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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.

Mandolin Picks: Blue Chip Flat Picks

Submitted by kimmattis123 on 12/26/2018

Where Purchased: Janet Davis Music

Overall Comments

I was at a bluegrass camp for guitar and borrowed a BLUE CHIP for guitar-  I thought "this thing can't be worth $40".-- WRONG- It was.  I ordered one for my guitar-And a LARGER one for the mandolin.  Worth every dime. Best picks I ever used. I was using DAWG picks [very good picks- very good price] but the BC was so much better.

Overall Rating: 10

Grave Creek: Bouzouki #2

Submitted by kimmattis123 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-30

Submitted by kimmattis123 on 3/22/2012

Where Purchased: CA HOUSE MUSIC, ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OH

Year Purchased: 1997
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Not a bad sound for an import. NOT a F-5 either. A bit tinny but, intonation is very good, It has a GOOD chop. Leads= well that tinny thing comes in again. NOT really loud but has decent presence.

Sound Rating: 7

Setup

Setup was good from CA House. They set them up. Ive owned it since 1997 and no changes had to be made. String height was good. Bridge was good. Tailpiece [ simple box type] OK.

Setup Rating: 7

Appearance

This model came with three finishes: sunburst, blue and green. My daughter wanted the green one. It has gold plated hardware[ which has held up quite well] Green is a striking color and my daugher is still known by the girl with that GREEN mandolin. Press wood back and sides. Laminated top. Holds up well. Tuners gold plated ok.

Appearance Rating: 7

Reliability

I've played a number of MM30s. Mine was made in Korea, the newer ones in China. It has held up very well for an import [ my import rule is that there are 2 lemons and a peach in every box of 10- this may be the peach]. Ive used this on stage and a jams. it holds up well

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

never had to use it. BUT Gibson service is usuall pretty good

Customer Service: 8

Components

Tuners ok- but cheap. Laminated top back and sides. Gloss finish. Its an entry level mando and for that use it's perfect. Takes a lot of abuse, sounds ok, easy to play, intonation good.
Its never going to replace a F5 or a good mando but as an entry level good.

Components Rating: 6

Overall Comments

As an entry level mando: 1- its not expensive 2- its easy to play 3- fit and finish are durable, For younger players a great starter. You have to get them hooked to contunue- this is a good priced hook. They will want a better one very soon, so its also a good resale or trade-up- If you dont continue playing- you can resale and not lose your shirt.

Overall Rating: 6

Harmony: Baroque/Florintine/batwing

Submitted by kimmattis123 on 3/22/2012

Where Purchased: Ellis Music, Uniotown, PA

Year Purchased: 1971
Price Paid: 150.00 historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

IT sounds very good. FOR a Harmony-- surprisingly good.

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

I had to fix a few parts over the years [ nut/bridge] but setup was very good

Setup Rating: 5

Appearance

Weird model. It has scalloped pickguard and headstock. Its locally known as the batwing because of the pickguard. WELL finished wood, chrome parts [ mostly pretty good] plastic nut [ i had to replace] - it gets looks whereever I take it. Double offset cutaway [ no scroll] sort of an 'F' appearence and it fits well in an "F" case.

Appearance Rating: 8

Reliability

I bought it new in 1971. The nut went bad in the early 90's My brother ruined the pickguard trying to put a pickup on it. A few wood seperations but in pretty good shape for its age. Metal parts showing that aged patina.

Reliability Rating: 7

Customer Service

Harmony long gone

Customer Service: 1

Components

Harmony tried to get into a higher market around this time and started making better instruments. This has a scalloped plastic plate on the headstock and the black plastic The batwing pickguard to match. solid spruce top [ some cracks starting to show] and maple sides and neck. Tuners old style and so is the tailpiece [ strange one-looks like a mushroom and - it pops off for restringing] nickle finish a bit worn. A much better instrument than a 'Harmony' would imply.

Components Rating: 8

Overall Comments

Overall a well made instrument. Factory made not had finished. but really upscale for a Harmony. Too bad bluegrass and mandos were on the outs in the early 70's [ just rock mando like led zep and rod stewart- thats why i bought it.] It has seen a lot of rough use and still sounds good. Maybe better now that new. It never found a market and I got it on a closeout. Had lots of fun with this mando. its now set up like a mini-zuke with octave strings on the G/Ds.

Overall Rating: 8

Grave Creek: GC-A#1

Submitted by kimmattis123 on 3/22/2012

Where Purchased: Grave Creek Instuments, Moundsville, WV

Year Purchased: 2002
Price Paid: Don't Remember historic exchange rates / currency converter

Sound

Great. Nice Chop [for an "A" model] Loud. Unique sound. Chop really cuts through in a jam. My daughter keeps saying its not that good of a sound [ but she keeps borrowing it for live gigs and not using hers- and dosent want to return it when i need it]

Sound Rating: 8

Setup

By builder, BOB TALKINGTON ofGrave Creek Guitars. Moundsille, WV.. GREAT

Setup Rating: 9

Appearance

VERY GOOD LOOKING> spruce top and maple sides all finshed dark and uniform. Layered wood headstock. Chrome fittings. NO pickguard. I wanted it to look like Tim O'Brian's Nugget and it does. Finish very nice; until i messed it up at a jam by using DEET bug spray on me and it ate off some of the luster finish, Bob fixed it -its ok now.

Appearance Rating: 9

Reliability

SEEMS very strong, no problems so far. A keeper

Reliability Rating: 9

Customer Service

I've know Bob for years- he builds guitars, mandos, dulcimers and he made my Irish Zuke. I have a lifetime warrenty. BOB says as long as he's alive he will try to fix it.

Customer Service: 9

Components

Solid spruce top hand carved by maker. Maple back and sides. Tunes and tailpiece from STU-MAC [ i"m sorry i didnt go with better components here- it was MY choice [ im sometimes cheap] and even though they have given me no trouble, i want better upgrades someday.

Components Rating: 9

Overall Comments

Great little mando.. I wanted a mando under $1k, and bob wanted to try to make one. HE has made two : mine and an 'F" model for another friend. { the 'F" SOUNDS MUCH BETTER than mine--and he has put a lot more work into it]. BUT, mine is a keeper. I shouldn't need another mando-EVER [ unless i mess this one up- i already did once and bob fixed it]

Overall Rating: 8

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