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Thread: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

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    Registered User Otis_Spunkmeyer's Avatar
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    Default Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Looking for a new/used mandolin. Most likely used. I'm not a huge fan of the neck on my Kentucky Km-650 and I can't play very fast on it. It seems to be consistently the hardest mandolin for me to play every time I try a mandolin someone else has. I even have a cheap 100$ mandolin that is easier to play and I highly prefer the shape of the neck to that one over my Kentucky. Aside from the shape of the neck of the Kentucky the string tension really makes it hard to play melody's fast. I did have it set up when I first got it. It sounds great but I think it's time we part ways and I get a new mandolin. I live out in the middle of nowhere so going to a store other then a guitar center is out of the question. As much as I wish there was a place within reasonable distance to go sit down and try a bunch of mandolins it's just not really possible. Looking to stay with an F style mandolin. So what are your recommendations new and/or used? Under 1000$ please.
    South West Jersey. Kentucky km-650. Delyeah!

  2. #2
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Does it need to be an F model?... Eastman has a lot of great instruments in the $1000 and under range both A and F style, and the general consensus is that you get more bang for the buck with an A. I play an Eastman MD305 and I like the shape of the neck and the action is good.

    The 305, 315, 405, 415, 505, 515 and 605 are all under $1000 and the 805 is only about $80 over your budget new at The Mandolin Store, likely less used. The Loar is also reputable, but I'm partial to Eastmans.
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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Last edited by colorado_al; Aug-12-2018 at 6:26pm.

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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    What is the shape of the neck and what don't you like? What shape neck do you find comfortable?

    $1000 the first thoughts would be Eastman, Kentucky (950 used or a 900 that the Mandolin Store has on closeout, either should be a big upgrade in playability and tone), J. Bovier. If you are patient and know what you are looking for you may be able to find a good deal on a used mandolin like a Nashville Flatiron A or a Weber A model.

  6. #5
    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Eh, just keep saving.

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    Registered User Otis_Spunkmeyer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    I know very little about different mandolin brands. Just got a good deal on this one about 2 years ago from Reverb. I'd really prefer an F style. I'm not a fan of how the A style looks. As far as the neck shape it feels like the curve on the back of the neck is more like a tighter deeper V shape almost rather then a smooth round U shape. My cheap 100$ mandolin neck is a little bit wider at the 1st fret. Not by much but that in combination with the back of the neck being more round/U shaped fits my big hand a lot more comfortably. The string tension is lighter on the cheap mandolin as well even though the Kentucky was setup and they both have light strings. That's where my biggest struggle/complaint is with my Kentucky. I could live with the neck if I had to but even after the setup the strings are really hard to press down in comparison to a lot of other mandolins I've tried over the years. I don't mind going used one bit as I know I'll get a way better deal. I don't need to spend 1000$ but I don't want a downgrade. I don't perform but I do want something that will project loudly.
    South West Jersey. Kentucky km-650. Delyeah!

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    If the neck shape is really what is causing you issues, you may need to try some other mandolins to see which ones work better for you.
    It sounds like your setup is pretty bad though. If you're handy, you can check it and fix it yourself.
    See Rob Meldrum's setup e-book:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...=1#post1196418

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    Registered User Roger Moss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    If all you're looking at is GC offerings, you can widen your search to all other inline sellers. GC is going to sell you something that needs professional setup, and you can get that anywhere. If you want an upgraded f style, you might want to play your $100 mandolin until you can double your kitty and get something from a MC sponsor that's already setup and guaranteed to be what you actually want.
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    Registered User Otis_Spunkmeyer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    As far as the setup the action is pretty low on it. I can't imagine it going any lower honestly. It's not the distance from string to free, it's the amount or pressure it requires to get a clean note. If this can be fixed with another setup then I would be happy and it would save me quite a bit of money. As far at GC, I don't really want to buy new. I'd rather buy used to get a better deal.

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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    I seriously consider the JBovier Z for $850. Jeff does the setup himself and he is very good. Every JBovier that I've ever played has been good.

  12. #11
    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Why should the string tension on your Kentucky be different from that on the $100 mandolin,assuming the same strings? I can't think of a reason apart from the setup.

    If that V-shaped neck is that much of a problem, it could be reshaped. That would also put it a good part of the way towards making it a speed neck.

    Do you live in South West New Jersey, or Jersey in the UK? If you're going to spend a lot on a mandolin, it might be worth your while making calls to instrument shops in NYC or New Jersey and see what they have, then making a day trip in search of your ideal instrument. Nothing beats having it in your hands.
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    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Eastman 515 is a far superior instrument over the Kentucky. For that matter it is far superior than Eastman used to be a dozen years ago. It also carries a lifetime warranty. There are plenty of vendors and some of them are sponsors here on the cafe. I know that I am extremely pleased with my experience purchasing my Eastman from The Mandolin Store and I've loved owning and playing it since.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Paul Newson custom blonde SCW "Feivel", Eastman 515, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    There's a nice looking Weber Bitterroot A on the classifieds for 1550. A Bitterroot F for 2k. A Gallatin for 1350 on Reverb.

