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Thread: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

  1. #1
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    After several months of consideration, I finally pulled the trigger on a new Kentucky KM-272. The mandolin arrived this past Monday, and I have been playing it consistently ever since. With that in mind, I thought that I would share some of my initial thoughts about the instrument - especially since there seem to be very few (if any) reviews on the internet:

    Construction and Aesthetics: Upon reasonable inspection of the mandolin, I can find no significant problems with fit, build, or finish. To be quick and concise, it should suffice to say that this is definitely a higher-end Chinese-built mandolin. I was first attracted to this mandolin because the look of the mandolin reminds me very much of my beloved 1929 Martin Style-20, and other similar Lyon & Healy mandolins from that era. Personally, I like to be 'different' - and this mandolin certainly looks and sounds 'different' than the scores of f-hole, sunburst and/or F-5 style mandolins that seem to permeate the mandolin world.

    Neck: Having never owned and/or played a Kentucky mandolin before, my only impressions came from fellow Café members who seemed to form a general consensus that Kentucky's have 'thick necks . . . and this instrument most certainly follows that apparent pattern. (Note that a 'thick' does not mean 'wide' - the girth is vertical from the fretboard-down, and not horizontal from side-to-side). For comparison sake, I will say that this neck is substantially 'thicker' than my Gibson, Washburn, Martin and The Loar - but very, very similar to my Eastman. To be honest, I found the thick neck a bit off-putting in the first moments of playing it, but even with my smallish hands/fingers, I easily adapted to it in less than 45 seconds.

    Action / Playability: After a proper set-up from the seller, the action on this mandolin is smooth, easy and consistent, all the way up and down the neck, with no dead spots. I think it is worth noting that, even though I play with a very light touch, the strings on this mandolin are not necessarily set as low as possible - and even with the strings at a slightly elevated level, I can still play it lightly, and have no problem with easy fretting. One of the nicer features about this mandolin is that the neck joins the body at the 14th fret, not at the 10th fret like most other 'A'-style/oval-hole mandolins. Although I don’t often play much above the 8th or 9th fret, on those occasions when I do need to get up higher on the neck, the extra access comes in very handy.

    Tone/Volume: With a price tag of $400, I was not expecting the 'woody' tone of a vintage Gibson oval-hole mandolin, but overall I would have to say that I am very satisfied. The volume and tone are very well balanced from string-to-string, without any distracting 'tubbiness' on the low end, or excessive sharpness on the high end. While I would not classify this mandolin as a 'banjo killer' I can say with complete confidence that the volume is very comparable to my Gibson F-5G. The sweet spot on this particular instrument seems to be 'A' and 'D' stings, when played from about the 4th to the 10th frets. The most astounding feature about this mandolin is the sustain . . . although I am really not sure if you would call it 'sustain'. Yesterday while playing a piece that relied heavily on the mandolin 'sweet spot' mentioned above, I noticed a type of reverb/echo coming from the instrument. My first instinct was to reach over and turn down the reverb on my amplifier . . . but the mandolin was not plugged in! The reverb sound was a totally natural acoustic effect coming from the sound hole. I was blown away! I have never experienced anything like this from any acoustic instrument that I have ever owned . . . and trust me, I have owned LOTS of them.

    Overall Impression: I have played other imported mandolins that were literally twice the price of the KM-272, but were not half as good. If you are looking to get into a decent oval-hole mandolin at a price that won't put a huge hole in your bank account, I would highly recommend checking out a Kentucky KM-272.

    I hope this helps.
    - 1929 Martin Style 20
    - 2015 Washburn M1SDL
    - 2016 Kentucky KM-272
    - 2017 Gretsch 9350 Park Avenue

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    I have noticed here lately that there seems to be a lot of different Kentucky models being asked about and placed in the ads...I wonder how much difference there is in all of those models, some of the photos look the same as other models...I do know that everything higher than a 900 was said to be made in a different factory then the lesser numbers but I wonder if that still hold true?
    I hear a lot of good things about the so called lesser models...

    Willie

  4. #3
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    What a detailed, thorough review. Have thought often of buying a 272. This may be the push I need. Thank you.

