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-   -   Mandolin for a beginner (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=599746)

Bjbny 12-01-2020 12:09 PM

Mandolin for a beginner
 
My daughter (college age) has taught herself to play the ukelele and is enjoying it a great deal. I have tried to interest her in guitar, but she likes the small size the use. Which led me to the idea of getting her a mandolin for Christmas. What would you recommend as a mandolin for a beginner at less than $500?

Thanks.

MC5C 12-01-2020 12:37 PM

The Kentucky series of lower end mandolins seem to get very high reviews, a good setup is always a great thing for a mandolin. Also extra light strings while you get used to it, those things have scary high tension if you're not used to them.

posternutbag 12-01-2020 01:44 PM

I am a big fan of the Eastman 305 in the sub $500 price range. It has all solid, carved woods and generally sounds pretty good, if slightly bright. The main issue I have with it is that the hardware (tuners and tailpiece) isn’t the best.

That being said, if you can find a used flat top like a Mid Missouri or Big Muddy (same builder, different name, Mid Missouri was his first company), then I would jump on it. They are fantastic mandolins, not just good mandolins “for the money”. In fact, NFI, but there is a Mid Mo M4 on Mandolin Cafe right now. I would jump on it.

Steve DeRosa 12-01-2020 02:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bjbny (Post 6564137)
... What would you recommend as a mandolin for a beginner at less than $500?

Quote:

Originally Posted by MC5C (Post 6564166)
The Kentucky series of lower end mandolins seem to get very high reviews...

This one's just past the top of your range (FWIW it comes with a heavy-duty gig bag that adds a few bucks to the asking price, so take the fact that you won't need to shell out for a case into consideration); FYI I own the predecessor KM-180 version (mine's so old it came with an OEM chipboard case) and IME it's an excellent instrument for either a beginner or a doubler/occasional player - well-constructed, good factory setup (a matter of personal taste), and more volume/tone than anything else in its price bracket (more open-sounding than the competing Eastman A-models, and I'd personally stay away from the F-style mandos at this price point in the interest of tone/QC/value-per-dollar)

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/01...g?v=1552903585

https://www.elderly.com/products/ken...m-270-mandolin

CarolD 12-01-2020 02:41 PM

I have no experience with mandolin, so take this for what itís worth... I watch a luthier on YouTube, Jerry Rosa, from Rosa String Works. I think his shop is in Missouri. He makes custom mandolins and repairs them as well. I was watching him the other day and he said he likes Eastman mandolins and has never seen a bad one.

Dave Hicks 12-01-2020 03:03 PM

I'd second/third/fourth the Kentucky recommendation. The Eastmans I've heard or played briefly were fine, too.

D.H.

Br1ck 12-01-2020 03:10 PM

Kentucky K 150 is a fine mandolin. Buy it from someone like Elderly or the Mandolin Store and it will be setup already.

Eastman also makes the MD 305, but it's a little more. Either of these are good enough to be kept if she were ever to upgrade.

Both of the above are solid carved wood instruments. Avoid the many pretty mandolin shaped objects on the market. Good for you for having this kind of budget.

Bjbny 12-01-2020 03:45 PM

Thank you for all of the helpful suggestions!

JonWint 12-01-2020 04:04 PM

I have a "The Loar" LM-500-VS. Good quality from China.

If you think a mandolin looks better in F-Style as I do, you can find one for $500.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Brand-New-T...4383.l4275.c10

leew3 12-01-2020 04:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonWint (Post 6564345)
I have a "The Loar" LM-500-VS. Good quality from China.

If you think a mandolin looks better in F-Style as I do, you can find one for $500.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Brand-New-T...4383.l4275.c10

This too is a good recommendation and was my first entry into the mandolin. My only caution would be that the fretboard extension on the Loar LM 500 VS is not scooped so this can result in a fair amount of pick noise for a beginner. That aside, all that has been said above is accurate but for this reason I'd lean toward the Kentucky recommendations further above. Also bear in mind that you can get more mandolin for the buck in an 'A' model as the labor is much less. The sonic differences debated endlessly between 'F' and 'A' models simply don't exist. Too many folks long for an 'F' model as that's what Bill played!

Steve DeRosa 12-01-2020 06:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by leew3 (Post 6564356)
...Too many folks long for an 'F' model as that's what Bill played!

IMO they're also some of the most beautiful string instruments ever conceived with their Art Nouveau aesthetic, and while the Loar-era F-5 gets all the attention (and commands the highest prices) I've always been partial to the F-4...

Hoyt 12-01-2020 10:53 PM

Have not played the Kentucky mandolins, but from experience the Eastman is definitely an instrument new players can grow with and maybe even become a lifetime mandolin for many.

Mandobart 12-04-2020 10:22 PM

My pretty standard response:

The first few things a lot of guitar players find out about mandolin:
1. Its like fretting a cheese grater. The high tension, dual strings of the mandolin will just laugh at your guitar calluses.
2. A decent setup is not optional. You need it.
3. To get the equivalent quality level in a mandolin as you get in a guitar costs twice as much. A mandolin equivalent to the quality level of a $500 (US) guitar will cost $1000.
4. You're going to need a thicker pick. Don't even mess with anything under 1.0 mm on mandolin.

Lauren_WarEagle 12-04-2020 10:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mandobart (Post 6567102)
My pretty standard response:



The first few things a lot of guitar players find out about mandolin:

1. Its like fretting a cheese grater. The high tension, dual strings of the mandolin will just laugh at your guitar calluses.

2. A decent setup is not optional. You need it.

3. To get the equivalent quality level in a mandolin as you get in a guitar costs twice as much. A mandolin equivalent to the quality level of a $500 (US) guitar will cost $1000.

4. You're going to need a thicker pick. Don't even mess with anything under 1.0 mm on mandolin.



No truer words spoken!

Grizzly Adams 12-07-2020 02:17 PM

I would look at Eastman Mandolins. Never seen a bad one, and some of their lower end (beginner) models sound as good, or better, than the more expensive ones! I started with an Eastman 515.....


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