View Full Version : Michael Kelly players

Jan-23-2004, 8:22pm
Who has a Michael Kelly Mandolin out there.

Which one?

What do ya think on a 1-10 scale?

Where are ya from?


I give it an 8 all together and a 10 in it's price range

I am from Southwest Ohio

Jan-23-2004, 8:33pm
I have the Butterfly in rubyburst, looks just like the one on the MK PAGE (http://www.michaelkellyguitars.com/mandolins/history/). Its hard to give it a number now that I have a Gibson and a Flatiron. But in it's price range it's a 10. I live in So CA.

Jan-23-2004, 8:50pm
I have an MK Firefly Flame.
Mine is a 10 in any price range (yeah, I've played Gibson Masters, Weber Ferns and Collings), although I understand mine might not be typical.
My second MK will be here in about a month (oval hole) and I only hope it sounds nearly as good as my first one.
I live in a grove of Giant Sequoia trees, 7000 ft. up in the High Sierra in The Sequoia National Monument. Talk about being off the beaten path!
Back in the early 70s, I lived in Springboro, Ohio.
For MK bashers - Michael Lampert played my MK three weeks ago and agrees with me about its sound.

Jan-23-2004, 11:05pm
I'm a beginner in northeast Ohio and have a simple tobacco burst Legacy FS which I purchased just before MK went to dealers. I did not play any high end mandos to compare(who am I kidding), but found it superior to other entry level models and am very happy with the quality. A teacher (who owns a Gibson A) was extremely impressed by the look and sound. I would also rate it an 8 overall and a 10 for value. Enjoy!

Jan-23-2004, 11:31pm
I got one of the first Mks, Butterfly walnut color with a flame back. I would give it a 10 out of 10 because I like the look and the sound.
Also because I put a few extras on it which really brought it to life .
After 2 years of playing it has opened up real nice. I have been playing for a long time and played a number of high end mandos over the years. I have to say my MK sounds pretty good for a $380 "F", by the way that included HSC. They cost a little bit more now but are still a good deal as far as I am concerned.
New York state of mind.

Jan-24-2004, 12:08am
I got an Evolution for Christmas (of course I picked it out and ordered it myself)! My other mandolins are an Oscar Schmidt OM-10 (beginner) and an old Weymann bowlback. I really like the MK although it sounds better with a new set of strings. I would have to agree with the 8 although it is still opening up and I've never played a high end mandolin. Those are hard to come by down here in the mando desert of Corpus Christi, Texas. The music stores down here don't stock more than 1 or 2 (not types but actual mandolins) at a time. The high for the number of types of strings is 3. I'm currently trying out Ernie Ball Earthwood lights and they are an improvement from the ones that came with it.

Jan-24-2004, 12:44am
I'm a beginner on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I bought a Tobacco Sunburst Legacy FS Deluxe right before Christmas. I bought a Rover a few months before as my first mandolin, and you can imagine it is a 1000% improvement. It would be unfair to rate in on a scale since it hasn't had much time to open up and I haven't played any high end mandos yet, but what the heck, I'd say it's 10 out of 10! I am attending my first jam session tomorrow with some co-workers, so I can finally test it out in a group setting. Should be fun.

Stillpicking, I am curious modifications you have made to yours? I was debating on eventually getting a new tailpiece, new strings, and possibly an ebony bridge. What upgrades will get the biggest results?



Jan-24-2004, 2:32am
I have a Firefly Flame--I had a luthier put on an Allen tailpiece, hone and polich the frets, shave reset and recut the bridge and changed to a pearl nut. All of this was about $225 absolutly the best investment that I could have made. on a 1-10 mine is an 11

Jan-24-2004, 7:12am
I have a Firefly Flame and live in Georgia. Been playing mandolin about a year and a half. In this price range, I'd have to give my mandolin a 10, and think it compares favorbly with mandolins I've tried that cost two or three times what I paid. I'm planning to get a Sullivan bridge and have a local luthier install it and give me a good setup, then I think I'll have a mandolin that can hold its own in most settings.

Jan-24-2004, 9:08am
I've been playing a tobacco sunburst Legacy Deluxe for about three months. I fitted a solid non-adjustable bridge, lowered the nut action, and scraped the thick lacquer from the back of the neck. With J75 strings this mandolin plays easily and is loud enough to be heard in sessions. The neck is finished now with silky-smooth French polish. The original lacquer was giving me thumb blisters!

I bought it used on Ebay and still think it was a bargain for $400.00.


Jan-24-2004, 9:18am
The modifications I have done are:
New schaller tuners only because at the time I got my Mk there was no upgrade to the present tuners also gold is not my choice of color for hardware so I switch every thing to silver/nickel.

Pearl nut

Sullivan ebony bridge

Weber cast tailpiece nickel

Siren ebony armrest

It has TIs heavies on it for strings

Jan-24-2004, 11:22am
I have a MK solid wood Firefly (without the extensive neck inlay) in a flame dark tobacco color. #I bought as my "traveler" before MK went to dealer sales. #In its price range it is a "10". #I doesn't have all the high-end sound quality of an expensive "high end" mandolin -- but then, let's discuss the difference in price. #For someone who is not married to the mandolin or lives on a tight budget, I consider it to be the best bang for the buck in an F model instrument. I wouldn't trade my Brentrups for one -- but I recommend them as good dollar value. (She says all of this while putting on her asbestos overcoat....)

Now Dale you play nice -- put down those tomatoes...

Jan-24-2004, 11:34am
Elen dear, we don't throw tomatoes in Texas......we throw bisquits.... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

So...on a scale of 1-10 vrs mandos of any price nearly everyones MK is a 10 or 11....interesting. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Oh, I had one to, The "Elegante"....hmmmmmm, I'd say mine was a 5........oh well, to each his own I guess.

