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Thread: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Question Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Howdy y'all,
    I am wanting to upgrade from my Kentucky KM630s, and I need some suggestions for mandolins to look for.

    Here's a few things I'm looking for in a mandolin:
    (1) Must be an F style,
    I don't need a lecture on how I can get a better mandolin for cheaper if I went with an A...lol
    I have always not cared for the look of an A, and having switched from an A to an F back in 2003 when I got my Kentucky, I have come to realize that the scroll hanger makes it a bit more stable when playing standing up, because it's hinging offset from the center versus connected at the base of the neck. So I have made up my mind, I want an F style.

    (2) Ease of Playability. I played a Buckeye mandolin years ago that was made sometime in the mid 80s and it was incredible as far as playability, fretting felt effortless, and it was quite a bit easier to play than my Kentucky, which was set up pretty well. I also played a USA made Flatiron one time that played pretty well, but it was not quite the caliber of the Buckeye. The Buckeye felt like I was playing a dream… If there is such a thing… LOL

    (3) As far as tone, I haven't played enough good mandolins to adapt much of a taste for a specific color of tone, so coming from my Kentucky, I think I could get used to a few different types of tone, as long as it's clear.
    It needs to have plenty of volume tho, I tend to be struggling to have my mandolin get heard when playing with my Bluegrass band, I need something with some punch to it.

    (4) Fit and finish/quality craftsmanship/close attention to detail, etc. I am an artist, and a perfectionist to an extent, so it bothers me to see shoddy work, crooked lines, etc.
    I say this because I was looking into Winky Hicks mandolins after hearing a guy play one that sounded awesome, but he seems to focus on the tone and getting it just right, and it doesn't seem like he puts much time into the small stuff like the inlays, binding around the scrolls, etc. and I don't think I can get past that.

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    I forgot to mention that I want to keep it in the $3k-$3.5k range if possible, thanks guys!

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    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    There are tons of Northfields in the Classifieds right now. I'd pick one from a sponsored dealer and pick the heck out of it. They are by far my favorite mandolins I've played.
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    With your budget there are quit a few that meets your requirements especially if used is acceptable. As far as the way it plays, if the sound turns you on and you have a couple hundred left, a good set- up by a man that really knows mandolins can make just about any mandolin play great.

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    I have been looking at the Northfields, and I think I could be happy with one of those, I do like the sound of them that I can hear from the YouTube videos, but I have never heard one in person. I am not ready to buy one just yet, but I am saving up for one, and maybe I am being a little too prepared ahead of time, but I might be able to buy one in about six months to a year

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    And used is definitely acceptable, I would rather not lose money off the bat in depreciation if I can help it.
    Just wondering tho, is the Big Mon worth the extra money over the f5s? And are there any other mandolins out there under $3500 that would be a big improvement over the f5s? I'm not a professional by any means, so I might not be able to tell subtle improvements between instruments. I would say that I'm a lower level advanced mandolin player.

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Have you been to The Mando Shop in Tallahassee? http://themandoshop.com/ Kyle seems to carry Northfields along with other brands, such as Collings and Weber, to help inform (and perhaps complete) your search. It might be worth the 200 mile drive for the education.
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Northfield, Weber Gallatin (and perhaps used models a little higher up their food chain), used Gibson F9, used Silverangel, and the Kentucky Master Models (1005 or 1505 would be my preference for the radius). The latter would most likely be a substantial upgrade from your 630. As more coffee kicks in, I've seen a used Pomeroy and used Summit/Lafferty and used Bulldog mandolins for sale for <3500 recently. Flatiron Festivals are also a good value; there's two on the first page of the classifieds for < 3 grand.

    Collings fit and finish are impeccable. I have an MT that I traded for intending to sell or trade it for an F style in the 3-4K range, but I'm loving it enough that I haven't found anything significantly better for <5K so far. But, their F styles new start above your budget. May be able to find an MF used in range with some patience, but it'll likely have some Miles on it.