    Lots of made in Bend Breedlove mandolins around that price.

    A beautiful Girouard for $1900.

    Janish mandolins come up from time to time around your price point.

    I wouldn't spend a $1000 to go from a quality factory produced mandolin to a quality factory produced mandolin. Save up or finance a few more hundred bucks and get something that's a keeper.
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    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    I also strongly suspect a setup curable problem. Specifically, string height at the nut. Check it out using Rob Meldrum's book or take it to a decent luthier.

    But if you have the MAS bug, that probably won't help. My advice: a used Weber Gallatin -- be prepared to spend a bit more unless you can be patient. I do like Webers.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

  16. #15

    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Are the J Bovier mandos loud? Would you ever describe them as banjo killers? I love the tone of my pava and it's got sustain for days, but it's not very loud. Was thinking of picking up an A style flatiron but I kinda have a hankering for an f style in the max $1200 price range.
    Pava A5
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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Quote Originally Posted by Em Tee View Post
    Are the J Bovier mandos loud? Would you ever describe them as banjo killers? I love the tone of my pava and it's got sustain for days, but it's not very loud. Was thinking of picking up an A style flatiron but I kinda have a hankering for an f style in the max $1200 price range.
    It sounds like the JBovier Z that are on close out are not particularly loud mandolins.

    From the JBovier site
    I set a couple of 2017 “Z” models aside because their voices weren't as full as the rest of the batch.
    All other features are the same, including my personal set up.

    These would be perfect for plugged-in performing with a K&K pickup system ($200. installed)...
    Or for players who appreciate their beauty, but don't need a huge voiced mandolin.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    There's a nice looking Weber Bitterroot A on the classifieds for 1550. A Bitterroot F for 2k. A Gallatin for 1350 on Reverb.

    Lots of made in Bend Breedlove mandolins around that price.

    A beautiful Girouard for $1900.

    Janish mandolins come up from time to time around your price point.

    I wouldn't spend a $1000 to go from a quality factory produced mandolin to a quality factory produced mandolin. Save up or finance a few more hundred bucks and get something that's a keeper.
    I so much agree with this post. Forget an F style, save up $1200-1600 and buy a used A, or save even more and get the F style Ratliff that Elderly has or something like it.

    What you will get is sure to knock your socks off with tone dramatically better than $1000 will get you. But I would not rule out a KY 900 or 950 either.. But the right used A could last a lifetime.

    I got to compare my Arches kit with my Silverangel and a Pava yesterday. All had a tonal quality that is superb, but they were all very different and purely subjective.
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Would you describe your bovier as loud?
    Pava A5
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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Quote Originally Posted by Em Tee View Post
    Would you describe your bovier as loud?
    It seems like we have 2 questions going on in this thread. My JBovier can get loud, but more than that, it has great tone at moderate volume, and the setup is superb! If you want to hear more, feel free to PM me

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    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post

    I wouldn't spend a $1000 to go from a quality factory produced mandolin to a quality factory produced mandolin. Save up or finance a few more hundred bucks and get something that's a keeper.
    My thoughts EXACTLY! You'd be making a lateral move, IMO.

    Or, spend money on a neck re-shape and set-up from a good mando luthier.

    But I'd still go with Chuck's advice if at all possible.
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  22. #21
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Just echoing concerns about the nut height. That's where a little makes a big difference and not all setup-people get it right. It's just easier to adjust the bridge height, but if the nut's off, that'll be the problem!

    I don't care if you want an f-model. On the surface; however, if you want an upgrade from what you currently own, I'd consider an a-model Collings!

    f-d
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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    Just echoing concerns about the nut height. That's where a little makes a big difference and not all setup-people get it right. It's just easier to adjust the bridge height, but if the nut's off, that'll be the problem!
    f-d
    Agreed. Get a set of depth gauges and check the height at the 1st fret and adjust as detailed in Rob's e-book.

  24. #23
    fishing with my mando darrylicshon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    If you really don't like your Kentucky sell it add it to the cash you have, then save up some more, then take a trip to some stores and find the one you like
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    Registered User colorado_al's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    New, the KM-650 seems to be $650-$750. I would expect you might get maybe $450 for it. So you'd have close to $1500 to spend. I think you could get a new Howard Morris F5 for around that kind of money.
    I'd contact him and see what he's got.

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    Registered User Willem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Next logical mandolin to replace a Kentucky KM-650?

    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_al View Post
    New, the KM-650 seems to be $650-$750. I would expect you might get maybe $450 for it. So you'd have close to $1500 to spend. I think you could get a new Howard Morris F5 for around that kind of money.
    I'd contact him and see what he's got.
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