Johnson Mandolins

A discussion of techniques, and equipment for guitar. Fretted, bottleneck or slide, acoustic or electric, this is the place.

Johnson Mandolins

Postby savage » Wed May 17, 2006 11:01 pm

I've been askin questions here and there about mandolins, particularly those made by johnson. They seem to be pretty fair priced. I am thinking about purchasing one. I'd like to know if anyone could offer some insight on the difference between the Savannah and Decatur models. I think the Savannah seems like a great buy, however, I don't really want to buy another mandolin later on, if my ears decide they want better sound quality (since the Decatur model has a solid spruce top which I would think provide a better sound). I'm just thinkin it'd be harder to sell a used mandolin (especially one as cheap as that) than it would a guitar. I can afford the more expensive one, and in my opinion, if it sounds better, its worth the money (especially since I won't have to sell it and lose money). Thanks in advance for any replies :)

The prices on ebay for each model are considerably lower than suggested on the johnson site. The Savannah sells for around $147 while the Decatur is sellin for about $449 or so.

Here are links to the Johnson site for each model:
Image
http://www.johnsongtr.com/Savannah.196.0.html
Image
http://www.johnsongtr.com/Decatur.317.0.html
Last edited by savage on Wed May 17, 2006 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
savage
Regular
 
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:11 am
Location: SOFLA

Postby ricochet » Wed May 17, 2006 11:05 pm

Go for it.

The only mandolin in this house is an old Sears Korean made one made in the late '70s, so I can't comment about the quality of the Johnsons. But you're exactly right about their resale value. Buy it, you've got it.
User avatar
ricochet
Regular
 
Posts: 10256
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am
Location: Bristol, Tennessee, USA

Postby bignick » Thu May 18, 2006 12:06 am

Since buying that Delta Blues squareneck, I have completely come around to Johnson instruments.

I wouldn't hesistate to pick on one of their Mando's Savage. Their are some good upgrades on Randy Allen's site too. He makes really nice tailpieces and stuff.

What kind of music you going to be picking on that thing? I have been playing a lot of Bluegrass because all of the jams in the area are such. I love jamming with mandolin players. Too bad you live across the country.
User avatar
bignick
Regular
 
Posts: 1001
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:10 am
Location: Grand Rapids

Postby savage » Thu May 18, 2006 2:14 am

I've got a thing for folk-style music. Seems to be the majority of music that I play when I'm un-plugged. I've always loved just pickin up a mandolin and pluckin until i can't pluck anymore. Ona my co-workers let me borrow his mandolin to fiddle with. Its an old Ibanez acoustic/electric.

Yeah, I'd love to be able to jam with some other people who like to play similar music. So far I gotta play that kinda music by myself. But hopefully I'll meet up with some musicians who are into the same groove someday.
User avatar
savage
Regular
 
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:11 am
Location: SOFLA

Postby nizer » Thu May 18, 2006 5:53 pm

savage wrote:Ona my co-workers let me borrow his mandolin to fiddle with...


Speaking of which, one of the cool things about mandolin is that it has the same tuning as violin so if ya learn a few tunes you can saw away on a fiddle too... some cool old-timey numbers like Turkey In The Straw or The Coo Coo.
User avatar
nizer
Regular
 
Posts: 547
Joined: Wed May 11, 2005 4:18 pm

Postby louisianagrey » Thu May 18, 2006 8:07 pm

If you can't play it before you buy then when it arrives take a good look at the neck angle. Chinese mandolins can be OK, but I've seen some where the neck angle was so low the action was like a cheese grater and there wasn't any adjustment left in the bridge to make it any better without some serious surgery.
User avatar
louisianagrey
Regular
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue May 28, 2002 4:10 pm
Location: Isle of Man

Postby savage » Thu May 18, 2006 8:54 pm

nizer wrote:
savage wrote:Ona my co-workers let me borrow his mandolin to fiddle with...


Speaking of which, one of the cool things about mandolin is that it has the same tuning as violin so if ya learn a few tunes you can saw away on a fiddle too... some cool old-timey numbers like Turkey In The Straw or The Coo Coo.


another instrument I'm sure one day I will approach. But I'm tryin not too get too far ahead of myself.

louisianagrey, i'll be sure to do that. The action on mandolins seems to me to be even more important than on a guitar, cause if its not right, it makes it almost impossible to play.
User avatar
savage
Regular
 
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:11 am
Location: SOFLA

Postby thebluescaster » Fri May 19, 2006 3:15 am

For starters, if you are wanting to play folky-type music, you might not want an F style...sort of like buying a metal bodied Dobro for classical...
F styles are the bluegrass icon, and are often made to be flatpicked hard and choppy, and to cut through the other instruments in a bluegrass band.
For a warmer sound, you may want an A style with an oval soundhole..

