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Thread: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

  1. #101
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    I would like to thank Dennis for his honest appraisal. As usual, customer satisfaction is number one in his book.

    I have lost count of how many times somebody posts the question here of what good quality hand carved F style mandolins are out there for under 500 dollars. Up till this point the answer has been "there aren't any". It's been asked enough times that there is definitely a market. Even when people know that A styles give you more bang for the buck, they still want the scroll. Strictly for looks. But they don't want to pay a lot. And they want solid hand carved wood. And no dipped in plastic finishes. It would seem Saga was trying to capture that market. Alas, this holy grail of mandolin marketing just still seems to be too elusive. Unless they regroup and change some things.
    Don

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  3. #102

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    I still think Saga will do well with this model. The competition is their own RM-75 (the KM-606 is a better mandolin). And maybe The Loar LM-520. They won't dethrone the 520, but they give a good alternative.

    There is nothing wrong with the KM-606 I received, aside from the finish not looking great. If you look at my hi-res photos on the website, the build quality is good. The finish is the only thing that is currently holding it back.
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    I would like to thank Dennis for his honest appraisal
    My thanks go out as well. As disappointing as Dennis' report might be to hear, I'll wait until it shows up. For me, it's a festival mandolin that just needs to beat the $199 Michael Kelly on sound and workmanship. I don't thinking doing either is a tall order. The tone of the MK is at best "okay", and I've already rehashed (as have others) the setup work needed out of the box. So if the 606 can sound a little less thin, and if I don't have to spend two or three hours getting the action down and the frets level, then it might be a keeper. But my bar's pretty low, this won't be by any stretch my main instrument.

    And if it shows up and it's a dog, then I'll consider the $50 return shipping to be the cost of my (losing) mandolin lottery ticket.

  5. #104
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    I had high hopes for this mandolin,but am thinking of canceling my order.If it's better than the $199 Michael Kelly I'd be happy.The best thing would be to get it in my hands.Funny that they would send a bad sample to the Mandolin Store.

  6. #105
    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Discouraging assessment from The Mandolin Store, no doubt, but I'm going to stick it out. If it doesn't end up replacing my Eastman (and I'm starting to think it likely won't) it should at least make for a good festival/camping instrument.

    By the way, I'll be at Telluride this year--I just hope I get the 606 before I leave. If I do, and if anyone else will be there and wants to try it out, let me know.

  7. #106
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    I'm very close to cancelling as well. I only bought it because it was a good deal, but that only matters if it's a good mandolin.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

  8. #107

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    So, we can expect really deep discounts then?

  9. #108
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    If Saga uses the information and insights that have been shared in this thread, they might find they actually have a winner on their hands. For the investment of sending out 16 instruments, they have gained valuable free promotion among a core user group, and they have obtained initial feedback that can be used to address some of the failings identified by the group. Next step would be to figure out what changes they can afford to make and still hit the target price point - which this "users group" has "blessed." Then send another batch out into the wild. Chances are good that even with simple changes the response here will be such that it becomes a "success." Right now the instrument's reputation has already become a member of the "walking wounded." This could all change... So,it is too early to write this whole exercise off. It would be cool to think that each of us who have responded positively and negatively might actually help shape the eventual introduction of a successful mass-market instrument.
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  11. #109

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    The power of the internet!

    So, I have the KM-606 back now and just spent some more time really looking it over and listening to it. My initial thoughts are still the same. This is by no means a bad mandolin for the price. This is based solely on the one KM-606 I have seen.

    Dennis, did the version you received look similar to mine?

    My opinion on this one:
    Rough F holes
    You can see some signs of what I assume is the spindle sanding of the sides.
    Scroll, actually pretty good. Especially considering it is not bound.
    General carving, fit, seams, pretty good really. I see a little glue on the headstock overlay, but again, not bad at all.
    Obviously the finish is the main point where many are not going to be happy.

    All of this is in relation to the price point.

    I just took this outside and did another round of images. Some in a light tent, and a few in direct sunlight. In direct sunlight, with enough twisting and trying different angles, I was able to get the finish to show the brown translucent look. This finish varies significantly in different lighting. The wide range of pics are all accurate, depending on the lighting.

    I would appreciate everyone checking the hi-res versions of the new images and giving opinions on the workmanship. I know it is difficult to tell from images, but since virtually no one has seen these in person.....

