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Thread: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

  1. #1

    Question Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    Hello! I've been perusing this forum now for a little while and need some extra decisive help in figuring out what to buy as my first mandolin. I live in a rural, remote town in Utah and will have to have whatever it is shipped to me, so buying on-line is really my option. It looks like people are recommending the ones listed in the thread title. I've been convinced I need to be in the $400-$500 range to get something that will keep me playing and not giving up because the sound is bad, but what should I get?

    Should I look for used of these models? New? Or something else? Is it way too risky as a beginner to get a used instrument shipped to me off eBay or something like that? (The nearest luthier is 2hrs away and charges $180 / hr for setup, just FYI.) There are Kentucky KM-150 on Amazon (of all places) - good buy? It looks like Ibanez and The Loar have some much cheaper models but I don't see anything definitive on here regarding quality or value for those.

    I'm so excited to start - I played a few instruments looking for sound preferences in a store in Seattle but they didn't have anything in my price range. I know I like f-holes, I'm fine with A-style, and I don't like the flat top sound, but that's all I've got for preference or knowledge!

    Thank you in advance for any help and guidance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    Playability is the key here, if it's not set up correctly or has structural issues it will impede your progress. I was in the same situation a few months ago and decided I just didn't know enough about mandolins to make an educated decision about buying a used one so I bought new. I think your two choices are the go to mandos for beginners in that price range. I would buy from one of our sponsors who will ensure that it is setup properly. Good luck!

    Rob
    Eastman MD505CC/N

  3. #3
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    Km150's are hard to beat....

    Eastman are awesome. Either would be a good choice.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

    Kentucky KM-150
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    As you don't have any good stores or repair people close by, I would recommend calling one of the dealers that advertises on the forum and buying through them. As The Mandolin Store states they set up the instrument before selling, would give them a call or email first. Plus, they will probably be able to advise you on which instrument to buy.

    Good luck.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 2018 Eastman MDO-305
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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    Either one will be a good choice, just buy from a cafe sponsor, or another store that does free professional setups before shipping (I ordered from banjobenclark.com/store/)
    You can see which way I went by my signature...
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    Another buy from a cafe sponsor answer. Either will do as you don’t have a frame of reference yet. Kentucky has a flat fingerboard, Eastman a radiused one. I believe TMS offers a hard case with the 305 which might be a plus for you. Some dealers don’t carry Kentucky anymore because of their willingness to sell Amazon. But getting a deal then paying a luthiers a hundred bucks gains you nothing.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    We had the same conundrum about 16 months ago when one of my sons wanted a decent starter mandolin.

    Tried a KM150 - it was OK, but the strings were old and the set up was non-existent. Drove to another store and tried an Eastman 305. No contest. We bought the Eastman.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by moablily View Post
    I've been convinced I need to be in the $400-$500 range to get something that will keep me playing and not giving up because the sound is bad, but what should I get?
    You can do well in that price range.

    Should I look for used of these models? New? Or something else? Is it way too risky as a beginner to get a used instrument shipped to me off eBay or something like that? (The nearest luthier is 2hrs away and charges $180 / hr for setup, just FYI.) There are Kentucky KM-150 on Amazon (of all places) - good buy? It looks like Ibanez and The Loar have some much cheaper models but I don't see anything definitive on here regarding quality or value for those.
    !
    Have you checked out the classifieds? One of the safest (a.k.a. least risky) classifieds around.

    I would not confuse the buzz with quality. What everyone is talking about is what everyone is talking about, not necessarily what everyone is buying, or playing, and not necessarily a way to narrow your search. (One might reasonably conclude that those who are extremely happy with their mandolin purchases are too busy having fun playing it to hang out here talking about it. Just sayin...)
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    I bought the used Eastman 305 from guitar center. You can always send it back. The one thing I can usually can count on is that if bought at GC, the former owner likely had it set up good vs a huge mail order place. I bought the $295 Loar LM 310 and the Eastman blows it away. There is a used Eastman 315 at GC now. A little over your range, but they sound and play great. All the best!
    Last edited by nlopez; Dec-31-2019 at 4:42pm.

  10. #10
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    I was making the same decision when I was starting out because of my very limited budget. Either one of those 2 instruments will be a good starter. The differences that I could pick out are:
    Eastman has a radiused fretboard, Kentucky KM150 has a flat fret board (though I have a feeling this may have changed recently, someone can correct me).
    Eastman 300 series have a satin finish, Kentucky has a gloss finish. Either on you can get with a sunburst or not (KM150 vs KM156).
    There is a tonal difference; folks say the Eastman has a "sweeter" or "more contemporary" sound, while Kentucky has a more classic Gibson-esque sound.

    All of these things are personal preference. I ended up buying an Eastman and loved it and played it several years until I upgraded a little over a year ago.

    Good luck!
    aka: Spencer
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    I started with a the Loar LM 220 that I bought used, I felt that it was a good instrument. I am going to agree with the posters above to buy from a Café sponsor that will set up the instrument before shipping. I have purchased two instruments from the Mandolin Store (NFI) and their set up was excellent.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    Thanks for all the advice! I ended up finding a screaming deal on a Kentucky KM-150 at a store a few hours away. Lo and behold, an acquaintance in town I had just met a week prior was in that town and stopped off at the very same store just to check on mandolin prices for me and he got in touch and offered to pick it up for me! I called a cafe sponsor for advice and when I told him the price, even though it's not setup, he said "oh, well, as much as I would love to sell you a mandolin, get that one! that's a great deal!" so I've got it! Now I need to find someone to set it up for me, but I should still come out ahead by a few hundred bucks even after that. I'm so excited to get started! And thank you so much for all the help and advice. I'll be lurking here for a while now gleaning resources to learn without a teacher in town...

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  14. #13
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    That's awesome! With a good set up that should be a mandolin that'll last you a long way into learning.
    Go check out mandolessons.com for a whole heap of free lessons
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
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  15. #14

    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    congratulations!!!!! Enjoy!

  16. #15

    Default Re: Beginner! Eastman 305 vs Kentucky KM-150 vs...??

    Check out Rob Meldrum's e-book (available on this site) about setup also. A very good resource.

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