Second, if you don't want to be buying a new mandolin after you get serious about it, don't get a Johnson.

An Eastman MD-504 is an A style instrument you could keep for many years.

You also might want to look into octave mandolins, the frets are more like guitar spacing, and they have a rich sound.
thebluescaster
Regular
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:26 pm

Postby ricochet » Fri May 19, 2006 3:26 am

Bouzoukis have gotten fairly popular around here lately.
User avatar
ricochet
Regular
 
Posts: 10256
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 1970 12:00 am
Location: Bristol, Tennessee, USA

Postby thebluescaster » Fri May 19, 2006 3:53 am

Memphis has a small but growing Celtic music community, and octaves, bouzoukis, and even a cittern get seen at some of the fiddling sessions.

I'm working on a bluesy octave mando version of an Elvis tune for my new band even as we speak. :?:
thebluescaster
Regular
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:26 pm

Postby savage » Fri May 19, 2006 4:05 am

I appreciate your input. Most of the mandolins I have played have had f-holes. I can appreciate both sounds, but I kinda like the plucky(don't know how else to describe it) sound for finger-picking and strumming. I've always felt more comfortable using my bare fingers on mandolins. Just seems what the intrument was made for.

Those eastman mandos are pretty nice, however they're a bit pricey. The johnson mandolins seem to go for a lot less on ebay than do the eastmans and other brands (which is the reason why I am lookin to johnson for a mandolin). Some of those eastmans sure were purty though.... This one oval-hole in particular caught my eye:
Image
I will give it some further thought before I make a decision. Again, thanks for your input.
User avatar
savage
Regular
 
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2004 2:11 am
Location: SOFLA

Postby zhyla » Tue May 30, 2006 12:04 am

I would stay away from both of these but definitely stay away from the Savannah. I think you want to avoid any mando that doesn't have solid top, back, and sides.

You might look at the low-end Kentucky's, I bought a used KM-200 about 5 years ago and don't think I'll ever part with it. You should be able to find something along those lines in the $150-$250 range.
User avatar
zhyla
Site Admin
 
Posts: 947
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:43 pm

Postby leftyguitarman » Tue May 30, 2006 6:20 pm

ricochet wrote:Bouzoukis have gotten fairly popular around here lately.


Funny thing that you say that because I dont know anyone personally who plays the bouzouki, and I know a lot of musicians. I have been teaching myself to play the bouzouki and nobody I know even knows what they are. I like the bouzouki much better than the mandolin. And if you want to play the bouzouki like a mandolin, just capo it at the 12th fret. They are played the same as a mandolin, but they can be hard to play chords on. Some of the chords span over many frets, and with such a long neck you really have to stretch out your hands. They are almost like two instruments in one. I love em.
User avatar
leftyguitarman
Regular
 
Posts: 3183
Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 3:48 am
Location: Washington State

Postby leftyguitarman » Tue May 30, 2006 6:26 pm

savage wrote:Those eastman mandos are pretty nice, however they're a bit pricey.


I have played a few Eastman mandolins, and I like em but not for the price. As mentioned above, they are a little pricey. The only left handed one I've played, well, I didnt like the quality that much. The part of the mandolin that is curved (on an F-Style) that goes above the neck area, was really cheaply put together. It looked as if it were several little pieces of wood glued together, but it did have a nice sound.
Last edited by leftyguitarman on Tue May 30, 2006 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
leftyguitarman
Regular
 
Posts: 3183
Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 3:48 am
Location: Washington State

Postby jeffl » Tue May 30, 2006 6:33 pm

My only observation on Mandolins stems from having jammed with mando players for the last dozen years or so: there is a huge difference in the projecting qualities of those little things. Some of 'em are useless in an acoustic jam,and "cut" has been referred to earlier in this thread. I would suggest playing them in "A/B" comparison fashion,to compare the volume producing qualities.
jeffl
Contributor
Contributor
 
Posts: 4051
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:04 pm

Next

Return to Guitar

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests