buying a Mando

I have never played Mandolin and just need some advise on buying one. I saw on Craigslist a Johnson F model for $200, any thoughts. I am just a beginner so I don’t want to spend thousands, but want something that will last me a few years while I am getting better and see if it sticks.
Thanks for any advice you can give me.
Beth :flower

i think that’s a pretty good price for that model, however, if it’s something to beat on that you’re looking for, you can find an ok mandolin for less than that. Even brand new mandolins that aren’t so bad are less than $200. i’m no expert, as i’m a beginner as well, but i got a washburn A model (retails at 300, but a washburn B-stock retailer off ebay sells em’ cheap), for like 100 (priceless now that I’ve got Sammy’s AND Chris’s signature), and it sounds really good. My instructor was amazed at how well it stays in tune even after a long lesson or two. anyway, this isn’t much help i know, but the moral is, if you’re as broke as me, you can find one for less than that.

Yeah, I finally bought me a Mandolin, It’s a Kentucky FM140S (I think) I am really excited and have been practicing, practicing, practicing. I have one question, which seems a little foolish, but as a newbie I have no idea. I have seen several G chords, one is really hard, a four finger one and the others are a little easier. So my question is which G chord should I be playing and how do I know what Chord they want? Same goes for the D and C chords. Thanks for any info.
I did get the Andy Statman book, Beginner Bluegrass Mandolin, Which so far seems pretty good. Well I still am on the first page of chords.

Congrats on the purchase!
I’m no expert either, but I wish that I never would of learned the 3 finger version of D. If I could go back I would of practiced 4 finger G to 4 finger D for hours… then incorporated the 3 finger C and the 3 finger F.
It’s just now when I am playing a song with other people, I have a split second where I want to grab a three finger d because it is easier, but I know it would sound better with a 4 finger D… I hope that makes sense…
All the chords are right, and as long as you are having fun and you can hear the song coming together, thats whats important. But eventually you are going to want to play the 4 fingered version for choppin’ and keepin’ rhythm.
Hope that kinda helps…
I have that same andy statman book and like it a lot. The CD helps with keeping up with the song and being able to hear it well in your head.

I agree, the torture of stretching my pinkie to reach that string. Hmmm I wonder if they sell any medieval finger stretching devices? :lol
Thanks for the info, I will keep practicing the four finger chords. They at least are starting to sound somewhat like music.
Hopefully by June I will have a few songs down and we can all get together and jam.

One thing to watch out for is your thumb position on your fretting hand. If your thumb is riding along the back of and parallel to the neck, extension of your pinky is going to be severely limited. You’ll probably want your thumb to be closer to perpendicular with the neck, as this will allow your pinky and ring fingers to stretch more.

Additionally, there a decent number of finger stretching exercises… this one if for banjo, but if you were to adapt it to mandolin you’d probably want to do it further down the neck where the fret spacing is wider.

there is another that i’ve done in the past that goes something like this…

Place all 4 fingers of your left hand on the first strings at frets 3, 4, 5, and 6. Then you simultaneously pick up your index and ring fingers and move them to the second string, while leaving you middle and pinky on the first string. Then you do the opposite, picking up only your middle and pinky and moving them to the second string. Do this all the way down the strings and back. Then you can try walking down two strings at a time with your index and ring before catching up with the middle and pinky… Its not easy!

These kind of exercises should lead to better dexterity and better reach with your fingers, but don’t fret about them too much (sigh pun not intended).


:cheers I’m not really that good, I just try real hard :wink:

That being said, I really need to pick up a mandolin myself. The one I have now needs to have the neck reset to be at all playable, the action is way too high… but i didn’t pay enough for it to justify the repairs.


Thanks for the info and the dexterity exercises, I will practice that when I get home from work. Are you staying in Town Park this year. I would also like to buy you a beer for your wonderful advice.
Thanks again,
Beth :cheers

Unless you have an unlimited budget…I’d avoid mandolin “eye candy” at all costs. “M.A.S.” is a nasty disease that’ll hook ya really fast!!! Take it from a recovering “M.A.S.” sufferer…

-Plectrum Squeezer