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The mandolin reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

89 reviews in the archive.

Grave Creek: Bouzouki #2

Submitted by kimmattis123 (see all reviews from this person) on 7/2/2016

Where Purchased: Private builder

Year Purchased: 2003
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Nice rich full sound. I have it set up as an octave mandolin [OM strings 44-11] sounds good. I use the bouzouki tuning [GDad] Large open chord sound. Sometimes a bet week with banjos though.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Hand made- setup was great

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Beautiful looking instrument. Spurce top, light maple back and sides, Mog. neck.

Appearance Rating: not rated

Reliability

Ive had it for a while- iat seems pretty solid.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Private maker [ Bob Talkington of Moundsville, WV] Lifetime warrenty- he will fix it until HE dies.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Very well made- wood is just beautiful- Faceplace is off color brown to show off the neck and top.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I tried the regular bouzouki strings,  it has a 24" neck- and the regular choursed strings just wouldn't stay in tune.  So i switched to GHS Octave Mandolin strings- and it really came alive.  SO i kept it as a OM.  I play mostly bluegrass and i bring it to jams on occasion- it gets lots of looks and sounds good on a lot of songs [ NOT all of course].  I have an Irish Tenor banjo tuned [CGdg] so the tuning is the same but a 4th off. the chords are the same shapes. I have never found a irish jam around here- I would love to try it there.

Overall Rating: 8

Epiphone: MM 50 E

Submitted by Chappy0168 (see all reviews from this person) on 7/22/2015

Where Purchased: Music Submarine

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 325. ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

Unplugged the Mqandolin has a bright sound.
Plugged into an amp this thing screams. It will be heard in a crowd.
The pick up is a major plus it will let you be heard.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The mandolin came set very well.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

The blonde natural finish makes it stand out but not flashy. No glossy finish so its not one to sit around and afraid to get scratched up.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The tuners are sticky and feel a little cheap. Tailpiece is whats standard today.

Reliability Rating: 5

Customer Service

They shipped quick set up pretty good.

Customer Service: 7

Components

The fit and finish is not top quality. Secaond rate at best but sounds great and plays easy.

Components Rating: 4

Overall Comments

I didn't buy it for a top quality instrument, I wanted something to travel with that had good sound.Fit and finish is not as nice as a high dollar mando but I've seen ones for more money with not as good a sound from them.

Overall Rating: 7

Breedlove: Breedlove Premier Series FF

Submitted by Josey DC (see all reviews from this person) on 1/5/2015

Where Purchased: Sam Ash

Year Purchased: 2015
Price Paid: 1489.16 ($US)

Sound

Awesome sound...many have stated something along the lines that Breedloves, like Collings, have a more "modern" sound, i.e. not the typical "woof & woody & depth" of the instruments in the Gibson camp. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the owner's manual, Breedlove mandolins are built with a deeper body and higher contour of the top, *very* condusive to a rich, woody tone. The volume of my particular instrument is incredible...a real "banjo killer"...the strings will break before the instrument reaches it's full volume apex...

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

The action was fine when I purchased it, I just tweaked the bass side of the saddle up a wee little bit...other than that, I have not done a thing to it... My action on the G-D strings is right at 2 1/2 32's of an inch, the A-E strings are about the same as well. A pleasure to play, because the stings are not jacked up so high as to kill your fingertips...

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Mine is slightly fancier in appearance (the figuring in the wood, i.e. the maple back and sides and the tight grian lines in the spruce top) Also, I've noticed for whatever reasons, mine is finished a bit darker than most, a bit more darker than amber colored

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The hardware seems to be very good quality. I did gun-oil the tuners to make them tune smooth as silk. The fit of the bridge to the top is nearly perfect, the saddle stands straight up without bending over, as I have seen happen in instruments at 3-4 times the price, The finish is very thin, but very durable...I would definitely gig/record with this instrument without a thought of a back-up instrument, save only if I broke a string and had to make a quick switch...

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The warranty is a lifetime warranty to the original owner... they even give a 2-year warranty on the tuners and a one year warranty on the hardshell case. I have dealt with them over the phone (gave my instruments serial number to find out exactly when it was made/completed) and the woman I talked to was extremely helpful...

