Which Mandolin?

Hi,

I am thinking of learning to play the Mandolin/Mandola, I haven't fully decided what variation I want yet. I don't want to spend more than £350 on the instrument and was looking at a few options.

I would prefer an F Shape purely for Aesthetic reasons, but I realise options are limited at my price point. Ideally it should also have a pickup, or I could add one if it wasn't too expensive.

I looked at the Loar LM310F, which isn't available in the UK but is available for £250 in the US.

I am also not sure if I should get a Mandolin, a Mandola or even an Octave Mandolin. I'm slightly worried at the short scale of the Mandolin, while I don't have large fingers, I found it difficult to play a Soprano Uke.
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Comments

  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1488
    When I tried learning mandolin, the scale length presented no problems. What I struggled with was the spacing between the string courses. 
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • RiftAmpsRiftAmps Frets: 720
    I can't recommend the Ozark mandos enough. You'll be able to get an F-style 2nd hand for your budget.
    Rift Amplification
    Handwired Guitar and Bass Amplifiers
    Brackley, Northamptonshire
    www.riftamps.co.uk
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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 2015
    RiftAmps said:
    I can't recommend the Ozark mandos enough. You'll be able to get an F-style 2nd hand for your budget.
    I totally agree. I picked up mine in an Amazon Black Friday warehouse deal
    it needed work but it is a very useable mando 
    my main one is a moon guitars handmade number from a Scottish luthier
    if you can stretch you really should... 
    its like the difference between a 300 quid Tanglewood acoustic and a Martin or a Taylor
    once you have played one it is very difficult to go back to the budget range

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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 2015
    On your other points, I'm Over 6ft and struggle with small necks
    i can play the mandolin ok but it does hurt after a while
    again the moon one doubles the amount of time I can play with better action and a better neck
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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 2015
    I'll see if I have a clip of the ozark anywhere 
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  • StrangefanStrangefan Frets: 1899
    I have the newer seagull s8, which is a beautifully made and great playing mandolin, can be HD new for  good price n ll especially as it's Canadian made 
    www.deadhappyband.com
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  • CabicularCabicular Frets: 2015
    Forgive the scrappiness (of me and my playing )
    but this gives you an idea

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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 16243
    I went with a mandola due to my hand size (you know what they say about a man with big hands).
    I struggle with mandolins.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • mgawmgaw Frets: 2244
    i have big hands and find playing the mandolin pretty comfortable and i play for hours on end fairly regularly, one thing i would advocate though is spending good money on one as the jump in quality is more marked than that in the guitar world IMO
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  • WhitecatWhitecat Frets: 929
    Like @octatonic, every mandolin I've played has been too small for me to get to grips with - I did pick up an Eastwood electric mandola though which just about works. Different sound entirely mind you.



    (jump to 1:27 for actual playing)

    I really like the look of Eastman mandolins though... made in China but high-end craftsmanship and wood choices/details that would cost literally thousands more in some cases if they were on an MIA product.


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  • olafgartenolafgarten Frets: 1226
    Whitecat said:
    Like @octatonic, every mandolin I've played has been too small for me to get to grips with - I did pick up an Eastwood electric mandola though which just about works. Different sound entirely mind you.



    (jump to 1:27 for actual playing)

    I really like the look of Eastman mandolins though... made in China but high-end craftsmanship and wood choices/details that would cost literally thousands more in some cases if they were on an MIA product.



    I love the look of the MD315, it's available for $700 in the US which is just under £550, I might pick that up when I go to the US next summer.
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  • The GF has a Moon octave mandolin and it is so easy to play compared to a standard Mandolin, so I would recommend the mandola octave mandolin as the easiest way in
    www.maltingsaudio.co.uk
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 453
    I once looked at an Ovation one, but I didn't want to spend that much.
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 11577
    If you can, take a trip to Hobgoblin in London.  They have a huge range of stringed instruments at different price points.  

    Though, having gone there, I then went over to Paul Hathway's place and treated myself
    ;)
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  • I also played a few of the Paul Hathway mando's in Hobgoblin. I particularly liked the mandocello they had in, although that wasn't what I was looking for at the time.
    In the end I went got a Small Strings mandolin which is very nice.

    In jazz, no one can hear you scream
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  • KDSKDS Frets: 19
    At that price range I would go A style, if you can get a second hand Eastman A you will be very happy, a few years ago I was shopping around at your price point and spotted an F style Eastman pushed my budget and up ended up getting a mint 616 F for less than £550 on the bay. It's brilliant, looks stunning too. I'd be patient and work out what you want and your price point
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  • BidleyBidley Frets: 2144
    I believe Kentucky mandos have a slightly wider nut. You'll struggle with any mando to begin with, but you'll get used to it if you put the practice in.

    You'll have the same problems with an octave mandolin as you will with a mandolin. That, and they sound totally different and serve different purposes.

    The problem with buying a mandolin, is that unless you want to spend serious money (£500 upwards) they're going to need setting up at the very least. It's not like the guitar market, where you can get a nice player for £100.

    If you budget in a setup (which will almost certainly involve having the nut recut) you'll be fine. I've had one of these which was fine after a setup. A used Kentucky/Eastman/Loar/higher end Ozark would be better.
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