With a natural sound and look, the Big Muddy M-11 is a unique flattop mandolin inspired by classic Celtic instruments. If you’re looking for something different when it comes to mandolins, this model might just be the perfect fit for you.
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I’m a music composer and mandolin enthusiast with several years of experience producing rock, folk and soundtrack music for several media. I try to use the mandolin whenever I can, as it adds a unique, rustic flavor to any track or song.
Join me in this deep dive into this unique instrument called Big Muddy.
About the Big Muddy M-11
The Big Muddy company was founded in 1993 in Missouri when Mike Dulak and his brother decided to repair their banjo. After researching for a while, Mike learned a few things about the construction of acoustic instruments and decided to give it a go, creating the first Big Muddy mandolin in his garage.
The Big Muddy company rapidly grew to become a small custom shop that specialized in creating unique instruments with a natural design and great tonality. Most of their instruments have an old-school feel to them, and the company specializes in producing classic mandolas and mandolins.
Nowadays, Big Muddy offers several series such as the MW and M. Starting from the M-1X and going up to the M-17, the number normally indicates the overall quality and cost of the instruments, with M-17 being the most expensive and professional one.
The Big Muddy M-11 stands in the middle, a decent mid-range mandolin with a great price-value ratio.
The Big Muddy M-11 is an American-made all-solid mandolin that has received a lot of praise from mandolin players in recent years. This model has a flat top body, which is quite unique for a modern day mandolin.
This model is a bestseller for the company, as it offers a great tone with a high-quality construction for a very low price.
The body is made of Honduran mahogany for the back, sides and top. Using the mahogany as a full body tonewood adds an interesting earthy and wooden sound to this model. As will happen with many mandolins, the sound will grow as the years progress.
Big Muddy also produces a “J” version of this model, where “J” stands for “jumbo,” referring to the body type. This model comes with a big mandola body that offers a richer, fuller sound compared to other mandolins.
One of the biggest pros of this mandolin is the lightweight construction. It makes this model very easy to transport and play in live shows or outdoors.
This mandolin has a very minimal finish with very little lacquer. It’s an elegant and simple design inspired by classic instruments like the mandola and violin.
I personally really enjoy this type of minimal finish, as it helps to highlight the almost medieval origins of these instruments. This model looks and feels like old classic mandolas or lutes, which is also a big plus, as it could be used as a decorative piece too.
The neck is very thick, which makes this model perfect for folk and Celtic music, as these styles don’t require too fast of an action.
Overall, it has a very comfortable and smooth neck with an easy action on most of the fretboard.
The bridge of the Big Muddy M-11 is a simple but effective bridge with a natural finish. I’ve heard few complaints about this part of the mandolin, as it does what it’s supposed to.
It’s also a static bridge, which means it’ll be a little harder to adjust, and you might need to sand it down if you want a lower action on your fretboard.
The tuners on Big Muddy M-11 are of decent quality. They may be sometimes too hard to adjust, but they’ll certainly maintain the tuning of your instrument for a long time.
Pros & Cons
My Experience with the Big Muddy M-11
I’ve had a few encounters with the Big Muddy M-11 in recent years. I really liked the tone the first time I heard it. It has very rich undertones, and the mahogany tonewood makes this mandolin so interesting and unique.
Mahogany was used for many instruments in the past, but in recent years it’s taken a backseat to woods like spruce and maple, as these tonewoods add more brightness to the instrument. But mahogany still has importance in the modern age, being very popular in classic-styled mandolins and other acoustic instruments such as the violin and viola.
The Big Muddy M-11 is also a very comfortable instrument to play. Its tear-shaped flattop body is very easy to use while seated or standing. The original flattop mandolins were created by medieval peregrines so they could be played while traveling.
I’ve heard a lot of players praising this model in Celtic and folk community. You won’t find any better mandolin for these musical styles nowadays.
The Big Muddy M-11 comes with a rich and sweet tonality. As I mentioned before, this mandolin is great for folk, blues and Celtic styles, as the mellow and full tone is perfect for these types of music.
The tone also has a great definition on the high and low ends of the spectrum. This mandolin offers a very well-balanced sound, although with a little better quality on the treble side.
The overall sound quality will grow in years to come as the wood settles down and adds new harmonics and undertones. This mandolin is a very good investment, as it will grow in value with the passing of time.
Big Muddy M-11 Warranty
All mandolins made by Big Muddy offer a full two-year warranty from the time of purchase. This covers all construction defects unrelated to player abuse. This warranty may vary depending on the retailer.
Where to Buy the Big Muddy M-11
Most of the mandolins made by Big Muddy might be tricky to find in your typical music store or online retailer. But fear not, as there are several options here.
Nowadays Amazon is one of the biggest companies on the whole planet. They started as an online book retailer a few decades ago but rapidly grew to become one of the most important players in the retail industry.
Amazon offers a huge stock of many different products, including musical instruments such as the mandolin.
One of the most useful features of Amazon are the customer reviews. Here you’ll find honest opinions made by customers who already bought the product and tried it themselves.
There are several online retailers that are trying to compete with monsters like Amazon and eBay. Many websites took a different path. Some of them became a niche website, specializing in particular products like acoustic instruments.
I recommend looking out for websites that specialize in violins, violas and cellos, as there you might find a bigger selection of mandolins.
Your Local Store
You might find a limited selection of instruments in your local store, but you can always stay there for a while trying out several models to see which one fits you the most.
In my personal experience, it’s kinda rare to find good quality mandolins in a generic music store. I recommend looking out for stores that specialize in acoustic instruments like violin, viola or cello.
The Big Muddy M-11 is a great mid-range mandolin created to satisfy even the most demanding players. This mandolin is a perfect fit for folk and Celtic music, as it was created with these styles in mind.
Overall, the Big Muddy M-11 is an exceptional instrument with a simple design and great tonality. A beautiful tear-shaped flattop body makes this mandolin a rare instrument to find, elevating its value in recent years.
If you’re looking for something out-of-the-box and very unique, I highly recommend this mandolin, as you won’t find anything similar for the price.
Thank you for reading this article until the end. I hope you enjoyed this read, and if you did, feel free to share it or drop a comment about the Big Muddy M-11 or any other mandolin.
Stay safe, and as always, good luck with your sonic adventures!