View Full Version : Michael kelly mandolins?
First off, hello. I just joined and spent some time looking around the boards. I saw a number of different mandolin brands tossed around for beginners, but no Michael Kelly brand. Are these inferior instruments?
Appreciate your responses.
i think they are not a likely candidate to get recommended here. a lot of inconsistencies in their mandolins, warranty problems and neck issues, etc.
I own one, and the consistency is the primary issue. Definitely play before buying if at all possible. Mine's a 2006 model and it's gotta a quite decent tone that treats me well actually. My friend owns an older model and it sounds thin and tinny in comparison, the difference is night and day. Bear in mind we have different models and from different years, but some people get good ones and others not so good. While I hear that the newer models are better and more consistent I'd still recommend that you play it first (but that really goes for any mandolin I think).
The best thing you can do before buying is, of course, trying. That is not always possible, but do not hesitate to spend some money for travelling in order to try and choose from few instruments. Trying before buying shall apply to all brands even to the most respected. Problems like the above mentioned occur also with the instruments, built by the most reputable companies. May be less often, but anyway - neck problems and warranty issues are not usual only for the MK brand.
You might find a really great MK mandolin for a great price. I got my MK FS Legacy Deluxe for 500$ and it is a decent instrument with nice tone, great sustain, loud enough (and need of new set of strings), that i like very much and which i do not intend to sell, at least for that price, considering also the USD-EUR rates. I know also a lot of people who are quite happy with their MK mandolins. But you have to be careful.
Here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0r3UIYcIGM) you can see/hear two short videos of my MK mandolin, made with an amateur camera, in an ordinary room, no sound tricks and other cheating. It could sound even better, if played by a real bluegrass player and not by me.
MK was my first mandolin. Bought from Elderly Music after great reveiws HERE on the Cafe. Funny how things change. At any rate, as many have said, inconsistency makes it important to try before buying if you can, or buy from a store or person who you can trust to describe the tone and any issues if used. Mine sounds pretty good (not as good as my nicer mandolins, but not a junker). I've have no problems and it's actually very easy playing. The sound vastly improved after a good setup by a local luthier.
I now use it as my business travel mandolin and have put a RL Baggs Radius pickup on it to play around with recording.
I own 2 MK's and both are fine instruments, but I did have the opportunity to play both before purchasing. I chose the MK's over similar priced Eastman's and Kentucky's, even higher priced Weber I played. I agree with most here to play before yoy buy. Had no problem with a warranty issue either. That may have something to do with shop you purchase from.
MK was my first mandolin. Bought from Elderly Music after great reveiws HERE on the Cafe. Funny how things change.
Things change. What was suggested as the best entry level mandolin changes as different makers enter the market. MK's were praised here when they were the only player in the game. That doesn't mean they can't come back to their former glory. Look at Gibson in the 60's and 70's.
Thanks for the comments all.
I recently aquired a new MK Legacy Elegante F, sight unseen, which is supposed to be one of their top models. However, it is to be a learning instrument so I suppose it will fit the bill. In my case it would not have helped to "play" it first.
From what I'm reading here it would appear to be somewhat similar to many mass produced products - there are good ones and some others with quality issues.
Many pro and con comments on the MK's. What has put me off is the excessive "bling," IMHO. They make F-style mandolas and octave mandolins, even an acoustic bass with an F-style body. Lot's of "show," which can sometimes substitute for better materials and workmanship.
In my experience, the majority of quality issues with the MK's occurred pre 2007. This past year they have done a lot to improve the line. In my dealings, they actually have some of the best customer service among the import brands. I also have the lowest percentage of warranty claims with the Michael Kelly's as compared to the other import lines that we sell.
The factory setups are not consistent, but there is not as much variation in the mandolins as I read about. Not that they are all identical. Once these are setup identically the differences are typically minor with a few exceptions. The one thing that does vary considerably is the amount of flame. This is not at all consistent. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif
As long are you are satisfied with your new MK is all that really matters.
Two years age I got into the Musicians Friend clearance $299 #MK Legacy Dlx special. When it arrived it was not set up and played horribly, intonation was off, strings buzzed, action too high. I spent $40 for setup by a local music store. While the intonation was improved, it still sounded like junk. So it stayed in the closet for about a year until I found another luthier. He reset it up for another $40 and it did not improve the sound or the action.
I ended up trading the MK for an Eastman oval-hole which I really like. I found out later that the music store I traded the MK improved the sound and action by replacing the tailpiece with a cast one and lowered the action. He said that after a few changes, it was one of the best sounding MK's he heard.
In retrospect, I wished I had sent the MK in for a mandovoodoo treatment by Steve Perry. However, since the Eastman is such a nice instrument and I got a great deal on it, I really made out OK. I already have an F-style mando that I'm happy with. So I'll just let it go.
Moral of the story: Be sure to get the best setup possible on your MK, it maybe a keeper.
I bought an MK LEgacy FS in the UK at the end of 2005. #There is one very small flaw on the finish on the back. #I have upgraded with an Allen tailpiece and Brekke bridge and am very pleased with the sound and playability. #I guess if I lived in the US where you pay approximately in dollars what we pay in pounds in the UK - which means we pay twice the amount you do for the same instrument - I might view MK differently! #But it has been a good choice for me.
No problems with my now 2 year old MK. Sounds and plays better than most others of similar price range. I play it much more than the Eastman I've got which you'd think should be better.
For the price, they have an ok sound. I have one, I'm not sure what model it is, the sticker on the inside says L-one? I've never found another MK model by that name. Mine sounds pretty good, better than other MKs I've played. Once again, they are inconsistent. I would urge you to go with an A style, better instruments for the money than F-styles. You can pick up a used eastman A style in the classifieds for pretty cheap.
I have a 2006 Custom II that I am pleased with. I use it for certain occasions when I do not want to take by more expensive instruments. I did change out the tailpiece- added an Allen. I have taken it to some clinics and camps and severl people have commented about how good it sounds and plays.
I've got a Legacy FS that I bought used from another Cafe member. I lowered the action and changed the strings when I got it, and it makes a good practice player and travel mandolin. The tone is pretty good, and it's the only F-style I've got, so I plan on keeping it. It's a good mandolin for what I paid.
I had one. Bad fret board and too thick of finish. I sold it for more than twice the purchase price.
At least one person in that deal recognized a good mando.....
After reading this thread I realized I didn't mention that I replaced the tail piece with a cast one as well. I suffer from AAS (accessory acquisition syndome) almost as much as MAS.
After now having more experience, I don't really think the cast tail piece makes much difference to the sound of a mandolin. But who knows. My MK sounds a lot better after the simultaneous good setup and addition of cast TP. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif
Something few suggest: Look inside with a dental mirror and light. Compare to standard construction shown in mandolin books or to the interior of high-end mandolins. Look for flaws in design (e.g., use of shims instead of full plate to block fit), bar shape, and general quality. Tap around a bit, try to figure out the graduation. Look at the arching and recurve. Check the fretboard. Consider the finish. I'm not pointing at MK, just do this in general when comparing mandolins. Think about the philosophy of the company. This kind of approach will give you more information.
Also take opinions with a bit of caution. I've had players in the same day comment about the same mandolin quite differently. Usually one says "Nice and warm, rich sounding, I like it." The other says "Sounds muddy and unfocused, slow response, not very good." Same instrument, doesn't sound different when the two play it. Different taste and demands on the machine!
All good information people, Thanks!
I had a '07 Dragonfly for a while. The fit and finish was excellent, as good as Eastman and better than KY. But the volume and tone were not as good so I let her go. She was pretty, though.