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    Thank you for the excellent review. Been wondering about the Kentucky oval hole models. This isn't helping me fight MAS. Might be a nice compliment to my A Jr.
    2018 Eastmand MDO-305 - Octave mandolin
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  6. #5

    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    I had actually given up the mandolin and traded my last one towards a guitar. But I have been really missing the mandolin even though I'm not a great player. Been looking at them for a couple of weeks. I wanted an oval whole and I've always wanted a Kentucky. Your excellent review tipped off the fence. Ordered a KM272 today from Musicians Friend. I had a 10% off coupon and some reward points so I ended up with a great price. It should be here Tuesday or Wednesday. I need to stop reading this forum.

  7. #6
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    I played a 272 and thought it was great. Definitely had a great tone and volume... great review! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!
    aka: Spencer
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    Registered User red7flag's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    Here is a link to a nice youtube review of the KM - 272 by Jimmy Gaudreau. This is a SAGA promotion piece, but you can tell he was genuinely impressed. Here you go:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOYt29BaCk8
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  9. #8
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    Quote Originally Posted by red7flag View Post
    Here is a link to a nice youtube review of the KM - 272 by Jimmy Gaudreau. This is a SAGA promotion piece, but you can tell he was genuinely impressed. Here you go:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOYt29BaCk8
    Yes, that Jimmy Gaudreau review was VERY influential in my decision to pull the trigger on a KM-272. When you watch the other reviews that he did for SAGA, he doesn't look nearly as impressed with the other mandolins as he does with the 272. To me, his excitement for the 272 was very genuine . . . and now I know why!
    - 1929 Martin Style 20
    - 2015 Washburn M1SDL
    - 2016 Kentucky KM-272
    - 2017 Gretsch 9350 Park Avenue

  10. #9
    Registered User Mike Scott's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    I owned an early 272. Workmanship and playability (TMS set up) were exceptional. Tone wise it was pretty good too. I thinned out my mandolins to one ff hole and one oval hole and it lost out to my Morris, but it was a very nice one. I don't think you can go wrong for the $$$.
    Thanks, Mike


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  11. #10
    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    I have one of these as well. It is a joy to play. One thing I should mention since the OP did write about the neck profile is that the neck profile on the 272 is night and day compared to my KM-950. It feels much thicker and more rounded than the sharp and thin V-profile of the 950. I was surprised initially and was put off as well. However after a few moments playing, I adapt and don't really notice it.

    Nice review, and I agree 100%.
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    My first mandolin was the KM171(I think this replaced that line). About $225 on amazon at the time. In a box with bridge in a baggie. It served me well and I have some fond memories playing late night on it. Loud and evenly balanced. Easy enough to play. I took it local to a guitar tech for setup and he said there was nothing he saw that needed tweaking. After I got my next mandolin I discovered that properly cut nut made a world of difference - so take it to a mandolin guy if you have work done local.

    I like the looks of the KM272 series - pretty sweet for the $$. Congrats!

  13. #12
    Registered User Kathy-a's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    A great review. I love my KM 272. It has truly enhanced my mandolin journey. It looks and plays beautifully. It's affordable and fun to play and learn with. Purchased mine from Elderly since it comes setup. Totally agree with MikeZito - it's well worth taking a chance on.
    P.S. As a baseball fanatic-love your avatar!

  14. #13
    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    Thanks for this. I decided to buy one based on your recommendation. Backordered at the moment, unless I wanted the KM-270 which is the same build but a sunburst finish. I prefer a natural finish, so I placed the order on the KM-272 with Elderly. With their current price and holiday specials and free shipping, it came out under $340! Should be here sometime in mid January. Looking forward to comparing it to the Breedlove Crossover OO that I have.

  15. #14
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: REVIEW: Kentucky KM-272

    Reviving an older thread by adding a recent audio/video sample. Hope it helps.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeBMkN5YcC8
    - 1929 Martin Style 20
    - 2015 Washburn M1SDL
    - 2016 Kentucky KM-272
    - 2017 Gretsch 9350 Park Avenue

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