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Any mandolin players here?

2/12/2005 11:00 AM
Any mandolin players here?
Hello all,  
Can anyone recommend a good starter mandolin? I'm looking to purchase one, but living in a rural area my shopping choices are very limited. I would of course like to find something decent, but don't want to spend a couple grand on one either. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to all.  
2/12/2005 12:07 PM
Steve A.

    I don't play mandolin but I've been tempted to get one of those cheap ones from Musicians' Friend... and maybe a round neck dobro from them, too!  
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2/13/2005 2:41 PM
Mark Lavelle

My brother is a mandolin player and I believe he's pretty happy with his Fender acoustic/electric (this one, I think: ).
2/13/2005 3:07 PM
Rob B.
If you are just starting out, almost any mandolin will do as long as it plays well and stays in tune. But these are common problems with many inexpensive instruments. Tuning a mandolin is a bear. There are a few (not many) reputable used/vintage dealers that do an exceptional job of servicing used instruments before they sell them. Buying a used instrument that has already depreciated means more bang for the buck, but so many of these instruments need repair. Elderly Instruments comes to mind as a store that only sends out used stuff in excellent playing condition.
2/14/2005 11:12 AM
John Fisher

"If you are just starting out, almost any mandolin will do as long as it plays well and stays in tune. But these are common problems with many inexpensive instruments. Tuning a mandolin is a bear"
Yes! What people don't always realize is that although a mandolin looks small and easy to handle. There is a lot of string tention on it.(More then a guitar) It has 8 strings which when tuned up is lots of stress. I would definately look for a used one that has already passed the stress test. Maybe at a pawn shop. It's wise to be able to try it out first to make sure it plays easy and comfortable or else it can be murder to play.  
As far as tuning one, if the bridge which is usually completely movable on the body is placed correctly it shouldn't be a problem.  
John Fisher
2/13/2005 4:31 PM
If you buy any cheapie instrument from a mail-order type outfit, count on doing/paying for a setup. Our store carries the Johnson mandolins and each one needs a fret level, and sometimes needs to have the nut slotted properly as well as string height and bridge placement. Nasty fret ends are par for the course. They sound pretty good for a hundred bucks, though.  
It seems like you are looking for a bit better quality than just an introductory instrument so used is the best way to go. Anything used or new in the $500 to $800 range should be a good quality instrument with none of the issues that plague the cheap stuff.
2/15/2005 7:37 AM

Thanks to all for the advice. I know when recommending guitars for people I try to steer them away from anything too cheap which generally have playing issues. Nothing more discouraging than a crap instrument.  
As I posted earlier, my local area doesn't offer much in the line of trying anything out. But from what I get from all of the posts is that used is probably the way to go. I guess I'll hold off untill my anual pilgramage to Elderly and try out some used ones. I've always been very happy with their service/selection. Definately pro's there.  
Thanks again to all for the advice.  
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