Jan-24-2004, 12:25pm
The first time I saw a Michael Kelly mandolin was on ebay a couple of years ago. Didn't know nuthin' about em'
The only thing that caught my eye at the time was the emblem on the head stock...."MK" One of my nephews, who plays mandolin professionally, was..."MK" So I thought it would be neat to buy him a mandolin with his initials on the head stock. I bid on several, but wound up with a black A style which I sent to him. He raved about this mandolin (which I thought at the time, was more for my generosity, than the quality of the mandolin) and couldn't stop talking about it. So began my interest and eventually the purchase of my own MK.
I purchased a Michael Kelly Legacy Deluxe sunburst a year ago. I, like many others, was on a limited budget and couldn't afford 3k for a Weber or Gibson. My $550 MK has proven to be a valid choice for me. I rate it an 11. I've played it against Webers and Gibsons and haven't felt inferior. In fact I feel rather cocky having only spent $550 bucks and sounding 5 times better. I know, I know....I hear the groans from all the elite 3-5k mandolin owners. I've heard them before. I apparently must have been blessed by the mandolin fairy, to receive such a fine instrument!!! According to the mandolin authorities, my mandolin is a freak. So be it....I love my freakin Michael Kelly!!!!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Jan-24-2004, 1:09pm
Glad you guys are all so happy with your Michael Kellys...

Let me then be the first to say that I wish I had purchased a different mandolin. While it looks and plays well as an F style "for the price", It neither looks nor plays as I would like it to play. I have very little experience with high end mandolins, but I find I keep digging for sounds on my MK that it just doesn't want to produce.. and I've already experienced some dramatic "opening up" of my instrument.

If I had it to do over, in my price range... well, I would have kept saving for a good A style... or waited on one of those 500$ breedloves that occasionally make the classifieds.

And lets not forget the hidden costs of buying asian. We need to get over our fear of political sensitivities. Our purchasing choices make a difference. When I'm in the market for won tons and green tea, I'll buy asian. When I want a strudel, I'll buy european. When I want a mandolin or a good beer, make it handcrafted American.

Jan-24-2004, 10:08pm
Guilty! Firefly Flame Walnut, new for Christmas, plays and sounds fantastic, no upgrades and getting better everyday. Best deal I've had in a long time.

Lee Hill

Jan-25-2004, 10:17pm
Thought I would show a pic of my MK what do you all think ?
Anyone have a pic of their MK?

Jan-25-2004, 10:23pm
nice looking mandolin, stillpicking. #I love the neck inlay. #My legacy deluxe is just a standard looking mandolin...no frills, but I love it still the same.

Jan-26-2004, 3:17am

Jan-26-2004, 9:07am
Hey Calkan, nothing wrong with the look on your MK !!! Nice
Greenmando is that a Gibson "A" 9 on the top? What model MK is that below a "Butterfly"?

Coy Wylie
Jan-26-2004, 10:53am
I am late to this party but will throw in my 2 cents. I've only been playing for a few months but am making good progress, going to BG jams 2-3 times per week and having a blast. After playing guitar for years, the mando has become an addiction.

I started with a Kentucky 630 but MAS set in quickly and I found myself looking for a louder, better sounding mando that would still fit within my budget. I didn't have (and still don't) 2-3K from the family budget to spend on an instrument.

I considered MM and a few others but went with a MK Legacy Classic primarily because of the radiused fingerboard. I went with the factory upgrade of an allen tailpiece and a nice vintage type case.

There was no contest between the tone, volume and incredible sustain of the MK versus the Kentucky. I ebayed it away quickly.

Most of the folks I play with have given favorable comments to the tone and volume of my MK. At a recent indoor festival weekend, several people came up and asked about it. I let them all have a ride.

It seems to like J-74's best so far. When I can find a good luthier that knows mandos I want a professional setup with a new nut and better bridge (I had to do a little filing on one of the saddles to get the intonation right).

Hey, it's not a Gibson or a Gilchrist but my standard line is "It's capable of sounding better than I can play it." MAS has not gone away. I am currently eyeing a nice Flatiron Festival A and saving my change for a future purchase. However, I am going to discipline myself to become a better player before I spend that much more more money on a mando.

All and all color me content with my MK... for now.

Jan-26-2004, 1:37pm
i have a mk fs deluxe ... tobacco... it is fine for what it is...plays easy ... sounds solid ... also have a gibson f5-g and a ratliff...

Mark Liuzzo
Jan-26-2004, 1:55pm
I bought an amber colored MK Firefly Flame just before Christmas. Turns out that only two in that color were built. Got a quick reply about the limited amber from owner Tracy Hoeft when I inquired. I paid a ~$50.00 premium for the amber finish (compared to prices quoted for their standard colors by web retailers).

Visual Appeal - 10
The amber finish is almost blonde. With the fancy binding and inlays and gold plated hardware it calls to mind the upscale look of the D'Angelico/D'Aqusito/Montolene archtop guitars. Figured maple on the back comes through loud and clear

Sound - 9
Low end is loud and punchy. Can feel it resonate in my thoracic cavity. High end is adequate. Louder than most axes I've played. But still not a banjo or fiddle killer.

Playability - 7.5
Radiused fretboards come with garantuan frets. I feel the urge to push down hard when fretting even though the action is set relatively low. Some buzzing on the the lower frets on the G strings

Fit/Finish - 6.5
Despite all the cosmetic frills, you can see ripples in the lacquer finish around where the neck joins the top.

Value - 10
Comments from all who have played it have been consistent - - it plays like a $2000 instrument.

Jan-26-2004, 4:23pm
Hey Calkan, nothing wrong with the look on your MK !!! Nice
Greenmando is that a Gibson "A" 9 on the top? What model MK is that below a "Butterfly"?
You nailed it. A9 with the Butterfly

Jan-26-2004, 7:40pm
Can anyone comment on where the best to buy on MK online is?

Jan-26-2004, 7:42pm
there is one on ebay right now for 475.

Coy Wylie
Jan-26-2004, 9:59pm
I bought my through an ebay dealer named tenrandy@aol.com. Randy was great to deal with. We had several phone conversations and he helped me order just what I wanted in model and options. Send him an email and he will answer all your questions.

