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Thread: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

  1. #1
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    Default Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    Per one of their CS reps, a new model coming this year. It'd be nice if they laid off the bling and put more into the axe. Better wood, etc. I've noticed used prices creeping up from when I was looking at them last year. They're not bad in their price range. Imho better than the Washburns and The Loars I tried, but I didn't play the upper end models.

    More choices are usually a good thing.
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    My wife drank too much wine last night and inadvertently invented slide banjo, played with a Bic lighter. I'm so proud of her.

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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    I owned a MK once.

    Never again.
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5
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  3. #3
    Registered User Bob Buckingham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    I have friend that picked up a MK F4 for less than $350 in a hard case. Not a bad mandolin especially for the money. They made some good ones back in the aughts and that is when this was made. It will be real good with a setup, again for the money.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    Agree. I was lucky to inherit an older MIK model when I first started. After a setup it plays great, is loud and cutting without harshness. I've played it and listened to someone else play it beside almost every other Pac Rim mando maker and it held up well (have not played it beside one of Northfield's MIC models but I'm sure it would get crushed). The Collings buried it, of course, and the SA on the way likely will, too. But for what they're going for used it's excellent.

    Will be interesting to see what they do with the new one.
    _________________________________________________
    My wife drank too much wine last night and inadvertently invented slide banjo, played with a Bic lighter. I'm so proud of her.

  5. #5
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    I had a used MK-O that Sauvé Guitars in North Adams, MA set up. The neck and frets were in pretty rough shape when I brought it in. Once Steve did his work, the mandolin played amazing and sounded great. The bling was annoying, but it really had a nice, warm and woody, tone. Those sound boxes were pretty respectable, even if the fit and finish got erratic with production moves. Again, a set-up later and you were good to go. In a regrettable moment a decade ago I traded it for an OM. The F-4 thing never leaves you. I'm waiting to see/play/hear the Eastman 614's the local dealer has coming in any day now.
    Axes: Eastman MD-515 & El Rey; Eastwood S Mandola
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head & R212 cab; Laney Cub 10

  6. #6
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    I didn't know they had slowed or stopped production. I once played a used MK cedar topped oval hole F4 interpretation that sounded pretty good. Unlike many of their models this had a light satin finish and very little bling.

    But the music store had a no return policy so I passed. I do have a MK Octave Plus that sounds and plays pretty well with a new correctly compensated saddle and Curt Mangan strings.

  7. #7
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    Michael Kelly at one time was the economical mandolin du jour. Their products were a great place for a person to start their mandolin journey or if their economic situation was tight to do their entire journey. They had an interesting line and offered instruments other manufacturers in their price range did not. That was then and is illustrated by the few positive comments above. Unfortunately the last several years saw them totally leave that behind. I hope they get back to what they were.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
    --M. Stillion

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them"
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  9. #8
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    In 2016 MK was blowing out the last of their mandolin stock... Musician's Friend was primarily blowing out the LFSTB models... MikeEdgerton spotted this blowout sale and a good number of us here in the Cafe' purchased these mandolins for around $199 each while they lasted. I think thankfully toward Mike every time I play mine.

    The LFSTB models at this time were solid wood F-style fully bound mandolins, made in various factories in China. They were advertised as being hand carved; some debates about that occurred and frankly I don't have the expertise to be a judge about it. The wood was at least decent, definitely not ply, nicely figured maple on the back and sides and fine grained spruce on the top...

    The finish was a red sunburst with a thick low-gloss poly overcoat. Fingerboard and adjustable bridge were rosewood. Nut was a strong synthetic material, I don't remember what they called it. Metal parts were nickle plated. Tuners were Grover and the strings were D'A. The tailpiece was a newer, heavier MK welded brass assembly that was very solid but also very hard to string. The quality of the binding and other touches like their ramped florida ranged from decent to disappointing depending on the factory that did the work...

    I ordered four of these blowout LFSTB models, three as gifts and one that I've kept as a backup/travel mandolin; they were all from different factories. I did the setup work on all but one of them. Their fretwork was normal for a low-cost import mandolin; high, low and loose frets, also with a nut and bridge that needed to be properly setup. The poly finish, for what it was, was well done, but very thick -- the finish probably will last forever.

    The tone of these mandolins was consistently bright and they were loud, not the more subtly muted tone of my 2002 F-9, but a decent tone that I wouldn't be ashamed to play in a jam or on stage if I had to (in a rain storm).

    These LFSTB models evidently originally retailed for just shy of $1K(US) with a gig bag. $199 was an extremely inviting price, but they all desperately needed to be setup properly, which in a shop could cost nearly the same as the blowout purchase price.

    I added an electric tuner, an armrest, a pickguard and a ToneGard to mine so its accessorizing setup would be the same as my F-9; as a result I put about $500 into mine. Most of the people who I gave these to as gifts also wanted a tuner and a ToneGard.

    Now, 6 years later, the tone of my MK is still sounding decent and loud. The only thing I really don't like about it is the cheesy MOTS MK logo and artwork on the peghead. I've thought about blacking that out a number of times, but have left it as is. I really like the C-profile shape of the MK's neck, in fact it encouraged me to have my F-9's neck re-profiled to a C and speed-necked when I had it re-fretted.

    All in all, I'd consider these ca. 2016 MK LFSTB models decent players after setup. IF the new MK models have the same good points, and IF they come with a decent setup, and IF their binding and floridas are more consistently well done, I'd expect them to be good F-style sellers for beginners up to low-intermediate players -- in other words good competition for the less expensive F-style mandolin models from Kentucky and Eastman.

    But those IFs are big IFs.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

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  11. #9

    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    I think the Eastman F-hole mandolins are really good without being great but I've played 5 oval hole Eastmans and they all had the same effect on me: Looked great but sounded poor. I think I remember them all being overbuilt.

  12. #10
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly producing mandolins again in 2023

    MK already uses decent hardware (Grover tuners, Tusq nut, etc). So imho if MK spent all the time and materials cost for the fancy inlays, back binding, and pickups (which kinda sucked anyway) on better wood and a more meticulous build process they might move up a notch in the field.

    It'll be interesting to me either way.
    _________________________________________________
    My wife drank too much wine last night and inadvertently invented slide banjo, played with a Bic lighter. I'm so proud of her.

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