Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Mandolin Lovers Online

Jan 4, 2024 - 3:45:48 PM
76 posts since 9/13/2012
Online Now

Having playing many mandolins (F5 & A5) over the last 15 years I can unequivocally state that it's much more important to acquire a really good, professional quality instrument, than a name on the headstock with its associated provenance. As bluegrass mandolinists, a lot of us get sucked into chasing the Loar Magic Dragon or late 20s Fern Magic Dragon. It is much more important to identify the qualities in a mandolin that are most important to you, play a bunch of mandolins so that your volume-tone-playability palette is discerning and then identify the instrument that meets your needs and acquire it if financially you are able to do so.

Though I have played but one Loar (for a good 20 minutes), I have played several late 20s Ferns, 40s 50s, 60s F5s all the way up to current Gibson F5 models. I have also played Nuggets, Ellis mandolins, Webers, Pagonini, Brentrup, Heidens, many Gils, Pava, Northfields, Sullivan, Givens, Miller, Hinde, Austin Clark, Brock, Newsome, Kettler, Red Diamond, Smart, and others...and what stands out in my aural memory is that the best mandolins allow you to pull out the tone that your style produces in varying degrees. The "best" mandolin I ever played was a Nugget F5 that David Grisman used to own and I would characterize it as having everything my 94' Weber signed F5L has in tone-volume-playability (TVP), with about 10% more.

That being said I see no need to mortgage my financial future to go in hock to acquire such an instrument. I was recently with a vintage mandolin dealer and after having played several of his Ferns & he having played my F5L, he agreed that my mandolin is so close in TVP that there's no need on my part to fork over $50K for a Fern.

If you have the financial means to acquire a top dollar mandolin, go for it! I would if I did!
But if you don't, there's a lot of comparable instruments out there for much cheaper; you just have to diligently search. I got mine in 2014 for $2K cash & an Eastman md515 in trade. I hope this is helpful to someone out there!

On the video with Tony Williamson & myself, go to 2:30; that's where Tony starts to play my 94' Weber signed F5L


Edited by - Loarcutus on 01/04/2024 17:33:29

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Privacy Consent
Copyright 2024 Mando Hangout. All Rights Reserved.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories