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Thread: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

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    Registered User withfoam's Avatar
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    Default Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Iíve been playing for a bit now and Iíve been really enjoying my Kentucky KM-1050. Iím just curious what Iíd go up to after that? Iíd be looking for an American made (or does that really even matter anymore?) F-style, between 5k and 7k.

    Would one really notice the difference going up?
    Interested in others takes.

    So far it seems like a used Gibson would be the goal. But Northfield seems to have a good reputation, though theyíre made in two locations. Is there something Iím missing out on?

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Lots of good choices in that range. I would add Girouard and Pava to your list of makers to consider.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Quote Originally Posted by withfoam View Post
    Would one really notice the difference going up?
    For sure, you'll notice big differences from one instrument to another in your price range. IMO, you really need to answer your own question by getting out and comparing them in your hands so you can judge the differences for yourself.
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    Registered User withfoam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Thanks! Should I care about American made vs Pacific Rim?
    Any other brands/makers I should be aware of, or conversely, avoid?

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    A used F-5 from Gary Vessel, that was in your area, hit the classifieds less then an hour ago and is already gone!
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Also consider Stiver and Rattlesnake, and Bluett Brothers for small shop US builders. Fwiw, no new Rattlesnakes are in production.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Jerman custom 5 string electric, Eastman MD-515 & El Rey, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Quote Originally Posted by withfoam View Post
    Thanks! Should I care about American made vs Pacific Rim?
    Any other brands/makers I should be aware of, or conversely, avoid?
    I donít think the where is as important as by who. A custom-made-by-one-man mandolin has a better chance to be a great instrument than one built in a shop or factory. I think. I donít care about the curlicues, so recently ordered an A5 by builder Mike Black, for much less than your budget and I am pretty impressed to say the least. I was a little worried that it wouldnít sound much better than my Kentucky KM900, lol. For that budget you can get a lot.

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    Registered User withfoam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Thanks for the input! Iím not ready yet, but am more interested in where to set my sights next. Hoping that it could also be my ďoneĒ for the rest of ever.

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    At this point you should be deciding what kind of tone you want. That'll help narrow down your choices re: builders.

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    A Collings mandolin is also in your price range. If you like the oval hole sound, so are the old Gibson F-4's.

    If you can scare up another $1500, a new Newson just arrived at Gruhn's. $8500. For a high grade modern F-5, I consider them to be a best buy. I've played about a half dozen of these instruments, and consider them to be on a par with those of the better known hand builders whose instruments sell for 12k to 20k.

    Although some of the Asian instruments are quite good, the best instruments still seem to be coming from North America and Australia.

    Be careful about Gibson mandolins. Although I have heard that their current instruments are good, they have made an awful lot of dogs over the years. If you order one, make sure the seller has a 48 hour return policy.

    If conditions were better, I would suggest a trip to Nashville. We're covered up in mandolins in this part of the country. But you can take a ride over to Gryphon in Palo Alto. They have Collings and Northfield instruments in stock.
    Last edited by rcc56; Sep-27-2020 at 7:11pm.

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles E. View Post
    Lots of good choices in that range. I would add Girouard and Pava to your list of makers to consider.
    I agree with a Girouard !!! Fantastic build and sound at reasonable price !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    If you're willing to go used watch the classifieds and start learning what things go for. $7k will buy you a lot of used mandolin. Also, decide on the tone you're after. Do you want that traditional mid range cutting power or do you want the more modern, open, bass heavy tone. It's all about personal preference. I'd also be remiss if I didn't encourage you to look at an A5. $7k can get you a world class A5. But they go fast. A beautiful Heiden A5 went in a matter of hours for $7,500. A used Ellis A5 can be had for under $5k. If you like traditional tone a Red Diamond A5 is certainly a lifetime instrument. If an F5 is a must there are plenty of independent luthiers whose used instruments are in that range. Gibson, Collings, a Kimble F5 in the $7-8k range used if you're lucky, Duff, and many more. The hunt is half the fun!

    As for Northfield.....this is not a popular opinion but it comes from 20 years of owning and playing some of the best mandolins made today. You can get a lot more for your money. They are decent instruments but no way I'm paying $7k for one. I've played them, I bought an F5 and returned it. The tone and player experience just isn't there for me on their carved top instruments. Their flattops are a different story. One of my next purchases may very well be their flattop octave. But I have to pass on their F5s. Enjoy the journey....

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Thanks a ton! Great info. It helps to know more about Gibsons not necessarily being all winners. Will ultimately need to make sure I have a window to try or the ability to do it in person.

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Quote Originally Posted by sgarrity View Post
    As for Northfield.....this is not a popular opinion but it comes from 20 years of owning and playing some of the best mandolins made today. You can get a lot more for your money. They are decent instruments but no way I'm paying $7k for one. I've played them, I bought an F5 and returned it. The tone and player experience just isn't there for me on their carved top instruments. Their flattops are a different story. One of my next purchases may very well be their flattop octave. But I have to pass on their F5s. Enjoy the journey....
    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the honest opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yankees1 View Post
    I agree with a Girouard !!! Fantastic build and sound at reasonable price !
    Added to my list. Thanks!

