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  #1  
Old 06-30-2019, 06:53 PM
leew3 leew3 is offline
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Default Shout out for Northfield mandolins

I was traveling through Michigan two weeks ago and so contacted Northfield mandolins via the 'contact us' feature on the website. I asked whether the show room was open which is part of the manufacturing facility in beautiful Marshall Michigan. Peter Bagale responded almost immediately, apologizing for being out of the state on business but arranged via email for me to visit the distribution center. He asked the Jakob and Jess who were working there to get out three models of mandolins for me to try out-even though only one was for sale at that time. My wife and I spent some very enjoyable and relaxing time with these two dedicated and hard working Northfield employees. I got to play early editions of the Model M, A 5 Special and Big Mon. Though they were in the midst of preparations for a big show that required significant inventory and preparation, everyone was very accommodating, gracious and helpful. I didn't make the purchase of a new mandolin that day yet wanted to give the whole Northfield team a great deal of praise. They are really doing some incredible things there in collaboration with their founding partners in China. Thank you to Peter, Jakob and Jess for your hospitality and dedication to making first rate mandolins! (I did buy a T shirt though!)
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:59 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Interesting .. tell us about Northfied - are they made in China or ???
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  #3  
Old 06-30-2019, 11:13 PM
frankmcr frankmcr is online now
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Some Northfield mandolins are entirely the product of Marshall, Michigan, USA, and some are assembled in Marshall from North American materials seasoned and put together in Quingdao, Shantung, PRC.

Quingdao can also be rendered in English as Tsingtao (same pronunciation, different system for romanizing Mandarin), and may be better known in that form, being the source of Tsingtao beer.
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:34 PM
ben ben is offline
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The Northfield website does a good job describing the company's philosophy and build process, and showcases their team of artisans who craft these instruments in workshops in two countries: https://www.northfieldinstruments.com/

I have one of their archtop octave mandolins and it is among the finest instruments I've played (for context, I have owned mandolins by Collings and Weber, and guitars from all of the major boutique and big-name North American builders), and I just got a mandolin case from them. To me, Northfield is one of the most innovative companies in the business these days. I love their instruments, approach, and contributions to the music community.
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:37 PM
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posternutbag posternutbag is offline
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I have owned and gigged a Northfield, so I thought I would chime in. For the most part, Northfield mandolins are assembled in China from parts that were sourced from many different places and collated in Michigan. So the folks in Michigan gather the parts, ship them to China for most of the work, carving, gluing, applying finish, etc, then bring them back to Michigan for a final setup. They do make some instruments entirely in Michigan, the Model M A5 style is made in Michigan. I think the Calhoun model flat top is also made in Michigan, but I am not 100% certain. All of the F5 mandolins are made in China.

That being said, the Northfield shop in China is a shop, not a factory. My understanding is that it is smaller than Collings, maybe about the size of Bourgeois. Northfields are not in the same class as Eastman mandolins (I have owned two and my best friend has one; I have also probably played a dozen total) or Kentucky mandolins (I have owned a KM 950 and a KM 1500). The Northfield I had was superior in fit finish and tone to any Kentucky or Eastman I have played. The fit and finish were not perfect, there were some finish flaws under the fretboard extension and inside the scroll, but it was pretty clean. It had good chop, good dynamic range, the intonation was spot on and it was balanced across the strings. It wasn't as nice as the Ellis A5 I had before it, or the Dudenbostel I have now, but for a $4500 F5 it was very good.

The TL/DR is that Northfields are shop made mandolins that in my experience are superior to factory made import mandolins like Eastman, The Loar and Kentucky, but don't rival the top level small shop and luthier built instruments I have played from Collings, Ellis, Kimble, Duff etc, and certainly are not in the same universe as a Dudenbostel, a Nugget, a Red Diamond a Randy Wood or a Gilchrist.
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Old 11-22-2019, 12:58 PM
AgentKooper AgentKooper is offline
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I have a new Northfield arriving after Thanksgiving. I canít wait to get my hands on it!
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Old 11-24-2019, 04:32 PM
guitarman68 guitarman68 is offline
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I had a Gibson F5G for some years, followed by a Collings MF 5 which I played for 16 years, beside a Brentrup M23V. Tried a friend's Collings MF5 Deluxe varnish several times. He still has it for sale. I still love my Collings MF5, but some weeks ago I got my Northfield F 5 Artist VIE. It's a totally different beast and I love it. More mellow and deep sounding. Search for Mike Marshall's comparison of Northfield F5s, and you'll get the idea. Incredible fine mandolin !
Friend of mine bought an octave by Northfield - wonderful.
As far as I know, the artist series models are completely manufactured in Michigan while the octaves and all other mandolins have this China/US history.
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Old 12-02-2019, 03:25 PM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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Every time I go to Gryphon, I play both Northfield and Collings mandolins side by side. I don't think I'd pay the difference between a Big Mon and an MF. Really the comparison is between the Big Mon and a Collings MF Deluxe , an even larger cash difference.

