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Thread: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

  1. #1

    Default Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    I am looking for my first mandolin and prefer getting a used one rather than new. I am considering a Michael Kelly MKLFSTB or a Morgan Monroe Bean Blossom. I don't know how old the bean blossom is but it has inlaid ornamentation on the fretboard. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    I would probably go with the Morgan Monroe. The MK's don't have a great reputation around here (with all apologies to anyone who owns one), and I wouldn't think the MM's are much better, but I would say a little better.

    Other cheap brands to consider, especially used to save you money, which people will almost certainly chime in to add: The Loar, Kentucky and Eastman (the lower-end models on the Kentucky and Eastman lines).

    You will also be given another piece of advice, a good one: if you can buy used from a reputable dealer, such as those who advertise here on the cafe, that provides a set-up as part of the purchase, that would be incredibly important. Especially when buying an imported mandolin such as you are seeking.
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    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    Hello Dave,
    Welcome to the joy of Mandolins!
    I have only had exposure to the Michael Kelly mandolins.
    A number have found some of the pac rim mandolins to have a very thick finish, causing a less than optimal tone.
    I am sure if you provide us with a target budget figure, the many here with more experience than myself can help to find a mandolin that would work out very well for you.
    Specifically the member who owns/runs Folkmusician will likely have some insight on mandolins within your budget.
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  4. #4
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    I had an MK-O bought used. Once the neck and fret issues were addressed by a luthier, it was an excellent axe. I regret trading it away. FWIW, I'd still look for a newer used Eastman 515 over the MK. New they are around $900 on sale. Used they get really accessible.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Jerman custom 5 string electric, Eastman MD-515 & El Rey, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    You're talking about instruments that were probably produced in reasonably large batches in Asian factories, depending on how old they are. I don't know the specific models but of those two brands, some are decent, of the ones i've encountered, some dull sounding, and fretwear on thin frets is always an issue, like attached thread says. Washburn seems offer a lot of similar models, probalby from same factories

    And I would recommend trying Kentucky or "The Loar" mandos if you can

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...a-used-Eastman
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    Registered User almeriastrings's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    They look 'pretty' but both tend to be equally prettily mediocre in terms of tone and volume.

    A plainer-looking Kentucky KM-150 (or above) would ultimately serve you better. In my opinion.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    I bought a MK, mainly to hone my luthier skills. Stock, it was a mess, with a poor fitting bridge, nut slots way too high, and frets badly in need of a leveling. After leveling and crowning the frets, sanding the bridge feet for better contact, filing the nut, them speed necking the neck, it is a nice mandolin to take camping. The tone is in the ballpark of all the other cheaper mandolins out there.

    If you can't do the work, buy that used KM 150 or Eastman.
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    Registered User Eric Hanson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    Hello Dave,
    The Mandolin Store just posted a sale today for “The Loar” mandolins. They have a few that have minor blemishes. Very affordable. You could confidently buy from them knowing they will make sure it is set up right for you before it is shipped. You would have a really great starter mandolin that would last you years.
    Unless of course MAS breaks out. It is a terrible, nearly inevitable, illness.
    Eric Hanson
    Click #016/ Born on 2/29/08 - Sold to the next Conservator of this great mandolin!
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  9. #9
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Hanson View Post
    The Mandolin Store just posted a sale today for “The Loar” mandolins. They have a few that have minor blemishes. Very affordable. You could confidently buy from them knowing they will make sure it is set up right for you before it is shipped.
    I agree with this advice. But you'd need to act pretty quickly.
    Chris Cravens