    Just over 30 pics up now:
    https://www.folkmusician.com/product...ndolin-f-style

    Believe it or not, this is the same mandolin. It does not look like this in most lighting, or even in the sun at other angles.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #110
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    I swear Robert, in your other pictures the finish looks black! This view does not look so bad. Reminiscent of the Eastman 300 series. They have to do something about the sanding scratches though. They just do. It's labor, right? And Chinese labor is cheap, right? So how much more would be added to their cost if they just spent a little time sinding with finer grits?
    Don

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  14. #111

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Well I was really thinking about buying one when this thread started but after reading about how it was returned to the store, has no punch and doesn't even sound as good as an Eastman 315 and can't compete with a Loar 520 why in heck would anybody want one regardless of how it looks ? If this mando looked great but won't compete with the tone/volume of the low end Loars or Eastmans would someone buy one ?
    Lou

  15. #112

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    the only bad F mandolins are the ones that can't be set up to play well. tone is a totally other issue and belongs to the ears of the beholder.

    imho, the way larger part of all of the offshore F mandolins, no matter what their price tag, or all solid hand carved wood and jazzy accoutrements, are all for the most part incredibly similar in overall tone Range.

    playability will always be something that needs to be tweaked out of most of them as well. for me, plunking down $250 for an lm-310f or an $800 md-515 is just about the money and not all that far apart for tone. again, for me, maybe not you. there are notable exceptions that come off the conveyor belt that go against the rule of norm. and, of course, buying ANY acoustic instrument before playing it is a total krap shoot gamble. feeling lucky?

    i can understand the fascination with these $500 range mandos - they're within purchase range of the masses and bring up lots of forum board chatter. but discerning the individual tones of all these mandos is compounded by the assembly line production industry. not one is ever created specifically with the purchaser in mind, as you peruse the mando vendors online or within your local mando emporium.

    this is not to say that a km-606 is a bad mandolin, or a good one. it is what it is - an offshore box at a specific marketeer's price point, that probably isn't really any better or worse for "tone" than most other offshore boxes. once set up for good playability, i'd say they're ALL capable of making great music in the right hands. saga's shtick with their 606 is the color, it's achille's heel is the less-than-good production work ... the stain color is pure aesthetics.

    it will always come down to the ears of the beholders ... it would help lots if the beholders never saw what they're hearing, so truly accurate judgment could be rendered without the usual peer human jading nonsense. in a blindfold sonic-only taste test of a dozen different mandos, who could accurately nail the street price of each? not me.
    Mandolins are truly *magic*!

  16. #113
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    A white background is always going to make it look darker and silhouette-like, due to the contrast. The best way to photograph a wooden object is with natural colors behind it, and with diffused light. Like outside on a cloudy day, sitting in the green grass.
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  17. #114
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Very nice photos Robert, very nice. Thank you for taking the time. You can always be a professional photographer if the folk instrument business dries up.
    The 606 looks like kind of a kit where you save money by completing the finish yourself. Perfect mandolin for someone who can finish sand, touch-up stain, lacquer overspray and buff out.

  18. #115

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Quote Originally Posted by rfd View Post

    imho, the way larger part of all of the offshore F mandolins, no matter what their price tag, or all solid hand carved wood and jazzy accoutrements, are all for the most part incredibly similar in overall tone Range.

    playability will always be something that needs to be tweaked out of most of them as well. for me, plunking down $250 for an lm-310f or an $800 md-515 is just about the money and not all that far apart for tone. again, for me, maybe not you. there are notable exceptions that come off the conveyor belt that go against the rule of norm. and, of course, buying ANY acoustic instrument before playing it is a total krap shoot gamble. feeling.

    I have found the same where it comes to the two lines of imports I've played a lot, Eastman and Kentucky. I just don't hear much difference other than natural differences instrument to instrument. An Eastman MD 515 sounds pretty much like an 815 to my high mileage ears. Same with Kentuckys untill you get to the master built models.

    Now what I don't know is if they age differently. I have heard big changes for the better with my MK over the last few months. It has richer lows than it used to. The G string is where the imports fall short for me.

    I think they will sell all they want to.
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  19. #116
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Great pictures, thank you! It's very nice to see the grain of the wood now Robert...

    Also, I'm interested that these mandolins don't have a 15th fret scroll transition "bump" on each side of the fingerboard. It's different, but also sort of refreshing to see just a clean neck join there.

    I also find the non-bound edges very cleanly done.

    You mentioned these were lacquer finishes but not nitrocellulose. Do you have any more details about the finish makeup?

    Thanks again. I agree with Br1ck, I expect these to sell. May need some play time to open them up, but it seems they have all the normally desired features that make sound.