Customer Service: 10

Components

I like the large frets, and the choice of wood used in the construction of my particular FF... I've owned 4 of these FF models now and each one has been very consistant in terms of flawless construction. I've only re-sold if I found one that sounded better to my ears and the one I have now is the best one I have had...you can hear the wood and steel (strings) workig together very well on this instrument and that tone is just great over the entire tonal palate...if you want bottom end, it'll give you that, velvety, bell-like highs, it'll give you that (without sounding "tinny") and more volume than you can possibly want. There are no cheap parts on this instrument...but if I could change anything, it'd be a simple one...install real pearl tuner knobs on the tuners. That's it.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I can sum this up in one sentence...this Breedlove Premier Series FF sounds BETTER than an instrument costing 4 or 5 times what I paid for it...and sound is what is the most important thing to me, other than top-tier craftsmanship... ... ...

Overall Rating: 10

The Loar: The Loar LM-590 MS

Submitted by RickJohnson (see all reviews from this person) on 11/21/2014

Where Purchased: Homestead Pickin' Parlor

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 650.00 ($US)

Sound

Very nice rich sound, on all strings. As a brand new mandolin with almost no hours played, I am suprised how bright it sounds right out of the gate.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Setup by the Homestead Pickin' Parlor a day before my purchase, and could not have asked for more.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Workmanship was done as perfect as I would expect. The finish "Tobacco Sunburst" is very pretty. Top/back/sides are not glossy, maybe it could be called "satin". Which is good for my eyes (I hate glossy).

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Don't know if I would call the finish thin, but it's sure not thick. Since I don't play professionally (and take care of my instrument) I think this mandolin will look good for many years to go. I

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Did not work with "The Loar". My instrument was ordered by Homestead Pickin' Parlor for me after "we" talked about it. So, I am going to rate Homestead Pickin' Parlor.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Came with Grover tuning machines with pearloid buttons. Seems nicely fitted on the head, and at this time, easy to use. Tailpiece fitted nice but tight, when it's time to change strings it may take some pratice to slide it out easier. The Compensated Adjustable Ebony bridge seems to fit perfectly.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

The price I mentioned above includes the setup, with a case (& taxes) the price was $800.00. I ordered the Loar LM-590 because it does not have the fretboard extension. I could not be more pleased. Sliding up and down the neck, fingering on the frets, weight of the mandolin itself, the Loar LM-590 is a dream to play.

Overall Rating: 9

Big Muddy: M-11w

Submitted by S_Heriger (see all reviews from this person) on 11/4/2014

Where Purchased: Online direct

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 840 ($US)

Sound

I love the clear, focused sound. The M-11 is everything it's advertised to be, and more. I play a lot of Old Time and Celtic, and this is the perfect instrument for my needs. The tone is punchy enough to cut through the crowd, but still sings sweetly when need. Great sustain as well.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Excellent set-up. With a very, very minor tweak of the newly-installed strings, this was ready to play within minutes of arrival in the mail.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's friggin' gorgeous. I paid a bit extra to have Mike add a darker stain vs. the natural clear finish he usually does on mahongany, and I really love it. Big Muddy Mandolins are hand hewn and designed to look like hand-crafted instruments.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware is top notch, although I may upgrade to a cast tailpiece at some point. This is a great jam instrument.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Mike Dulak runs a first-rate company, and personally responds to your email questions and special requests. Great communication from start to finish. He even sent me a photo of the partially-completed instrument while he was working on it.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything seems rock solid. I expect to have years of use from this well-built instrument.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

My brand new Big Muddy M-11w (wide nut) with a very unimpressed Murdock. I asked Mike to make the finish a bit darker than the normal natural tone and he did a nice stain job for a very reasonable additional fee. 

Overall Rating: 10

Rogue: ff hole sunburst

Submitted by Peter Summers (see all reviews from this person) on 11/4/2014

Where Purchased: Musician's Friend

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 59.00 ($US)

Sound

It's a 59 buck laminated mandolin and sounds pretty much like that (sound improved with change of strings). Nevertheless, these Rogues continue to amaze me. I've purchased 3 over the past few years (this one being the 3rd -- and played one my friend bought from Musicians Friend) and they are all virtually flawless and perfectly setup out of the box. I have no financial interest in M. F. and am just reporting my experience. I know it's shocking and certainly not what I was expecting given the reputation of Rogues on this and other sites.