Jan-26-2004, 10:50pm
I second Willard's post. #I bought mine from tenrandy and he went above and beyond the effort that you would expect from a dealer. His price was just about impossible to beat as well. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Jan-27-2004, 11:27am
I have a tobacco sunburst firefly and I love it! I also live in Northeast Ohio, and got it before MKs were sold by dealers. I looks great, it sounds great (could use a new tailpiece), and it really impresses people at jams...

And the best part.... I didn't go broke after buying it! #I'll give it an 8.5.

Jan-27-2004, 6:14pm
How about an MK back?

Jan-27-2004, 8:39pm
I have a Firefly Custom. I cant really rate it on a scale of 1 - 10
because of my limited experience. However, compared to the "el-cheapo" washburn I started with, I guess I would say 9.
It is the first mando that I've spent more than $300 on, but well worth the money.
My wife says I spend more time with Michael Kelly than I do with her. She's even given it a nickname...the precious (from lord of the rings). hahahahahahahaha

Jan-27-2004, 10:27pm
my girlfriend is really starting to get pissed because every time she sees me im glued to my mandolin...

Random question, but someone recommended i purchase an MK from tenrandy@aol.com, and im just trying to get together a quick price comparison. If you bought from him what was the general price range?

kind of off topic, my apologies

Jan-27-2004, 11:04pm
I bought my MK Evolution from Folk of the Wood. One nice thing about them is they will credit you full price of your mando on a trade-in if you decide you want to upgrade later. I wasn't sure how good the setup was but I had it checked out by the only local mando instructor I know of tonight. All he did was raise the bridge slightly to stop a buzz in the A string. He said the bridge was placed right on. If you do order one, I would order a hard case with it for protection. I knew the mailman was bringing mine out from behind closed doors when I heard him drop the box on the floor. Fortunately it survived USPS! Good Luck!

Feb-15-2004, 12:38pm
Just got my black Firefly Custom a couple days ago...
I can't say that the Pacific Rim flak is warranted... the mandolin is well worth the price...####### loud too. Although theres a bit of goofiness around some of the binding, I can't complain. I bought it for cheap! yay!
I got mine from www.mandolins.net and it was a VERY good buying experience. Jeff was more than courteous and was very flexible with his pricing, and shipped almost immeadiately.
Only a few months before i'll have enough for an oval hole

Feb-17-2004, 2:36am
Hey guys...

Am I the only one that feels this way? While the lower end MKs are a good value for the money.. (they have an exceptional tone at under 500$) I feel it's imprudent to buy the higher end models (700$) when you could buy a fine A-style instrument used for just a few dollars more.

I bought my MK due to reccomendations from this board-- it's a nice mando, and I learned a lot on it. But the A9 I bought has 100% better tone and playability at a 30% higher price. Just making this comment because nobody made it to me...

Feb-17-2004, 8:31am
dioptase - I agree with you

Feb-17-2004, 9:06am
Guys, we used to recommend what Micah stated all the time until we started catching huge amounts of flak over it. I started sending private messages with that recommendation & believe it or not caught heck from someone for that....so, while I totally agree with Micah (well, I'm not to fond of A9's ) I've just backed off as have many.

As some folks expressed on another thread...any time a dealer makes a recommendation they feel his opinion is tainted by $$$$$. The fact we carry the brands we do because we believe in the quality of the product seems irrelevent to some. I've searched high & low looking for affordable American made mandolins to offer for sale & will drop a builder or brand in a minute that does not deliver a reliable quality product & outstanding customer service.

Sorry if this seems like a rant or shameless plug, that is certainly not how it was intended. Just my view from this side of the fence.......BTW, of the Pacific rim imports MK is one of the better ones & has great customer service.

John Zimm
Feb-17-2004, 9:24am
I have an MY Firefly Flame in walnut finish that I got at Elderly around Christmas. I love the sound, the finish is great. There was one here in Madison that I checked out before I bought mine, but the one I didn't buy had a really rough finish and the area under the scroll was still white.

My only problem is that with the dry winter the top I believe has sunk or contracted a little and now the A string buzzes. I am changing strings tonight and will raise the bridge to do away with that. Other than that, I love my MK and I love the sound. It is really opening up, the bass is getting much woodier and full, and the treble rings so nicely. There is this nice little popping sound I get when I hit the treble notes that I reallt love.

I wish I could afford an American made instrument, but I played many and for the price range I was in there was nothing to compare. I played many Gibsons that were several times more expensive than my MK, and none of the Gibsons could compare to the sound quality of the MK. I did play a few Webers that were incredibly beautiful sounding, but for the price I think I got a great mandolin that I will be happy with for a long time.


Feb-17-2004, 10:16am
FS Deluxe in Tobacco SB. Love it, mostly b/c I love mandolins. It was a huge improvement to my old A-style which needed repair really. I believe many of its inadequacies are related more to my picking ability and style at this point. For it's price, I'm very happy with it. WOuld I love a different mandolin? Of course! A nice Gibson F-4 looks absolutely unbelievable to me.

Christine W
Feb-17-2004, 10:30am
I agree with what you have to say. There were some however that got a little too enthusiastic in bashing MK's (not you by the way). I appreciate your views and I'm glad you are passionate about the products you sell.

I have an Mk Dragonfly and after I put on a new bridge and I have an upgraded allen tailpiece it's a HOSS! I like it allot, But this drove the price up from 675.00 (with allen tailpeice and case) to now I probably have almost 800.00 in it. It is a great instrument for me at this level but I will upgrade one day. We all have our opinions and we have to remember they are just that individual opinions. Nothing to get all worked up about.

Feb-17-2004, 10:36am
Christine- what bridge did you put on it? Thanks.

Christine W
Feb-17-2004, 11:09am
Sullivan bridge from FQMS . Someone from the board put one on his MK and he really liked it also. I forgot who though. I had a thread on this subject a while back. #If you call them talk to Mike or Michelle, great people with allot of mando knowledge.

