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Thread: Mandolin - What are good brands? Where to buy used?

  1. #1
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    Default Mandolin - What are good brands? Where to buy used?

    I want to get a new mandolin for my spouse. She's currently using a chinese-made "Smoky Mountain" which we got for around $100 CDN.

    I realize that mandolins are substantially more expensive than ukuleles. Anyone have any ideas about what I might be able to get for say $500? Are there any brands I should look-for/stay-away-from?
    I would like to buy used - where can I go online to find people selling mandolins like people sell ukes in the marketplace here?

    If you've got one that's better quality than a really low end starter but not a super-fancy custom, please let me know. Maybe we can make a deal/trade/etc.
    MP Redwood/Koa Tenor with SouthCoast Heavies (tuned FBbDG), Loprinzi Mahogany Tenor with SouthCoast Mediums, Lute-kulele with Worth Browns, Mahalo "Les Paul"

  2. #2
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    I have no idea, but here's where I would start:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/

    Still kicking myself over the fender mandolin I didn't buy at a garage sale years ago.
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  3. #3

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    As with Uke's, it depends on how much you want to spend. The standard in the industry since the early 1900's has been Gibson. Can't go wrong there. In terms of used, there are also many. Top national sellers are Mandolin Bro's on Staten Island in New York, and Elderly in Michigan. As Peewee mentioned above, mandolincafe is a good place to educate yourself and they have an excellent classified section.

    Bill

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    I have a Michael Kelly that I really like. Kentucky and Eastman are also good brands. Gibson and Weber are the prefered makers but they cost high dollars. Mandolin is a fun instrument that you may enjoy also.....a christmas present for both of you

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by peewee View Post
    I have no idea, but here's where I would start:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/

    Still kicking myself over the fender mandolin I didn't buy at a garage sale years ago.

    That's the first place I looked...but they don't have much of a marketplace section like we do on this forum.

    However, another member pm-ed me with a few suggestions on places to find used mandos: Gianni Violins seems to have quite a few used ones, all set up and at a reasonable price.

    thanks for the input everyone!
    MP Redwood/Koa Tenor with SouthCoast Heavies (tuned FBbDG), Loprinzi Mahogany Tenor with SouthCoast Mediums, Lute-kulele with Worth Browns, Mahalo "Les Paul"

  6. #6
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    The cafe has a HUGE classified section. There are 211 ads in their classifieds right now. Nonetheless, I'd highly recommend getting a used A style. Being used, you would be more likely to get one that is properly setup as opposed to paying $500 for a new one then having to spend another $100+ to get it setup properly. Few new instruments come ready to play. I would highly recommend getting a Mid-Mo or Big Muddy if you don't mind a flat top. If you're interested in an A style with F holes then I have a 96 Flatiron Performer for sale.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magoosan View Post
    As with Uke's, it depends on how much you want to spend. The standard in the industry since the early 1900's has been Gibson. Can't go wrong there.
    Those older Gibsons are highly prized. I have a 1917 A-1 I haven't actually played in a few years, but there's no way I'd part with it.

    But I have no knowledge or experience with their newer models.

  8. #8
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    Here is my path. First of all I really favor quality North American hand made instruments. My guitars are Collings, Huss and Dalton, and Larrivee. You will never find me playing a far east imported guitar.

    That said, my first good mandolin was a '50 Gibson A-50. After a year I replaced it with a late 80's Carlson era Flatiron and that was a significant improvement. I sold the Gibson for $100 more than I paid for the Flatiron. Then a year later I played a shop worn Eastman at Appalachian Bluegrass in Baltimore that impressed the hell out of me. Bought it, sold the Flatiron, and pocketed $200. About 2 years later I swapped a mandola made by a small luthier in Nova Scotia for a Michael Kelly mandolin and cash. Sold the Eastman a month later. Quite frankly the Michael Kelly was the best of the lot in sound, volume and playability, and by far the cheapest. With each step up I actually pocketed a bunch of cash, about $600, and ended up with a better sounding and playing instrument. I don't know if all Michael Kelly's are as good as this one, but I believe the Eastmans are very consistently good. One key with the Michael Kelly is that it had a VooDoo setup. I think this may be part of the key, however all the others were well set up too. My 2 bits.
    Larry from Delaware
    Kanile'a T-1 Deluxe, Islander MT-4
    2000 Collings D1 (Canon), 1993 Larrivee OM-09 cedar top (Lady), Taylor GA-3 12 string, Martin 00C-16DB
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  9. #9
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    My best friend has an ovation Mando and it was $900...on sale. It is the most beautiful warm mandolin I have heard. Ovation makes a cheaper one in their celebrity series that is just as beautiful and I have played andLOVED. I think it was around $270

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieFromOntario View Post
    I want to get a new mandolin lessons for my spouse. She's currently using a chinese-made "Smoky Mountain" which we got for around $100 CDN.

    I realize that mandolins are substantially more expensive than ukuleles. Anyone have any ideas about what I might be able to get for say $500? Are there any brands I should look-for/stay-away-from?
    I would like to buy used - where can I go online to find people selling mandolins like people sell ukes in the marketplace here?

    If you've got one that's better quality than a really low end starter but not a super-fancy custom, please let me know. Maybe we can make a deal/trade/etc.
    Well it depends on what category of playing your spouse is, intermediate or professional. But you can go ahead and try Kentucky KM-140S or KM-150S. I own one Kentucky mandolin right now.
    Last edited by butlersdog; 03-17-2012 at 07:15 PM.

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