    Also, Skip Kelly's mandolins are outstanding! His new prices have been climbing of late, but there are some earlier used Fstyles of his that pop up in range on occasion. Starting this early can be a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you can be patient and take time to find the one that's right for you. The curse is hat you now have 6 months to obsess
    Chuck

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by pheffernan View Post
    Have you been to The Mando Shop in Tallahassee? http://themandoshop.com/ Kyle seems to carry Northfields along with other brands, such as Collings and Weber, to help inform (and perhaps complete) your search. It might be worth the 200 mile drive for the education.
    I haven't been there yet, I attempted to go a few weeks ago on the way back from Georgia, but when I called to see how late they'd be open, I talked to his wife and she said they are open by appointment only, and the timing didn't work out for me to go. She did say that it wasn't a store like Guitar Center where you can just go and play anything, she said they keep each instrument locked up and in pristine condition, and she acted like they wouldn't let me come by and play anything unless I was prepared to buy one then or at least put money down on one. They want to know what your budget is ahead of time, so I'm assuming they wouldn't let me pick anything out of my budget range. But if I'm looking to buy something used, then it doesn't sound like that place would be much help to me.

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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    If you appreciate impeccable fit and finish, then I recommend a Weber. You should be able to get a used Gallatin or Bitterroot F in your price range. It should be made in Montana or very early in the Bend Oregon era. If it has Bruce Senior's signature on the label. That's the key. I can't vouch for the quality of the their newer instruments after his retirement.
    Don

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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Skaggs2.0 View Post
    I forgot to mention that I want to keep it in the $3k-$3.5k range if possible, thanks guys!
    new or used?

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    There's a Girouard F-5 over at Bradford & Frank Fine Instruments that falls in your price range, NFI on my part:

    http://bfstrings.com/#/inventory/384

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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Lots in your price range. I'd go used. These are what I'd check out from the classifieds

    2001 Flatiron Festival F $2600
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110906#110906

    2014 Girouard F-5 $3200
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110860#110860

    2011 Weber Coyote $3000
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110752#110752

    2012 Silverangel $2750
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110721#110721

    2009 Collings MF $3800
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110698#110698

    2000 Gibson F5G $2800
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110682#110682

    2003 Ratliffe R5 $2250
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110679#110679

    2008 Collings MF Honey Amber $3650
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110594#110594
    Last edited by colorado_al; May-13-2017 at 12:32pm.

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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    I played a Northfield F5S at Gryphon yesterday. They deserve their well earned reputation. They also had an eighties Gibson F5G that had its share of bumps and bruises, but it was, surprise, more Gibsonish. I was surprised I adapted to the flat fingerboard on that one very easily.
    The problem is if you start playing instruments, you might find the perfect used mandolin and not be ready to buy it. Lots of good stuff in your range.
    Silverangel Econo
    Michael Kelly LSFTB

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    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Skaggs2.0 View Post
    But if I'm looking to buy something used, then it doesn't sound like that place would be much help to me.
    I believe that they often have used instruments on hand, but for reasons unclear to me they're not listed on the website.
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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    @Eric C. @Mandoplumb

    I kind of replied to your comments, but I'm new here and I didn't think of tagging you guys somehow, I don't yet know how the notifications work(if there are any) but I'll get used to it.

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Northfield, Weber Gallatin (and perhaps used models a little higher up their food chain), used Gibson F9, used Silverangel, and the Kentucky Master Models (1005 or 1505 would be my preference for the radius). The latter would most likely be a substantial upgrade from your 630. As more coffee kicks in, I've seen a used Pomeroy and used Summit/Lafferty and used Bulldog mandolins for sale for <3500 recently. Flatiron Festivals are also a good value; there's two on the first page of the classifieds for < 3 grand.

    Collings fit and finish are impeccable. I have an MT that I traded for intending to sell or trade it for an F style in the 3-4K range, but I'm loving it enough that I haven't found anything significantly better for <5K so far. But, their F styles new start above your budget. May be able to find an MF used in range with some patience, but it'll likely have some Miles on it.