Christine W
Feb-17-2004, 11:15am
Here is the link I don't know if this works but you can do a search for it and find it.
Got my Mando back from FQMS
Never realized it could sound like that!

Feb-17-2004, 1:36pm
Funny how things work. I started this thread with a Michael Kelly FS and am now awaiting the arrival of my 2004 Dragonfly. I guess I will never be over MAS. Nothing wrong with the FS but decided I wanted a radiused fingerboard so I traded up and got a good deal. Supposed to be here today but I have to go to work in less than an hour and the suspense is killing me!

John Zimm
Feb-17-2004, 3:03pm
Nothing wrong with the FS but decided I wanted a radiused fingerboard so I traded up and got a good deal.
I love the radiused fingerboard on my MK. It really does make a difference for me. Congrats on the new mandolin. I hope you enjoy it.

Someone mentioned that he/she was getting a new oval hole MK. When it arrives, let us know how it is. I have seen pictures and it looks really great. If I had more money I'd be tempted to get one myself.


Feb-17-2004, 4:45pm
I started with an MK three or four years ago when I knew absolutely nothing about mandolins other than I wanted to play one. So the $275 F5 laminated special on ebay seemed like a good deal. It has served me well as I learned, but the one thing I learned quickly was that it was not a particularly great mandolin. I have recently upgraded to a new solid, radiused MK and find it a decent instrument, not great, but decent. At least for about $650 it was more decent than the other PacRims, and the only thing my budget could handle. However, I will continue to save for something better and since FQMS is just a few miles away, I can go drool over the GIbsons, Webers, Sumi's, etc. that I can only now dream about. MK's are a great way to start on a limited budget and maybe, with my limited talent, should be where I stay.
By the way, my MK Legacy with block inlay and radius, tobacco finish and gold hardware is really a nice looking axe.

Feb-17-2004, 4:48pm
I wish they had MK when I started....I bought something called a Franciscan for $300 or so bucks and made payments on that! I wonder where that mandolin ended up?

Feb-17-2004, 7:23pm
Hey guys...

Am I the only one that feels this way? #While the lower end MKs are a good value for the money.. (they have an exceptional tone at under 500$) #I feel it's imprudent to buy the higher end models (700$) when you could buy a fine A-style instrument used for just a few dollars more. #

I bought my MK due to reccomendations from this board-- it's a nice mando, and I learned a lot on it. #But the A9 I bought has 100% better tone and playability at a 30% higher price. #Just making this comment because nobody made it to me...
I agree. I bought my MK butterfly at less than $300 when they came out, good value for the bucks. But I sold it and bought a A9 for just a bit more after the MK had increased in value.

Feb-18-2004, 1:23am
Hey guys--

New MKs are selling in the neighborhood of 700$ for the higher end models. For 900$ you could buy a vintage Gibson A, a used A9, a used Breedlove... and we all recently heard about the 775$ Rigels.

I think any of the above would be a wiser choice than an MK... save the extra 200$ and buy a fine american instrument. Mk is touted as a great bang for the buck instrument-- and it is. But for another 200$ you can get a -lot- more bang, for just a little more buck.

Dale and I disagree over the A9. I love this instrument. If I read right, he's a big fan of Rigel and Breedlove. I love both these instruments, but personally prefer the look, sound, and playability of the A9. Differences aside, any of the three is a sound improvement over the Mk. And I'm thinking of either a Rigel or a Breedlove as a second instrument. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

And again I see people who claim their Mks sound better than Gibsons they've played. Not going to say they're lying-- but this has not been my experience. It may be the differences in the instruments sampled, or it may be personal taste with reguards to tone. But my A9 comes ALIVE in my hands. I fight with my MK to get a fraction of the tone.

And then there's the politics. I'm tired of seeing jobs shipped overseas. I work for near minimum wage, I know how this affects us all. And as a person working for such low wages, I know the American A styles are within the budget of almost all of us, if we're willing to make the sacrifices to save.

But yes, the MKs are a great import. The best I've tried, except possibly the Morgan Monroes. They're a definite step beyond the higher end Kentuckies, Fenders, Ect. that I play in local music stores. I just think another 200$ would be money well invested.

Feb-18-2004, 12:12pm
Micah, I understand what you're saying. But what I wanted in a decent mandolin was a traditional look and, since I had a bad case of scroll envy and limited means, I looked for the best I could get. And yes, I checked out the A9 at a local store and was really quite dejected when I played it. Maybe this particular one was an aberation, but it left me wanting. I know the value in buying American. But it's just a fact that you can't buy any number of things anymore without sending your money to China, or Korea, or wherever. I do intend one day to buy an American made mandolin - on the lower end, the Weber Gallitan is a decent little axe. (If only they weren't so blonde.) I do have 3 American made guitars, so my commitment is there. But I should stick to mandolins and not world-economics/politics. Otherwise, I'm content with all aspects of the MK for the time being.

Feb-19-2004, 9:41pm
I agree pretty much with the boys -- that if you want a better sub-$1000 axe for your money -- go to a used higher-end A model. I can rate my MK high because I paid $400 for it. I honestly prefer a good used A model in the grand range as a better instrument (but then, what would I use as a traveler?)

Heh Dale, I want biscuits with dinner -- how far can you throw those suckers?

Feb-19-2004, 11:09pm
I enjoyed reading the threads from all the owners of Michael Kelly mandolins, but I find it depressing to read the same comments by people who constantly inject their opinions #about better mandolin brands, A styles of better quality for just a little more money, pacific rim made junk, etc etc...This thread is about Michael Kelly owners.

I being an MK owner, am not interested in hearing what I should have purchased. #I know the reasons why I bought my Legacy Deluxe. #I doubt whether your opinion will sway me to buy another brand solely on your word.
Opinions are just what they are: "OPINIONS".

So please hold your comments about your better mandolin for your own thread. #That way I won't waste my time sorting through your negative comments to find what I am searching for. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Feb-19-2004, 11:38pm
Opinions are just what they are: "OPINIONS".

