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Thread: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

  1. #1

    Default Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Hello Mandolin Cafe Forum

    Inherited a mandolin from uncle's estate. Been playing for
    about a year. Thinking about upgrading. Trying to decide
    whether to upgrade the Kay or buy a new mandolin
    Click image for larger version. 

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    A lot of it comes down to the quality and worth of the Kay I have.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Have done some research Found
    https://ourpastimes.com/how-to-deter...-12472389.html
    But this says 'Check the headstock and sound hole for serial numbers. But that's about it

    Attachment 179032

    Other research indicates that the Kay Musical Instrument Company of Chicago made mandolins between about 1930 until about 1955 when they became focused on electric guitars.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Have noticed that it is about a half an inch thicker than the Eastman and Kentucky F style mandos held by guys at the bluegrass jams
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The tuning pegs are pretty stiff and a bit discolored so I was considering going to StewMac and getting some new tuning machines for $70 and then another $50 for the luthier to install and the old girl would really look pretty good. Or is the Mand-8 of such poor quality that it does make sense to invest even $120.

    For instance if the instrument is only worth $50 dollar the upgrade is ludicrous. But if it is worth $300 maybe its worth it.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    So two questions:
    1. Any guess as to when it was made? Probably the older the more 'vintage' and worthy.
    2. Approximate ballpark as to worth. Have look on eBay and Craigs List and cant find a comparable.

    Thanks

    Allen in Dallas

  2. #2

    Default Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Hello Mandolin Cafe Forum

    Inherited a mandolin from uncle's estate. Been playing for
    about a year. Thinking about upgrading. Trying to decide
    whether to upgrade the Kay or buy a new mandolin

    A lot of it comes down to the quality and worth of the Kay I have.

    Have done some research Found
    https://ourpastimes.com/how-to-deter...-12472389.html
    But this says 'Check the headstock and sound hole for serial numbers. But that's about it.

    The back of the headstock does have a gold tone sticker with the test 'Mand-8', photo herewith.

    Attachment 179032

    Other research indicates that the Kay Musical Instrument Company of Chicago made mandolins between about 1930 until about 1955 when they became focused on electric guitars.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mando_tailpiece_sm.gif 
Views:	16 
Size:	142.7 KB 
ID:	179034

    Have noticed that it is about a half an inch thicker than the Eastman and Kentucky F style mandos held by guys at the bluegrass jams
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Mando_headstock_back_sm.gif 
Views:	30 
Size:	97.6 KB 
ID:	179035

    The tuning pegs are pretty stiff and a bit discolored so I was considering going to StewMac and getting some new tuning machines for $70 and then another $50 for the luthier to install and the old girl would really look pretty good. Or is the Mand-8 of such poor quality that it does make sense to invest even $120.

    For instance if the instrument is only worth $50 dollar the upgrade is ludicrous. But if it is worth $300 maybe its worth it.

    So two questions:
    1. Any guess as to when it was made? Probably the older the more 'vintage' and worthy.
    2. Approximate ballpark as to worth. Have look on eBay and Craigs List and cant find a comparable.

    Thanks

    Allen in Dallas

  3. #3
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Most Kay teardrop mandolins have a very low market value, maybe around +/- $100. Yours is a little fancier than most, but I don't think it would have a major effect on the value.

    The tuners might work a little better with a drop of 3 in 1 oil on the bearings, and the adjusting screws should be checked to insure that they are snug rather than very tight. They look like older Japanese or Korean tuners to me.

    You might want to consider spending your money on a modern Eastman or Kentucky student model. $500 will buy a used Eastman 505, which would likely be a better mandolin.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-15-2019 at 4:48pm.

  4. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Yes, I can tell when it was made and it wasn't made by Kay. These are circa late 70's-early 80's. It was imported along with hundreds of other mandolins with different brand names on them from Japan and then Korea. It is one of these. The only thing that this has in common with earlier Kay instruments is the name that was on the headstock. Similar mandolins fail to sell weekly on eBay.

    If you enjoy it play it. We have one member that started out on one of these and liked it.

    Here is the history that applies to your mandolin:

    (1969–present)

    The assets of Kay/Valco were auctioned off in 1969. The upright bass and cello lines were sold to Engelhardt-Link, a new company formed by a previous Valco member, which has continued production (see #Kay basses for details). The Kay name (and some of its trademarks, such as Knox[citation needed]) were acquired by Teisco importer, Weiss Musical Instruments[2] (W.M.I., Sol Weindling and Barry Hornstein), who put the Kay name on the Teisco products beginning in 1973, and continued on through the 1970s.[11][12]

    In 1980, A.R. Enterprises (Tony Blair) purchased the Kay trademark.[12]
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Aug-15-2019 at 6:43pm.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  6. #5
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Most Kay teardrop mandolins have a very low market value, maybe around +/- $100. Yours is a little fancier than most, but I don't think it would have a major effect on the value.