Sound Rating: 5

Setup

As mentioned above, setup was excellent out of the box. I don't believe it could be improved (for my taste anyway -- low at the fingerboard end and perfect business cart space at the first fret). I kid you not. My previous Rogues, a blacktop F hole and an oval hole, were similar and also ready to go out of the box. I did also review the oval hole on this site some time ago.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Bright, glossy cheap sunburst finish but quite pleasing to the eye and flawless -- not a speck of dust in the thick acrylic (I think) finish. These things are built so well it defies all reason. I have no idea how they can produce these for less than 60 bucks (used to be 50 bucks a year or so ago). Cheap factory labor I suppose.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

Tuners work fine, no wobble, smooth turning. I can't anticipate the durability of this thing and I don't play professionally -- if I did play professionally I certainly wouldn't choose a Rogue, but for non-pros it is perfectly fine to learn on or play around the fireside.

Reliability Rating: not rated

Customer Service

Never had a problem with Musician's Friend. Fast service, instruments arrived setup and in great shape. I know people will dispute that M.F. does setups at all, but I'm justing telling it like it is. Mine were. 3 times now. I think 3 qualifies as a trend.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I don't know about durability. It feels solid and sturdy to me, seems very well constructed. Sound is thin and a bit tinny, of course, being what it is. But the sound is ok and mandolin like, and is improved, as mentioned above, by better strings. Upgrades on a 60 dollar mandolin strike me as silly.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

It is what it is, as they say. For a cheap laminate mandolin this thing looks, plays and sounds well enough for any beginner, or even more advanced players who are drawn to cheap instruments at bargain prices. I am often surprised by the negative reputation these things have on the mandolin sites. Of course they don't compete with the high dollar pro models. But so what?  For the price, I think they are an amazing bargain. Every beginner will eventually out grow them, obviously, but as an affordable starter instrument that allows anyone to learn to love and play mandolin music of any kind, these instruments are, IMO, the best dollar for dollar value on the Internet.

Overall Rating: 9

The Loar: LM-590MS

Submitted by Chappy0168 (see all reviews from this person) on 8/18/2014

Where Purchased: Ebay

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: 350.00 ($US)

Sound

It has a wonderful clear sound. Very bright on the High side but not to low on the low end.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It did not come set up. I adjusted the inotation and action to my liking.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

This model was developed with the minimalist in mind. The only inlay is the Loar name on the head stock and dots on the fret board. The satin finish stays with the subtle apperance. The subdued finish helps grain of the wood to stand out.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

The Grover tuners appear to of good quality and in working order. Have not noticed any slipping or binding.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I have not dealt with the companies warranty. So I can not give a rating on the service.

Customer Service: 5

Components

THe tail bridge may be a little lite. I may look into replacing that in the future but it is of good quality.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

The LM-590 has a great sound and I am very pleased with the purchase. If you are looking for a nice mandolin with not alot of flash I would recommend this one for sure. 

Overall Rating: 10

The Loar: LM-520VS

Submitted by Muscle Tone (see all reviews from this person) on 7/17/2014

Where Purchased: Guitar Center

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

It has a pretty decent sound. Sounds very good on the treble strings, but is a bit lacking on the middle and bass strings.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

This mandolin was setup very well when my dad purchased it. Nothing really had to be done to it. It was good to go!

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's basically a stripped down version of the LM-500 because it doesn't have any peghead inlay or binding. This is Loar's version of the Gibson F-5G. Just a no-frills F-style mandolin. I really like it though.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I have used this mandolin on quite a few gigs the past year and have never really had any problems with it so I could definitely rely on it for that purpose.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Have never dealt with Loar directly, but Guitar Center did a great job helping with the purchase.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I don't think anything should be upgraded on this mandolin. For the price you get very good parts.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I played this mandolin for awhile and really liked it. I have since moved on to other mandos that in my opinion have a stronger sound than this one, but overall I don't think it's a bad instrument in any way. If you're looking to buy a decent solid hand-carved F-style mandolin without breaking the bank, this would be the way to go. I would recommend it.

