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Mandolin Lovers Online


Oct 24, 2021 - 12:21:02 PM
4 posts since 10/24/2021

I am a guitarist who is thinking of learning some mandolin. I don't want to spend too much so I am looking at either an Ibanez M510 or an Epiphone MM30. Just wondering if anyone can recommend one over the other.

Oct 25, 2021 - 3:19:57 PM
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TSSN

USA

1016 posts since 1/3/2011

Have you explored Kentucky or Gretsch?

Oct 26, 2021 - 11:06:06 AM

698 posts since 10/3/2012

I haven’t played one, but a local picker was recommending the Kentucky brand as a good stater. I’ve also heard that, in terms of current quality in the PacRim, South Korean instruments are the way to go.

Oct 27, 2021 - 1:02:18 PM
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TSSN

USA

1016 posts since 1/3/2011

In a different forum, there always seemed to be derision for all PacRim mandolins...well except Kentucky's...they were ok. Always made me chuckle.

Anyway, I have tried a few Kentucky's over the years (KM-150, KM-505 or -606, and KM-850). While I was never moved to make the purchase, all of them seemed to be worth their asking price, to me anyway. Elderly has the 150 now for USD475.00.

Oct 28, 2021 - 5:47:19 AM

5 posts since 6/25/2021

I’ve not owned a Kentucky but I have an PRS SE guitar and an MTD bass guitar that were Korean made and the workmanship is excellent. The Kentucky’s I’ve played and heard all struck me as a good value.

Oct 29, 2021 - 10:05:55 AM
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4 posts since 10/24/2021

Thanks for all the replies guys. Really appreciate it. The issue with the Kentucky is it seems like there is a long back order here in Canada.

I guess I should explain what it is I am looking for. Winter is coming and I thought it might be fun to either pick up a tenor banjo or a mando to learn some reels on. I've been tossing back and forth on which one to get. I like both instruments. One advantage (at least to my mind) of the mando is the size. I think it would be a lot more comfortable to sit on the sofa with a mando and also I have short fingers. I think a shorter scale neck might be nice to play on. I also thought a mandola might be nice but they seem a bit more pricey and also it seems like there might be a back order on a lot of these.

When I made the original post I was leaning toward getting a banjo, but thought maybe I could also get a cheap mando. But now I am starting to think maybe I will just go for a mando, which means I could spend more. I see an Eastman md304 A style is in stock to order here, and though I haven't tried one I know they are a pretty good company and it's an all-solid wood model. There is also a tenor banjo I am interested in. I am really torn here.

Edited by - MisterToad on 10/29/2021 10:10:47

Oct 29, 2021 - 2:31:37 PM
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81 posts since 9/5/2016

Yeah, start with the mandolin. Get a few reels and jigs under the fingers on that. You are right, the shorter scale length will help get you going quickly. And the mandolin is the perfect size to play while sitting on the sofa, in a comfy chair or even in the passenger seat of a car. No on will be hit in the face with the headstock. Terrific instrument for road trips. Get the Eastman and don't look back. There will still be tenor banjos aplenty when you are ready to get loud.

Oct 29, 2021 - 9:21:10 PM

4 posts since 10/24/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Mandodennis

Yeah, start with the mandolin. Get a few reels and jigs under the fingers on that. You are right, the shorter scale length will help get you going quickly. And the mandolin is the perfect size to play while sitting on the sofa, in a comfy chair or even in the passenger seat of a car. No on will be hit in the face with the headstock. Terrific instrument for road trips. Get the Eastman and don't look back. There will still be tenor banjos aplenty when you are ready to get loud.

 

You are pulliing me more toward the mando side. I am still thinking it over though. Another advantage to the mando is that it seems (to my ears) much better for playing simple melody leads or slower stuff. The quick punch of the GDAE banjo seems like it would lack the sustain for something slower.

To further complicate matters, I used to own a 5-string banjo years ago and played clawhammer style. I also feel a slight temptation to get an open back 5-string. There is something about the feel of frailing that's so pleasing. But the mando would be something new to me.

Oct 31, 2021 - 2:20:32 PM

TSSN

USA

1016 posts since 1/3/2011

Hey MisterToad . I play both mandolin and tenor banjo.

To me the real difference is the finger stretch with the banjo, that isn't as necessary for the mandolin. That, and some tunes ("Harvest Home" always comes to mind first), just sound better--to me--on the tenor banjo than the mando.

Have you tried Reverb, and looked used? Lots of Kentuckys there, plus a few Gretsch, and even a Big Muddy mandola.

Oct 31, 2021 - 4:02:35 PM
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4 posts since 10/24/2021

quote:
Originally posted by TSSN

Hey MisterToad . I play both mandolin and tenor banjo.

To me the real difference is the finger stretch with the banjo, that isn't as necessary for the mandolin. That, and some tunes ("Harvest Home" always comes to mind first), just sound better--to me--on the tenor banjo than the mando.

Have you tried Reverb, and looked used? Lots of Kentuckys there, plus a few Gretsch, and even a Big Muddy mandola.


 

The shipping costs up here to Canada can be pretty high that it often negates the second hand savings. I also worry about complications with ordering from American sites right now. I wish I could, though. So much more selection. I am also thinking of trading in one of my guitars on whatever I purchase, so I will probably deal with the music store chain up here. Also that way, I just end up paying taxes on the difference.

Seems to me like a lot of songs would sound better on a mando as well. How do you find a tenor does on playing something like Ashokan farewell? I suppose it might do alright in a chord melody. Do you use the CGDA or GDAE strings?

Been thinking of this for a month now, and my mind keeps changing. It's driving me batty. Today now, I'm, considering a mando vs an open back 5er for old timey music. I would have to relearn clawhammering as I haven't done it in a long time, which would be fun. But the mando would be something entirely new. Also, I think a mando is a lot more versatile than an open chord instrument with a drone.

Edited by - MisterToad on 10/31/2021 16:08:08

Oct 31, 2021 - 9:14:23 PM

TSSN

USA

1016 posts since 1/3/2011

I see what you mean about costs.

To my ear, Ashokan Farewell sounds better on a mando than a tenor banjo. I tune my tenor GDAE. Most of my playing with the tenor has been Celtic music.

I like both, but I admit my strong preference for the mandolin. If you know the 5-string banjo, then I would suggest that the mandolin would be more of a challenge than the 4-string tenor banjo.

Cons: New tuning altogether, and a completely new chord set.
Pros: Your fingers need not stretch out as much, you have double-course strings making tremolo and triplets sound more fluid, and as you mentioned, there is no drone string.

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