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Thread: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

  1. #1
    Registered User wxfloyd's Avatar
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    Default Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    I'll soon be receiving a Kentucky KM-950 that I just purchased from the classifieds, and I was wondering if other Kentucky master model owners have replaced their stock bridges with something like a Cumberland Acoustic, or if the stock bridges are of decent quality. I know CA bridges are a popular replacement for the lower-end Kentucky and Eastman models, but didn't know if Kentucky master model bridges are any different than whats included on their lower-end models.
    I'll likely be taking the mandolin to a local luthier to get it set up to my liking, but I'm trying to decide if I should just wait and see how the original bridge is or go ahead and purchase a CA now and have him fit it when he does the setup.

    thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    I have a KM-900 which I've owned for a couple of years now. The factory bridge is of good quality, intonates well, adjusts well and the mandolin is really a very fine instrument. Give the factory bridge a chance.

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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    I've had a couple - never had a problem with those bridges. They were absolutely fine. Nicely made, good ebony and nothing to complain about at all.
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    Glad you asked...I owned a KM-900 and after reading so many great things about the CA bridges I bought one and fitted it to the KM-900 and I didn`t see a bit of difference so I put the stock bridge back on and sold the CA to a fellow here on the Café...Att he same time I installed one onto a custom made mandolin that I own and it made the mandolin more treble than what ever the builder used on it, the reason I replaced the one on the custom made mandolin was because the threads stripped out where the adjusting post fit into the bottom of the bridge...I do not know what brand bridge it was but it appears to me that all mandolins are not improved by installing a CA bridge which is a well made product but may not be for every instrument out there, I guess it`s trial and error...It is worth the trial because I`m sure you can always sell one on here...

    Willie

  6. #5
    Registered User wxfloyd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    Thanks all! I very much appreciate your thoughts and experiences. I'll just stick with the stock bridge for the time being.

  7. #6
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    At least wait until it gets there.. well maybe a extra day if its cold in the delivery truck.
    delay opening the box.

    then delay opening the case, until its up to room temperature.. inside the case..





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  8. #7

    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    It may be fine try it . I had km1050 came in from dealer had to send it back saga in san fan . they fix tuner prob & said had set it . Well was uselees the 2 nut slotts cut so bad, the tp had 1 bent hook & 1 broken . Spent $350. for new nut , ca bridge , a james tp& set up . 6mos later sold it for $600. loss . i've seen some good ones right of the case . IF the seller liked it i,m sure you will .

  9. #8
    Americanadian Andrew B. Carlson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    I replaced the stock bridge with a CA bridge on my KM-1000. It was an improvement, albeit maybe a smaller one since the stock bridge is pretty good. I also made it a full contact bridge, so that likely made the difference.
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    There are more parameters here than generally taken into account. Kind and quality of fit. Mass. And so on. I've done lots of CA installations and refit/contoured lots of stock bridges. Usually the CA bridge is a distinct improvement over even a nicely done stock bridge. The stock Kentucky high end is nice enough as it comes, but benefits from work, as they all do.
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  11. #10
    Registered User wxfloyd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    Thanks Stephen. I'm planning on having a local mandolin luthier (Geoff Burghardt of iii Mandolins) do a full setup on the mandolin once I receive it, including making sure the bridge is property fitted. He's done setup work for me before, and comes highly recommended by many other Denver-area mandolin owners.
    Last edited by wxfloyd; Mar-20-2017 at 4:42pm. Reason: revise wording

  12. #11
    Registered User Clement Barrera-Ng's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    Congrats on the new mandolin. I had a number of older KM900 and KM950 before. The stock bridges were fine, though they usually have a little bit of play in the holes where the upper saddle goes into the two posts on the base, causing the bridge to lean a bit. I had replaced the stock bridge with CA bridge on one of them, and like Andrew said it seemed to have made a difference, though not significantly. However, I just loved how nice and tight the CA bridge was and would do it again in a heart beat on a keeper.

  13. #12
    Registered User wxfloyd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    Thanks for the input Clement. I'm going to put some miles on the stock bridge first before I consider replacing it, but I'll keep your comments in mind when I hand it over for the setup.