    The tuners might work a little better with a drop of 3 in 1 oil on the bearings, and the adjusting screws should be checked to insure that they are snug rather than very tight. They look like older Japanese or Korean tuners to me.

    You might want to consider spending your money on a modern Eastman or Kentucky student model. $500 will buy a used Eastman 505, which would likely be a better mandolin.
    This isn't a US Made Kay.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  7. #6
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    I didn't say it was. Doesn't make any difference anyway.

    I don't know why I bother contributing. Seems like everything is turning into a contest here.
    I've got better things to do. Bye.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Regardless of what instrument it is, I was going to comment on the concept of "upgrading an instrument".

    Unless something is broken (i.e., tailpiece only holds 6 strings, tuners don't work, bridge is cracked), then upgrading an instrument will make very little, or maybe absolutely no difference in tone.

    The most important parts of an instrument are: its string geometry and fret positions (because without that it isn't a mandolin), the top plate (because without it the parts of the instrument won't be set in motion by the movement of the strings), and the rest of the structure (back, sides, neck).
    At least that's how I rank them. So in the top 3 most important things, 1 is easily adjusted (the setup), but the other two most important things, the top and overall structure, are inherent to the instrument and essentially impossible to upgrade.

    You can get usability improvements by replacing the tailpiece and tuning machines, and maybe a bit of tone by fitting the bridge better. Other than that, do not spend a lot of money on an instrument which is not already worth quite a bit more than you're putting into it.

  9. #8
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    This site has a discussion on cleaning and adjusting tuners, worth trying before you replace the tuners.

    http://www.lutherie.net/tuner.maintenance.html

    Set up is really important for mandolins, search this site for info on Rob Meldrum's valuable yet free set-up guide. That well help you get the most out of this mandolin, without spending a lot. It's certainly a fun thing to have, particularly if it's been in the family.
    -Dave
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

  10. #9
    Registered User mandolinstew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    I have a Kay like that and I like it.Not as great as my Flatiron or Kentucky,but sounds and plays good for a $80 Mandolin.New tuners and fitted a new bridge I’m keeping it.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Hello Mandolin Café Forum,

    Thanks to
    Dave Sheets
    Marty Jacobson
    RCC56
    and most especially Mike Edgerton for the excellent information.

    Knowledge is power. The expertise and familiarity shared will
    certainly prevent me from making a poor decision.

    Was leaning toward upgrading the faux Kay Mand-8. Although
    the Mand-8 reminds me of my uncle it would be a fools errand to
    invest in an upgrade. I will keep the instrument, hang it on the wall,
    because it is an object of some beauty, because it is a family
    heirloom and because I have
    spent many hours of my newb phase of mandolin playing it.

    But the Mand-8 will not be the object of ownership of an
    instrument that is warranted by hundreds of hours spent
    playing and practicing over the last year and hundreds more,
    hopefully in the future.

    So the question now becomes the next step.
    (Perhaps the etiquette of the forum dictates
    that a new question requires a new post. If so
    indicated will move this query to a new thread.)

    The predilection is to a used instrument
    because it is believed from experience buying
    and selling dozens six string acoustic and electric guitars
    over fifty years that one can maximize the
    utility and beauty of an instrument acquisition by avoiding
    retail dealers The problem with the preowned approach is
    one has to know what to look for. Luckily I have a mentor,
    Gerald Jones who can guide me.

    (Once bought a used Takimini Jasmine for $200. Saw
    a brand new one online two weeks later for $99.)


    My budget is approx. $1000

    So could choose one of many preowned in the
    $500 to $900 range:

    Mandolin Cafe Classifieds
    1949 Levin Model 41 $895
    Kentucky KM $499
    Eastman MD 305 $479
    Eastman MD 505 $699

    or

    shop at the $2-3k level
    and hope to find some who needs to
    sell and try to get them down
    to, say $1500.

    What is a good strategy?

    Allen in Dallas

  12. #11
    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    For $1,500 I think you could buy a Silverangel Econo A or a Ratliff Country Boy and be happy for a long time. If it fits your budget, getting into this price range will probably make a big difference.

  13. #12
    My Florida is scooped pheffernan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kay Mandolin A style F holes Mand-8

    Quote Originally Posted by AllenPitts View Post
    My budget is approx. $1000

    So could choose one of many preowned in the
    $500 to $900 range:

    Mandolin Cafe Classifieds
    1949 Levin Model 41 $895
    Kentucky KM $499
    Eastman MD 305 $479
    Eastman MD 505 $699

    or

    shop at the $2-3k level
    and hope to find some who needs to
    sell and try to get them down
    to, say $1500.

    What is a good strategy?

    Allen in Dallas
    You could get a lifetime flattop mandolin for less than your $1000 budget and a lifetime archtop if you could stretch to that $1500 number.
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2005 National RM-1
    2007 Hester A5
    2009 Passernig A5
    2015 Black A2-z
    2010 Black GBOM
    2017 Poe Scout
    2011 Passernig F5

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