Mudcat Café message #1745213 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #91596   Message #1745213
Posted By: JohnInKansas
22-May-06 - 03:37 AM
Thread Name: Mandolin Mudcatters survey
Subject: RE: Mandolin Mudcatters survey
Is the mandolin your primary instrument or a sideline?

I play saxophone, but since my teeth all came out and the pads fell off of my 1934 Martin tenor, I do it on a mandolin. The mando is about the only instrument I play regularly, but since I don't play professionally, or even on a consistent schedule, I'd call it a sideline.

(I also have, and occasionally "play with," a tenor banjo, a fairly decent mid-student grade fiddle, a couple of lap dulcimers (home-builts), nearly full selection of harmonicas and p'whistles. There's a standup bass, like new, somewhere around the house, sharing space with a Washburn acoustic/electric bass guitar. I've take my jug-double-bass to fests for the last 15 years or so, but others play it a lot better than I do. If I get bored with the selection, she has a concertina I can borrow. But we're just not all that musical.)

Do you perform regularly with others/are you part of an organized group?

I play most often with an informal group of friends who are 100% gitterists. I respect their "professionalism" because they all have Martin guitars, which they tell me means a lot.

What type of music do you play?

I play almost exclusively "big band swing," but I do it most often with people who think we're playing old-style country. They say it's 1950s country, but then end up playing the stuff I learned in the 40s when it came back around from the 30s.

What style would you LIKE to be playing?

I play what I like. Who gives a %$^@# what the rest of them think we're doing.

Are you happy with your mandolin?

Having briefly played a couple or three really classic mandos, there's no way to be "happy" with anything else; but I get by with what I've got.

What type/style/brand of mandolin do you own.

My main mando is a 1980s era Washburn A-style. I bought it my first mando sort of "on a whim" ca 1982 ($350 US or so), and it will be a fine enough instrument once I get around to finishing with the setup.

I had a brief flirtation of 4 or 5 years duration with an incredibly expensive (for what I got) Vega F-style that I got because I thought it would be a better fit for playing with some bluegrassers I was associating with at the time. I used it much of the time until all the knobs suddenly crumbled off the tuners and I finally realized I don't really have to play "music" I don't enjoy playing all much. I've replaced the tuners, but haven't really done a full setup, so it's available but not being actively marketed. With proper setup, it could be a Vega again. (WG = wry grin)

I have a no-name (Lotus on the hood ornament) Chinese plywood job that was a really nice playing A-style, until the bridge snapped. I continued playing it for about 3 years with a piece of a clothespin1 stuck in for a bridge, but that eventually sagged too much, so I'm back with my original Washburn. I have replaced the bridge, but couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so it's a compromise and needs some additional setup someday. For $200, it was my "best buy," until my 1912 Gibson happens along for about $100.

1The clothespin was the hardest piece of wood I could find in the campground, and was carefully crafted with a wood rasp and a pocket knife for correct compensation. It took me all of maybe an hour to get back to the jam.