Price paid: € 60
Purchased from: Banks Music, York
Features: Now, I understand that this is a guitar website, but the amount of threads on Folk instruments I have seen, has caused me to give a hand to my fellow guitarists, and review this entry level mandolin. The mandolin seems to be a very popular instrument, along with the banjo, for guitarists to buy, and knock out a tune or two on, for something different, and this particular model is a perfect match for someone who wants a playable instrument, for the minimum cash.
The Blue Moon GR3106 has 21 frets (though you will rarely go past 12), a shaped spruce top, and hardware from Blue Moon, which is based in China. Its your standard, Acoustic A shape mandolin, available in Blue Stain, Sunburst and mine, Red Burst. Simple, but effective design. I got it with a thin leather strap, soft case and set of D'Addario strings. // 7
Sound: I play a variety of Folk music on the instrument, from traditional Celtic jigs and reels, to more modern songs, from bands such as Mumford and Sons and REM. I'd say it handles these fairly well, though because of its, well lets face is, cheapness, it doesn't quite sound as crisp and doesn't quite ring as well as I would like it too, but for the price, it does quite well.
Not much variation from the sound, being completely acoustic, but what can you do? At least it records well, so any problems with tone can be edited, but is somewhat lacking, when played live. A decent mic and EQ should solve this problem though. // 6
Action, Fit & Finish: Here is where it falls down somewhat. From the moment of picking it up, I knew I'd have to do a little bit of work to get it feeling right. From the shop, the bridge had been set stupidly high, so that had to be lowered, to be playable. Fretwork was pretty dire also, with a couple of sharp edges on the side, that I smoothed with sandpaper. The fretboard was rather dry too, but a good splash of lemon oil managed to sort that out, for the time being.
The bridge, due to its nature, had a few nasty overtones, but I managed to mute them, by tieing a piece of material behind the bridge. // 4
Reliability & Durability: The instrument has done me well to a few sessions, but I'd never played it onstage, as yet. The single strap button is connected to the bridge, so thats solid enough to use, with the other end of the strap tied to the headstock, under the strings.
The finish, surprisingly, is very durable, and despite me knocking seven shades out of it, around the house, and at pub sessions, I have no major chips or scuffs on the finish.
Hopefully, by the time I get proficent enough to be using it in my live shows, I will have upgraded to something with a pickup, and with perhaps a bit more substance and playablity. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, this is a decent match to most styles of playing, with no bias towards a particular sound; just a decent beginner mandolin, for the novice player to find their feet (or should I say, fingers) with a new instrument. If it was stolen, it wouldn't be a huge deal for me, in comparison to if my main Acoustic was stolem, but I'd probably treat myself to something with a few more feature, and perhaps electronics, which I wish it had.
However, for the price, you really cannot go wrong, and it has helped me get used to a new tuning, and a new instrument, which is essentially, what something in this price range is designed to do, and something that it has achieved, in my opinion. // 6