Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

I've got OAS, got it bad!

I suddenly want, nay need!, an octave mandolin.

Northfield is starting to make them:

And Sarah Jarosz has been playing Fletcher-Brock for a while now:

I never play my National Tricone anymore, I might trade it in to cover some of the expense.

That was super , what can I say it sounds so deep and resonant . about like a resonant circuit LOL. I could start now and would not have enough saved before I leave LOL .

Why did you have to post those clips? That Northfield sounds awesome. Not fair.

I have a mandolin from James Wilson that I like. It’s more of an old-time mandolin (as opposed to a bluegrass one), but it is a nicely made instrument. He has simpler (flat top) octaves for sale for about $1400. I might be tempted to try one of those.

Those are some nice instruments Mike. I didn’t see any audio for the octave, but the mandola sounded good. Still, I have my heart set on an archtop style octave. I’m still trying to decide if I want to spend $3800 for a Northfield. I’ve heard the Fletch-Brock cost even more.

It may have been the music, the player or the recording, but the one in your first link sounds pretty tough to beat. I like that Sarah Jarosz song, but the other recording sounds phenomenal.

I am tempted to get a flat top to see how much I would play it.

I went and listened to some demos of the various instruments below: … y/octaves/
The carved top makes it a totally different instrument. I think it might be worth the wait and effort to go the Northfield route. With that said, the Trinity college instrument sounds pretty sweet for $700!

Don’t tell anyone but Dennis has banned me from doing business at the Mandolin Store. Not that I was ever going to, because I work close to one of the all time great acoustic shops. It only took 2 emails to get there. It’s one of my special talents, my own Mother de-friended me on Facebook once.

In the case of the Mandolin Store, I had a problem with the cheesy used-car approach they use by posting the Manufacturers Suggest Retail price, which nobody ever, ever pays. Then they cross it out and put ‘their’ price up, which is a decent price, but the same as anyone else would charge. My only defense is that I had no idea who I was talking to at the time, I was just following a link from somewhere else. I did a little digging and found out that it is a stand up Store with alot of very happy customers, and Dennis himself looked like a great player himself and totally dedicated to what he’s doing. I was going to apologize for my tone, but decided to just leave it alone.

If - ha! - when I tick someone over here, I’ll apologize profusely. I can’t help it, I was born and raised in Massachusett, we rub everyone the wrong way.

So where was I? Right, Northfield. It turns out their first 2 lots are already sold out. And the first lot won’t even get shipped to the customer until late Summer. I think I’m going to sit and hope that my OAS cools off. I’ll have to break out that Tricone and see if I really want to let it go. I definitely want an archtop, I’m funny that way. I won’t even look at an oval hole instrument of any type, even though more often than not I prefer the tone of those to an f hole. I’m superficial, what can I say?

— Begin quote from "Jim_G"

It’s one of my special talents, my own Mother de-friended me on Facebook once.

— End quote


Yup, I’m afraid so. I can barely remember why, I think I saw one of her posts and my comment was along the lines of ‘Forget to take your Meds this morning’.

It got worse, my sister laughed at the exchange, and then SHE got unfriended too. It’s all good now. I’m back on her friend list, and I haven’t logged into Facebook in nearly a year so everybody’s a winnah!

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

since you mentioned facebook I will tell you how I get along there. I always post positive never a negative. If I really want to be negative I wait til I am face to face. the octave mandolin is going to be a big winner and you will see them at jams soon enough.

It’s the politics that drove me off of Facebook for good. Too many friends and family, on both sides of the spectrum, all they did was post that chain mail crap, and of course it would show up on my timeline. I never posted anything political and I can’t think of ever posting anything negative either. When Mom defriended me I thought I was making a joke, but I guess you don’t do that with Seniors and their Meds. I’m a tad on the slow side.

The best thing I ever got out of Facebook, and the reason I signed up in the first place, was staying in touch with one of my cousins who I rarely see. He lives over in England (my father’s side of the family came over after WWII). My late Aunt was the keeper of all the old family photos, and he’d post a new one every few days that would bring back memories.

I’m hoping to catch up with my cousin this Fall when I accompany my wife on her annual Business Trip. I went a couple of years ago, and he took me down to Denmark Street, which is the famous music row in London. Elton John used to work there as a clerk. Lots of old instruments, I played an old Gibson that they told me used to belong to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (I can never remember which one was the guitar player in that band). I tried playing ‘From the Beginning’ on it, but it’s been at least 25 years since I last did, so didn’t get very far, and I cleared the aisle with some Piedmont Blues instead. We were staying in the Marleybone section last trip and one day while the Wife did her presentations I walked up to Abbey Road and waved to the Live Camera as I crossed. I wasn’t the only tourist that had that idea, and you had to hustle because it was a busy street.

As for the Octaves, I’ve been told they’re already used in Celtic Jams. I suspect it might not cut through in a BG jam if there are too many players, and every BG jame I’ve ever attended had too many players for my taste. I was looking to use it as a solo accompaniment instrument myself. I’m slowly getting better with my vocals. I’ll never be great, but just finally relaxing, even in front of a crowd, has made a huge difference. I just wish it didn’t take until my late 50’s to get there.

I spent a week going back and forth, but I pulled the trigger and put a deposit down. The first lot is sold already, but I should have one by September. I can’t wait!


It took a bit longer than expected but Northfield is shipping my new Octave out on Monday and I should have it by Wednesday or Thursday. I’m not sure if I need to let it sit in the box in my music room for a day or two to acclimate, but hoping to have a pic or two up by next weekend. Then I need to figure out what I’m going to do with it. Initially I imagine doing my usual mandolin repertoire, but then hoping to use it for vocal accompaniment.

Excellent! I look forward to hearing about it.

This time of year, you likely won’t have to let it sit too long. If it is already at about room temperature, then no need to wait. That’s all that is going on when letting it “acclimate”… it’s just so that the temperature doesn’t change too quick.

I can’t seem to add images anymore. Oh well: … e.JPG?dl=0

I’m still fumbling around with my new Octave. I’ve decided it’s definitely NOT a bluegrass instrument. I tried learning a cool version of Zeppelin’s Rain Song, but the stretches were too much and I bailed. Started in on that Emery Lester tune that drove me to by the instrument in the first place. Still searching for it, but took little bits of it and created a little ditty of my own just to tide me over: … m.mp3?dl=0

Very nice! After hearing the kind of stuff you like playing on it, a few songs that might fit well: “You’ll never leave Harlan alive”, the similar “Shady grove”, and “Wild Bill Jones.”

Wow, some great stuff there. I definitely need to investigate Darrell Scott some more. I have a live Guy Clark CD that he played on, but that’s been my only exposure to him until now.

And I loved that second group. Are you among them as one of the players? Most of the heads got chopped off, they must use the same video guy I use. Or are they friends of yours? Awesome. It all makes me wish I could sing like that.

I was running the video camera! :laughing: Just kidding. Sadly, no affiliation. The songs were just what came to mind as good candidates based on the OMando’s sound. All the songs have that slidey 5 chord (somewhere between minor and major) kind of sound that the OMando sounds so good on.