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  #16  
Old 09-19-2018, 03:28 PM
posternutbag posternutbag is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gabriel_bc View Post
I don't dispute that $2-4K mandolins are a significant step up from lesser ones, but the OP doesn't want (or need) one for what he wants to do with it. He also specifically wants one with a pickup in it.

Unless his worship setting is atypical, he won't be fighting with banjos or fiddles onstage. He doesn't need a $2K banjo-killer. At most he'll be playing with other acoustic guitars, electric guitars, keyboards and drums, with perhaps the odd string instrument like violin. The "odd" instruments in a worship setting (violin, mandolin, whatever) tend to be featured, not fighting for space.

His audience also will not (generally) be knowledgeable about mandolins and tone. They probably won't know much about bluegrass unless the OP is in the southern states where there is a culture around that music. What a mandolin delivers in a worship setting is different - a different sound that can accentuate the other instruments and add to the overall feel. Occasionally it can be featured - rolling alone through a chorus while the rest of the band drops out, and so on. It can add a lot. But it's not bluegrass. It's a different genre.

What the OP needs is the mandolin equivalent of a Yamaha FG800 to get started. That's something like a KM-150 or a Big Muddy (as you and I and others have suggested). Later he can upgrade if he wants to. If a pickup is important, then something like a K&K or JJB is a good option. And if he can find an older used Pac-Rim instrument with a solid top locally, that's just as good for what he needs at present (IMO). But it's good to know what the future might hold, and your advice is spot on for that. I just don't think that's where the OP is at right now.
Point taken.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Currie View Post
Some great information here, but I feel the thread has drifted from the OP original intent.

They said:

"Iíd like to get a mandolin and start learning, for an occasional song here and there."

This indicates they have no plans to play mandolin an entire set. So talk of 2K+ instruments seems misguided. Even if that is the equivalent of a 1K guitar.

If a mandolinist asked me for a first guitar that they would use "for an occasional song here and there" I sure wouldn't recommend a 1K guitar. I'd recommend a Yamaha or other low price good value starter instrument, sub-500 level. If they decide later on that they want more, great. If not, their investment is relatively low.
I hope the OP didn't think that I was suggesting that he invest $2k+ for a mandolin; that was never my intent. My point was that mandolins are not little guitars and need to be looked at differently; between economies of scale and differences in construction methods, a quality, carved, arch top mandolin will cost significantly more than a comparable quality guitar. I was trying to talk a little bit about what is out there at a variety of price points and provide some context before the OP goes flipping through dozens of beginner mandolin threads on Mandolin Cafe, which would,of course, be useful, but also largely redundant.

I think that pretty much everybody who cares about mandolins would say that unless you are a bluegrass player, a used Mid Mo/Big Muddy is the best choiceunder $500. If you need mandolin chop from a carved top instrument, your choices are a Kentucky or Eastman.
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  #17  
Old 09-20-2018, 09:34 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon Currie View Post
Some great information here, but I feel the thread has drifted from the OP original intent.

They said:

"Iíd like to get a mandolin and start learning, for an occasional song here and there."

This indicates they have no plans to play mandolin an entire set. So talk of 2K+ instruments seems misguided. Even if that is the equivalent of a 1K guitar.

If a mandolinist asked me for a first guitar that they would use "for an occasional song here and there" I sure wouldn't recommend a 1K guitar. I'd recommend a Yamaha or other low price good value starter instrument, sub-500 level. If they decide later on that they want more, great. If not, their investment is relatively low.
What you may not understand is what many of us already said - the mandolin equivalent of a "Yamaha or other low price good value starter instrument, sub-500 level" is going to cost about $1000. A new sub $500 mandolin is a mandolin-shaped object, generally not suitable for anyone who already plays an instrument and knows good sound from bad.
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  #18  
Old 09-20-2018, 10:29 AM
gabriel_bc gabriel_bc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
What you may not understand is what many of us already said - the mandolin equivalent of a "Yamaha or other low price good value starter instrument, sub-500 level" is going to cost about $1000. A new sub $500 mandolin is a mandolin-shaped object, generally not suitable for anyone who already plays an instrument and knows good sound from bad.
Almost all of the Big Muddy mandolins can be had for well under $1000 new. Some are even under $500.
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  #19  
Old 09-20-2018, 10:41 AM
frankmcr frankmcr is offline
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Default "a guitar geek's guide to mandolins"

Not exactly an answer to the OP, but I just found this & wanted to share. Some fun stuff:

http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle...Mandolins.aspx
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  #20  
Old 09-20-2018, 11:07 AM
rob2966 rob2966 is offline
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A few years back I also wanted to try a mandolin. Ran into the usual "need to spend $2K+ for a good one" comments, which, if you want to be a serious mandolin player might be true, but to dip your toe into it isn't helpful.