    Also, Skip Kelly's mandolins are outstanding! His new prices have been climbing of late, but there are some earlier used Fstyles of his that pop up in range on occasion. Starting this early can be a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that you can be patient and take time to find the one that's right for you. The curse is hat you now have 6 months to obsess
    I want something US made(with the exception being Northfield), I can imagine the high up Kentuckys being really good, but maybe it's a mental thing...I think I want something other than a Kentucky(no offense).
    I have played some Eastmans though, and the 815 and 915 were nice, but the 815 wasn't any more playable than mine, and mine was louder. The 915 was much more prettier with the higher grade wood, and binding, but it wasn't a big enough jump up the ladder for me to want it, it didn't blow mine away. But those Eastmans were new, so they would definitely open up and get better with time and use, but not worth $2k for the Eastman...for me that is, considering how well mine plays.
    I forgot to mention that I had to level the fretboard on mine 10+ years ago and I put banjo frets on it and a fossilized walrus ivory nut on it, and it really helped the playability. So even though it was only $450 new back in 2003, it plays like something in the $1200 range currently.

    I'll look into those other ones you mentioned tho, and yes I am beginning to figure out what you mean about a blessing and a curse, I think I've aggravated my wife a bit obsessing over mandolins I can't currently buy, even though she's fine with me saving up for one...hahaha

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    new or used?
    I would definitely prefer used, the only thing I can see myself getting new would be a Northfield f5s

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    If you appreciate impeccable fit and finish, then I recommend a Weber. You should be able to get a used Gallatin or Bitterroot F in your price range. It should be made in Montana or very early in the Bend Oregon era. If it has Bruce Senior's signature on the label. That's the key. I can't vouch for the quality of the their newer instruments after his retirement.
    Ok, I'll keep an eye out for that. I wasn't aware that he had retired. I have an acquaintance that has a Gallatin that I have never played, I should ask if I can play it before she moves away. I have yet to play a Weber.

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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    I have a Weber and it plays quite nicely IMHO. I would not hesitate to buy another (although mine is a Bruce Senior instrument, I cannot speak to the newer ones.) Good luck and have fun with your search!

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    There's a Girouard F-5 over at Bradford & Frank Fine Instruments that falls in your price range, NFI on my part:

    http://bfstrings.com/#/inventory/384
    I have never seen that brand before, have you ever played one? It does look pretty sharp tho

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    Lots in your price range. I'd go used. These are what I'd check out from the classifieds

    2001 Flatiron Festival F $2600
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110906#110906

    2014 Girouard F-5 $3200
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110860#110860

    2011 Weber Coyote $3000
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110752#110752

    2012 Silverangel $2750
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110721#110721

    2009 Collings MF $3800
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110698#110698

    2000 Gibson F5G $2800
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110682#110682

    2003 Ratliffe R5 $2250
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110679#110679

    2008 Collings MF Honey Amber $3650
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110594#110594
    Thanks for the info, I saw a few of those, and I'd like to be able to play some of them, but I may have to get something through the mail. Are there any of those that you you wouldn't hesitate to buy without playing it first?

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    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I played a Northfield F5S at Gryphon yesterday. They deserve their well earned reputation. They also had an eighties Gibson F5G that had its share of bumps and bruises, but it was, surprise, more Gibsonish. I was surprised I adapted to the flat fingerboard on that one very easily.
    The problem is if you start playing instruments, you might find the perfect used mandolin and not be ready to buy it. Lots of good stuff in your range.
    I have played one Gibson before, I believe it was a 70s or 80s model f5 or f12 maybe, not sure, but I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. But I have heard that Gibsons quality wasn't the best around that time sometimes, or something like that. I may have been mistaken tho. I'd like to play a more recent Gibson sometime tho. I can tell a bit of a difference in the tone of the Northfields tho versus Gibson, and I kinda like the Northfield tone. I can't wait to actually pick one.

  35. #24
    Registered User Jesse Kinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by LadysSolo View Post
    I have a Weber and it plays quite nicely IMHO. I would not hesitate to buy another (although mine is a Bruce Senior instrument, I cannot speak to the newer ones.) Good luck and have fun with your search!
    Thanks for the input, I have a friend here that has a Weber, and I want to play it while I have a chance, it's just a Galattin tho, if I go with a Weber I'd like to possibly get a Yellowstone, if I can find one reasonably priced. We shall see.

  36. #25
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Upgrading from my Kentucky KM630s, need suggestions

    Nice looking Weber Coyote in the classifieds for $2450, NFI on my part, just living vicariously through other people's purchases!

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/110990#110990

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