#1
Hey all, first post in the acoustic forums =]

I've been playing guitar for about five years now, and have been meaning to try my hand at writing with and playing other instruments. Listening to a bunch of bluegrass and folk music lately, I figured a mandolin would be a good bet to run with. This will mostly be a writing tool, but a great sound is always preferred!

I haven't got any experience with a mandolin, truth be told, so I'm not exactly sure what to be looking for in terms of build and materials used, but I've come across a couple links on ebay that have caught my attention:

Tanglewood

Oakridge

And the ever pricey:
Nashville Florentine

EDIT: Also this electric Fender

I'm located in Australia, so all prices in the links are in national currency.
So I guess the main question is: what should I be looking for in build quality and materials? I'd be willing to shell out around $400 in Australian dollars, but I'd like to go for the $160 or so model if the quality appears reasonable.
Sorry for the long post, and thanks a bunch in advance for any replies!

Last edited by juckfush at Sep 18, 2010,
#3
Go with whatever you like best. HOWEVER, if possible, don't get one with the scrolls. I know they look nice, but they add nothing to the sound or tone of the instrument. They're just for show. Getting one with a pick-up is nice too. Not essential, but nice. The Oakridge would be nice to get, unless you want to go pro or something, then something more expensive should be in question. Mine was like $200 CAD, and I like it.

I also bought my first mando without even knowing how to play it Its not too hard to learn the first few chords, D, G, C, Am, F, and everything other than that is a pain in the ass.
Caution:
This post may contain my opinion and/or inaccurate information.

Current Rig:
2006 PRS CE-24
Mesa/Boogie Mark V
Voltage S212 w/ V30's
Strymon Timeline
CMATMods Signa Drive
TC Electronics Corona & Hall of Fame
Last edited by AWACS at Sep 17, 2010,
#4
Thanks for the quick replies guys, they've been very helpful =]

I honestly have no idea how I'd go about learning one, but I figure once I know the notes on the board I can apply my usual chord construction methods and what-not; still, it would be cool to have a jab in the dark at first and come up with something I wouldn't on guitar. =]

At the moment it's either the Oakridge or Epiphone (which looks lovely, thanks for that!), but if I can raise the funds I really love the look of that Tanglewood I'm not really looking for anything completely professional though, more just something that will last and sound its part for jamming about and writing, so I guess that's my market!

Thanks in advance for any more replies
Last edited by juckfush at Sep 17, 2010,
#5
Well, all the chords except F that I mentioned are played on 2 strings. They're two finger chords, and are enough to mess around on and have fun with. Its also different with the "next string up" thing. The next open string on guitar is equal to fretting the fifth fret. On mando, its the seventh fret. So I guess its tuned in 4ths instead of 3rds, like on a guitar.
Caution:
This post may contain my opinion and/or inaccurate information.

Current Rig:
2006 PRS CE-24
Mesa/Boogie Mark V
Voltage S212 w/ V30's
Strymon Timeline
CMATMods Signa Drive
TC Electronics Corona & Hall of Fame
#6
Oh, fantastic! =D The easier to get to grips the better, and cheers for the heads up on tuning. It should help with writing for violin, too, since they're tuned the same way. =]

And not to complicate things further, but what are your opinions on electric mandolins? I've been scouting the Guitar Center site (free shipping and discount season? I'm in!) and came across this Fender, which looks strikingly similar to the Epi posted above, but with a piezo.
I know that I more than likely won't be gigging with one of these for a while - though a folk duo is in the works, which will likely be for charity events with one of my teachers once I've learned the ropes - but is it worth dishing out the extra cash in case, and would this model in particular be a wise investment?

Thanks again in advance, and my apologies for the new concerns > . <

#7
I recently bought a cheap Fender (one of those "Packages") and though it's a cheap instrument it sounds decent.
I think I can improve it by adding a "Red Henry" bridge, I've been using those on some of my cigar-box instruments.
Mandolins are fun to play, and I don't have any great problem switching from guitar to mando.

I'm currently fooling with blues mandolin; there's quite a bit of material on YouTube. Slide on mandolin is pretty cool too. Sam Bush plays quite a bit of slide.
#8
Quote by AWACS
Well, all the chords except F that I mentioned are played on 2 strings. They're two finger chords, and are enough to mess around on and have fun with. Its also different with the "next string up" thing. The next open string on guitar is equal to fretting the fifth fret. On mando, its the seventh fret. So I guess its tuned in 4ths instead of 3rds, like on a guitar.


No. The Guitar is tuned in fourths (except between the G and B), whereas the mandolin is tuned the same way a violin is; in fifths. It's the first four strings of your guitar turned upside-down. GDAE.

And I will say this, mandolin is a lot tougher on your fingers than acoustic guitar. It's even tougher on your fingers than a 12-string guitar. But since you've been playing for 5 years, it should just take a couple days to get used to it.

Really though, if you're just getting a mandolin to mess around on, You should be good with a solid top. If you can, go to your local guitar/music store and pick up one and try it out. Choose whichever one you think has the best sound and playability....Also for mandolin....Playability is a much bigger factor than on guitar, mainly because the strings are higher tension, the neck is MUCH smaller, and they're double strings. But yeah. It's a fun little instrument, if you want one, get one.
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#9
Thanks for all the great feedback!

I think a place local to me might be stocking one or two, so I'll try to head down during the week to give it a whirl. In the mean-time, I think I'll put down an order for the Fender in my original post. =]

Thanks again to everybody who's posted - it's really assured me that I'm not doing something silly



EDIT: To the post below, thanks for the heads up! I wouldn't want to bump my own thread again, so thank you. =]
Last edited by juckfush at Sep 20, 2010,
#10
Whatever you do decide to get, make sure it's action is as low as it can possibly be and still sound good. I say this from experience. I've recently reconfigured a Kentucky mando from righty to lefty for me to play and let me tell you, if that action isn't low, it's going to be a bitch to play, period. It's the thin width of the neck coupled with the doubled up courses of strings that make perfect action so important. You don't have a lot of room for your fingers on the neck as it is, so imagine having to fight high action, pressing down the strings harder than you need to if it were set up right.
As for chords, there's a few that are only 2 finger ones and you can jam with just those to a lot of different music. Then there's chop chords, triplets and so on that are more advanced. Work on your fast strumming too, it'll help.