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Author Topic: Road Trip Report - NYC & Environs - Mando Bros, Rudy's, etc.  (Read 1318 times)
Acoustickler
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« on: April 24, 2006, 11:42:51 PM »

Just got back from NYC.  Took a little lime out in NYC for some guitar shop browsing and took the free Staten Island Ferry to check out Lady Liberty and Mandolin Brothers shop.

Rudy's:  Nice store - super busy the days I wandered in.  Small higher-end acoustic room.  Very little in the way of used acoustics.  Lots of Taylors and Gibsons.  A decent number of Huss & Dalton (more on this revelation later), three Froggy Bottoms (each gorgeous, but priced accordingly).  A lovely Olson on the wall too.  Pretty much all the $4000 and up guitars are locked on the wall and you have to ask to get one down.  Young guy working the acoustic room was quite friendly, especially when I revealed I was a Froggy owner (he is too).  He told me they sell more Froggys than anyone in NYC.  He was accomodating to let me play what I wanted.  Another guy working the front counter was also very helpful and suggested (correctly) where he thought I could find a piece of equipment they did not stock.  Well done!!!

What I discovered at this store was that a Huss & Dalton OM with Adi. top was a fantastic smaller-sized guitar.  I had not played a guitar by this maker before, but I am now quite impressed!

I found the prices at Rudy's to be a touch high across the board on items I'd priced out elsewhere.

Sam Ash:  Located next to Rudy's, the Sam Ash store is a little uninspiring.  Pretty much all mass-produced guitars - poor acoustic selection.  A few vintage electrics at high prices.  Good prices on accessories and equipment.

Mandolin Brothers:  The Staten Island ferry is worth taking if you are a visitor.  It is free and you get some nice views of the Statue of Liberty and Manhatten.  Once you get to the island, a 15 minute bus ride takes you to Mandolin Bros., inauspiciously contained in a little stucco house-like structure.  This place is just crammed with acoustics and archtops.  Lots of vintage and used material for bargain hunters like me.  Prices on all instruments are quoted as two figures (a higher one for credit card purchases, and then their best "cash" price).  The cash prices seem very competitive.

Staff was very friendly and allowed me to play whatever I wanted.  Higher priced guitars are not locked up or behind glass.  There is a lovely high-end room with humidifier, comfy sofa and some stools.  In there I played a vintage Gibson Super 400, a 40s Martin OOO, and many other gems.  In another room, there were numerous examples of Collings, Huss & Dalton, Bourgeois, Breedlove, etc.

Again, it was a Huss & Dalton OM with an Adi. top that stole the show for me.  I was also quite impressed by a lovely Kinscherff guitar for fingerstyle play.  I'll also say that one of the Collings Dreds, again with the Adi. top stunned me with its responsiveness and projection.  Quite a big boy there and from this example I see what the fuss is about.  A few other Collings were good, but to me not as thrilling as this particular instrument.  A Collings C with Koa back and sides was very disappointing and sounded dead to me.

The surprising thing to me was that the store was a little weak on accessories for these high-end instruments.  They sold none of the high-end instrument cleaners and polishes that are discussed and recommended on forums like this one.  Also, I asked whether they stocked Newtone Strings and they had never heard of them at all.  But these are minor points - I like the store.

(By the way, the guy at Rudy's sent me to Guitar Center Manahatten for the item he didn't have.  As usual, in my limited experience with these GC stores, the shop was gigantic, well-stocked, had world-beating prices, and - here's the part that amazes me - the service level is very, very good.  I almost expect a "box-store", warehouse type lack of service from such a huge operation, but twice in the last few months I've gotten great service along with the right product at an unbeatable price.)

Cheers,
B.
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1998 Larrivee D-10 (Brazilian RW/Sitka)
1999 Froggy Bottom F Deluxe (Koa/Adirondack)
2003 Martin D-17 (All Mahogany)
1996 Fender USA Strat Plus
1967 Hofner President
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1978 Music Man 112-65
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Tycho
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2006, 12:37:14 AM »

Nice report.  I enjoyed looking at (and I use the term advisedly) the Huss & Daltons when I was at Rudy's in November, since nobody in Toronto stocks them.  However, I do find that the setup at Rudy's isn't conducive to pulling a guitar off the wall and checking it out.  A guy was playing the H&Ds when I was there, and that seemed to preclude anyone else doing so.

I'd love to make it to Mandolin Bros. some day.  I'll have to plan a special trip, I guess; Staten Island has always been a bit too far off the beaten path on my last few trips to NYC.
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Ratishna
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2006, 03:36:43 PM »

Trip to Mandolin Brothers is always worth the time.  In fact, be sure to budget *enough* time when you visit.  I generally stay a few hours when I go.  Rudy's is cool, and 48th St. is always worth a look, but I find I can't really try guitars out very well because its usually so crowded and noisy.  Then there are those NYC prices...

E. Shoaf
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Randy_R
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2006, 04:51:46 PM »

Good report. I guess I'll have to do some guitar "site-seeing" next time I'm in the city.
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Randy R., Georgia, USA
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Fergy07
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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2006, 04:49:31 PM »

I live in NJ and my freinds and I try to make it out to Mandolin Brothers once or twice a year. While the most expensive room is the on with all of the archtops, the coolest room is the one with all the mando's and uke's. When I was there a month ago, this guy was playing some amazing stuff on a cheap uke. I almost walked home with one. The mando's range from really cheap to Gibson Loars.

Andy
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rwnyc
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2006, 08:41:52 PM »

Yes, great report.  Thanks.

Mandolin Bros is a local treasure (the whole Staten Island thing aside  :WNK>). . . the kind of place you WANT to buy from . . .  BUT they don't carry Larrivee  angry.  They didn't even have any used ones when i contacted them.  I wish Larrivee and Mandolin Bros would get together on this one.

I also agree with the general sentiment re: 48th Street . . . . mixed bag.  Ratishna is right-on re: NYC prices (and don't forget the extra 8.375% the Governor and Mayor collect on every sale).  There are some good shops away from 48th Street and beyond the 5 boroughs, too.

Re: Guitar Center on 14th St. well that's another matter entirely . . . it IS a GC, after all.


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leftync
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2006, 02:09:16 AM »

a few years ago i was in NYC for a job interview, and strolled my way back to penn station, in the mood for a guitar store. although i grew up in the city, i am a tourist these days and had no idea where music row was. i stumbled on it and was in heaven for a couple of hours! at the time i was still trying to play right-handed, and could play enough songs to have a great time with all the high end stuff in all the stores. first place i ever saw godin guitars, if i recall, wwas one of those stores. i ended up buying a seagull.
btwm great report. hope i get to mando bros. someday.
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