Good, cheap mandolin?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by jenderfazz, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. I'm looking for a mandolin to fiddle around with. Any cheap but good suggestions?
  2. I don't play mandolin, but at one time I was interested in getting one, so I did a little bit of research. Basically, if you're looking to spend less than about $500, it's better to get one that's the simple "round" style. This is because the "F" style is considerably mroe difficult to make, which often translates to a mandolin that looks nicer from a distance, but is of poorer build quality. Oh yeah, and don't get the rogue/musician's friend brand mandolin. I've only heard bad things about them. Hope this helps.
  3. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    Mandolin, huh? I used to have one that was made by Kentucky. Paid about $250 for it. (It was crushed by my over anxious dog in an attempt to get at the UPS guy. ) But for what I paid for it, it was halfway decent.
  4. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    I have been considering an acoustic/electric mandolin made by Tyler Mountain. They have a composite back (like Ovation) and play fairly well. A local store has them for 300.00 but you can find them on ebay for 149.00
  5. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Mandolins are frequently pretty impossible for folks used to bass strings. Read that as TIGHT spacing and tiny scale length.

    I bet you already knew that.

    But what I'll bet you hadn't thought of is that there are bigger alternatives. Octave mandolins, Mandolas, and Bouzoukis are much easier for a bass player to cope with, have an immensely cool sound and you won't run into them at every single jam session.
  6. There was a time that Musician's Friend was offering a special deal. You could get a Johnson dreadnought acoustic guitar and a Johnson mandolin for $99. I have one of these mandos. It ain't bad. For ~$50, you could do a lot worse. You just need to find out if the deal is still available.
    Good luck.
  7. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    A member of my band recently bought one new off Ebay for $99. Sorry, don't remember the brand or specific source, but I got the impression that it's a store that sells them through Ebay at that going price. I don't know much about mandolins, but it seems like a decently crafted and sounding instrument for the money. I'm sure a $250 mandolin would be much better, but the thing is by no means a totally unusable piece of junk, either.

  8. Whatever you do, try it before you buy it. You might find something cheap & decent. I got a free Carlo Robelli mandolin and a free Carlo Robelli electric guitar, and both SUCK. They are actually unplayable. I wish Sam Ash would take out their own garbage instead of giving it to customers to haul away for them.
  9. Against Will

    Against Will Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    Big Sound Central
    I play mandolin, and I didn't really have that much trouble getting used to the string spacing. Granted, I'm not the most proficient or experienced bass player, but I'm sure if you stretch beforehand then you won't have to much trouble. It's easy to adjust to because it's violin tuning (i.e. regular bass tuning "upside down").

    A-style mandolins (teardrop shaped) are, IMO, much nicer than F-style (fancy kind w/the scroll). They are sturdier and, I think, have a richer tone. When I started out, I used a Johnson model which was alright for beginners, but the strings got really close together as you went lower. At the time it didn't bother me. But now that I have a mandolin with a wider neck, its hard for me to get used to my old one again when I pick it up.

    Kentucky mandolins are generally a good bet, I would go with that. I've tried one Epiphone, and it wasn't bad, but I would still go with the Kentucky.

    Mandolas are fun instruments, though they're harder to find, they have the same pitch as guitars but I think they sound cooler.
  10. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    This thread has inspired me to go out and purchase a new mandolin!!

    Although I haven't played in a couple years, it'll probably be just like riding a bike----right???? ;)
  11. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Same here! Mandolins are great fun to tinker around with. They are pretty awkward for someone used to bass strings and spacing, and the whole concept of doubled strings is a little weird. But they are still really neat, up there with ukuleles.
  12. victobass


    Nov 27, 2003
  13. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    The double-neck bass/mando. With such a device, I could take over the world.

    Things are getting dangerous now............
  14. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX

    Wow I was able to re-use a LOT of your post and make it be about me. :)

    I play mandolin, badly. That is why I said it is hard for bass player hands to adjust to. If I had a Mandolin with wider spacing it would be much easier to cope with, I'm sure.
    And yes, I think Mandola is cool.
  15. tyson


    Feb 9, 2000
    Dallas, TX
    I've always wanted a mandolin. When I was a young lad I bought a $6.99 CD called "Vivaldi Mandolin Suites"... or something to that effect... Then in college I was at a party when some hippies busted out their instruments and jammed some bluegrass...well, of course the mandolin player was fun to watch...since there wasn't a bassist!

    I like how the mandolin is soo old school (1700s) and how it's plucking sounds soo much nicer IMHO than a plucked violin...

    So I think I'm gonna get one of these
    and upgrade to a nice-nice brand/model if my playing warrants it...
  16. ONYX


    Apr 14, 2000
    Well, not long after my last post in this thread, I bought a new mandolin. After not playing one for so long, I wasn't sure if I remembered how to play the thing. But, after an hour or two it all came back. The most difficult thing, for me at least, is not the small frets, but the tuning--in 5ths's as opposed to 4th's. Overall, the mandolin is a fun instrument to play.

    I have to say this: The mandolin is WAY easier to lug around than a bass, a 410 cab, and a 60 pound amp rack!!! ;)
  17. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    The Mid-Missouri Mandolin Company ( makes some great, fairly inexpensive A-type instruments. I bought an M-4 about four or five years ago for about $440. I'd rather have it than a cheaply made F-type.
  18. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    Ahh, you beat me to it, Bob! The Mid-Mo stuff is excellent! They are to mandolins what guys JP, FBB, and Nordstrand are to basses. They're a family operation making excellent, hand-made instruments with GREAT attention to detail, and they use all solid woods. For a little extra you can get the wide-neck option, which may be of some help moving from a bass to a mandolin. I have an M-1-W, myself, and love it! I'd rather play that than my dad's Gibson F-5 or A-50!
  19. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    i saw "mandolin" and though "john paul jones"
  20. i just realized, i own a mandolin, and i have absolutely no idea where it is. i haven't seen it in three years.

    those suckers are small.