Eastman, Gibson, & Mowry Mandolins

Way back in 2009, I thought it would be fun to record and post clips of three very different mandolins on the Mandolin Cafe, to see who could tell the difference.  This was a fun experiment and a tonally enlightening one.


Gibson Master Model A5G

Here is the original post I made:

This was posted in another thread, but it didn’t really fit the thread and kind of hijacked it. (My apologies.) I’m always interested to see people’s subjective responses to mandolins. Can you tell which mandolin is which from the recordings below, site unseen? (Oh yeah…and if you have time to give a description of why you made the choices you did, I think that might be helpful.)

Here are recordings of two arch tops and one flat top.

Arch Tops Include

Eastman 604
Gibson Master Model A5G

Mowry Flat Top Two Point

Flat Top
Mowry Two Point

I have not listed them in order, I’d like to see who can match the sound to the instrument??! Sound like fun? Both files play a selection on one instrument, then the same selection on the second and then the same selection on the third. The instruments are in the same order on both files.
I just took my mando down to the music shop, comandeered (sp?) two other mandos and lined them up in a line and went through playing the same thing on each. This was recorded on a Zoom h2 using a proplec heavy pick. The distance from the recorder was the same on all instruments.
The weather was rainy, and 50 degrees. No sun shone this day. My truck did not hydroplane either on the way to Black

Eastman 604

Eastman 604

Mountain, nor on the way back.

I’ll post the correct answers Monday or Tuesday of next week to give plenty of folks time.

You can read the rest of the posts here on this thread. They are entertaining.



#1 was the Eastman, #2 was the Mowry, #3 was the Gibson

Out of 13 people guessing (oops I mean listening).

6 thought #1 was the Eastman, 3 thought #1 was the Gibson, 4 thought #1 was the Mowry

0 thought #2 was the Eastman, 4 thought #2 was the Gibson, 9 thought #2 was the Mowry

7 thought #3 was the Eastman, 6 thought #3 was the Gibson, and 0 thought #3 was the Mowry


Mid-Missouri Model M-1 Mandolin Review

A while ago, a mandolin student, lent me her Mid-Missouri Model M1 Mandolin for fun. I just wanted to play it a bit and see what I thought.  I had often picked one of these up at the Acoustic Corner in Black Mountain, NC. They were fun instruments for the price range.

Mid Missouri M-1 Flat Style Mandolin

Anyway, while the sound didn’t knock my socks off compared to some of the mandolins I’m used to playing, I thought it had a nice tone for the price, especially compared to other arch top pac rim mandolins I’d played for twice the price. (Although have you ever noticed how one mandolin sounds really great, until you compare it to another? Or even how you think yours really doesn’t sing like you would like, until you match it up against a different one, and your appreciation of the voice goes up?)

The intonation was good, and the action acceptable. The neck was a little to thin for me, but then again, I like wider fret boards.

Overall, this was a sweet little mandolin, and if I wanted a less expensive flat top, that I would happily take to sessions and play a show with, this would be the one.  It was solid and functional and got the job done.

Now keep in mind, I often think that the person playing the mandolin is more important than the expense of the mandolin. I’ve heard a number of people play 5K mandos and sound like crap, and others play $300-$500 mandos and make it sing like a bird.  Just saying this, so you know, if you are a skilled player with a good feel for music, but don’t have a lot of money, you could do well by one of these.

Mid-Missouri Model M-1 Mandolin (From FolkOfTheWood.Com)
Solid Honduran mahogany back and sides. Solid Engelmann spruce top. Honduras mahogany neck. Rosewood fretboard and bridge. Includes binding on the body.