I eventually picked up a Kentucky KM-350 A-type and have been very happy with it. It has met all my mando requirements and even sounded very nice on a recording I did in a pro studio (the Neumann U47 probably didn't hurt either).

Good luck with your mando hunt.

Later
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  #21  
Old 09-20-2018, 11:46 AM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
What you may not understand is what many of us already said - the mandolin equivalent of a "Yamaha or other low price good value starter instrument, sub-500 level" is going to cost about $1000. A new sub $500 mandolin is a mandolin-shaped object, generally not suitable for anyone who already plays an instrument and knows good sound from bad.
Mandobart, I do understand (that mandolins cost 2x the price of roughly equivalent guitars), and I never disputed it.

My point was the mismatch of approaches that caused some to recommend $2K instruments to someone who posted "Iíd like to get a mandolin and start learning, for an occasional song here and there." Really? $2K for an occasional instrument?

And, by the way, I've been a pro musician since the mid-Seventies and I do know good sound from bad. I own one of those sub $500 mandolins with a JJB pickup, and it suits my needs just fine (occasional song here and there). I am thankful I did not spend anymore as I have discovered that my fingers are not suitable for the small fretboard, limiting how much progress I can make.
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  #22  
Old 09-20-2018, 01:43 PM
posternutbag posternutbag is offline
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OK. Let me try to get this back on track. We are kind of talking at each other, and I am not sure how productive that is. To me, we all seem to be more or less in heated agreement with respect to what is available, we are just looking at it from different perspectives.

I think Mandobart and I are approaching this from the perspective of mandolinists who (as mandolinists) require an instrument at a level of quality that exceeds what is needed by someone who just needs a different sound for a tune or two.

Honestly, if you are just going to slap a pickup on it and play through an acoustic amp backed by drums, an ebg, and a couple of other electric instruments, then you probably don't care much about the rich and nuanced tone that can only be found on a high quality mandolin. And I don't mean this as a slight. It's horses for courses.

Those of us who really like mandolins, we want to hear something from our instruments that is (usually) not found on less expensive instruments. That is great. I am in this camp.

But it has been pointed out that there are folks out there that really just want a varied tonal palette and are quite happy that there are more affordable options available (because there was a time when there were not. We live in a wonderful, golden age of quality, inexpensive acoustic instruments).

For someone in this camp, any of these (a used Mid Mo/Big Muddy, a Kentucky Km 150 or an Eastman 305) with a K&K mandolin pickup will serve their needs.
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  #23  
Old 09-20-2018, 02:24 PM
brad2001 brad2001 is offline
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Ventura Instruments (not the same company as the C. Bruno imports of the 70's) has some nice instruments at good price points. They only sell thru independent dealers. I'm looking to them about an intro mandolin and violin.

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  #24  
Old 09-20-2018, 07:45 PM
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lots of good advice above.
I have recently been through a similar quest to the OP, just not looking for a pickup on the mando.
I ended up with a Kentucky 350 used from GC for about $200. It needed setting up, but there is a nice guy on mandolin cafe offering a free setup book, so that was ok. It's loud - no sneaky practicing after the family's gone to bed...
I'm terms of new instruments the Kentucky 150 seems to have a lot of fans. If you get it from somewhere like Elderly then it comes nicely setup. I didn't want to spend that much though.
With pickups the budget usual suspects are ibanez, fender, Epiphone and Gretch. I think they are all laminate, but that may not be a killer.
A style offers much more bang for the buck than f. F holes are more strident than round soundholes, so are better at cutting through the mix. Round soundholes seem better for classical and celtic.
Setup is everything. The guy who sends out the setup book uses Rogue mandos and seems to make them play.....
If you get one without a pickup you can always add one later if you want to.
Mandolessons.com has some great material and lessons.
Good luck and have fun
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  #25  
Old 09-21-2018, 12:44 AM
Br1ck Br1ck is offline
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I think I'll say what I always say and that is to buy the best one you can afford. I also want people to fall in love with the instrument, and with that in mind want anyone to buy a carved all solid wood instrument. The Kentucky KM 150 is one that comes up all the time. If you buy one from one of the Mandolin Cafe sponsors, it will come with a set up.