So please hold your comments about your better mandolin for your own thread. #That way I won't waste my time sorting through your negative comments to find what I am searching for. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif
Maybe we have the beginnings of a new thread we can call the "MK snobs".

I posted as a MK owner and someone who has sold their MK during this threads duration. I got a great value out of mine that I bought a butterfly for less than $300.

Are they worth the current retail price? I think not.

Opinions are like "F" holes, we all have them. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

I am not going to tailor my opinion to make anyone feel better about theirs.

Feb-19-2004, 11:56pm
Hey, I have been labeled an MK snob! cool! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif
I don't own the ultimate holy grail of mandolins, (which by the way I don't think exist) I am happy for you out there that do! What irritates me are the little jabs at us misfortunates who bought what our pocketbook could afford. We don't need the endless put downs and IMHO's. Just be happy that MK has introduced itself to countless new mandolinist and we are, for the most part are a pretty happy bunch. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Feb-20-2004, 12:07am
I never regretted my purchase of the MK, I just had a honest opinion.

Feb-20-2004, 5:18am
I'm also a Michael Kelly owner, and I'm just voicing my honest opinions about the instrument. I don't regret buying it, and I certainly haven't put anyone down who owns one. I'm just letting my opinion be heard in case there's someone contemplating a purchase. I just think the record needs to be set straight. Mks are a pretty good deal. But a new Mk will run you 700$. I was just searching around and found a used breedlove quartz for 665$.

It's just a matter of your priorities. Fancy finish, scroll, inlay... or tone and playability. I know people are out there touting Mks as "gibson killers" but it just ain't so.

And I don't want to hear any lines about finances. I don't own an expensive instrument, and I work for just pennies above minimum wage. Every dollar I spend is a sacrifice-- and for my hard earned dollars there are better deals to be found. 775$ rigels. 665$ breedloves.

Feb-21-2004, 9:31am
Played a lot of mandos. #Some high end. #Bought a MK Firefly Flame, with Allen tailpiece, put on Thomastik strings. #Not looking for mandos anymore. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Feb-23-2004, 11:58am
I just received my first Legacy O oval hole model in Antique Sunset. VERY nice mando and one of the few F model Oval holes availavble in anywhere close to the price range. Also a LTD Dragonfly II in Walnut. A very nice color with great translucent flame on the back.
Just my opninion.
John S. John's Music HHI, SC

WV Mike
Feb-23-2004, 12:43pm
I own one and plan to keep it for a while. #Nontheless, I will offer my personal humble opinion on my purchase decision and experience dealing with MK.

I own a 2003 Firefly Custom (my first mando). Mine is a decent instrument and it sure sounds a lot better after having the bridge fit (the fit was terrible when I got it plus MK offered no consideration to me have it fitted), installing an Allen tailpiece, a bone nut, and a set of TI mediums. #By the way, the President of MK told me that bridge fit wasn't that important. I don't buy that nor do many others. #The finish was also sloppy in several areas. #I blame my myself for buying something sight unseen off the Internet.

All of my upgrades from a local shop added well over $100 and that was with a great deal on the tailpiece. #If I had it to do over again, I would have saved more money and bought an American made mando in the $1M plus range. Now that the MK prices have increased with the dealer network, the differential between a higher-end MK (like the Flame)and an Americam made instrument is not that great.

That's my 2 cents and I hope I haven't offended anyone.


Kevin K
Feb-23-2004, 2:04pm
I went with a friend of mine who wanted a decent mandolin and we compared many brands to each other. He ended up with a MK Classic. Sure the finsih is not perfect under the scroll and headstock scroll, but the playability and sound is very good and can hold it's on to the more costly mandolins. He has been playing every chance he gets and has advanced very fast.
MK deserves respect for getting mandolins into the hands of more players and providing enjoyment along with passing the mandolin playing torch to others for lesser cost.

John Zimm
Feb-23-2004, 2:14pm
I am proud to be an MK snob. I love my Firefly Flame, and would not trade it for "The Gibson." Mine is a workingman's mandolin, and it a lot easier on the eyes than the Rigel.

I am not sure when this turned into a thread on giving advice to people who were considering buying an MK. Here's my humble opinion: if you want to pay several thousand dollars for the flowerpot, go ahead. If you want a great sounding mandolin for a fraction of the cost, get an MK. Gibson just can't compete with the MK for the dollar value.


Feb-23-2004, 3:13pm
I often wonder how Tracy is coming out selling the Michael Kelly mandolins through dealerships, rather than selling off the internet. #I thought at the time, when I bought my legacy deluxe, #this is a great idea! #Don't sell through dealers, but only through the internet, keep the costs to a minimum, sell the heck out of MK's. #Now with the cost of an MK hovering the $800+ mark, I would say a few people are now opting for other brands. #I, myself would not have bought the MK at a dealership, mainly because I don't live near one. His exposure from Ebay was tremendous! #I wish Tracy would still offer internet buys, but I guess that would crush the dealerships profits. #Seems to me that his distribution is probably cut drastically...from world wide to a network of dealers. But hey, I'm not a business person, just a mandolin picker.

Mark Liuzzo
Feb-24-2004, 1:02pm
#I just think the record needs to be set straight. #Mks are a pretty good deal. #But a new Mk will run you 700$. #I was just searching around and found a used breedlove quartz for 665$ . . . Every dollar I spend is a sacrifice-- and for my hard earned dollars there are better deals to be found. #775$ rigels. #665$ breedloves. #
I bought a Breedlove Quartz OF in December. #Had it for 48 hours. #Played a MK Firefly Flame at my local retailer. #Bought the MK and returned the Breedlove.

Not a difficult choice.

