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Thread: Kentucky KM 855

  1. #1

    Default Kentucky KM 855

    Hello to all you KM855 owners/lovers. I know there is not much love/discussion about Kentucky KM855s here. Why is that? I talked with Dennis ant The Mandolin Store about them and he said that on a scale of 1 to 10 he gives them about a two. Also said that his store quit stocking them before they discontinued producing them. I, myself like mine. It has nice wood, the fit and finish is top notch and it also sounds good. Anyone else own one and what do you think of yours. I want some feedback from my fellow KM855 owners. Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    I think if you like yours, you shouldn't worry about what others think...just enjoy it! Just as some of the finest builders may occasionally turn out a 'dud', a not so desirable model run may turn out a real winner.

    On a side note, I think some of the lack of enthusiasm for the KM-855 comes from the 'number' designation itself. The older Japanese KM-850s, although not built in the same location as the higher priced models, were pretty highly thought of. One might assume (usually a mistake) that the 855 would have a quality somewhere between the 850 and the Master Model KM-1000 and KM-1500 models built by the team in Maruko. On average, this wasn't the case.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Thank you Flatrock Hill. Are you an 855 owner? I'm NOT worried about what others think. I would just like to here what other 855 owners have to say about their instruments. I was just calling out to 855 owners as there doesn't seem to be much discussion on here about them. I'm well aware of all the above info you offered. Thank you for your input.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Some runs of the KM-855 had serious quality control problems. Some were just fine and have nice straight necks, however many of them had a really bad neck joint that made them pretty unplayable. If you have a good one, then play the heck out of it! Unfortunately, the KM855 took a hit pricewise for resale, because so many of them were poorly made.

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Thank you Colorado Al. I talked with Dennis at the Mandolin Store about trading it in on a KM1000. He did not speak highly of them, something about the finish and the sound. Said that they stopped handling them before Saga discontinued them. After reading your post, I got mine and really gave it the "once over" and did some more research on it. I found that it was referred to as "Bella Voce" and was heavily inlaid to match. After really looking at mine, the wood and finish are near perfect, the fit and finish are spot on and the sound is very nice itself, so all in all I think I lucked out and got more than my money's worth. I'll be keeping this one for a long, long time. Thanks

  7. #6

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    The inlays are an homage to the old Gibson Bella Voce banjos, which I think is pretty cool.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #7

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Quote Originally Posted by Torpedotom View Post
    Thank you Flatrock Hill. Are you an 855 owner?
    No Torpedotom, I'm not. I was just replying to your question with some general info/opinion on the subject. I own several Kentucky mandolins, but no 855.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    I've had an 855 for about 18 months. I bought it mostly because it's hard to find decent mandolins at that price point here in Australia, but also because the seller is a well-respected mandolin player and tech and does a good setup. Ideally, I'd have liked something a little less blingy but there you go.

    It's good. Nice and woody. But I have had to have the truss rod fidgeted-with a few times as it tends to raise the action after a little while. That feels a bit like the sort of thing that probably just needs doing every few months anyway. It'll be a good instrument until I can convince myself I'm a good enough player for a Gilchrist.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_tom View Post
    It'll be a good instrument until I can convince myself I'm a good enough player for a Gilchrist.
    Not wanting to derail this thread from the main subject but believe me mr_tom...if you can afford it, you're a "good enough player for a Gilchrist". Not everyone who owns one is a Compton or McCoury... not by a long shot.

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  12. #10
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    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    My km-855 seems to je a good one too - but maybe that's only because I'm still a newbie and because the 855 was a big step up from my old Rover RM-50 :-). But seriously there is nothing wrong with it, wood, fit and finish are perfect, and the sound is pretty loud and bluegrassy. At the beginnIng the problem was that the A and E strings sounded dull and it was a bit imbalanced, but better strings solved that one.

    I'm really happy to have found a mando like this because in Berlin, Germany they're a little hard to come by if you want to buy in a shop. Only Gretschs, Fenders and Epiphones around. ..
    I paid 800 € new and I wonder if that is a reasonable price. In the US they are probably cheaper.... what did y'all pay for yours, dear fellow 855-owners?
    Malin

  13. #11
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    I had a km855 a few years ago. I remember that Dennis wasn't high on them when I bought it from TMS. But it was OK and I would rate it higher than 2 out of ten, maybe a 3 or 4.

  14. #12

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Hey Tom,

    Didn't you recently buy a KM1000?

  15. #13

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny60 View Post
    Hey Tom,

    Didn't you recently buy a KM1000?
    Yes, it is in the classifieds now. I just like the 855 better. Bobby Osborne told me when I asked him why he didn't play an Osborn mandolin, that after playing the old Gibson for so long it was hard to use something else.

  16. #14

    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    I have a Kentucky 855 mandolin and it's really nice. Plays well and sounds great. I had a luthier install a Fishman Nashville Series bridge on it. He said it sounded as good as a nice Gibson. That made me feel even better about this mandolin. I have no plans to sell it. I just gonna play the hell out of it!

  17. #15
    Mando-Afflicted lflngpicker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    I had the 805, which is the same without the radiused FB and the inlays. It was a really nice mandolin-- nice dry, woody bark. I agree they are a very underrated mandolin. They are in their own category because they are top of the line, but not the 1000 series master models. I would be proud to own one. I don't get Dennis' response giving it a 2.
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  18. #16
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    Default Re: Kentucky KM 855

    Quote Originally Posted by lflngpicker View Post
    I had the 805, which is the same without the radiused FB and the inlays. It was a really nice mandolin-- nice dry, woody bark. I agree they are a very underrated mandolin. They are in their own category because they are top of the line, but not the 1000 series master models. I would be proud to own one. I don't get Dennis' response giving it a 2.
    I have an 805 also, compared to my other mandolins I would give the 805 a 6+ out of 10. My The Loar is a 4, my Collings, Pava, and Weber are 9+ out of 10, just to give a reference as to my quality I am basing it on.

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