I am not much of a mando player. I tinkered with mando years ago. I ended up getting interested again when I was asked to sit in for a short set, and I had fun getting ready for it and playing. Another forum member (brenton) really liked his red valley mando: http://redvalleymandolins.com/
I talked to the builder James, and it sounded like a potentially good fit for me. I liked James’ approach, thoughts on design, honesty and goals. In addition, just the concept of buying from an individual builder was a big plus. I got a flat-top A style with sitka on mahogany and a 1 1/4" nut width. It’s very similar to the one on the video at the above website. It’s certainly not the standard bluegrass mando, but I am thinking it might be just the right combination for me. Practicing mando can be a bit loud for those around you, so I am hoping this will have a woodier, old-time kind of vibe. The other instrument I was considering was a Collings MT… that’s a heck of a nice instrument, it has an incredible tone. It’s loud and it cuts very well and these are usually strong points, but in my case something a bit more mellow will be good. The wider nut width was just a wild shot, but I am thinking I’ll enjoy a bit more room. It is supposed to arrive Thursday, so I am eager to see it and try it out. I’ll really enjoy Ben’s intro series. Hopefully, I don’t already have too many bad habits to break.