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SalFromChatham 01-02-2019 04:57 AM

Next Mandolin?

I have a perfectly setup Eastman entry level A mandolin... I love itís looks, and it sounds great. I also use it in gigs... it has a K&K. Iíll still keep it.

Whatís the next level for me? I love a mellow sound... like a Martin D15 of the Mandolin World. I like used. I like history. I like mellow. Iíd probably use this at home only, and to record...

Mandobart 01-02-2019 05:38 AM

My first custom-built to my own specs was my western redcedar topped hybrid F4 built by Sonny Morris. Sonny is a friend of mine who has been building mandolins and violins for quite a few years. He builds them specifically for tone and playability. No fancy inlay or binding. I've now got 3 other instruments (by other talented one-man-shop luthiers) with western redcedar tops. The combination of WRC with an oval hole and simple single transverse brace like Sonny builds will result in a very sweet mellow tone with strong bass response. He is on FB and I have his snail mail address I'll be happy to send in a message if you like.

I have no financial interest or kickbacks - but I consider his mandos to hold their own in terms of tone and playability over Collings, Webers and many others costing two to three times what Sonny asks.

SalFromChatham 01-02-2019 07:31 AM

Thanks for the information - I will check it out.

Aaron Smith 01-02-2019 09:51 AM

What is your budget? You can basically spend any amount of money you want on a mando.

Since you like a mellower/sweeter tone and it sounds like you don't need a bluegrass head-cutter, check out oval holes. Or since you like used, history, etc....

Check out Gibson A-50 mandolins from the 1930's to the 1950's. My main instrument is an A-50 from 1952... I'm constantly amazed by the tone. They can be had all day long for $1000-1500. The only downsides I can think of are the short scale (which I actually prefer), the lack of access to higher frets, and the fact that they can be a little shy on the bass.

Last year I got the inclination to upgrade it and spend $$$ on a fancy one. I took the A-50 with me to a well-known mandolin store so I could compare. Mine outplayed everything they had in stock, including a few that were north of $5k. I haven't felt the need to upgrade it since then.

RoyBoy 01-02-2019 11:19 AM

A mando's
If you're looking for sweeter sounding As, I would think Girouard or Pava would be a great match. You may want to consider an oval archtop mandolin if you're not heavily oriented towards that bluegrass tone. In the bluegrass vein, the 800 and 900 series of the brand your playing now have some great mandolins.

SalFromChatham 01-07-2019 04:39 AM

Thanks guys...

Br1ck 01-07-2019 02:32 PM

Resist the incremental step up.

The Morris suggestion is one to seriously consider. Great bang for the buck. Another sub $1K avenue is a Flatiron flat top.

Move into the $1500 range (used) and a whole host of great A styles open up, starting with a teens Gibson oval, or a used Weber, Pava, Giouard, etc. I'm partial to my A style f hole redwood topped Silverangel.

If you can, play as many mandolins as you can. Your Eastman will be fine until you can afford the jump. I don't think a higher grade Eastman is going to do it for you. Not slamming expensive Eastmans as much as praising the 300 series.

Get Rob Meldrum's free eBook on mandolin setup. Check where your mandolin is compared to the clearances found there. Then either follow the instructions or find a mandolin specialist who can do a setup. Don't assume a guitar tech knows how to set up a mandolin. A good setup is far more important than a new mandolin. Try a set of Silk and bronze or round wound strings for warmer tone.

LadysSolo 01-07-2019 06:21 PM

I have a Weber Bitterroot Oval hole that sounds exactly like what you are looking for, unfortunately it's not for sale. But keep your eyes open for one, it sounds like it fits your description of what you want to a "T"!

Hoyt 01-07-2019 10:39 PM

Have you thought about a mandola, Octave mandolin, bouzouki, or even what Iíll cal an Irish mandolin that is not made for bluegrass (bigger and deeper body)?

Altman makes a mandola and Octave. I prefer Weber or custom makers, but Eastman makes very good instruments.

SalFromChatham 01-12-2019 02:34 AM

Thanks everyone.

After doing more research, and looking for that Martin D15 sound, but For mandolin, I opted to have a Big Muddy M11 made. Etween this and my Eastman I think I cover good range.

Thanks again for all your input.

SalFromChatham 01-16-2019 04:35 PM

My Big Muddy M11 came today, and I'll be putting it through its paces. Construction is great, tone is mellow, and Mike was fantastic to deal with. We are both life-ling Yankees fans, and I feel real good about a nice hand-made instrument made by one man, in the heartland, that has personality in looks and tone. Thanks forum friends.

PS - Yankees logo added post production/delivery

varmonter 01-29-2019 04:55 AM

I started with a no name mandolin at age 23. I think I thru it out or gave it away.aweful club. I next bought an Alvarez . Had that about 10-15 yrs.
After that I bought a Rigel. I know the luthier well. Played in a band with him
Fo awhile. After about 20 yrs I had a windfall and bought an Ellis a5 special.
Will probably have it til I die.or go broke. There was a big jump in price
Between the Rigel and the Ellis. Knowing your budget would help get you pointed in the right direction. Mandolincafe is a great forum as well. Not
As good as agf but more mandocentric if you will. Mandolins Run from a few
Hundred to hundreds of thousands (Lloyd loar gibson f models from the 20s)

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