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Thread: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

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    Default Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    I found one that the serial starts with 88. Also the serial number and model number is hand written, not typed.

    Does that put it in the "Sumi era" made in Japan?

    I'm not sure there is a country of origin on the label.

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2

    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    I did quite a bit of research on the early Kentucky Mandolins and also gathered some information on the mandolas. The numbering system in the early days seems a bit spotty. If you view the spread sheet at the drop box link, you can go to the tab at the bottom of the sheet that is labeled as KM-1500 and see what information we have accumulated, also, you can add your instrument if you would like. At the lower right side of the KM-1500 page there is there is a brief note from Scott Zimmerman of the Desert Rose, whom formally represented the brand in the US, and knows Sumi personally.

    https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/xaiqe...1ewl4pc6s8j05a

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Thanks. So chances are it's an 88 or is there no way of telling?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Hello I have a 1500 and the sn starts with a 303, and no tail on the name, I got mine from the picking parlor a few years back and donít know any history on it, but itís a great mandolin, Iíve added a bunch to it, and itís got the best neck.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Did you ask Saga? Does it have a label like https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-F-style-KM950

    You can also search old threads as suggested in https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...rom-Late-1980s
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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Yes, I have an email out to Saga now.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by gtani7 View Post
    Did you ask Saga? Does it have a label like https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-F-style-KM950

    You can also search old threads as suggested in https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...rom-Late-1980s
    Its does have a label but the model number and serial number are handwritten. The specs look right to be an 80s Kentucky KM-1500. Apparently late 80s are more desirable because Sumi built them all by hand himself.

    I'm just trying to nail it down as best I can with as many sources as I can.

    I heard back from Saga, they are currently looking over some pictures. I also emailed Scott Zimmerman aka Desest Rose.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverAngelFan View Post
    ...Apparently late 80s are more desirable because Sumi built them all by hand himself...
    I can almost hear Scott's answer right now. Here is what it has always been. This is a common misconception.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I can almost hear Scott's answer right now. Here is what it has always been. This is a common misconception.
    That's actually from who I got the quote about Sumi building by himself in the late 80s.

    "The Kentucky Maruko craft shop opperated from 1980 and from the beginning was a team lead by the famous Tahara san. Sumi was the first member and from the beginning his abilities made him a lead member.

    #The team broke up in 1987 and Sumi assumed ownership of the shop and sole luthier status.

    #He built Kentuckys solo from 1987 until late 1992 early 1993

    #Some but not all Sumi solo mandolins are signed some are not"

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Just got an email from Saga that confirmed 1988 build year

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Have you tried flowers?

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverAngelFan View Post
    That's actually from who I got the quote about Sumi building by himself in the late 80s.

    "The Kentucky Maruko craft shop opperated from 1980 and from the beginning was a team lead by the famous Tahara san. Sumi was the first member and from the beginning his abilities made him a lead member.

    #The team broke up in 1987 and Sumi assumed ownership of the shop and sole luthier status.

    #He built Kentuckys solo from 1987 until late 1992 early 1993

    #Some but not all Sumi solo mandolins are signed some are not"
    Not buying any of it... This story here or the one in the Classifieds.
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    The quote is from Scott Zimmerman who is a close personal friend of Sumi. Maybe you should take that up with him if you don't believe it.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500


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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Exactly which part specifically disputing?

    These are facts.

    Yes, Sumi built all the KM-1000, KM-1500, and Dawg models by himself from 1987 to 1992. Scott Zimmerman lived in Japan and visited that shop many times in that era. Sumi was one of his closest friends when he lived in Japan.

    Yes, this mandolin has been confirmed to be a 1988 by Saga who distributed Kentucky mandolins.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    Have you tried flowers?
    Who?

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    Not buying any of it... This story here or the one in the Classifieds.
    Check out dwiegardt's reply and dropbox. Zimmerman's quote is on that as well. Plus it lists some known KM-1500 models from that era.

    If you have other information, please share.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    Not buying any of it... This story here or the one in the Classifieds.
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...0-made-by-sumi

    Here you will find the original quote from Scott.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    Have you tried flowers?
    I was wondering when that would happen.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I was wondering when that would happen.
    I must be missing something

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverAngelFan View Post
    I must be missing something
    Date as in social interaction, as opposed to a number on a calendar.

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Ah okay. Thanks.

  25. #23

    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverAngelFan View Post
    Exactly which part specifically disputing?

    These are facts.

