— Begin quote from “mreisz”
My only regret was that I didn’t buy a nicer instrument from the start. Imagine how much fun I missed by not playing for a decade.
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This is a mistake so many people make and I wonder how many possible good musicians have never happened because of this over the last 100 years. Save some money and get a good, playable instrument no matter where it’s made!
Another option , if possible, is to borrow an instrument to see if you’ll like it enough to stick with it. A friend at church came to me recently and wanted to buy a starter guitar for around $300.00 to learn on. I said for $300.00 you will most likely only be frustrated and give up before you know what you can really do. So I brought my old 1981 Yamaha Jumbo to church a few weeks later (not the greatest guitar, but very playable and better than anything you’ll get today for 300.00). He’s still using it and having a good time with no money spent. It may be much harder finding someone to loan you a decent mandolin though.
I agree with buying used and also an A model. I personally don’t think there’s any difference in sound between a carved top A or an F model. The only advantage I see are cosmetics. The F’s are much prettier. Check out Greg Boyd’s House of Fine Instruments and go to the mandolin section. They have several sound samples of the instruments they sell and alot of them are A-models. I really like Chad Fadely’s playing.
One more option if you really want to stick with U.S.A. is the old Martin A models. I’ve seen several of these go for 600.00 or less even. I’ve played a few and they are really good mandolins for the price. Not sure why they go so cheap.
Good Luck Wings, hope this helps,