friend of mine from Minnesota. All hand carved flame maple back and sides, spruce top. It will outlast me and become an instrument for me to pass on to my kids. It's a joy to play...and gets better sounding every year.

Hopefully you will have the opportunity to first play the mandolin you buy. In general(please don't shoot me here) stay away from Asian imports. I say this because this is where you will find green laminated instruments that sound good for a few months and go dead when the wood(and glue)dries. There are a number of American builders who build relatively inexpensive all solid wood instruments.

Also, there's got to be folks out there, on this forum that know more than me about this.

BTW, the mandolin cafe may not be your best bet here as those folks are into high end and high $$$ mandolins.

In the $300 to $500 range of all solid wood mandolins, try Tacoma, Weber(maybe in the $500 range?), Mid Missouri, used Flatiron M styles. J.R. mentions a mandolin I'm not familiar with but may be good as well. I hear Gibson just came out with a new A style that may have some potential.

Check with some reputable luthiers who may have taken a mandolin in on trade.

Finally, I'm going to send this post to a friend of mine who is fairly knowledgeable on mandolins. Perhaps he'll have a suggestion.


take care and good luck.

R.L.
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