Overall Rating: 8

Johnson: MA-100

Submitted by Muscle Tone (see all reviews from this person) on 7/17/2014

Where Purchased: McKinney Pawn and Jewelry

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: $85 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This mandolin has a lot of volume. As with typical cheap mandolins this one is very much on the bright side, but is strongly lacking on the middle and bass strings.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

A few minor things did have to be done to the mandolin after purchasing it. A tailpiece cover had to be installed and new strings were put on it due to the fact that the strings originally on it were old and dead sounding.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

It's just your typical sunburst finish that you see on most student level mandolins. Very plain A-style, but this is probably what really helps keep the cost down in the end.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

I wouldn't nessecarily rely on this for any gigs, but I would rely on it for jam sessions and for places where I would be afraid of bringing my Collings mandolin.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Haven't dealt with the company behind this mandolin, but McKinney Pawn and Jewelry did a fantastic job with the overall transaction.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The only thing I would really upgrade are the tuners. They are really cheap and furthermore are way too loose.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

I will admit I do think very fondly of this mandolin, due to the fact this is what I started on when I got serious about playing a few years ago. I have since outgrown this instrument, so to speak and have moved on to other great mandolins that offer more capabilities than what this one offered. If you are new to the mandolin and just want to see if you're interested in playing, find a used one or get a Savannah SA-100 (which is basically the exact same mandolin, just different name). If you find you really love playing, then start looking into options for upgrading. This would be a good option for brand new players.

Overall Rating: 7

Northfield: NF-F5S

Submitted by DW Wilhite (see all reviews from this person) on 7/17/2014

Where Purchased: Cotten Music, Nashville, TN

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 2,595+Tax ($US)

Sound

Unbelievable Volume and Tone from this Mandolin, with a Tone Guard even more so.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Very good set up.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Great Classic Tobacco Sunburst F Style look. Just what I was looking for.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Hardware and finish are great.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Kim Sherman at Cotten Music in Nashville is Awesome.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I am very happy with this mandolin! Great Value.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I have played a lot of mandolins and I like this Northfield Mandolin more than some of the upper-end Weber's, Gibson's and Colling's I've played. If you're looking for a new mandolin, you should test-drive a Northfield before making your decision, and if you're in Nashville, the folks down at Cotten Music Center (615) 383-8947 are the people to call.

 

Overall Rating: 10

Collings: MT

Submitted by Muscle Tone (see all reviews from this person) on 7/16/2014

Where Purchased: Hill Country Guitars

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This mandolin has a real deep throaty tone that I really love. I don't have to play it too hard to get the tone I want. Overall great sound!

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This mandolin was setup very well. The only change that my dad and I have made is that we loosened the tuners a little bit due to the fact they were very hard to turn. Other than that, we haven't had to do anything else to it.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

It is an A-style mando with a beautiful Sheraton Brown finish. It's a no-frills appearance which I really love.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I have used this mandolin for every gig I have ever played since I got it, so I would definitely rely on it. I will be doing some recording later on in the year, so I plan to use it for that purpose as well.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Can't really comment on this due to the fact a really good friend of mine purchased this mandolin for me. From what he told me, he had a very nice transaction with Hill Country Guitars.

Customer Service: 9

Components

My only genuine complaint with this mandolin is the tuners are very tight, which makes them hard to turn when tuning. As I stated earlier, my dad and I have loosened them to a slight degree, but some of them are still difficult to turn.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

This is the best mandolin I have ever owned. If you're looking for a deep aggressive sounding mandolin for a little under $2,000 look no further. Bill Collings and his team are building absolutely great instruments and this one is in my humble opinion, one of the finest mandolins to ever come out of their factory. I highly recommend Collings mandolins!

Overall Rating: 10

Kentucky: KM-250

Submitted by Muscle Tone (see all reviews from this person) on 7/16/2014

Where Purchased: Murphy's Music

Year Purchased: 2014
Price Paid: $249 ($US) (bought USED)

Sound

This mandolin suprisingly has a very balanced sound. Mostly on the brighter side, but can really bark on the middle and bass strings as well.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

This mandolin was setup pretty well. I don't think any changes really had to be made.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

This is an A-style mando. It has the typical sunburst finish seen on cheaper mandolins, but it has absolutely beautiful flame on the back.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

I intend to use this mandolin primarily as a backup in case anything happens to my Collings MT. I would rely on it for a gig.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

My dad had a very nice transaction with Murphy Music when purchasing this mandolin.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The only part that may need to be upgraded in the future is the tail piece. It is pretty cheap for the most part.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

If you want a really great sounding mando for less than $1,000 this would definitely be worth looking into. Kentucky mandolins have been consistently good and I highly recommend it!