Slightly more money will buy you an Eastman 305. There are a whole host of great looking cheap mandolins, and I wouldn't recommend any of them.

Used you can get a seriously good A style for $1200- $1500. But a KM 150 can take you a long way. Get a K&K put in it later.

See you over at the Cafe
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  #26  
Old 09-27-2018, 05:15 AM
Rob DiStefano Rob DiStefano is offline
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loooong time guitarist since the mid 50's, and mandolinist since the turn of this millennium. getting into mando can easily have you chasing yer tail and wasting a ton of dollar$.

my strong recommendation is to go with any breedlove crossover (built offshore, of course). they all have a bit wider guitarist friendly 1-3/16" nut width, all solid woods, a very good and basic mando tone. the cost of $400-$700 (depending essentially on the body shape, but not the playability or tone) won't break the bank. i did a lot of recordings with a crossover kf model that i electrified. that same mando is now being used by an industry recognized recording engineer and studio guitarist for lots of cable tv show sound bytes.

electricfy with either a K&K mando transducer duo or an LR baggs radius. i've used both and both will do just fine. you may or may not need a preamp DI.
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  #27  
Old 09-27-2018, 12:17 PM
rschultz rschultz is offline
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Great stuff, I appreciate all who have chimed in. Here's where I'm at:

There is a KM-140 on CL that I could get for $150. I understand it's a heat pressed top, so not as good as a 150 that has a carved top but for $150... who knows.

Also, a friend of mine has a left-handed KM-200 he said I could borrow. I have experience with guitar lutherie and setups so I have considered converting it to a right handed by buying a right handed pre-slotted TUSQ nut and right handed saddle. That + strings is probably $50.

Those Big Muddy's look interesting, although not very traditional looking.
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  #28  
Old 09-27-2018, 02:02 PM
waterboy waterboy is offline
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There are also a couple of Kentuckyís on GC used just now @$200 ish. I think there is a 350 and a 250(?). Not clear about the age or the specs, but may reward a look.
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  #29  
Old 02-02-2019, 10:36 PM
AgentKooper AgentKooper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
What you may not understand is what many of us already said - the mandolin equivalent of a "Yamaha or other low price good value starter instrument, sub-500 level" is going to cost about $1000. A new sub $500 mandolin is a mandolin-shaped object, generally not suitable for anyone who already plays an instrument and knows good sound from bad.


Iím curious about this opinion. Eastman and Kentucky (for example) offer sub-$500 (and sub-$400) models with all solid woods, hand-carved tops, nitro finish, bound fretboard, and decent basic hardware. Those specs alone put them a step above a $200 Yamaha guitar. My first guitar was a $200 Yamaha FG-700. It was okay, but I never thought it was great, and I was happy to move on from it. I just picked up a new Kentucky KM-270 for just $400, and I think itís a nicer instrument than my old Yamaha in just about every way.

My goal was to have something decent to learn on that plays well and sounds good, and, if things go that way, inform my decision-making if I decide to upgrade at some point in the future. I think my sub-$500 mando fits that bill at least as well as a $200 Yamaha would in the guitar universe.
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  #30  
Old 02-03-2019, 05:38 AM
Rob DiStefano Rob DiStefano is offline
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there are only TWO things to be aware of with stringed instruments - playability and sound.

playability is Most Important - if it can't be reasonably played, then the instrument is useless no matter how wonderful it sounds.

sound belongs to the ears of the beholder. there has been, and will continue to be, wonderful music created with what most would call junker instruments. an example of that is some of the stellar blues players of the 30's to 50's.

sound emanates from yer brain and fingers, first and foremost. it really doesn't much matter if the mandolin or guitar yer picking on has a solid or laminated top if YOU can make it WORK to produce good music. got chops?

the rest is pure bullsh1t and elitism. ymmv, but it shouldn't.
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