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Thread: Returning player wants value options

  1. #1

    Default Returning player wants value options

    Great to visit these forums again after a long absence from the mandolin!
    My love for the instrument never abated, but I took a long break due to life.

    I'm now looking for a new mando to get me back into playing again. I was never that great, but enjoy playing a broad range of music styles. My last mandolin was a Rigel A+.

    My budget is likely in the 400-500 range, because I would likely lose skin explaining a larger purchase for an instrument I haven't played in years. I have browsed this forum some, and the Kentucky km-505 seems like a good choice for me, but I was hoping that some other suggestions might be made so that I don't overlook a possible gem.

    Basically, I want an a-style for value, with f holes, solid woods and quality construction, radiused fingerboard, and good versatile sound. Fit and finish obviously aren't a huge concern at this price range.

    Sorry for the long post about an oft discussed topic, but I appreciate any advice.

  2. #2
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    Hi Soulfulsounds; welcome back to the Cafe & the wonderful world of mandolins!
    Besides the Kentucky KM-505 (KM-500 & KM-550), other ff-hole A-style mandolins that often get recommended here in the "up to $500" price range include the:
    The Loar: LM-220, LM-300, & LM-400VS
    Eastman: MD-305, & MD-505
    Also, if you're patient you will likely have great values pop-up in the Cafe Classifieds.
    Good luck with your search! Let us know what you decide on.
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    If you want a new instrument, the low-end Eastmans are my favorite for playability and sound in that price range. Also: http://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/...uery=retrieval (no financial interest on my part).

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    In your price range,i've only played a Kentucky KM-505 & i thought that it was superb & not just for it's price either. However,the Eastman in the ad. posted by Sincerecorgi,looks as though it might fit the bill, & at half it's retail price might be worth investigating,
    Ivan
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  5. #5
    Long , Strange Trip Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    +1 for the Eastman in SCs post
    Jim Richmond

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    Registered User Mike Scott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    I have played a Kentucky 505. I was really impressed with the tone and playability of it. That being said there is a The Loar 400 in the classifieds that would also fit your requirements. Additionally for $40 over your stated budget there is a The Loar 600 in the classifieds as well. I have never played a The Loar, but they get good reviews here. After all that drivel, if it were me I would by the Kentucky.
    Thanks, Mike

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  7. #7
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    if you're somewhere where you can't "taste" these mandolins, try putting the name of each in youtube's search engine and see what comes up. if you allow for youtubes meagre audio, they'll all be at a disadvantage but at least it will give you an idea. good hunting!

  8. #8
    Registered User Pete Summers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    Doesn't the OPs requirement for a radiused fingerboard make some of these suggested models unsuitable? Which, besides the Kentucky 505, have that feature?

    Just asking, since I don't know most of these models.

  9. #9
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    Pete, The Eastman's have a 12" radius on their boards. I know this because they also have a nut width of 1 3/32", and these two features are right in my playability wheelhouse! Unfortunately, the Eastmans also have tiny frets (Dunlop 6310 [53X31]), which is an absolute deal-breaker for me.

    Actually, I believe that all of the commonly recommended 'sub $1,000' brands except for JBovier use small frets...though for the life of me I don't know why!
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
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  10. #10
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Summers View Post
    Doesn't the OPs requirement for a radiused fingerboard make some of these suggested models unsuitable? Which, besides the Kentucky 505, have that feature?

    Just asking, since I don't know most of these models.
    I just did some research on The Loars, and discovered that they all have flat fretboards.
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
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  11. #11
    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    never saw the advantage in them myself but radiused fret boards (sans frets) are available at stewmac:

    http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bodies,_...ngerboard.html

  12. #12

    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    Many thanks for all the suggestions! Does anyone know if there's audio samples around, with the same person playing on some of these same mandolins?

  13. #13
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    Quote Originally Posted by soulfulsounds View Post
    Many thanks for all the suggestions! Does anyone know if there's audio samples around, with the same person playing on some of these same mandolins?
    Here are some soundclips from The Mandolin Store website (Sorry, I have no idea if it's the same player in each clip):
    Sound clip for Eastman MD305
    Sound clip for The Loar LM400VS
    Sound clip for Kentucky KM505
    "What a long, strange trip it's been..." - Robert Hunter
    "Life is too important to be taken seriously." - Oscar Wilde
    Think Hippie Thoughts...
    Gear: The Current Cast of Characters

  14. #14

    Default Re: Returning player wants value options

    Thanks Ed! Those sound pretty good for economy mandos(with a good picker of course hehe).

    I'm probably going to take my time shopping around over the next few weeks before deciding on one, and best case scenario landing something I will love off the classifieds. The temptation to buy one and play asap is luckily curtailed by a lack of free time currently.

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