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Thread: Played a couple Kuun mandolins, some impressions

  1. #1
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Played a couple Kuun mandolins, some impressions

    So yesterday I had the privilege of meeting Murray Kuun, and playing some of his instruments.
    I went specifically to make demo videos of the two mandolins he has in stock, which we did, but I'll let him share video if he wants otherwise search his name and mandolin on YouTube to see them.

    The first thing I played was an arch top guitar named Misty that was built for jazz, but I don't play jazz, so I played some fingerstyle and some blues on it, which suited it quite well.
    Then I played the mandolins, one was a Broadway with a leg cutaway, which I didn't like at first, but after playing for a couple minutes I preferred it. The other was a similar design but with no leg cutaway, and it had been completed the same day, and had just been strung up and not played at all.
    So neither mandolin had been played much at all, and they both improved noticeably as I played them, so I now do believe in "opening up" at least to an extent, but that's not what this is about so don't yell about it.

    The cutaway one was made with a spruce top and Kiaat back and sides, and the other one was Port Orford Cedar and Walnut back and sides (I love Walnut)
    They were about an inch thick, so much thinner than my Kentucky, and guitar-ish shaped.

    So they were not loud, especially at first, but they both were set up very well, extremely easy to play.
    The tone of the cutaway was quite bright, but simultaneously leaned toward the bass, which seems a bit contradictory, but that's how it was. I think the reason was because the bass side of the top was much bigger because of the cutaway, and also it only had soundholes on the bass side. It was bright, as I said, but also bassy, and sounded really good playing in Dm.

    The non cutaway had a similar tone, but was darker tonally, and had more balance from bass to treble (after breaking in for a little, at the start it was quieter on the treble strings). It sounded great playing most things, but not super hard attack.

    They both had a tone that would be perfect for jazz, classical, or old time, they were quite clear, and had good sustain. Neither one was a bluegrass mandolin, and chopping was not productive, so don't expect it to be a canon.

    The necks were quite thick, with an average nut width, but surprisingly I found them very comfortable. I usually prefer thinner necks, and I wish my Kentucky had a thinner neck, but these two were amazingly comfortable and fit my hand very well. Murray builds many classical guitars, and the necks seemed quite similar to a classical neck.

    I also got to play a four string electric, I think the design is called opus, and that was really cool! It hadn't been set up, but it was easy to play anyway cuz the strings were single and not heavy. I've wanted to play an electric mandolin for a while, and I really enjoyed playing it.
    I ran it into the guitar amp he had, and it sounded quite good, only the E string was not as loud as the others, which I understand is common on electrics. Overall it was great, and I played some bluegrass tunes on it (yeah sacrilege I know) which sounded really good.

    Also while I was there I asked if he had any playable fiddles, since there was one sitting on a coffee table, but not playable, so his wife went and checked and found one in a closet somewhere that was a really cool looking very modern design (he calls it F1 because it looks like a formula car from above). It had no shoulder rest, which I'm used to, and no chin rest, which surprisingly didn't take long to get used to. It was quite loud and very powerful, especially on the low strings, but also well balanced. Despite the G string rattling open (it wasn't set up) it was a joy to play, with very low action and a huge sound, I enjoyed it immensely. It was built about 15 years ago and didn't sell, so it's been sitting. I asked him the price and the price he said almost made me cry it was so low.... I'll just say that if I had had $500 laying around I'd have a new (old) fiddle.... he normally sells new ones for around $4500.

    All in, I had a great visit, Murray is a very nice guy, and a great luthier and artist, as all his instruments are amazing works of art that play and sound great.
    And I wasn't paid to write this, and I have no financial interest, just wanted to tell y'all how much I enjoyed playing his instruments.

    -Gunnar
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/
    Free backing tracks:
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  2. #2
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Played a couple Kuun mandolins, some impressions

    Here's one of the videos I had my brother film on my phone while there. Because the strings were so new I couldn't keep them in tune, so the E course is a bit off, but in the words of Mr. Skaggs' father, "it just sounds like there's more of us"

    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/
    Free backing tracks:
    https://backingtrackers.wordpress.com/

  3. #3
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
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    Posts
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    Default Re: Played a couple Kuun mandolins, some impressions

    Here's another video

    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/
    Free backing tracks:
    https://backingtrackers.wordpress.com/

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