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Unread 07-30-2009, 02:43 PM   #1
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How much is a decent Mandolin?

I want a mandolin, I have been youtubing mandolin videos for a while and they're crazy insane looking fun.

But basically I want to know how much a decent one is, or how much I could get an okay one on Craigs List or some where for. As well as can a mandolin be used in a typical worship band with drums, guitar, keys and the sort? Because I think it would be awesome to play mandolin for worship.

How alike is it to guitar? Easier to play if you know guitar?

Edit: Woopsies, can some one move this to "other stringed instruments" forum, I must of missed that forum when I posted this.


Last edited by MyChainsAreGone; 07-30-2009 at 03:11 PM.
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Unread 07-31-2009, 05:54 AM   #2
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I am not certain of the values of Mondos, but I think with the right songs, a mondo can be played in almost any type musical settings.
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Unread 07-31-2009, 09:35 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyChainsAreGone View Post
I want a mandolin, I have been youtubing mandolin videos for a while and they're crazy insane looking fun.

But basically I want to know how much a decent one is, or how much I could get an okay one on Craigs List or some where for. As well as can a mandolin be used in a typical worship band with drums, guitar, keys and the sort? Because I think it would be awesome to play mandolin for worship.

How alike is it to guitar? Easier to play if you know guitar?

Edit: Woopsies, can some one move this to "other stringed instruments" forum, I must of missed that forum when I posted this.
I know Epiphone has some decent low priced mandolins you can get for new for about $150.

Buy Epiphone MM-20 Mandolin | Mandolins | Musician's Friend

I personally use one of those $50 Rogue mandolins, but as with most Rogue instruments they are very hit or miss. But they are good for figuring out how to tune them and the basic chords and stuff... I do like mine though... It has a bluesy, kind of jug band-ish sound.

If you're a craiglist addict, keep an eye out for a few brands. Kentucky, Michael Kelly, and Fender. They have some pretty good ones for the $200-$250 range, but sometimes you can find a pretty bangin' deal. I know a friend of mine got a Fender one for about $75. But if you see one on CL that you're just not sure about the brand, ask to see if you can try it out. Just look for things you look for in guitar: Lower action, intonation, keeps a tune, ect.

Like caeman said, mandolins can be used in most styles of music. A guy I know (John Callaway) does a lot of funky-popy-jamy stuff, but he plays a lot of church camps and stuff. But he has a mandolin player named Michael Costa that's pretty awesome. I'd suggest you send him a message and ask him some questions about using mandolin in a P&W setting, he's a pretty chilled dude. You can find Costa on myspace.

Now for the weird part. Playing it.... I won't get in too much detail but I'll get the ball rollin'.

Mandolin and guitar are kind of alike, but not. It's tuned (from low to high) GDAE. Just like a bass (or the 4 low strings of a gutiar) but backwards and the same as a violin. The strings are in pairs, so you press on two strings at the same time, like B and A strings on a 12 string guitar.

Is it as easy/easier to play than guitar? Well that depends. If you have thinner fingers it'd be a little easier, but in my case I have fat fingers so it's a little difficult for me being all scrunched up.

So what I'd suggest you do is:

Google the crap out of mandolins (look for lessons, diagrams, history, ect.)
Check out John's myspace to hear a mandolin in a little different setting
Give Costa a buzz
Keep checking Craigslist


Let me know if that's readable or if you have any questions.
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Unread 07-31-2009, 10:08 AM   #4
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And now for the flood of random mandolin videos on youtube!

YouTube - Sam Bush
I figure I'd go on ahead and get this one out of the way. I'm not a big Sam Bush fan, but if you're gonna start even thinking about mandolin you've gotta check him out. Also later in that video he whips out a 4 stirng electric mando.

YouTube - Bill Monroe - Blue Moon Of Kentucky
YouTube - Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys - I'm Working On A Building
Bill Monroe wasn't the most fancy technical player, but he is one of the standards in bluegrass. Period. But in these vids you can hear good examples of mandolin chops (the one TWO thee FOUR rhythm thingy).

YouTube - David Grisman Quartet - E.M.D.
YouTube - David Grisman Quintet - El Cumbanchero, Madison WI 3-3-96
This guy is one of my favorites. David Grisman. He does everything from strict bluegrass to Hawaiian music to Gypsy Jazz to jewish folk songs ect. In fact, my top two favorite instrumental albums feature him (Check them out if you want. or not... whatever... 1 and 2 ).