The MK had the elusive sound I was searching for, and as a throw-in, had killer looks. #I was willing to pay the "premium" from buying through a retailer vs buying online.

zilla the hon
Feb-24-2004, 6:06pm
I am getting a Firefly Custom BLUE! for my birthday. I have never even held a mandolin before, so I based my search on eye appeal first. Thought the MK was very nice to look at. I like unusual, and hey, this one is blue. So started reading your board and others to help make my decision. It should be here soon. I am very excited. I thought about getting one of those cheap ones just to see if I would stick with it. But the idea of holding something cheap and spending all that time with it - yuk. So I am splurging big time (for me, a rank beginner) on a MK mandolin.

John Zimm
Feb-25-2004, 9:27am
Good job Zilla. I am sure you will enjoy your new MK. Join the ranks of the MK snob. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


Feb-25-2004, 10:37pm
Mapleb&s, I see that you have an Amber Firefly Flame. Well I have the other one. Tracy told me that there were only 2 produced in this color. Mine is a beautiful antique amber color. As far as how it sounds--I traded a Breedlove Oregon for it. This mandolin has got it all when it comes to sound. I have never played anything like it. It is loud and has a very full range of sound and color. I bought it February the 7 this year and I can not put it down. When I am not playing it I just sit aroud and hold it. Something came together just right when this one was made. I also have a green Dragonfly and there were less than 50 made of this color in 2002.I will get a picture of both of them up soon.

Feb-25-2004, 10:58pm
" When I am not playing it I just sit around and hold it. "

Uh.............ok..... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Feb-25-2004, 11:03pm
You have a problem with that?

Feb-25-2004, 11:12pm
Uh.......hey, if it keeps a feller off the streets it must be a good thing......I guess. # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Just kidding Ancient.....

Feb-25-2004, 11:15pm
Ancient, I think Dale does have a problem with that; he doesn't sell them. You have to be pretty hard up to apply and be rejected as a MK dealer. This is the only forum he can get back at Tracy for their rejection.

Feb-25-2004, 11:16pm
give it a try it may keep you off the streets.

Feb-25-2004, 11:29pm
"You have to be pretty hard up to apply and be rejected as a MK dealer"

Dang!, now everyone knows.....gee thanks Mandopicker....... #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Feb-27-2004, 4:57pm
Dale, there's 4 stages stages of import ownership
1 = bliss, it's so beautiful, what a sound, yadayada
2= denial, "this thing is better than any gibson", "beats mando costing "thousands" more"
3= awareness. "what upgrades will make this thing sound decent"
4= knowledge = "boy my new (insert american maker name) sounds great"

Feb-27-2004, 6:27pm
Go to Harry's Guitar Shop in Raleigh...in there they have 4 or 5 MK's, including one of the round-hole F4 types...they also have a high-end Rigel (the one that looks like a mini-strat) a couple of Webers (one was a Gallatin) and a Gibson FG.

I did the "Honey, I'm gonna close my eyes, just hand me mandolins...." this past Saturday afternoon.

Played the same licks, same chops (soft and loud), same scales, with the same (shell) pick. <I know they were all not set-up the same, with the same strings, action ect...this was just an admittedly crude 'take them off the wall' test>

Results? I suggest somebody else go over there this weekend if possible and do the same thing, I still can't believe what I heard...

The Weber and Rigel were best to my ears. The Gibson FG I think would have sounded better, but the strings were /beyond dead/...they were a nice, corroded chocolate brown...

Then there was this smoky-grey MK that was just so close to the Weber/Rigel, it was unreal...much more close than the price difference would indicate. If anyone lives near Raleigh, I wish you'd drop by there and do the same thing...I'd enjoy hearing your observations/opinions...

Feb-27-2004, 11:11pm
"Ancient, I think Dale does have a problem with that; he doesn't sell them. You have to be pretty hard up to apply and be rejected as a MK dealer. This is the only forum he can get back at Tracy for their rejection"

MandoPicker Dang..those sound like fighting words.

I have pissed some people off before but man your post takes the cake.

I think you owe Dale and the board an apology.

Feb-28-2004, 12:13am
Yea, MK owners can be a rowdy bunch. (laughs)

I disagree on dale about some things, but his opinion is honest and well taken.

As far as this turning into a thread for advice to potential MK owners... well, I'm sure people thinking of buying MK will read this thread, and -as- an MK owner I feel my opinion is as valid as anyone's. I'm glad some of you love your MKs and chose them over higher priced instruments. What a bargain.

I've yet to come across a bargain like that. You guys are really fortunate. I don't think that's the norm, though, for an MK to beat the sound of a Breedlove, or most carefully constructed instruments. And I think people considering a purchase should be aware of that. My experience with Mks has been lots of frills, moderate tone. They're not bad, but there's better bargains around.

Maybe I should shut my mouth-- will be looking to sell mine before long. Haha.. maybe that's why everyone is hyping the quality. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif


Professor PT
Feb-28-2004, 1:05am
Yeah, everyone's got their opinions. My Firefly has made me happy and made me want to play more often. And I did play it next to a Breedlove Cascade( the one that's somewhere in the $1600 range ). I was surprised that the Breedlove sounded so tiny. My MK has much better volume, bass, and sustain. I think you have to shell out quite a bit more to get a Breedlove that sounds better than an MK. I think they spend far less time graduating the tops of their lower-end instruments. As for MK, I don't know what they do--some on the board have said they steam press them. Either way, I like the sound of mine!

Feb-29-2004, 1:08pm
I have been very impressed with my Dragonfly II. But to say that it is as good or better sounding than some Breedloves or Gibsons or webbers is a bit premature because I have not been around to many live ones to know. My ear can really tell the difference between a MArtin and Taylor or Larravie and Collings but mandolins are a different story. What I do know is the sound of my MK has had some second looks and some good feedback from those that do know a goood from a bad mandolin. Is it better sounding? Well, maybe, but I do know I am very happy with it and at less than $950 with case it is a real bargain for a fine intrument. I would encourage all to buy one. Even if you have one of the better made american mandos and use the MKS for rough gigs and campfire parties. They can hold their own and have the volume when needed. That is my opinion on the matter. And the feel of the radiused fingerboard and fatter neck is unbeatable

Thats all I have to say about that

Feb-29-2004, 1:47pm
Hey AeroJoe...I've been to Harry's and played all those mandos as well and I pretty much agree with your assessment. I don't know what's up with that Gibson, it's been there awhile and every time i've played it, it has sounded aweful. You'd think if they wanted to sell a $3k instrument they'd change the strings once in awhile and give it a decent set up.