    Yes, Sumi built all the KM-1000, KM-1500, and Dawg models by himself from 1987 to 1992. Scott Zimmerman lived in Japan and visited that shop many times in that era. Sumi was one of his closest friends when he lived in Japan.

    Yes, this mandolin has been confirmed to be a 1988 by Saga who distributed Kentucky mandolins.
    Sorry. Guess I should have been more specific. Let's just say I have my doubts.

    According to Scott Z's (Desert Rose) info, Sumi did build some Kentucky mandolins himself during the late '80s to early '90s. I do not dispute that. I don't think there is any higher authority re Sumi/Kentucky etc. He was there... He knows. And I deeply appreciate his contributions here. But obviously, to prove yours was built by Sumi himself, you'd have to prove the date of manufacture. You offer your serial number as evidence of the date.

    In 2013, A representative of Saga wrote these words in response to a Forum member's inquiry:

    "This Kentucky is definitely from that factory in Japan (Sumi was the inlay guy in that period), which shut down sometime in the late 1980s-the label inside confirms that. I can narrow this one down to 1983-1986 approximately, but there's no fool-proof way to know for sure. I've seen 4 digit SN's from the early '80s and 5 digits starting with 19XXX from the mid to late '80s, so this is the best estimate I can come up with. We have very few records from that period of production when the company was much smaller than it is today. For the last 15 years or so the serial numbers begin with the year of production, but before that it is hard to pinpoint the exact year of manufacture."

    So... unless something changed since then, it would seem that as far as the date of manufacture goes "there's no foolproof way to know for sure". I certainly don't doubt your account SilverAngelFan, of Saga confirming a 1988 date of manufacture to you. I'd just be curious to know how they can now be so sure.

    I'm a big fan of the Japanese era Kentucky mandolins and I have no doubt yours is a killer. I still own and operate a couple of them myself, including a KM-1500 which I dearly love. I believe it was built in '84 because the serial# begins with those two numbers. But from everything I've heard and read, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. In other words... I have my doubts.

    Clark
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

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    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    Sorry. Guess I should have been more specific. Let's just say I have my doubts.

    According to Scott Z's (Desert Rose) info, Sumi did build some Kentucky mandolins himself during the late '80s to early '90s. I do not dispute that. I don't think there is any higher authority re Sumi/Kentucky etc. He was there... He knows. And I deeply appreciate his contributions here. But obviously, to prove yours was built by Sumi himself, you'd have to prove the date of manufacture. You offer your serial number as evidence of the date.

    In 2013, A representative of Saga wrote these words in response to a Forum member's inquiry:

    "This Kentucky is definitely from that factory in Japan (Sumi was the inlay guy in that period), which shut down sometime in the late 1980s-the label inside confirms that. I can narrow this one down to 1983-1986 approximately, but there's no fool-proof way to know for sure. I've seen 4 digit SN's from the early '80s and 5 digits starting with 19XXX from the mid to late '80s, so this is the best estimate I can come up with. We have very few records from that period of production when the company was much smaller than it is today. For the last 15 years or so the serial numbers begin with the year of production, but before that it is hard to pinpoint the exact year of manufacture."

    So... unless something changed since then, it would seem that as far as the date of manufacture goes "there's no foolproof way to know for sure". I certainly don't doubt your account SilverAngelFan, of Saga confirming a 1988 date of manufacture to you. I'd just be curious to know how they can now be so sure.

    I'm a big fan of the Japanese era Kentucky mandolins and I have no doubt yours is a killer. I still own and operate a couple of them myself, including a KM-1500 which I dearly love. I believe it was built in '84 because the serial# begins with those two numbers. But from everything I've heard and read, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. In other words... I have my doubts.

    Clark
    I appreciate your clarification. Perhaps there is no way to prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    1. I don't if your quote from Saga includes all mandolins. Perhaps the master models are easier to date than the lower end models.

    2. Perhaps there are so few 88 serial numbers known that they just knew right away.

    I can't say how can came to that conclusion, I just know they did.

  27. #25

    Default Re: Help me date a Kentucky KM-1500

    Yeah Iíve talked to the head of saga in person at namm , and Iíll be honest they canít know for sure, he thought mine was an 83/84 there are a few tell tale signs of what years are what though, if you post a pics and of the headstock, headstock angle, binding, scroll size(it a big one to tell the year), and the logo on the headstock. Post some pics and I can probably help, Iíve studied them a lot since getting mine. They are amazing mandolins, hell dawg still plays his on stage all these years later. Iíve had the luxury living in Phoenix Az to play tons for new/modern gibsons and I wouldnít trade mine for them.

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