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Thread: The Kentucky

  1. #1

    Default The Kentucky

    Just curious as to who on here plays a Kentucky mandolin and which one? Description and pics would be nice.

  2. #2
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I have a KM-950 which has become my main instrument after selling my Collings and await my new mandolin on order. I like it alot. Bought it used from the Cafe classifieds in as new condition and with upgrades. It had a James tailpiece, Cumberland Acoustic bridge, and black tuner knobs added. It plays very well up and down the neck with plenty of volume and balanced tone across the strings. The 950 is an A style which I have a preference for never having warmed to the looks of an F style. Many Kentucky models do not have a radius fret board, however, the 950 does. A flat fret board is a deal breaker for me. It came with the original Superior hard case. Lots of pictures available online.
    Best $850.00 I ever spent!
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Spare canoe paddle)
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)

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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I have a KM-956, which is the same instrument as the 950 but with a different color; a deep reddish brown. I bought this A model so I could get a bluegrass instrument without paying an additional $1,000 for the KM-1050 F model. The ebony pickguard was added by luthier, Steve Hartz.Click image for larger version. 

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Never owned one but have played a couple. They can be nice mandolins.

    A KM-950 in the classifieds at the moment...

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/147203#147203

    NFI
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Everything you could possibly want to know about my KM-272 in this old thread . . . .

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...+km-272+review

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    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Hall View Post
    I have a KM-956, which is the same instrument as the 950 but with a different color; a deep reddish brown. I bought this A model so I could get a bluegrass instrument without paying an additional $1,000 for the KM-1050 F model. The ebony pickguard was added by luthier, Steve Hartz.Click image for larger version. 

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    In my humble opinion, between the KM-950 and the KM-1050 you got the better looking of the two. With no difference in tone (except for individual mandolin differences) and the same appointments. Came out $1,000 ahead to boot.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Spare canoe paddle)
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)

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  8. #7
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    To the Op, are you looking at low end or high end Kentuckys?
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Registered User Kevin Briggs's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I had a 950 a few years ago and thought it was great, especially for the price.

    My plan was to sell a much more expensive instrument I had, pocket a bunch of cash, and then be happy with the 950. In the end, it wasnít the right plan, but I did really like that mandolin. Great value!

  10. #9
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Hall View Post
    I have a KM-956, which is the same instrument as the 950 but with a different color; a deep reddish brown. I bought this A model so I could get a bluegrass instrument without paying an additional $1,000 for the KM-1050 F model. The ebony pickguard was added by luthier, Steve Hartz.Click image for larger version. 

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    Steve Hartz the old time historian and fiddler? I got a book and an album by him.

    I have a KM150 which is quite good. I took the pickguard off which benefited the sound and now I'm taking bets on how long it'll take to wear through the finish with my pinky. My bet is it'll never happen, despite the numerous playing hours it gets
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

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    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I have a KM 150 that is absolutely a great mando as well as a Rover RM75 which is, in theory, basvially a KM 630. Love 'em both.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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  13. #11
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    To the Op, are you looking at low end or high end Kentuckys?
    I have found the Master Series Kentuckys to be a cut above the lesser Kentuckys and Eastmans I have owned. Though, I was really enanmored with my Collings MT I recently sold to fund a new build, my KM-950 comes close and in some respects exceeds my former MT.
    Hard to beat the value of a prior owned Master Series Kentucky A Style. The additional cost of an F Style Master Series Kentucky would instead have me looking at other A Style mandos from the many quality, smaller, US builders.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Spare canoe paddle)
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)

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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Steve Hartz the old time historian and fiddler? I got a book and an album by him.

    I have a KM150 which is quite good. I took the pickguard off which benefited the sound and now I'm taking bets on how long it'll take to wear through the finish with my pinky. My bet is it'll never happen, despite the numerous playing hours it gets
    The same Steve Hartz. In a few short hours I'll be making music with him. I think the KM150 sounds good and the one I've seen has a really nice dark sunburst finish.

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    Gunnar 

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    Registered User Tenzin's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I bought a 'shop worn' (I couldn't see a single mark on it) that I was told would need a new saddle 'eventually' (it was tilted ever so slightly), so it was priced reasonably deducting for a simple saddle & set up. I reached out to Bruce Weber at Montana Lutheire about 6 months ago and he made one heck of a saddle and bridge. (To me putting on an inexpensive saddle & bridge would be like buying a solid front door and using wooden pegs for the hinges and locks.) The frets needed a good leveling and of course a setup, I broke my wrist and never really regained the strength and dexterity to do certain things.

    All totaled I think it came to under $500 but it has a beautiful sustain and bark. I have no regrets.

    Kentucky mandolins can vary pretty widely in price so take that into consideration.
    ó
    And once the storm is over, you wonít remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You wonít even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you wonít be the same person who walked in. Thatís what this stormís all about.

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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by Torpedotom View Post
    Just curious as to who on here plays a Kentucky mandolin and which one? Description and pics would be nice.
    I have a KM-250 that I bought from the classifieds here at the Cafe. Very impressed with the sound and quality at that price point. I do find the finish a bit cheap looking but that is my only complaint.

  19. #15

    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    I have a KM-250 that I bought from the classifieds here at the Cafe. Very impressed with the sound and quality at that price point. I do find the finish a bit cheap looking but that is my only complaint.
    I agree with this assessment on the finish. I'm wondering if the higher up you go on Kentuckys, does the finish improve? What's the finish like on the 650 and above?