Overall Rating: 10

Lawrence Nyberg: Arch top Octave Mandolin

Submitted by ghhancock (see all reviews from this person) on 12/27/2013

Where Purchased: Lawrence Nyberg

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: $4500 (Canadian) historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This OM is amazing and I have played several good ones. Tone is rich, full and balanced from bass through treble and I have never played anything with lower regester so clear and distinct. It encourages creativity and experiments that bring new music from it.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

Set up was very good right off the shelf. Action was a little high for my liking but the tone and sustain was so good I will leave it until the 1st string change. Future adjustments are made easy by Lawrence's thoughtful attention to detail and owners manual. Bridge placement and tone at octaves is perfect.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

Absolutely stunning finish and materials. East Indian rosewood sides and back with ebony bindings and rosewood binding on neck. Beautiful Engelman top. Lawrence accomodated a Celtic Knot inlay at the 12th fret that is perfectly done and very attractive. The uninished, oiled neck is a unique and pleasant surprise.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

This instrument was made with care and experience and has proven very reliable. I use it everywhere without a backup.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Lawrence was an absolute joy to work with. He listened well and had positive feedback on every question and detail. Lifetime warranty.

Customer Service: 10

Components

Everything about this instrument is top shelf from wood selection through final details and setup. The standout componenets are the wood selection, build construction and attention to even the smallest detail to create an amazing instrument. Sound port is a joy.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I heard a few of Lawrence's instruments and was taken with the tone and appearance.  After contacting him I knew I wanted him to build my new instrument.  He was attentive, thoughtful and very accommodating to my questions and made insightful suggestions.  He kept me informed throughout the whole build process and delivered the instrument before the expected date.

The instrument has amazing depth of tone right out of the case. The arch top is focused, the sustain rings long past others and the unique arched back forces more volume than any other OM I have ever played.  It is a joy and an inspiration to play and I would not hesitate to buy another instrument from Lawrence.  I believe his instruments are very fairly priced for what you get in tone and workmanship.


I am new to posting on the site and tried to show photos but with no success.  I will try to post when I understand the technique better.  To see more instruments by Lawrence visit: http://www.nyberginstruments.com/mando/index.html

Overall Rating: 10

Eddie Blevins Mandolin: F5 custom build

Submitted by ErikForGod (see all reviews from this person) on 12/1/2013

Where Purchased: directly from builder

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

This mandolin was built by luthier Eddie Blevins of Blountville Tennessee per my specs and was his 10th build. I'm using no effects or amplification as it's an all acoustic F5 mandolin. The mandolin is very very new and has hardly been played so still sounds a bit "green" and sounds "tight" like most mandolins do when new. However, having said that, I can hear it developing some nice woody sounding mids ( but not overly woody sounding ) and also a good chop. It's too early to tell ultimately how the mandolin will develop seeing that it needs to be played and needs time to open up more. It has good volume already, although could improve, which I suspect will over time. It also has a nice tremolo and responds well to vigorous as well as soft picking.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Eddie had the mandolin set up well, however he had the action too high on it for my current stage of playing. I lowered the action and straightened the bridge slightly and lowered the action on the "E" string side while keping it slightly higher on the bass string side to keep a nice "thunk" on the chop. Set-up was easy to do and the mandolin notes and intonates well up and down the neck.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Eddie normally does alot of fancy inlay work and finishes with his builds, however with mine I went with a simple dark "choco-burst" kinda rustic F9 mandolin look. It has only a simple "Blevins" inlay in the peghead and simple fret dot markers. The mandolin has a nice bookmatched, even grained Adirondack Red Spruce top and VERY highly flamed Red Maple back, sides and neck. The fingerboard is Gabon Ebony and so is the peghead veneer and the mandolin also has dark tortoise binding, so very high quality materials were used in this build. Considering that this was only Eddies 10th mandolin that he has built in the short time he has been building, the appointments on his mandolins are very good. There were only a few very minor finish flaws including a few rough spots here and there, but over all very very good work for a new builder as F5 mandolins are difficult to build. I want to note that Eddie uses the Siminoff method of "Tap" tuning the entire instrument when he builds one. This includes tuning the top, back, parallel tone bars and even the F-holes so one will be virtually guaranteed a good sounding mandolin with one of Eddies builds. The scroll and "volute" are also nicely carved and symmetrical, as is the carving and graduation throughout the top, back and the peghead as well. There are a few rough spots along the fingerboard where the binding is but overall acceptable. I wanted a mandolin that looked older and kind of rustic so I chose the True-Oil finish which gives the mandolin a bit of a satin look and it came out very nice.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

