Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Relative values

Hey, everyone. I’ve seen on a couple of other mando forums that a mandolin will cost about double the price of an equal quality guitar. Is that true? It seems impossible, considering that an all solid entry mando (km150) is 380$ whereas a similar guitar (br140) is about 600$ so what’s the deal?

I hadn’t heard that. If there is truth to it that I can see, it would be in the higher end instruments.


Hi @K_G I don’t know if that’s true I have seen mandolin’s advertised here in the UK for as little as £50 and over £2000 the same is true for guitars depends on what your after.

I would say there’s more work goes into building a mandolin

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In Belgium I saw a series of high-end Gibson instruments : the guitar would cost 8000 € (about $10,000), the banjo 10000 € (about $12,000) and the mandolin 14000 € (about $16,000) !!!
So I would say “NOT BUSTED” to that myth.

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@Mike_R, that’s what I’d think, but I’ve seen it told to people looking for an entry level mando (at both mho and mancafe) @Archie, I know you can get them at all price points, the operative term was “equal value” I’d say a mando is probably harder to build, but guitar is materially more pricey. @Erwin1 high end Gibsons are expensive! Even in USA, and your right if you buy Gibson the mando is more pricey

The economies of scale are better for the guitar than for the mandolin which is arguably not as easy to make. I would guess that there are far fewer mandomakers than guitarmakers and fewer high-end mandos produced leading to supply-driven higher prices. As for quality it would be hard to imagine that high-end mandos are not matched by greater numbers of similarly priced high-end guitars and there is so much variability in materials and artistry this could be an unresolvable debate…

At which university did you get your PhD in economics? :joy: so your saying that they’re usually priced more or less equal quality for equal price?

Also I’m not saying just high end instruments. I’ve seen it said in reference to instruments priced as low as 150$

Leon Hunt said : “You get as much pleasure out of an instrument as the money you pay for it. So, if you buy a $150 guitar, you’ll get $150 pleasure out of it. If you pay $2000, you’ll get $2000 pleasure out of it…” To me, that rings sort of true…


Yeah, conversely, some people buy a 150$ instrument and get 1500$ pleasure out of it while some pay 1500$ and don’t enjoy it at all. Positive attitude helps the value to yourself. (That sounds weird but you get the point) I have a ±250$ guitar that I’ve gotten 900$ worth out of at least, so I don’t remember where I was going with this :joy: :roll_eyes:


Yep, I hear you, but you’re talking about something else : namely, what you DO with the instrument. Of course, I could buy me a 100,000 $ violin, and it would sound awful, and I would not get any pleasure out of it.
But what I am talking about is given an equal amount of musicianship you bring to the instrument, a cheaper instrument will almost always sound… well, cheaper… and a more expensive one… well, you get my drift… :slight_smile:

A woman who spent £16m at Harrods in a decade has been identified as Zamira Hajiyeva - the first target for the UK’s new anti-corruption law. I wonder if she bought a banjo.:rofl:

Yeah, I get your drift :laughing: I think regarding the original question, AvsF style makes a difference, because supposedly an Fstyle will cost approx. twice as much as an equivalent A. So it is very subjective. If both are true, you have to wonder, was it the F that is sposed to be double the guitar? In that case, the A would cost the same. If the A was double, then Fs are through the roof. Also if any of y’all have built them, are A style mandos harder to make than guitars? Or are they about the same, with F style being more difficult?

Yeah, I don’t think I wrote that… The price of instruments is typically what the market will bear both for high-volume producers and for individual makers. Quality certainly affects the demand-supply curve. – low quality instruments should rarely get high prices and high-quality hand-built instruments rarely get a low price. F-style mando buyers are willing to pay for the Gibson reputation and Gibson is willing to charge $10,000 to 20,000 for the equity they have built up in that brand. Consider also Martin’s 5K ukulele selling for about $5,000 which has about $100 of pearl inlays that the $500 1K doesn’t have. The cost of mando materials is roughly the same for an A or F and represents a small portion of the cost of producing bespoke instruments. For inexpensive instruments, cost of materials is a significantly higher percentage of the price. I’ve built one mando of each type and definitely agree that the F-style takes more time and effort than an A-style. My F-style cost about $400 in materials and my guitars usually cost about $750 in materials and guitars are a bigger building job, literally and figuratively. I don’t sell my instruments, but if I did the price would be as much as I could get (not overlooking the cost of materials, etc.,) given that there would be a willing consumer on the other side of the transaction.

Ok, sorry that’s what I understood from your other post. I get what you mean, that price is relative to supply and demand, and one instrument could get more expensive while the other got cheaper.

So, is an f-style easier to make than a guitar? Also can you post a few pics of each build Here? I’d love to see them and that will keep the thread on topic :slight_smile: