There is a line of thought amongst the bluegrass and acoustic folk music community that an A5 mandolin is the poor cousin of the F5, which is usually reflected in the price difference between the two models.
I am of a different mind, in that I know that the construction details of the body chamber, neck and peghead are almost identical between and F5 and an A5 mandolin. The traditional scroll, corner points and elaborate peghead of an F5 mandolin, while being aesthetically pleasing, do not contribute to the acoustic and tonal qualities of the instrument. Provided that an A5 is well-built to the same specifications as an F5 (ie same quality tonewoods, thicknesses and graduations etc), and it is tap-tuned and voiced, there is no reason why it should not be as vociferous and tonal as an F5 mandolin.
Price $4,500 (excl case & shipping)
A well-built, voiced and vociferous F5 mandolin is the most sought after instrument from a bluegrass or acoustic folk music standpoint. I have studied the instruments that were built by Gibson in the “golden era” of the early 1920’s of mandolins under the legendary acoustic engineer, Lloyd Loar, and also ventured to the USA to undertake a mandolin construction course with Roger Siminoff, luthier and author. I base my mandolins on drawings obtained from Siminoff of these early Gibsons and follow them empathically. However, I also “listen” to the instrument as I build it and use tap-tuning techniques to arrive at final thicknesses, graduations and shapes of the various body components. My mandolins are hand-built using manual tools and are finished with the traditional hand-rubbed and French-Polished shellac finish, which is the ultimate finish to achieve the best possible acoustic result.
Price: $6,000 (excl case & shipping)