It has a cumberland Acoustics bridge and Schaller tuners. The tailpiece is a "Blevins" engraved James tailpiece and the medium nickel frets are very nice and even.....the hardware is excellent quality

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

Eddies customer service is outstanding, a real Virginia gentlemen. We emailed back and forth daily for months and he always responded in minutes to any of my concerns or questions. I also called him a few times on the phone to discuss the mandolin and he always promptly responded. I have a limited lifetime warranty as the original owner and I know I can call or email Eddie anytime with any concerns.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The materials used in this build were top notch AA and AAA grade Adirondack Red Spruce and highly flamed Red Maple as Eddie uses an excellent source for his tonewood supplier. At this point I can't think of anything that I'd like to upgrade at all on this mandolin as it was built exactly the way I wanted it.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Eddie's price points are very reasonable for a custom mandolin, but will be raising his prices soon due to demand and material costs. I believe he is currently building a backlog of orders as his popularity and name and reputation is getting out into the mandolin world more and more, so purchase one now while they are all under $2000. I am convinced we will be hearing more about Eddie and his builds in the future as long as he continues building.

Overall Rating: 9

Gretsch: G9320 Deluxe

Submitted by Pick Fire (see all reviews from this person) on 11/21/2013

Where Purchased: West Music

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 229 ($US)

Sound

I bought this as my first mandolin. The store didn't have many to choose from, but I tried them all and decided this was the one I wanted. I liked that it is an acoustic and electric combo. The sound was pretty good for entry level mandolin.

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

I did considerable work to it myself. I lowered the action, sanded the bottom of the bridge, filed the nut and replaced with new strings. It wasn't bad set-up when I got it, but felt it could have been a little better.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

Quality of the finish and the overall construction was very well done. No blemishes noted except where the pick guard from folks trying it out in the store. I removed the pick guard as I didn't like it and think it sounds better without it anyway.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

Seems to be very well made for an instrument in the entry-level catagory. I am more than pleased with what I got and how it sounds.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I haven't needed to contact Gretsch for any reason, so I can't comment on their customer service. However, West Music treated me right. However, I'll give a 10 for customer service at the store I bought it.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tuners are anything fancy, but they do work well. See above for the construction which I think was done pretty well. It has a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. It is not carved, but pressed and for less than $230 dollars a good instrument.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Overall, the Gretsch G9320 New Yorker is a good, solid, well put together mandolin for someone starting out or who doesn't have, nor want to spend a ton of money on a mandolin. It did need some set-up, as the bridge didn't fit as well as it could. Once the action was lowered, it played and sounded pretty good. You can get better instruments for sure, but for less than $250 I feel it's a good solid buy.

Overall Rating: 9

Rogue: Oval hole A style

Submitted by easypicker (see all reviews from this person) on 10/16/2013

Where Purchased: http://www.squidoo.com/rogue-rm-100-a-style-a-great-beginner-bluegrass-mandolin

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 60.00 ($US)

Sound

It was my first mandolin, and was perfect for me to learn on. The tone is very good for the price, nice and bright, true mandolin sound. I just bought one for my nephew who wants to learn to play for his bluegrass band he is starting.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

It was set up when I got it, just needed to tune it after the strings broke in.

Setup Rating: 10

Appearance

It's really pretty..great glossy finish. I got the dark almost black finish and it's really nice. No flaws..glossy finish but not too bright. Looks like it cost a lot more.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

I have had it for 5 yrs now and it's held up really well. I haven't had any problems with the hardware.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

I haven't had to contact the company...no problems with it.

Customer Service: 10

Components

For the price, it was only $60, I didn't expect the best, but it really isn't cheap looking at all. The parts have all held up.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

I am really glad I got this for my beginner mandolin and although I have a better one now, I still play it a lot and think it's a terrific mandolin for a beginner like I was. I highly recommend it as a starter mandolin or to give to someone who is just starting to play.