  20. #16

    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I have a KM-150 that my wife bought me as a birthday present 10 years (?) ago. Still have it; still use it as travel/beater. Great little mandolin.

    Also have an older (1980s) Japanese built KM-1500. Excellent mandolin IMO.

    Saw this KM-850 (also 1980s from Japan) advertised for sale by a little music shop in Chicago. Don't see them too often so I took a chance. Nice mandolin. Beefier neck than the 1500 and heavier than the other two but still nice tone and volume. (pics of the 850 below)

    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

  21. #17
    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    The finish on my KM956 is very thin. I'm sure this helps the tone and volume. The very thin finish is one of the reasons I had a custom pick guard made for it.

  22. #18

    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I have a Kentucky KM-270, and I guess Iím in the minority here in that I donít love it. I would say it sounds okay, but not great, and Iíd say the same about the build quality. Itís got sloppy finish work all around the neck joint and a shoddy-looking headstock logo and faux ďinlayĒ. A little bolt holding the pick guard assembly together regularly falls off, and the end pin keeps falling out. Overall it just has a cheap feel to it.

    I did have it set up, and it plays comfortably. It sounds okay, especially on the high strings, but itís rather thin and one-dimensional compared to other mandos Iíve played recently, including an Eastman 605 and a Collings MT-2. I realize thatís not really a fair comparison, but the bottom line is that the KM-270 just doesnít inspire me, and Iím looking forward to replacing it with a new mando Iím expecting next week.

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  24. #19
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I have a Kentucky KM-805 I got in trade for a guitar that while I liked the sound, it was just uncomfortable to play. It is my only F-style mandolin, so it has gotten to stay for 2 years. It is not of the caliber of my Pava, Collings, or Weber, but it is usually the mandolin I play out of the house because I don't obsess as much about it being damaged as I do the others (although it has no dings yet.) It's okay, and probably unfair to compare it to my other mandolins because the price point is MUCH different. It is a good value for what the trade price was.

  25. #20

    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I bought a KM180-B over 30 years ago. I think it sounds better now than long ago, might sound even better if the black lacquer finish was a little thinner. (Thought about this as a project several times). I have some higher end mandos that sound better, but for some reason, this one is the easiest to play compared to any other instrument I have ever tried. Gave it a new nut and file-smoothed the ends of the frets long ago. (I think nearly every mando less than about $800 can benefit by this).

  26. #21
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    My first mandolin was a KM 675-S built the first year Saga moved production to China. They were still working out some kinks, and it had some issues, though all were admittedly not Saga’s fault (it was an eBay purchase and wasn’t kept in a climate controlled environment, apparently). With about as much money in luthier work as I spent on the thing I got it playable and it served me well for several years. It had a pretty thick finish, was loud, and had decent starter mandolin tone, but after I got my Silverangel it really didn’t get any play except in beater type situations, which only reinforced how much more I liked the SA. I eventually gave it to a friend’s kid, set up with crazy low action and EJ 62s, to wail on as recklessly as he likes.

    That said, Kentucky has really upped their game since then, and I think their KM 150 and their master series instruments represent some of the best values available presently. While I would still choose my SA over the 900 and 1000 series mandolins (especially for what I payed for it used in 2011), there are some real gems to be had in those lines.
    Chuck

  27. #22

    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Me, I have four of those rascals. I have a KM150 like everyone else which since it has opened up is a great mandolin with a great sound. Next is a KM171, which is out of production now. It is a black face oval that I have a set of heavy strings on and it is a killer. Then I have a KM272 which was all the rage a few years back. It really chops well for an oval, but it hasn't opened up quite yet. I haven't played it nearly as much as the KM150 and 171. Now for the real gem. I have a KM855 Bella Voce, not many of these around, the F model with all the neck inlay. It is a dandy and a little canon to boot. I've thought about selling all of my A's and buying an F5 Gibson, but I just hate to part with them as they all sound good to me and I've had them for quite some time.

  28. #23
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittsburgh Bill View Post
    I have found the Master Series Kentuckys to be a cut above the lesser Kentuckys and Eastmans I have owned. Though, I was really enanmored with my Collings MT I recently sold to fund a new build, my KM-950 comes close and in some respects exceeds my former MT.
    Hard to beat the value of a prior owned Master Series Kentucky A Style. The additional cost of an F Style Master Series Kentucky would instead have me looking at other A Style mandos from the many quality, smaller, US builders.
    Can you elaborate on the comparison between the km-950 and the MT?
    -2012 Collings MT, Honey Amber Gloss with Tone Gard
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  29. #24
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    Default Re: The Kentucky

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    Can you elaborate on the comparison between the km-950 and the MT?
    Never sure how to describe tone, but I will give it a shot. The MT had very sweet sounding highs and the lows were dark but not necessiarily clear. The 950 lows are not as dark but clear and the highs are not as sweet. I'm a light picker and had to dig in harder on the MT to get volume.
    Hope that helps. I find tone to be very subjective and have had some people tell me they like the 950 better and others say they miss my Collings. So there you have it, for what it's worth.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
    Stiver A style (eagerly awaiting spring 2020 arrival)
    Weber Gallatin A Mandola "D hole"
    Kentucky KM-950
    Harley Benton A style (Spare canoe paddle)
    Rogue 100A (current campfire tool)

  30. #25

    Default Re: The Kentucky

    I don't know if there's a price under which you'd be a fool to walk away from a KM150, but I just impulse bought one for $150...

    Click image for larger version. 

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