YouTube - Dennis Pash and Meredith Axelrod play The Peacherine
This one's just fun. Banjolin... ah.... Is there anything more awesome? Also I have a musical crush on Meredith Axelrod. She does some awesome old time string band stuff....
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Unread 07-31-2009, 10:52 AM   #5
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It really all depends on what you mean by "decent".

If you want something that looks like a mandolin, tunes like a mandolin, and sounds vaguely reminiscent of a mandolin, the Rogue toys [these are like FirstAct instruments, from my experience... just meant for "fun"] will get you by.

They really won't be very inspiring to play, though.

For $50-100, you'll pretty much be buying toys.

For $100-250, you'll be buying noodler instruments, for someone who just wants to feel what putting their fingers on a different set of strings is like.

Once you get up to about $250-300, that's where I think you'll hit the line for getting into "decent" mandolins appropriate for novice musicians.

Some of the features you'll be missing under $250:

- Solid woods. (This is what makes the Rogue sound like a toy.)
- General heft of construction. (Quality of bracing, joints, glue.)
- Carved top. (You'll be getting laminated or pressed instead.)
- Quality hardware. (Tuners, bridge, tailpiece, and fretboard.)
- An actual finish. (Something resembling sealer and stain.)
- Truss rod. (Cheap quality means inevitable unfixable warp.)

Under $250, you're basically getting a painted plywood box.

Here are some instruments that look to have decent construction, for around $250-300 (and I'm throwing in one at $150 I've heard good things about).

ROVER RM-50 A-MODEL MANDOLIN RM50 - Elderly Instruments
KENTUCKY KM-162 MANDOLIN KM162 - Elderly Instruments
KENTUCKY KM-174 MANDOLIN KM174 - Elderly Instruments
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Unread 07-31-2009, 03:06 PM   #6
so much
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyChainsAreGone View Post
But basically I want to know how much a decent one is, or how much I could get an okay one on Craigs List or some where for. As well as can a mandolin be used in a typical worship band with drums, guitar, keys and the sort? Because I think it would be awesome to play mandolin for worship.

How alike is it to guitar? Easier to play if you know guitar?
As to playing. Yes, any fretted instrument will be easier to grok if you already are familiar with guitar. Then again, unlearning finger positions on guitar might be tricky. Mandolin's strings are as Sean described, reverse of the bass guitar (which also happens to be reverse of your bottom four strings, if it's easier to think of that way).

You can certainly use mandolin is any style of music you want, but what kind of mandolin (namely, traditional bluegrass arch-top or a more folky / old-time flat-top) you choose will depend on what you plan to play. It's almost impossible [at least without getting made fun of] to passably play bluegrass on a flat-top.

That said, flat-tops tend to have a bit more sustain / ring (especially when strumming) than arch-top mandos, so if you want to do typical contemporary Christian stuff (in a guitar style, not adding the mandolin as a riff-ing instrument in a Caedmon's Call / Jennifer Knapp way), you can certainly get by with a flat-top.

In any event, the real reason I'm double posting is that someone on the mandolincafe boards (www.mandolincafe.com/forums) posted a link to a really nice looking vintage flat-top mandolin in the classifieds section over there (no financial interest, I think... he was just spreading the word). It's in the Seattle area.

Vintage Mandolin Looks quite nice to me. Good price.
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Unread 07-31-2009, 07:17 PM   #7
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For me, mandolin was easier to learn than guitar. It's really more fun too. I started with a cheapo Johnson A style. $60 I think. I ended up giving it away. Then I bought one off of ebay for $200. Can't even remember what name brand it is. It's green though. It's my best playing mando. I have a Kentucky F style that I paid $350 for used. It sounds good but I don't like it as good as my green one. I also have an electric mando. Paid about $75. It's fair. It's fun with effects too.

I play my mando in church. I play it with all other types of music - praise, country gospel, bluegrass gospel, hymnal, home made songs. It sounds good with all of them.

My advice would be to spend at least $200 on a mandolin. You can get a good one for less and you can get a bad one for more, but around $200 is usually a fair quality mando. I'd forget Johnson, Rogue, and such.

The best one I ever played was a Gibson. And I don't like Gibby guitars. But this mandolin was sweet. It almost played itself. The guy that owned it paid something like $2400 or $2500 for it, he said.
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Unread 07-31-2009, 07:26 PM   #8
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Unread 07-31-2009, 08:59 PM   #9
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Jons the bomb! yess for sure!

Thanks Sean for the info.


Lol the FirstAct version of a Mando totally dig it
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Unread 07-31-2009, 09:03 PM   #10
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I've had an Epiphone that was decent, and I've now got a Kentucky that's a little better. Check out those two brands, for instruments in the $200 to $300 dollar Range they are a good choice to start out with.
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