Overall Rating: 10

Fender Robert Schmidt Acoustic Electric: Fender Robert Schmidt Electric

Submitted by easypicker (see all reviews from this person) on 9/2/2013

Where Purchased: http://www.best-electric-mandolin.weebly.com

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 430.00 ($US)

Sound

Perfect for bluegrass and a little jazz I play around with. Rich, bright sound. sounds great even when it isn't plugged in.
Really like the comfortable ushaped neck. Easy to reach all the frets.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

I have set up new ones before, so had no problem adjusting it with my tuner...I also use an online turner/set up.

Setup Rating: 8

Appearance

I think it's beautiful...rich deep coloring, and I am partial to the f style for looks anyway. Love the Fender classic detailing and chrome/bronze tailing..pearl inlays. Real nice..looks and sounds like it cost alot more.

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

Yeah, the chrome machine heads are solid and the tailpiece too. Everything is well made and feels solid and durable.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

The standard Fender warranty plus a 30 day money back guarantee. Good deal, bought it on payment plan with free shipping, and they shipped it right away..so it was play and pay.

Customer Service: 10

Components

I have had no issues with it. The hardware is solid and good woods used.

Components Rating: 10

Overall Comments

Really great for under $500. Looks and plays as well as my friend who paid over $1000 for his Breedlove.

Overall Rating: 10

Kentucky: KM-174

Submitted by jazzrambler (see all reviews from this person) on 7/28/2013

Where Purchased: eBay

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 200 ($US)

Sound

I like it! It plays good and the sound is full and richer than any of the new instruments available in stores around Jacksonville, Fl. Previously I owned a Breedlove Quartz OM. It was great, but I felt it was a better mandolin than I was a player. I sold it to buy a Dobro. With the surplus, I purchased this mando. I own a 1981 Flatiron SB-1. I judge all other purchases by it. The Kentucky KM-174 sounds better.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

I had to do some tweaking, as with any used instrument. Some of the slots were uneven, one fret was high. It was a couple of easy fixes.

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

I like it simple. The previous owner had taken the gloss off the finish with steel wool. I have done the same thing on at least one instrument. I really like satin finishes. It ain't pretty. I didn't buy it to hang on the wall as art. I like a vintage look.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

The instrument is solid, the hardware is functional. It is dependable.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: not rated

Components

The instrument is solid, the hardware is functional. The grain is showing under the finish, I can only assume that means the sound is too.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I really like this mando. I have played bluegrass, swing, country and rock stuff at jams, gigs, and hanging out. Every time, someone makes positive comments on the sound of my mando. It ain't because I'm some great player. Judging from the serial number the mando is a 2001. Age and playing really affect the sound of an instrument in my opinion. I can't vouch for every KM-174, but this one is a keeper.

Overall Rating: 10

Kentucky: KM-150

Submitted by joemcg (see all reviews from this person) on 6/1/2013

Where Purchased: My instructor

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 220 ($US)

Sound

Great sound, decent sustain

Sound Rating: 9

Setup

Instructor had to adjust the nut slightly

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

Beautiful!

Appearance Rating: 10

Reliability

It does.

Reliability Rating: 10

Customer Service

Customer Service: not rated

Components

Components Rating: not rated

Overall Comments

What a great starter mandolin. Not much more than the cheapies and has a solid top, back and sides.

Overall Rating: 9

Kentucky: KM-805

Submitted by joemcg (see all reviews from this person) on 6/1/2013

Where Purchased: Guitar Center

Year Purchased: 2013
Price Paid: 575 ($US)

Sound

There is a story on this mandolin. I had seen it at Guitar Center at a close out price, but it was a busy weekend day and the sales force was very busy. I went back when they opened Monday morning figuring there wouldn't be a crowd and I could spend as much time as I liked with the instrument.
When I played it, the first string wouldn't do more than buzz. I knew that there had to be an issue. Under close examination I could see that the bridge was cracked. I figured that was a cheap fix, and if that didn't work it could always be. Returned to Saga under warranty for repair, so I bought it.
$30 later for a replacement. Bridge and new strings it sounds like a dream. It is as good as my KM-900, so I have a great instrument at a moderate price.

Sound Rating: 10

Setup

See comments above.

Setup Rating: 3

Appearance

Extremely although I prefer a light sunburst finish.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Now that the. Bridge is repaired, yes.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Fine.

Customer Service: 8

Components

At some point I might install an Allen tailpiece. I'm not a big fan of the 2 piece units.

Components Rating: 7

Overall Comments

Love it!

Overall Rating: 9

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