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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.

Picks: Gravity Striker XL .75

Submitted by TSSN on 5/19/2013

Where Purchased: Online from Gravity Picks

Overall Comments

This pick has become my preferred pick. The corners are good for picking, and the one rounded off edge suits tremolo just fine (at least for me). Just a little flex in this one. Some folks don't like the clear acrylic, but you can get colored versions too; easier to find when dropped. This is a nice pick that won't break the bank.

Overall Rating: 9

Gretsch: Gretsch New Yorker Supreme

Submitted by TSSN on 5/19/2013

Where Purchased: Robb's Boulder Music

Year Purchased: 2012
Price Paid: 239 ($US)

Sound

I play mostly bluegrass and I have used it once or twice on stage as a back up. This is usually my lay-around-the-houe mando. I practice on this one daily. The sound is full and bright, and it has a nice chop.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

The strings that were on it when I made the purchase were oldish and somewhat dirty/corroded. I still made up my mind to make the purchase, and Robb's agreed to throw in a new set of J74s as part of the deal.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

This mandolin is very attractive. Mostly mahogany construction with a satin finish, it is certainly appealing to look at. The fit and finish are very polished and smooth. I find the headstock to be especially pretty; simple and elegant. This one draws a lot of positive comments.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

This one seems solid, with Grover tuners and a rosewood bridge. I have used it as a back up for 1-2 gigs, and feel confident to do so again. My only concern is the likely need for an armrest, as the finish does not seem prepared to stand up to too much sweat or other body contact. For now, I usually wear shirts with sleeves.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

N/A

Customer Service: 8

Components

The construction seems solid, with good tuners, bridge and nut. The tailpiece, I suspect, will be the first thing to go. It seems to be the least substantial part, BUT so far no issues... Forgot to mention the fingerboard being relatively wide compared to my other mandolins. Easier for wider fingers to hit just the right notes.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I have been very pleased with this mandolin. It is very attractive, and has good volume and a nice bright tone. Gretsch's YouTube video with Jon Rauhouse shows what this little one can do in the right hands. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3xxrZ94wuU

Overall Rating: 8

Big Muddy: MM-8

Submitted by TSSN on 3/30/2011

Where Purchased: H B Woodsong, Boulder, CO

Year Purchased: 2010
Price Paid: 320 ($US)

Sound

This is my travel mandolin, and the one that follows me around the house for playing 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. It is on the small side, and so the tone can be a bit high and "tinny". Installing GHS Silk and Steels have solved that problem to a large degree. To me, the sound quality is best for Celtic music. Strumming open 2-finger chords sounds especially nice, and I think that the sustain might go on for days if you let it.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

It came well set up.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The MM-8 is very attractive. It has a spruce top, walnut back & sides, mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge, and Grover tuners.
The neck is a bolt-on, which unnerves some; I have no issue with it.
Also, the satin finish is pleasing to the eye, but shows wear easily---invest in an armrest.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

Aside from the finish, my only hardware concern is the tailpiece. The metal is thin and stamped, and will probably need to be replaced at some point. However, it is still going strong 1 and 1/2 years after purchase, so I am not complaining.

Reliability Rating: 8

Customer Service

Mike Dulak is very receptive to customer questions and comments.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The construction is solid and the fit and finish are smooth and professional.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

I am completely satisfied with this mandolin. This is a solid instrument, and a good purchase.

Overall Rating: 8

Hohner: HFM-100

Submitted by TSSN on 3/13/2011

Where Purchased: Barnhouse's Crazy Music, Columbia, MO

Year Purchased: 2009
Price Paid: 450 ($US)

Sound

As the F-style construction would suggest, the sound quality of this model is best suited to playing bluegrass music. It chops quite well, but has a surprising amount of sustain. It is also useful for Celtic music, though it isn't my first choice for that genre. The sound is surprisingly full, but not overly loud.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

Set up was done well and continues to be fine. However, my local store is good about checking on those things. I have tried D'Addario and GHS strings on it, and while the former sound very nice, I think the latter produces a slightly superior sound on this make and model.

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

The tobacco sunburst model, which I have, is a pretty, if standard, finish. The top is solid hand carved spruce with a back, neck and sides that are made of solid carved maple. The finish was fine, smooth, and polished, and the woods appear to be of moderately high quality. The binding is actually quite beautiful, and nearly flawless. The tuners are an inexpensive no-name brand, but have held up well. Changing strings has been very easy to do.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

The finish is as glossy as it was the day I bought it, and that is with nearly daily playing. I find it very dependable.

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I have not yet had a need for any warranty work. However, I have been in contact with a few of the staff at Hohner when trying to track down some additional details on this instrument. They were immensely helpful and knowledgeable.

Customer Service: 10

Components

The tuners and the tailpiece will be my first candidates for an upgrade at some point. For now, they are performing well. That said, they are clearly inexpensive pieces of hardware.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

I like an underdog, and I like Hohner. Many folks don't, and I'm not sure why. I have traveled pretty widely, and I like to visit music shops when I hit a new town. As such, I have had an opportunity to try many mandolins from nasty $95 jobs, to Gibson F5 Master models. These Hohners compete well in their price bracket, and compare favorably to most mandolins that I have played up to about the $1,500 price point. Good value to be had here.

Overall Rating: 9

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