Johnson Mandolins

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

Postby savage » Tue May 30, 2006 8:20 pm

yeah, thats really what I always like to do when lookin at new instruments. However I have never seen a mandolin in stores other than a fender (carried by sam ash) which is not even worth mentioning. Most of the instruments I am interested in are only available to me over the internet and word of mouth. The only mandolins I have seen or played have belonged to some of my friends/acquaintances (who recieved them as hand-me-downs from their great grandparents)... they never play them. I'll keep you guys posted as I continue to search for somethin that works.
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Postby david » Wed May 31, 2006 3:01 pm

I've been out of the loop for a few days and missed this.

I just went through the process of selecting a mandolin for my daughter and did a fair amount of reading and actually looking at them. Mandolins are far more plentiful here in western Kentucky than resonator guitars!

The Kentucky brand is generally considered to be the best mid-range instrument by the bluegrass folks in this area. Most see this as the step to be taken before leaping off into the Gibson mandolins--which are very pricey.

I ended up going with an Old Hickory F-hole. They are less expensive than the Kentucky brand, made in Nashville, Tn. and seem to be a good deal for the money.

The most common comment I heard from the bluegrass pickers about the Old Hickory mandolins is that they sound as good as the Kentucky mandolins, but might not play as well.

One other advantage: the Old Hickory came with one of the best cases I've seen.

Be forewarned, mandolins are addictive and they are NOT for the faint of heart.
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Postby thebluescaster » Wed May 31, 2006 5:04 pm

That 'leap' from a Kentucky to a Gibson is going to be a big one...
Gibson bluegrass mandolins run $5 thousand on up to $20K+, while the Kentucky's run from $500 to around $1,000.

In that lower price range, the Kentuckys have a good rep on their nicer do the newer Eastmans.
In between there is a whole slew of Rigels, Webers, Breedloves and so forth for $2K to $5K...all very good quality for an intermediate price.

And then you have the custom luthiers like Bob Altman, whose instruments sound like a vintage Gibson when brand new.

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Postby david » Thu Jun 01, 2006 3:19 pm

For what it's worth, the Old Hickory mandolin can be had for between $150 and $200, depending on style and source.

I figure coming out of Nashville they have to deal with folks that know a thing or two about mandolins. In looking through the reviews on line the only negative comment I found was that the construction was such that the instruments might not stand up to touring.

Around my place they only have to tour to the couch and back.
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Postby podmo » Sat Jun 03, 2006 2:53 am

Hi, all:

Another consideration could be a Mid-Missouri mandolin. I have an M-2. These have flat tops and backs, a pumpkin seed shaped body, and non-radiused necks with a round soundhole. The tone is very sweet, with good volume. They run $400 to $600. All hand made. All tonewoods without any plywood. American made.

I asked several makers of high-end instruments what they would buy if their budget was about $600, and several picked the Mid-Missouri. As a bonus, the wood they're made out of is absolutely beautiful. They have a nice website.

Blues (Steve James type stuff) sound very nice on them.

Best wishes,

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