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Frankieabbott 12-31-2018 11:55 AM

I'm after a mandolin.....
..........dunno anything about them (apart that some are tuned in 5ths). But I recently saw a show by Kate Rusby here in the UK. She incorporates historical British and northern British folk songs.....with brass wind instruments (Yorkshire = brass band heartland). Any folks here playing mandolins? Or Citterns, lutes and bouzoukis?

joemcg 12-31-2018 12:11 PM

I started on Mandolin, then guitar and finally banjo. Still have a nice mandolin, but I donít think Iíve touched it in about two years.

Mandobart 12-31-2018 02:59 PM

I'm primarily a mandolin player now for the past 10 years. I also play mandola, octave mandolin and mandocello. One of the neat things about being a mandolin player is there are fewer of us. In my local music scene I went from being one of 1000's of mediocre guitar players to being one of less than a dozen mediocre mandolin players. That tremendously opened up playing opportunities.

I'll re-post what I usually say to new converts from guitar:
What beginners don't like to learn about playing mandolin:

1. There are about 1000 guitars sold for every mandolin sold.
2. Most mandolins are carved top and carved back - a lot more hours go into building them.
3. Adding 1 and 2 above means that to get the same quality in a mandolin that you can get in a $500 guitar, you need to spend $1000.
4. A cheap mandolin sounds a lot worse than a cheap guitar.

LadysSolo 12-31-2018 05:32 PM

I also play mandolin - started on guitar, switched to mandolin (about 75% mandolin, 25% guitar.) You will need to spend about $200 - $300 US to get a decent starter mandolin (don't know what is available near where you live.)

Aaron Smith 01-02-2019 10:09 AM

Agree with everything that's said. To me the best thing about mandolin is that the mental gymnastics are much easier than guitar. Once you learn the basics, you can grab chords and scales all over the neck without really thinking hard about it.

They are expensive, but if you are willing to get into the $1000-1500 range there are a lot of good sounding and good playing instruments.

Tenzin 01-02-2019 01:15 PM

There's a lot of good information on which brands/models at which price point.

A couple of points to start out with is that the f-style (with the scroll) has no difference acoustically than the A-style. You will pay for the 'look' which is fine if that's what you want.

A second thing is that setup is very important! The bridge is movable. (Many mandolin players do not remove all the strings at once during a string change for this reason.) When you decide on what you want to purchase, be sure that the place you're purchasing from has someone qualified to do the setup.

Aside from that, a little research and asking around will get you a wealth of information.

posternutbag 01-02-2019 08:01 PM

To the OP, this question gets asked a lot, so in order to provide appropriate advice, a little more information, particularly how you intend to use the mandolin and what your budget is would be helpful. The advice given to someone who just wants a different sound to compliment their guitar and has a $300 budget to work with is different than the advice that I would give to a burgeoning mandolinist.

Howard Emerson 01-03-2019 03:49 AM

If you can afford it I would seriously seek out a Martin A style mandolin.

Here in the US they routinely go for less than $1000, and you get a very rich sounding mandolin right off the bat. With the lower priced archtop mandolins it is a much higher price point to get something that even approaches what you hear good mandolin players recording with.

They're basically a flat top build that's bent at the bridge area a la the Selmer guitars. There's a technical term for that build that escapes me at the moment, but whatever......

Check out some Youtube recordings by search Martin A Style mandolin demo.

Yes, they do NOT have adjustable bridges or adjustable truss rods, so it's imperative to find one that has a straight neck. The action at the bridge can be fiddled with (pun intended), but I digress.....

Happy hunting & Happy New Year!

Howard Emerson

Silly Moustache 01-03-2019 04:38 AM

Frankie, assuming you are in the UK start by looking at the website of TAMCO the Brighton based shop run my Trevor Moire who supports this forum.
On his site there is much information and whilst his specialty is higher level instruments he may well have something to suit you.

capohk 01-03-2019 08:21 AM


I am primarily a guitar player and I got interested in the idea of playing mando as my interest in folk tunes developed. I wouldn't say that I was proficient yet, but the two instruments definitely complement each other both in terms of voice and learning challenge. Playing mando makes me a better guitarist and vice versa.

I own a J Bovier F5 special which stands up very well to my friend's high-end Eastman F (but not quite to the depth of tone of his Gibson Fern) and a Flatiron a-style from the mid-90s which I think is a fantastic instrument all around.

I would recommend either of these as great instruments to grow old with - the used Flatiron, in particular, represents fantastic value.

Best of luck

Malcolm Kindnes 01-05-2019 04:03 AM


Originally Posted by Silly Moustache (Post 5936883)
Frankie, assuming you are in the UK start by looking at the website of TAMCO the Brighton based shop run my Trevor Moire who supports this forum.
On his site there is much information and whilst his specialty is higher level instruments he may well have something to suit you.

Very good advice. Can I also suggest that you check your local ads for a second hand Fylde mandolin, they are very good value.

SalFromChatham 01-05-2019 12:14 PM

I just returned from London, where I visited N.O. Tom on Denmark Street. They have a sweet old Gibson A Mandolin in stock that plays great. It was hard to not leave with it.

Br1ck 01-07-2019 02:50 PM

UK prices for affordable quality imports are shocking to us in the US. We generally suggest all solid wood instruments like the Eastman 300 series or the Kentucky KM 150. If you are going to play celtic or folk styles, many if not most prefer an oval hole.

varmonter 01-29-2019 05:05 AM

+1 on the mandolin cost. A models donít have all the points and that scroll
So generally are less cost. Top luthiers are Gibson ,Collings, Eastman,Weber,
Small shops like Ellis/pava,northfield,are good bets too. Depends on your budget. A 300 dollar mandolin is like a fifty dollar guitar. Really throwing your money away. The mandolin store is a good place to start. Whatís your budget?

815C 01-29-2019 06:50 AM

Count me in! I have a Breedlove mando that I love. K&K pickups make it sound great in a band setting.

I'm kinda buried in the mix on this vid, but here's one from awhile back playing with Kayla Nettles, a singer/songwriter in Nashville..

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