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Thread: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

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    Default Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    I am getting a Mandolin for my wife and we are in Canada. I have searched and done some research as I am a guitar player. She is using a cheap Epiphone now. Playing mostly Doc Watson type music. All of these Mandolins are available at close to the same price. The Loars both have pickups which I doubt she would want but they are the ones I can find in the same price point. The Loar 520E is the lowest price but the difference is only about $50. I can't play them before I buy as we are in a remote area and these four Mandolins would all have to be shipped from different places across Canada. Any thoughts, input and opinions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Registered User Craig the Mad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    First, you have my sympathy... I'd hate to be in a position where I had to mail-order an acoustic instrument and couldn't try it out first. There are always little differences between one instrument and another even if they are the same model.

    I have a Kentucky KM-630. It's not a bad mandolin at all. Tone seems a bit thin and boxy but it's quite playable and sounds decent.

    I recently played a Loar, an LM-600, I think. I thought it sounded nice, better than my KM-630, but, as has often been said about modern "The Loar" instruments, the finish job was very noticeably rough in the parts that are harder to get it (inside the curls, especially). I don't know why they can't get that right but it would bug me to own an instrument like that.

    I've played an Eastman 315 in a shop. It was okay but didn't really impress me much.

    If finish quality is a secondary (at best) consideration for you, then I'd probably go for the Loar LM-590. Otherwise the Kentucky.

    Btw, I believe the KM-630 is no longer in production; the KM-650 is the current model, last I heard.
    1923 Gibson A-Jr
    2011 Kentucky KM-630

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    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    Are these mandolins that you are looking at new or used?

    Rob
    Eastman MD505CC/N

  5. #4

    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    They are all new and are supposed to be available. I read that the Kentucky 630 was made at a different factory that the 650 and might be better. However I might find that the online seller has no stock and can't get them if they are no longer being made.

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    Registered User Craig the Mad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    There could very well be new KM-630's in stores that just haven't been sold yet, but the company's web site no longer lists it.

    https://www.sagamusic.com/products/s...brand=kentucky
    1923 Gibson A-Jr
    2011 Kentucky KM-630

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    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    Another alternative : Watch for used mandolins posted in the Cafe classifieds in your price range. Purchase with a 48 hour buisness day trial period. If you don't like it simply return it. You are then only out the cost of two way shipping which will likely be your responsability under the terms of a trial period. Understandably the costs will be a little more for you if shipping across the US / Canada border, but not terrible. I have not found shipping costs crazy high when purchasing from Quebec.
    I have purchsed a total of 7 mandolins this way with no regrets. I think the vast majority of sellers do their best to accurately describe the condition of their sale. Pay little attention to their marketing terms like "hoss", "banjo killer", e.t.c. as these are just marketing terms designed to get your attention.
    Even at the risk of paying two way shipping you will get much more mandolin for your money by buying used and especially so if you go for the clean style of an A model rather than the scrolls. Remember, people ususally sell because they have moved up the cost investment in their instruments and not because they are selling a bad instrument.
    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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    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    So, I think that if you are buying new then I would get the Eastman 315. I actually would advise you to look at the MD305 (unless you are attached to getting a scroll) as you get more mando for your money with an 'A'. I would also stress to get one that is set up properly as that is huge. I would recommend one of our cafe sponsors here and specifically The Mandolin Store (Dennis and Brian). You'll get great advice, a great price and a mando that is ready to go right out of the box. They actually have a Loar on clearance on their website.

    Best of luck,

    Rob
    Eastman MD505CC/N

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  10. #8

    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    I would second the does she need or really want an F5. You can get a more for your money with an A style mandolin. It is a little tricky since she can not play them. My personal vote would be for an Eastman or Kentucky (630 would not be at the top of the list) for a few reasons, I have more experience with them, they seem to have separated themselves at from the competition at that price point and the more recent builds seem to be better and more constant than years past. Other thinks to consider is nut width, neck shape, flat or radius fretboard and fret size. If your wife has smaller hands as most women do I think the 1 3/32" nut, medium frets and a radius fretboard would be comfortable and a safe bet. Some Kentucky mandolins have flat fretboards and I have no experience with the Loar's but it seems they may have a chunkier neck (you might want to check)? Good luck in the search.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Loar 520E, Kentucky 630, Loar 590E or Eastman 315

    the Eastman 305 is a much better mandolin than the Loar 600, I have both. also Kentucky mandolins are very nice. have you talked to anyone from the mandolin store about shipping to Canada ?.

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