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Old 01-13-2023, 09:27 PM
bkepler bkepler is offline
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Default NOMD - Gold Tone OM-800+

This New Octave Mandolin Day is a week overdue but I wanted to spend some time with it first.

Background: I became enamored with OMs through Cahalen Morrison and Eli West who played a Fletcher Brock on their albums and touring. That turned into watching plenty of YouTube videos on all the different mandolin family instruments. As we know, the price points of mandolins, and even rarer OMs makes them a little difficult to jump into. The Eastman MDO-305 certainly got my mind going but they rarely come up used and the new ones I played in person left me a little cold. The Gold Tone OM-800+ had always been on my radar as well, but superficially, the design just doesnít do anything for me. Iíve been playing some pipes over the past year so the Irish Bouzouki has been creeping into my consciousness as an accompaniment instrument.

Present: A Gold Tone OM-800+ came up close to me on Facebook Marketplace. The asking price was a little on the high side but significantly lower than buying new. I sent over an offer and we met in the middle - still a little higher than I wanted, but fair. It was an itch that needed scratching and Iíve warmed to the bouzouki-vibe of the GT. As luck would have it, the seller actually drove to my house to drop it off. I rationalized a ďdelivery feeĒ.

Although listed as ďmintĒ, it needed some cleaning up and setup, which I didnít mind. She had the action pretty high with a lot of neck relief. One of the things that seemed like a manufacturing oversight was that the bridge was misaligned, shifted towards the treble. It has a pickup thatís built into the bridge and run through a hole in the top, next to the treble foot of the bridge. Because of this, the bridge can only shift so much laterally and it was quite uneven. I decided to do a string change and took the opportunity to extend the pickup wire hole so I could center the bridge. Pretty easy.

It playsÖokay. Thereís some fret buzz and one interesting issue. When you fret the E strings on the 6th fret, one sounds at the 6th and one at the 7th. Itís interesting because of how close together they are. The sound leaves some to be desired. It has a relatively sweet mid-to-high end but itís really missing the nice round G string tone. Itís also pretty quiet overall. The lacquer is on there pretty thickly and the whole build quality is much more reminiscent of a $300 guitar. Iím very happy I didnít pay $900 for it.

Future: Iíll likely explore other OM options and this will see Irish Bouzouki duty. Iíll be looking for something with a bit more body to it - physically AND aurally!

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Old 01-13-2023, 10:01 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Thanks for the review. I played one of these Gold Tone octave mandolins in a store, and my reaction was along the same lines as yours.

Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 01-14-2023, 08:01 AM
pjheff pjheff is offline
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Originally Posted by bkepler View Post
Future: Iíll likely explore other OM options and this will see Irish Bouzouki duty. Iíll be looking for something with a bit more body to it - physically AND aurally!
The octave mandolin market is a niche within a niche, largely composed of expensive archtops and more modest flattops. The guitar-bodied octave mandolin ó like the Fletcher Brock referenced above ó is a pricy affair (his start new at $6500), though there are some that are a bit less (Northfield) and others more (Clark, Mowry). And there is always the possibility of finding one used, such as the Mowry or Old Wave currently on reverb.

Thatís how I scooped up my early GBOM from Mike Black:
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Old 01-14-2023, 08:56 AM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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That's a good thing to jump in with!

I found a used GS Mini neck and added it to an old Kay body to satisfy my OM craving.

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Old 01-14-2023, 09:31 AM's Avatar is offline
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The GS Mini scale length is 23.5", and most (all?) Stella/Kay/Harmony parlor size guitars I've looked at are ~24" so why the neck change? Adjustable truss rod? Headstock length?

I've toyed with finding a floating bridge Harmony (et al.) parlor for such a conversion, but it's almost long enough for mandocello, which kind of interests me. Thinking about using the original neck with a new fingerboard and some CF reinforcement. (In a Silvertone sow's ear project, I used a "Martin scale" fingerboard minus the first fret bit and it's a near perfect fit.)
"I know in the morning that it's gonna be good, when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen
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Old 01-14-2023, 12:19 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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I've been playing octave mandolin for several years. I've played some Mowry and Clark GBOM's that are just exquisite.

My current OM is an F4 style I got built by Tom TJ Jessen of Cricketfiddle many years ago. IMO you'll get the most bang for buck from his instruments and still get a hand made, carved instrument.

I'm also a big fan of Cahalen and Eli (they're no longer a duo), Sarah Jarosz, Tim O'Brien, Darol Anger and Siera Hull on OM.

Gold Tone makes some good affordable instruments. I've never played this model OM though. Pono also makes or at least used to make a flattop guitar body OM that gets positive reviews. The G course (on mandolin or octave mandolin) is what separates the good and great from the others.

Last edited by Mandobart; 01-14-2023 at 12:27 PM.
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