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  10. #10

    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    One of the joys of buying used is getting the pro setup paid for by the previous owner. This requires seeing the mandolin before buying or finding a trusted seller. The latter is one reason I like to buy instruments from longtime forum members.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    Hey I have been a member here for just a little while "in the shadows" mainly trying to absorb the wealth of knowledge here in the forum. I have been playing mandolin for 1 year now. This is my first time posting to the forum because of my limited experience. So take it for what is worth, but I own a used MK Legacy Elegante F-Style Mandolin that was purchased used local from an individual I found on CL. Here in the Dothan, AL area unfortunately I am in a mandolin desert. The original owner set up the instrument himself and it plays well. The action, bridge fitment, intonation are spot on. He told me he filed the nut and dressed the frets and fit the bridge. I have been using Elixer coated strings that he recommended. After playing for a while I noticed a buzzing sound that is especially noticeable on the D and A strings. I have replaced the stock tailpiece with an Allen tailpiece which really increased the sustain. But I still had the buzz. I checked all of the screws on the tuners and looked for unseated frets with no solution to the problem. I searched the forum and came across issue with tone bars. I bought a little mirror on a telescopic rod resembling a dentist mirror from Harbor Freight. I inspected the inside of my mando and discovered the bass side tone bar had de-laminated at both ends. I searched further and found some c clamps for working in F hole instruments and figured out how to re-glue them. That did make it more faint, unfortunately I can still hear a buzz. So I don't know if I am chasing a ghost that is inherent of my instrument, but it is distracting enough to me. So please don't take my experience as an absolute review of MK instruments because I am sure others have had satisfactory results. Also any suggestions would be appreciated without highjacking the OP thread.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    I'd start from scratch with Rob Meldrum's free eBook. Go through his whole process and also dampen the strings between the bridge and tailpiece with grommets or leather strip. You already checked the tuner button screws, right? I've found a grey area where strings don't actually buzz, but are indistinct. Make a series of fret rockers and check for a high fret.

    After that I'd cry uncle and look for a good tech.

    There is much for newbies to learn from other newbie questions, so don't be shy asking.
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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have strip of leather woven through the strings between the bridge and tailpiece. I also have checked all of the hardware with the exception of the truss rod. I am hesitant to tighten too much on the small hardware for fear of stripping or pull them out of the wood. Rob was gracious enough to send me a copy recently but I have not gone through it yet. I plan to go over it very soon. Does it describe the process for the fret rockers check? I am not trying to be shy but be respectful of people's time by not asking duplicate questions that have been discussed. Also going to throw on a fresh set of strings to eliminate the possibility of the strings going dead. I really appreciate what you guys do here!!

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    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    One more idea. I once had an MK that had some odd noises it emitted sometimes. Cured by a strip of leather between the nut and tuners. Just be sure it’s tight against the strings. I’ve had similar issues on another one as well. In both cases problem solved. I hope that helps.
    Thanks

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  15. #15

    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    Quote Originally Posted by Stankfish View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. I have strip of leather woven through the strings between the bridge and tailpiece. I also have checked all of the hardware with the exception of the truss rod. I am hesitant to tighten too much on the small hardware for fear of stripping or pull them out of the wood. Rob was gracious enough to send me a copy recently but I have not gone through it yet. I plan to go over it very soon. Does it describe the process for the fret rockers check? I am not trying to be shy but be respectful of people's time by not asking duplicate questions that have been discussed. Also going to throw on a fresh set of strings to eliminate the possibility of the strings going dead. I really appreciate what you guys do here!!
    The fret rocker thing you're on your own. What I do is get a piece of aluminum bar stock that looks like a thicker yardstick. You then need various lengths cut to span three frets from the nut to the end of the fretboard, which will not be very long. You can't count on the edge to be straight, but you can sand one edge with a piece of glass and sandpaper. Be sure to mark the straight side.

    Then you move up the neck spanning three frets and rock the straight edge.If you have a high fret, it will rock side to side. When your edge spans four frets, move to a shorter one. But if you find a high fret it is either off to a luthier or invest in fret files.

    Do put some tension on the truss rod though, as it can easily rattle. Weather you do your work or not, Rob's book will tell you a lot about your mandolin. Nut slots are very important to playability.
    Silverangel A
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  16. #16

    Default Re: Michael Kelly vs Morgan Monroe

    The MK MKLFSTB is an excellent all solid mando if you can get it at the right price. There is a big thread on it here:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...+Kelly+MKLFSTB

    I snagged one and am quite happy with it, as are the many other buyers evidenced in that thread.

    More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better. For example, I found with the Eastman's (nice mandos in their own right) the higher up the food-chain you go the more bling you get that actually can have a negative effect on tone. Others around here have stated the same.

    The MKLFSTB is a solidly built mandolin designed to withstand the rigors of the festival circuit and, IMHO, it does what it is designed for very well.
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