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Thread: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

  1. #1
    Plinkity,Plinkity Hillsdale Leroy's Avatar
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    Default Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    Hey all,
    Can anyone share their opinions and experiences with Kentucky brand Mandolins please? Thank you.
    Because mine has eight, does that make it twice as cool as a ukulele?

  2. #2
    Registered User Glassweb's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    hit and miss... the neck on their mandolins have gotten fat and clunky in recent years. frets and truss-rod functionality are usually a problem. the upside is that they can offer that woody, bluegrass sound for a fraction of the price of a custom builder instrument. however in the end it all depends on the particular instrument. sometimes their cheaper offering can sound better than their higher-end models...

    in the end you just gotta find one that you like...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    I own an older Kentucky KM-805 I got in trade for a guitar that didn't fit me. It "plays above it's weight," but it doesn't measure up to my 3 main mandolins. Its benefit for me is it's my only F-style, and my main mandolins are all A-styles. But it was $600 trade value, and IMHO it's worth about $800, so a good trade to me. Its a good mandolin, not great.

  4. #4
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    I have owned two and still have one of them. The first was an older F style that I bought early in my mandolin years. I do not remember the model but I think perhaps a KM 635. It played nice but at that point I had not had the experience of playing a large variety of mandolins to which I could compare. I sold it because I could not get used to the F style look with the scrolls and needless glitz.
    My current backup mando is a KM-950. It was upgraded with a James Tail Piece and a Cumberland Acoustic Bridge prior to my purchase. I bought it used from the Cafe classifieds in "as new" condition showing no indication that it had ever been played. At $850.00 shipped to me from the mid west it may be the "best bang for the buck" I will ever get. It plays excellent and tone/volume is way above it's paygrade. I have, by now, played several different Kentucky KM 900 and up mandolins finding all to be very competitive or better than other PanAsian imports I have played.
    With that I cannot comment on their lower dollar mandolins as I have not really played them. My 950 is definitely a keeper.
    Last edited by Pittsburgh Bill; Mar-01-2021 at 10:23am.
    Stiver A style (MAS has stopped here)
    Kentucky KM-950
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)
    Harley Benton A style (grandchildren's learner)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    <<<<<<<<<< deleted by FLATROCK HILL >>>>>>>>>>>>
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

  6. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    Unfortunately linking to a Cafe search ID like you have gets nothing for the O.P. You can however use Google to search and post that as a readable link.

    Go to www.google.com and enter your search term followed by site:mandolincafe.com

    For example Kentucky site:mandolincafe.com

    would get you this:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Kent...hrome&ie=UTF-8

    Entering "Kentucky mandolin" site:mandolincafe.com

    would get you this:

    https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C...4dUDCA0&uact=5
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    I’ve got a KM-272, and I really like it a lot. It’s an A model. I don’t care for F models, although I’d kinda like to find an F model octave mando.

    I’m an old-newby mandolinist, but it sounds good to me and plays well and really looks good. It does make a lotta mistakes though. Depending on where you are in mandolism, I would highly recommend it — if it fits.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Unfortunately linking to a Cafe search ID like you have gets nothing for the O.P. You can however use Google to search and post that as a readable link.

    Go to www.google.com and enter your search term followed by site:mandolincafe.com

    For example Kentucky site:mandolincafe.com

    would get you this:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Kent...hrome&ie=UTF-8

    Entering "Kentucky mandolin" site:mandolincafe.com

    would get you this:

    https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C...4dUDCA0&uact=5
    Thanks Mike. Been there, done that (Google search as you describe).
    Thought I might direct the O.P. to search results without sending him off-site. After various roadblocks I decided to abandon the effort.
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    I had an early '90's KM 1000. It was decent and served me will until I was able to upgrade.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    Is there a a particular model that you are looking at? It might help to get the information you are after.

    I have owned several - from 150, 505, 756, 900, 950, 1050. All newer (last 6-8 years) made in China models.

    I think they are terrific mandolins. Great starter mandolins and the upper mandolins would be all that a lot of us would need. I see comments about lower end Eastman mandolins being as good or better than the higher models. In my experience the higher end Kentucky mandolins are better than the lower models. Like all instruments if you played 10 they will be 1 or two that stand out and 1 or 2 that may not measure up but I think they are fairly constant. I believe they are building better mandolins now than ever? If you are buying from a site sponsor chances are they will be well setup. If not they will probably need some setup work.

    - 150 is a great starter/backup mandolin. they have a flat fretboard and fuller neck. they can be shockingly good for the price.
    - 500/505 - I have owned a few and friend had one as well. these may be the sweet spot as they have been really good and a couple outstanding. Seem to have a medium U shaped neck I found comfortable and a radius fretboard.
    - 900/1000 - narrower nut, smaller frets, flat fretboard and slimmer neck. The last 1000's had 1 1/8" nut and can't remember if they radiused the fretboard? I bought a used 900 and did not like the smaller frets and it was not as good as a coupe of 505's I had. But these can be very good. there are a few 900's with a varnish finish around as well.
    - 950/1050 - 1 1/8" nut or slightly wider, radius fretboard, slightly fuller neck. I had two 950's and both were very good mandolins. I had a 1050 that was truly outstanding, all the mandolin I would ever need.
    - 756 - I recently ran across a great deal on one and bought it for a back up. It does need some setup work, but not to bad. It has a 1 1/8" nut, larger frets and a full U shaped neck. The only thing I would change is I prefer a smaller neck. Fit and finish is very good. One thing I noticed one prior models the inside was left rough, just not the attention to detail you find in better mandolins. Once setup I think it will be an easy player. The sound is the dry woody bluegrass tone and really outstanding for the price, so very happy with it.

    That said the past two or three years Kentucky mandolins have really jumped in price. While I think they are great in the sub $1k range spending $1500 to near $3000 for one of the top models I would look elsewhere.

  12. #11
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    Thanks Mike. Been there, done that (Google search as you describe).
    Thought I might direct the O.P. to search results without sending him off-site. After various roadblocks I decided to abandon the effort.
    Years ago I wrote a program to search the Cafe that allowed me to retain the search information in a link. I used it for several years but the Google search just works better so I use that.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  14. #12

    Default Re: Kentucky Brand Mandolins-opinion

    As an example I would take this Collings MT over new Kentucky 950,

    https://mandolincafe.com/ads/167888#167888

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