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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    I have to wonder why any builder would not make his/her bridge fit as good as possible so that they would know that their mandolins sounded as good as they will get? I know it might take a little extra time but it should also increase sales and give their product a better name...I bought my KM-900 used and the bridge fit was as good as could be, I don`t know if the first owner did it or if it came from the factory that way...A case in point is those $199 M.K. mandolin that some of you bought and had to do quite a bit of set up work on them, what does a M.K. usually sell for that has been set up at the factory or even at a dealership?

    W.P.

  15. #14
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    I was fortunate. My own first mandolin was a Michael Kelly. I knew it was a low cost mandolin,but 'as it came',it had been properly set up by TAMCO UK.

    IMHO - set up can be more important that having a top quality bridge,as long as the stock bridge is of 'reasonable' quality. A poor set up with a top flight bridge will result in poor sound. A good set up with a decent bridge,should be fairly good. I feel that it's mostly a matter of luck with regards to any mandolin/bridge combo.- some mandolins will benefit,some won't,in any price bracket. I fitted a CA bridge to my first 'good' mandolin & it improved the overall 'sound' to a degree. I know that Willie has fitted a CA bridge to a good mandolin without any improvement,
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  16. #15
    Registered User Mike Conner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post
    I have to wonder why any builder would not make his/her bridge fit as good as possible so that they would know that their mandolins sounded as good as they will get? I know it might take a little extra time but it should also increase sales and give their product a better name... W.P.
    Willie, from a builder's perspective, and also having done lots of setups, it helps to remember that your instrument used to be a tree, and then if imported took a boat ride to new environmental conditions. I do make the effort to have a perfect fit on an newly completed archtop guitar or octave mandolin, but as it settles into being an instrument there can be some tweaking needed. Most factory guitars, even the high end ones, often need some setup after a year or so. Just the nature of the materials and the stresses intrinsic to stringed instruments.

  17. #16

    Default Re: Kentucky Master Model stock bridges

    I have discussed setup with many of the importers and also been asked to train a few. It always comes down to pricing. Mandolins/instruments are not immune to highly sensitive street pricing. We at the cafe, place a high level of importance on setup, but the fact remains that most potential buyers will purchase based on price alone, or at least they won't pay the true markup needed for a good setup (with fret and bridge work).

    The whole supply chain makes it difficult to setup instruments. Instruments have all the same import issues that other commodity goods have or actually more. Finished instruments do not immediately go onto boats bound for the US distributors. In addition to the sea voyage, they are also kept in duty free zones (mostly in country of origin) until they are needed. This reinforces the need to be setup in the destination country. When they do make it into the USA, they can't be sitting in warehouses while dealers wait for them to be slowly setup.

    Setup work at a distributor is a brutal job with the accompanying high turnover. This is just one of those jobs that you DO NOT WANT. A container of instruments comes in. 100+ mandolins are already pre-sold to dealers and need to go out now, another 100-200 need to ship in the next few days. There are two of you doing the setups. What do you do? You whip through them at a few minutes per instrument and get them out the door! The other option is to hire a large team dedicated to setup and train them to do great work (at 1+ hours per instrument). Now each person is only turning out 8 instruments per day, and even then, how long can someone sustain constant setup work with bridge fitting. There will be workmans comp claims following shortly. I have the setup workflow down to an art, and I cannot sustain that level of setups for more than a few days.

    In reality, there are more than 2 people doing the setups, but there are also way more instruments to deal with once all the other instrument types are thrown in.

    To address this and do good setup work would add a big chunk to the wholesale/retail price, and could easily push them out of the market.

    That is at the distributor level. The same basic thing applies to the retail level. There is a reason that Guitar Center came to dominate the instrument market and now Amazon is doing so well with instruments. This business model works. It is highly price driven, and it is consumers that make them successful. There is a very small niche for good specialty dealers that setup instruments, and there is only enough room in the market for a few of us. It is a very tough business model and most dealers simply can't compete while doing high level setups.

    Before getting too off track... I agree that fit of the bridge is number one. Assuming reasonable bridge quality, this should be the main focus. Bridge quality does matter, but it is second to fit. A well fit bridge upgrade almost always makes some improvement. First, due to the improved bridge quality, secondly, getting to start from scratch with a oversized blank that can be custom fit to the specific mandolin. With this combination, you should get an improvement. It may not be significant though.


    Ivan sums it up quite well.

    IMHO - set up can be more important that having a top quality bridge,as long as the stock bridge is of 'reasonable' quality. A poor set up with a top flight bridge will result in poor sound. A good set up with a decent bridge,should be fairly good.
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