Sponsored By
 
Northfield Calhoun
 
A great-sounding US-made flattop mandolin at an affordable price.
November 21, 2021

 

In the time since its founding in 2008, Northfield has made a name for its affordable high-quality instruments. Headquartered in Michigan, the company does most of its manufacturing in China, but it has set up a domestic shop to build certain models. The first line of mandolins to come out of Northfield’s Marshall, Michigan facility was the new Calhoun model, a flattop design aimed at beginning players and enthusiasts who love the sound of vintage “pancake” mandolins.” We had a chance to check out the Calhoun in the Peghead Nation video studio, where mandolin instructor Sharon Gilchrist put it through its paces.

The Northfield Calhoun takes its inspiration from flattop mandolins (such as vintage Gibson Army Navy models and the various Flatiron models offered in the 1980s and ‘90s) of the past, but its elegant design gives it an immediate distinction. One thing that separates the Calhoun from other entry-level instruments is the excellent quality of its materials. Both the spruce top and maple back and sides on our demo instrument had beautiful grain and figure of a kind you’d be more likely to find on more expensive instruments. The fingerboard and adjustable bridge are made of black walnut, which is a great alternative to the more common ebony or rosewood.

The goal of providing great tone and playability at an affordable price is reflected in the Calhoun’s architecture: A flat top is easier to build than the carved design used on A- and F- style mandolins, and the instrument has no binding, purfling, or rosette. Simple dots serve as position markers in the fretboard, and the pickguard and armrest included on our demo instrument are optional. However, just as the Calhoun is built with woods of the same grade as some of Northfield’s pricier instruments, it also has the same tailpiece and Gotoh tuners found on the company’s S- and F-series mandolins.

The Calhoun delivers the warm and dynamic voice that is often associated with flattop mandolins. “It’s a very rich, deep-sounding mandolin,” Sharon Gilchrist said. “Sometimes in a beginner mandolin, getting that deep sound is hard, but Northfield managed to do that.” Sharon also found the neck to be very playable, and agreed that it would make an excellent choice for a beginning or developing player. With a vibe and sound that belies its low cost, the Calhoun is, of course, not only of interest to beginning players, but to anyone looking for a great-sounding and easy-to-play flattop mandolin.

SPECS: Flattop mandolin with oval soundhole. Solid Italian spruce top. Figured maple back, sides, and neck. Black walnut fretboard and bridge. Adjustable truss rod. 13.9-inch scale. 1³/₃₂-inch nut width. Gotoh tuners. Cast tailpiece. Made in the USA. Starting at $795. Northfieldinstruments.com

 

Related New Gear Posts
 

Waterloo WL-M

A flattop mandolin inspired by budget instruments of the 1930s and ’40s.

Read More

 

Weber Cutaway Red River Octave Mandolin

Archtop guitar-shaped octave mandolin has stunning looks and rich tone.

Read More

 

Santa Cruz Parabolic 12-String Set

The latest addition to Santa Cruz’s line of strings is a set for 12-string guitar.

Read More

 

Gold Tone “Bluegrass Heart” Béla Fleck

Peghead Nation banjo instructor Wes Corbett demonstrates Béla Fleck’s new signature model.

Read More

 

Santa Cruz Baritone Strings

We check out the latest addition to Santa Cruz Parabolic Tension strings using a pair of Santa Cruz baritone guitars.

Read More

 

Solid Ground Stands

Secure instrument stands made from beautiful hardwoods.

Read More

 

L.R. Baggs Voiceprint D.I.

A highly anticipated processor that uses impulse-response technology to enhance acoustic pickups.

Read More

 

Fishman PowerTap Earth and PowerTap Infinity

New Fishman pickup packages add a soundboard transducer to popular magnetic or undersaddle options.

Read More

 

Beard Squareneck Copper Mountain

New resonator guitar includes a Beard Legend cone and composite back and sides.

Read More

 

Ear Trumpet Labs Louise and Myrtle

Two microphones optimized for capturing acoustic performances.

Read More

 
Sponsored By
 
 
 
Peghead Partners
 
The Incredible Story Of Martin Guitars | Martin Guitars
Chris Martin presents a lecture on his company's history at a special event at New York's Rudy's Music.
 
 
 
 
 
  Follow Us:  
 
  About Us       Shop         Support         Contact Us         Email Sign up         Advertise         Sitemap         FAQ         Privacy         Terms         Subscribe   Sign In  
 
    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com