    I do still want to see Eastman's entry into this new market.
    -- Don

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  20. #117

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    the "florida extention" is just a buncha useless frets to me, and greatly hinders pick access to that area of the strings for more, umm, mellow picking tones.

    the aesthetics of bound boards just require more work during a refret.

    tweaking the aesthetics of most anything is good marketing sense. people like "new and improved" or just leave out the "improved". good for sales.
    Mandolins are truly *magic*!

  21. #118
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Looks like these are not coming until September

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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Elderly originally said they were getting some yesterday. Don't know if they did or not. All I know is that there's no shipping confirmation in my inbox. I'm in no hurry, but if I hear something I'll let y'all know.

    But of the one(s) Elderly had, they were all spoken for by Cafè members, so someone should speak up soon.

  23. #120
    Scroll Lock Austin Bob's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    After much debate I just cancelled mine. I don't need it, and seem to want it less and less every day.
    A quarter tone flat and a half a beat behind.

  24. #121

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    My next shipment has not arrived (I am much closer), so likely, none are on the way to Elderly just yet.

    There has been a lot of interest in this model, despite this thread. haha Or maybe because of it. Most people I have talked to did read this.

    Between setup and testing, and comparing to other mandolins, I have now spent a couple of hours with the mandolin in my hands.
    I want to recap one last time....

    General build quality: Good. Aside from being a little rough, this mandolin had no issues and setup nicely. It isn't even all that rough aside from the lack of fine sanding and buffing.
    Tone: This is not a bad sounding mandolin. While I don't agree with Dennis that the workmanship is terrible (at least in regards to the one I had), I do agree that the tone is just OK. But when put up against F-style mandolins at the same price point, it sounds quite good. There are no other $500ish F-styles that I have dealt with with tone better than "OK".

    Some comparisons:

    It does not sound as good as a KM-150, but neither do the vast majority of mandolins under $1000.
    It does not sound as good as a MD305. Just like the KM-150, this is a benchmark mandolin.
    Same goes for the MD315, but the KM-606 is running nearly 40% more to purchase, so this is not at all the same price point.
    It does not compare to Master Model Kentucky's (KM-1000), nor the The Loar LM-600/700, nor any Eastman.
    It it better than a Rover RM-75.
    It sounds a little better than a The Loar 500 series.
    It sounds better than just about all of the similarly priced F-styles I am familiar with.

    From my point of view, this is competition for the 500 series The Loar's. In the end, The Loar will keep the marketshare due to cosmetics. The LM-520 has always been my number one choice for an F-style at the price point and even now, I will probably recommend it over this Kentucky, despite the KM-606 having better tone. I will do this, knowing that the average player will prefer The Loar, even if that preference is purely visual. I still feel good about offering the KM-606 as an alternative.
    Robert Fear
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  26. #122
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Hey Robert, thanks again for your honest evaluations. But I think you are not quite correct about the KM 606 not being in the price range of an Eastman 315. You sell the 315 for 699 and it includes the case. If you sell the 606 for 525, and someone buys your least expensive case to go with it (the ultra lite for 74.95), you are up to 600 dollars for the outfit. So, you are saying that a 600 dollar mandolin plus case is not the same price point as a 699 dollar instrument plus case? I think you need to consider the case situation when figuring price point, so that we aren't comparing apples to oranges.
    Don

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  28. #123

    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Good point Don, very good point!

    I am often one of the highest priced on mandolins and only a few of us dealers bundle a Hardshell case with the 315 (it comes from Eastman with a Gigbag), but point taken! Using my pricing, with cases there is only a 17% increase for the MD315. At average current street prices across the nation, I believe the 40% will be close... Now if Amazon gets ahold of the KM-606, who knows!

    Of course, if Saga treks any further into the "Jungle", I am going to boycott them.

    I am really curious to see some end user reviews on these. Especially after Dennis's comment. I am wondering if there really is that much variation.

    It looks like Gryphon has it posted now. That is the only other reference I see anywhere.
    Robert Fear
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  29. #124
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    Soooo, did anyone get a 606 from Elderly yet? According to the report of one phone conversation with Elderly, there were four “early bird” special orders (before they fixed the price). All four hang out here, and one of them cancelled. One has confirmed that they don’t have one, I don’t have one, leaving one that should’ve gotten the only one they had. Miltown, you’re being awfully quiet over there.

  30. #125
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    Default Re: New Kentucky KM-606 mandolins are in the wild!

    I think I played one of these yesterday. It was a Kentucky, it looked like these pictures, I didn't see a label just the headstock. I will say it sounded bright, it played wonderful, it was 100 bucks cheaper than the 2 315's it was sitting next to. I thought the work around the scroll was pretty bad but for 595 when the 315 which wasn't as nice for 695.......it did look kind of steam punk cool

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