I was really impressed with several of the MKs for the price. Do I think they sound like mandos that cost two or three times more...no. However I do think many of them are competitive with the low end models being produced by Rigel, Breedlove and Gibson.

I think the Breedlove As are overall the most consistently excellent sounding low end mandos, however I find their sound a bit too bright and mellow for bluegrass.

I personally do not care for the sound, look or feel of any of the Rigel A Naturals I've played. I've only ever played one Rigel of any time that I liked (and i like that one a lot). I think this is a personal preference thing.

The A9s i've found to be inconsistent. Some sound fantastic, some aren't nearly worth the price.

I've played MKs that sounded and felt cheap and I've played MKs that sounded as good as mandolins costing hundreds more. I owned a firefly rubyburst very briefly when they first came out. I bought it to take to festivals. I thought it had decent sound for the money and looked very pretty, but I just couldn't bond with it, so I sold it.

I'm hoping to find a nice used A style to carry into those drunken jams instead ;)

Mar-03-2004, 6:13pm
I have owned a Breedlove Oregon and yes you can not beat the quality of workmanship. The sound is something else. I have played the most expensive Breedlove mandolin to the less expensive Breedlove mando and they all sound about the same. Not much in the way of mids or lows. A beautiful work of art but not much sound. I have talked to them about creating an F model,but I don't think they are interested. They have two shapes the O and the K and to me they sound pretty much the same. I found a Michael Kelly that blew them away. I am not saying that every MK sounds that good because I think they are all different. I have played some that blew me away and some that I would leave alone.

WV Mike
Mar-03-2004, 8:16pm
Dale, there's 4 stages stages of import ownership
1 = bliss, it's so beautiful, what a sound, yadayada
2= denial, "this thing is better than any gibson", "beats mando costing "thousands" more"
3= awareness. "what upgrades will make this thing sound decent"
4= knowledge = "boy my new (insert american maker name) sounds great"

I've passed through Stage 1 and Stage 2. #I'm currently stalled in Stage 3 with my MK. #I expect that Stage 4 will occur sometime during 2004. # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Just my 2 cents..


A now enlightened new mandolin owner
Not a MK Snob or an Anti-MK Snob

Mar-17-2004, 1:00pm
Brought home a green dragonfly from Merlefest last year...

I was actually dissapointed with it for a while: wouldn't stay in tune, pickguard came unglued and fell apart, weak tone. But after playing it for a few months, it unexpectantly opened up, stayed in tune, playability improved.

I seem to be running into the problem of the playability: Whenever I take it out of the case, for the first half hour, or hour, it plays fine. But then the action will get tighter and it gets harder to play. I'm thinking it's the high humidity in my room causing the wood to bend. So I'm basically forced to play in half hour spurts.

Mar-17-2004, 1:39pm
I've been thinking about getting a michael Kelly mando. I'm a beginner and I play guitar and bass. The thing that attracts me the most to the michael kelly is that they have left handed versions http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Mar-19-2004, 2:54pm
I found a website that has a lot of Michael Kelly mandolins.


John Zimm
Mar-19-2004, 3:51pm
I've been thinking about getting a michael Kelly mando. I'm a beginner and I play guitar and bass. The thing that attracts me the most to the michael kelly is that they have left handed versions
I really like my MK Firefly Flame, but I have to agree with what many have said here. The quality of the MKs vary from instrument to instrument. I think my Mk sounds great, and after having played it for several months I like it even more. (With all due respect to WV Mike's stages, I have not gone through this yet and I don't anticipate it happening.) I would never buy an MK or any mandolin off of ebay or through the internet because you really need to play one for a little while before you can judge its quality. I played the instrument I bought for over an hour, spread over a couple of days, before I forked over hundreds of dollars for it.

Best of luck finding a good mandolin.


Mar-19-2004, 3:57pm
I think Buckley is right and not just with MKs. I played several mandolins that were the exact same year and model as the one I eventually purchased and wasn't impressed with any of the others. While it sucks that the price has gone up on the MKs now that you have to go through a dealer, at least you do have the opportunity to play different ones and try to get a good one.

Mar-19-2004, 10:37pm
If you buy one from Oklahoma Vintage Guitar ask for Bobby. Tell him what you are looking for, he seems to have a deep understanding. I got a great deal on a Dragonfly II with a great sound. Be prepared to adjust the bridge for action and pitch. I played with mine for about an hour before I got it where I liked it. When I ordered mine I requested one with a good sound and finish was secondary. It came to me with very respectable and commanding sound.Finish was more than adequate although I have seen prettier wood. Mid range is a little dark but clear for a new instrument. Base has "big ones" with a typical bluegrass tambre. Highs are sweet even in higher positions. Inlay is exquisite.

Dan Adams
Mar-19-2004, 11:05pm
This is one of my favorite threads to read through for the passionate replies. I'll admit I own an MK along with my assortment of other mandos. It happens to be the MKLe, the electric Legacy. I bought it on ebay for a song, when we were trying to decide if we were going to mic everything, or go electric for the instruments, and mic the vocals. As far as sound, its fine without being plugged in, and plugged in it sounds like an F-Model mandolin being played through an acoustic amp. I have other mandos for other purposes, a cannon for jams, a fine F-model for performances, but if we plug in, which is rare, it is the MK. A few oversprays are the only flaws it has in the finish, but other than those, it is an example of fine workmanship. Now if I can fine the darn thing behind the other cases...

Plug it in and blast away, the audience can't tell the difference anyway! Dan

Mar-20-2004, 3:04pm
I just talked to Bobby at Oklahoma Vintage Guitar Store and he told me that if anyone buys a Michael Kelly mandolin from him, and mentions my name (ANCIENT) when they buy the mandolin, he will give them a free mandolin Strap.

