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Thread: Korean vs. Chinese Kantucky KM-150S

  1. #1
    Pogue Mahone theCOOP's Avatar
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    Default Korean vs. Chinese Kantucky KM-150S

    They are both KM-150S. The one I have is from China and I'm happy with it. Would a Korean, circa 2001 KM-150S be any better, worse or no different?

    The Korean one for sale here is listed for $25 more than I paid for my Chinese instrument but is about a $20-$30 (fuel) round trip away.

    Thanks,
    Coop
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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Korean vs. Chinese Kantucky KM-150S

    I'm going to say, likely not better than the more recent made in China. If the Chinese one is older than the Korean one, then the Korean one is likely better. IIRC, the manufacture for many brands left Korea for China and underwent pricing and construction improvements around 2001 or so. That said, these are inexpensive mandolins with some variability between each other. The particular instruments would need to be compared head to head to see if there is a marked difference.

    I would suggest you will get a better upgrade by saving your pennies until you can purchase a better mandolin all together. Both of those KM150S models may have solid tops but they are most likely pressed not carved. Carving seems to be much more the standard now and gives a better result, in general, than pressing to shape. You can get carved top and back instruments from Kentucky (505) and Eastman (305) for $500 and $400 respectively for example, on a reasonably tight budget.

    Jamie
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  3. #3
    Pogue Mahone theCOOP's Avatar
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    Default Re: Korean vs. Chinese Kantucky KM-150S

    Thanks, I already understand the differences between pressed-laminate, solid-pressed vs. solid-carved and solid-carved vs. solid carved & graduated and solid-caved & graduated vs. solid-carved & graduated & recurve.
    2011 Eastman MD-315
    Chinese Epiphone MM-30E

    Godin Guitars' Art & Lutherie "Spruce" 6-string dreadnought. Hand made in Canada.

  4. #4
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Korean vs. Chinese Kantucky KM-150S

    No mileage in buying the same instrument for a slightly higher price, in the hope that it may be slightly better than what you have. I'm not sure that the "$25 price differential" is relevant, unless the seller is willing to take your existing instrument in trade, and you just pay the difference. Trading approximately equal instruments -- with the additional costs of travel, maybe a new set-up needed, etc. -- or paying the same amount plus a "country of origin" premium for the same make and model you already have, sounds more like "churning" than "upgrade."

    Having said that, I once traded a 1962 Martin D-18 plus $100 for a 1957 D-18, 'cause I thought the difference in sound was worth it. The dealer thought I was nuts to do it, but there are big enough differences among individual "identical" instruments, to sometimes warrant making the change.

    In your shoes, I'd take the $25 price difference plus the $30 travel cost and start a nest egg toward a really significant upgrade purchase. Just my 2.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Default Re: Korean vs. Chinese Kantucky KM-150S

    I am pretty happy with my kick around 150s made in China (2005 is the year I believe). Granted its not top of the line (neither is my playing ability). I have 3 mandos and honestly, if I am on a road trip or heading to the beach or camping or something (like going to work!) I am packing the 150 with me. You said you are happy with it, and I have talked to more than one player thats carrying a higher quality instrument (into a less than perfect environment) saying "gee I wish I had my cheap Kentucky back that I sold". I guess it depends on your needs, I find it better to get a few minutes in here and there during the day, than to lock myslef in a room and beat mando skills into my noggin'. I havent played a Korean 150 but I'm sure its comparable. You get what you pay for, and yes the 150 is a lower end product as far as mandos go, but its a bargain packed with a whole lot of fun. I'll keep mine for many years

    All the best!

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