Very good mandolins.
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Old 12-07-2019, 01:20 AM
Shaneh Shaneh is offline
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I cant bring myself to pay the price but man I love the octave mandolin with the guitar body. Best I have played but also $4-5K. Too much for a niche instrument to me. but man they sound amazing
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Old 12-07-2019, 08:40 AM
guitarman68 guitarman68 is offline
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a good friend of mine bought an Northfield octave some weeks ago - beautiful sounding instrument !

By the way, here is a comparison of my Collings MF5 and a Northfield F5 Artist VIE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLwBWhfIm_4
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Guitars:
Merrill C 28 (UltraTonic), Merrill OM 28 (Dazzo / DPA 4061), Merrill OM 18 (Schatten HFN passive), Martin D 18 (1948) (Dazzo / DPA 4061), Martin 017 (1934) (K&K trinity)

Preamps:
Grace Felix, Tone Dexter, RedEye, Fishman Platinum, Pendulum SPS-1

more stringed instruments:
mandolin, mandola, mandocello, bouzouki, dobro, weissenborn, lap steel, 5-string banjo
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  #11  
Old 12-07-2019, 08:44 AM
leew3 leew3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guitarman68 View Post
a good friend of mine bought an Northfield octave some weeks ago - beautiful sounding instrument !

By the way, here is a comparison of my Collings MF5 and a Northfield F5 Artist VIE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLwBWhfIm_4
Thanks for the comparison. Nice playing and a helpful comparison. Just when I thought my MAS was tamed!
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Old 12-07-2019, 12:02 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaneh View Post
I cant bring myself to pay the price but man I love the octave mandolin with the guitar body. Best I have played but also $4-5K. Too much for a niche instrument to me. but man they sound amazing
There are other, less expensive options for guitar bodied mando instruments. Goldtone has a pretty well received guitar bodied mandocello. Eastman has been making a guitar bodied mandocello for some time. I don't know what they run now, but I got mine for about $1400 several years ago. Here is an example of it strung as an octave.



I also have a luthier friend, Tom Jessen, who has built several A, F and guitar bodied octaves (scroll down the link a little to see one).
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Old Yesterday, 03:19 AM
Shaneh Shaneh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
There are other, less expensive options for guitar bodied mando instruments. Goldtone has a pretty well received guitar bodied mandocello. Eastman has been making a guitar bodied mandocello for some time. I don't know what they run now, but I got mine for about $1400 several years ago. Here is an example of it strung as an octave.



I also have a luthier friend, Tom Jessen, who has built several A, F and guitar bodied octaves (scroll down the link a little to see one).

Did you use different strings? Which ones? Any issues with tuning it that way. Sounds like an interesting idea I might want to try. I am never sure what people do when changing the really different tunings like that. Seems people so it on the tenor guitar too.

Last edited by Shaneh; Yesterday at 03:28 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 09:03 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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sorry, duplicate. See post below.

Last edited by Mandobart; Yesterday at 09:14 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 09:06 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaneh View Post
Did you use different strings? Which ones? Any issues with tuning it that way. Sounds like an interesting idea I might want to try. I am never sure what people do when changing the really different tunings like that. Seems people so it on the tenor guitar too.
It's not a "really different tuning." Remember that a mandocello is tuned C-G-D-A low to high and an octave mandolin is tuned G-D-A-E low to high. So 3/4ths of the strings I needed to go from a mandocello to an octave mandolin were already there. These were all d'adarrio phosphor bronze guitar strings, since the Eastman tailpiece is made for ball end vs loop end strings.

Since it was an experiment I actually reused the G, D and A strings and simply moved them over one course toward the bass side. Then I added a pair of E strings to the treble-most course. Since the scale is the same as a guitar (about 25") I think I used .011's or .012's. Most octave mando's have a scale length of 21" - 23", so obviously using a 25" guitar scale is going to be a little more of a stretch. But there are dozens of folks who have converted an old archtop guitar to an octave mandolin or mandocello.

Regarding tenor guitars, the "standard" tuning is also C-G-D-A, but there are several other tunings used, like G-D-A-E. Same thing could be done there.

Last edited by Mandobart; Yesterday at 09:17 AM.
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