Mar-20-2004, 7:06pm
at least they'll get a real strap, maybe

Mar-20-2004, 7:28pm
bflat, that comment is not needed. There's nothing not real about an MK mandolin. I have one and a couple of Gibsons, all three sound different and I enjoy playing the MK just as much as the others. If MK's were made in the good old USofA, the same way, I doubt they would get the BS they do, and they'd probably cost at least $2500.

John Zimm
Mar-20-2004, 7:51pm
bflat, that comment is not needed.
I agree 100%. What's with you bflat? Crabby today?


Mar-21-2004, 8:44am
just trying to get a rise out of you guys, MK's,MM's, Olympias',etc great entry level, much better than the harmony i started on 30y ago, but I like the idea of a domestic A, I think there's more value there but to each his/her own....point behind the comment was I think advertising ( as opposed to comments on a particular instrument/builder) belongs in the classifieds

John Zimm
Mar-21-2004, 1:52pm
just trying to get a rise out of you guys, MK's,MM's, Olympias',etc great entry level
I guess it worked. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

I don't like the comment (and one I have heard all too often) that the MK, etc., is a great "entry level" or "beginner" mandolin, because it assumes that all of us want one day to own a $3,000 American made instrument. #Some of us are actually happy with our imports, and have no plans to waste thousands of dollars on an American made mandolin we don't need. #Maybe I am too practical to be a mandolin player, but I am happy with my MK, I think it sounds great, and like I said before, for the dollar value American makers can't compete in some ways with the MK. #


Mar-21-2004, 2:41pm

It doesn't take 3,000 dollars for a superior american made instrument. I have a Michael Kelly and two superior American made instruments-- one cost about 350$ more than my MK, the other about 200$ less.


John Zimm
Mar-21-2004, 8:25pm

I was engaging in hyperbole.


Mar-21-2004, 9:14pm
Eagles 1986
I just found a Michael Kelly left handed mandolin on the Oklahoma Vintage Guitar store on ebay. If you are looking for one this looks like a nice one.

Mar-30-2004, 8:00am
I also dealt with Bobby at Oaklahoma Vintage. Great guy to work eith and goes out of his way to be a help and give you a great deal. I bought a FS and in a month decided I had to have the Dragonfly II. He gave me full value on my FS on trade and I must say that I was very pleased with the piece I traded for. One thing you need to do when talking to him is request that it be insured when shipping. a few dollars is worth the piece of mind. My Dragonfly got delivered to the wrong house on the wrong street and no signature required and it was snowing http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif All worked out for all involved in the end except for the UPS guy. However he did come to my house a week later and apologize. I made UPS sweat for a few days. I do highly recomend Oaklahoma Vintage Guitar for your MK purchase

Mar-30-2004, 11:48pm
I started with a laminated mk. I bought it from MK a couple of years ago. It is a great little starter mando. I am now going to get a Ratliff f.....I am going to keep th mk.....i love it and cant help it!

John Rosett
Apr-01-2004, 5:15pm
so, all you mk players, do any of you have the acoustic/electric option on your instrument? i have a question about this on another thread, but i'm not getting many replies. with 4 pages on this thread, it seems like someone is using a mk with the active electronics in a fairly loud band. anyone?

Apr-10-2004, 3:54pm
Would like to also compliment Bobby at Oklahoma Vintage. I had played a couple of Michael Kelly's locally, and they can vary quite a bit. I told him what I was looking for, and he sent a Legacy Deluxe. It sounded very, very good for the price. I have a Flatiron A5 that is nearly 20 years old, which it stood up to quite well, and will probably pass it up as it ages.

The action came a little high, but was easily adjusted. The tuners are very nice. The finish work could be better, but again, it sounds pretty good for a sub-$1000 mandolin.

Thanks to Oklahoma Vintage.

Sheryl McDonald
Feb-27-2005, 2:13pm
I did the same "eyes-closed" mandolin test yesterday at DreamCatcher Guitars in Roswell, GA. I had gone in to compare the sounds of an Eastman 504 I have on trial, vs. my old Alvarez, and see how both compared to anything else on the market. I'm glad I did.

DreamCatcher had several mandolins: 2 MK FireFly's - one blue, one ruby, 1 Eastman 814, 2 Breedloves [Cascade and Quartz OF] and a Rigel A Natural, and a Gold Tone. The MK FF ruby blew the rest of them away, including both the Eastman and Alvarez I had taken with me. I definitely would have purchased it, had it been any color but ruby. It had a great bottom end sound, projection etc. The blue MK did not have anywhere near the same sound.
I am returning the Eastman, and hope to find an MK with similar sounds. Now I understand that not all mandolin models are created equal.
This whole process has really made me wary of purchasing over the internet... as it really is hard to get the idea of how an instrument sounds. (I also think it could get expensive, to purchase, return, purchase, return, etc.) But I definitely now know what sound I'm looking for.

Chris "Bucket" Thomas
Feb-27-2005, 2:51pm
I have a MK Classic.

I have had it for about 1 /12 years- -it sounds very good for what it is-a high quality student instrument

I plan to buy "the one" late this summer.

Let the tasting begin!

BTW-I played a Randy Wood for about 2 hours the other day-very nice!


Feb-27-2005, 6:36pm
I have the Butterfly in rubyburst, looks just like the one on the MK PAGE (http://www.michaelkellyguitars.com/mandolins/history/). Its hard to give it a number now that I have a Gibson and a Flatiron. But in it's price range it's a 10. I live in So CA.
I have the black "Butterfly" from 2001. I like it ok. It ain't no great mando, but works for me. I'd love to get another one, but can't justify the expense now. When I got mine, it was "pre" sourced out, and got it for like half of what they go fo today. the fiddle player I play with has one of the newer Legacy models, and I like it more than mine. It has an all around better sound.

Feb-27-2005, 8:20pm
MK Firefly Flame. I'd give it a 9 in its price range. I'm from Maryland.