Buying a Mandolin
January 30, 2004 9:01 AM   Subscribe

My cheap old mandolin, bought out of the back of a friend's truck for $20, just went kaput. Can anyone suggest a) a good mandolin that will cost me under $500, and/or b) a reputable online place to buy mandolins?
posted by UKnowForKids to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
 
Mid Missouri Mandolins are incredible instruments for the price. I admit that they look a little funny, especially if you have your heart set on a Gibson F-style body. But they are made of solid wood, are set up great at the factory and sound really sweet.

The only thing that is a little different about them is that they don't have adjustable bridges. But if you call them up they will send you a whole set of replaceable bridges if you want to screw around with the action. They are great people to do business with. When I was shopping for mandolins I was frustrated at how difficult it is to find a quality instrument at a decent price, but the Mid-Mo's fill that niche.

As for online dealers, I've heard that Elderly is a great dealer. Folk of the Wood is worth checking out too.

Kentucky Mandolins are lower priced too and they work for some people, but every one i've touched was shit.

You should check out the discussion board at the Mandolin Cafe. There's some really knowledgable players there.
posted by eastlakestandard at 9:17 AM on January 30, 2004


If you've got a mind to branch out, there's always the Flea Market Music FLUKE Ukulele.
posted by silusGROK at 9:26 AM on January 30, 2004


kaput? What happened to it? Unless the fretboard is a total mess and/or you've seriously mangled the body, it's probably repairable...
posted by weston at 9:29 AM on January 30, 2004


As for online dealers, I've heard that Elderly is a great dealer.

They're even nicer in person.

*is fortunate to live just minutes from the store*
posted by iceberg273 at 9:34 AM on January 30, 2004


weston: kaput? What happened to it? Unless the fretboard is a total mess and/or you've seriously mangled the body, it's probably repairable...

What happened is that the screws that hold the tailpiece on the body popped out as I was tightening the strings, leaving three ugly holes in the bottom of the body. I haven't gotten an estimate, but my guess is that it would cost more to fix than it would be worth, the mandolin being so cheap. There's also an inch-long hairline fracture on the side of the body, as well.
posted by UKnowForKids at 10:23 AM on January 30, 2004


Hmmm. That doesn't sound good if the wood of the body can't support the string tension anymore. Still... it may well be that you're not going to find a Mandolin you're interested in for less than $500 (and you may be able to get solid repair work for much less). My brother did get a Kentucky which he gets some fairly good sound on (you can actually hear him playing it in the middle of some stuff on music.metafilter.com) and I have another friend with an Epiphone that sounds good as well ... and they spent $225 and $300 respectively.

I guess it comes down to whether you like the sound of what you've got vs. what you can afford to buy new.
posted by weston at 5:39 PM on January 30, 2004


Saga makes the Kentucky Mandolin, a pretty good budget range instrument. For a decent cheap-o-la, Johnson makes a serviceable mando for about $100. What kind of music do you want to play on your mando? Do you perform? If not, then you probably don't need anything too fancy. when I started performing professionally (I'm mostly a fiddler) I was actually told by a German music promoter that my Saga Kentucky looked too cheap when I was doing a TV segment in Berlin. So I got a Gibson. Mine is a 1934 A-50. My buddy bought a Gibson 1912 A-2 in Lexington Ky, for $300. Check the want-ad magazines that you see at supermarket check-out counters.
posted by zaelic at 9:14 AM on January 31, 2004


Oh, the A-50 was $500.

IF you did want to attempt a repair job yourself, the info would probably be here: http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/pagelist.htm

(sorry, but the mefi link button isn't working today!)l
posted by zaelic at 9:18 AM on January 31, 2004


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