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Agree with the suggestion to hop over to Gryphon and play a bunch. Only you know what tone you're after.

    Also agree that an instrument from Will Kimble should be included in the running.

    Respectfully disagree on the above opinion regarding Northfields. An F5S is about half the price range you are looking at, and may well be everything you want in a mandolin. I love the tone and workmanship of my F5S, and every bit as much as my Kimble A.
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Just aping what I'd do. . .

    Used Heiden a-model. Used Gibson Sam Bush. Another Stiver (I'd want a wide nut; however). New baked MT2V.

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Skip Kelley and Steve Sorensen are two builders I’d check out. I have a Kelley A5 that’s a spectacular instrument. Mandomutt sells them on consignment and often has links to videos of Skip playing them (he’s an awesome player as well). He’s not as well known as some of the builders mentioned above, but his mandolins compare favorably. (At least with Duff, Collings, Kimble, Pava, Gibson, and Northfield, which I’ve all played since owning this mando...the fact that I still have it despite lusting after a scroll says a lot). Yes, you should notice a significant improvement with a mandolin in this price range. If you can play some and don’t notice that difference, save yourself some cash and keep playing the Kentucky.

    Mr. Sorensen’s designs are less traditional, but I love his tone, and I think he’s a SoCal builder with whom you maybe able to connect if geography is favorable.

    Good luck in your search! Lots of options in this range, and my only real advice would be not to settle. Hold out until you get what you really want...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Besides tone, materials, & builder experience, there are differences in the FEEL of the instrument, mostly meaning neck width, depth, contour, fretboard radius, etc. These are critical to some, less so to others. Do you have preferences? It's okay if you don't; some are adaptable to many shapes, others not so much. If it were me, I'd play as many as I could until I stumbled across THE shape that I'd want to live with forever (haven't yet!). Some luthiers may want to build their own particular shape, but many will build to your requirements.

    On the used side, assuming you're adaptable enough, don't fall into the trap of converting "preferences" into "requirements" at the risk of missing out. After all, your lifetime instrument probably isn't someone else's; thus they sell and you benefit.

    Mandolins are like gloves; what fits someone else's hand may not be right for yours!
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    Registered User withfoam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    If you can play some and donít notice that difference, save yourself some cash and keep playing the Kentucky.
    Thanks so much for all the advice. This part of it really hit me. It's true that if I can't really tell off the bat, there's no point in moving on. (though I'm sure that won't happen, lol)

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Lol, in re-reading that, it sounds harsh, which wasnít my intention! But, I stand behind it, as Iíve been there. My main mandolin prior to the Kelley was a Silverangel Econo model from 2009. After a trip to Nashville and a lot of time at Carterís and Gruhnís, during which I played a Loar, a Brentrup, a couple Gilchrists, a Giacomel (to my surprise, my favorite of the bunch), some Gibsons, Collings, and pretty much everything else I could get my hands on, I left very impressed with my SA, and I still say itís a tremendous mando for the 1500 dollar price range, as I had to get into the $4000 + range to find one I felt was truly better on that trip and others. And, at the time, my ear wasnít as developed, nor had I played enough to know what my spec preferences really are.

    I planned on keeping the SA, but found myself always picking up the Kelly, so the SA and another instrument turned themselves into a Weber octave from TMS. The SA sold within less than 24 hours on their site, and I hope the new owner is playing the snot out of it!

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Quote Originally Posted by withfoam View Post
    Iíve been playing for a bit now and Iíve been really enjoying my Kentucky KM-1050. Iím just curious what Iíd go up to after that??
    My idea is that you should go to the best mandolin that you can appreciate and afford. The best. What is the one you could not conceive of upgrading from. Get it if you can.

    Three reasons:

    - deserving a certain quality based on your ability or experience is nonsense. I recommend you get a mandolin you could never deserve, and grow into it, always knowing it is not the mandolin that needs to be better, it is you. Spend as much as you can justify. Justified not on the basis of your capabilities, but justified on the basis of not having to miss a mortgage payment and only a few meals. Go for it. Life is short.
    - Time. It is really good to have a mandolin that you have spent a lot of time with. My second mandolin is still better than I am, and though we are old friends, there is still a bunch of secrets it has for me. Get familiar with the idiosyncrasies of a great mandolin and play yourself into its heart. If you want to have done something for many years, do the math, now is the time to do start.
    - You will notice the difference. (If not, chose an even better one.) Excellent tone at every fret, every volume level. Plays like a dream every time. That kind of stuff.

    Take your time, but chose a forever mandolin. It won't be your last, you know that, but buy it as if it were.
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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Quote Originally Posted by CES View Post
    Lol, in re-reading that, it sounds harsh, which wasn’t my intention! But, I stand behind it, as I’ve been there.
    I didn't take it harshly, I totally get what you're saying. It was good advice.

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    Thanks for the advice, JeffD. I definitely feel bad sometimes getting instruments that are beyond my abilities, but you are right, it's something where I know the "getting better" side of things is me from then on.

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    I don't see Weber being discussed in this convo, where I thought I would.any opinions?

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    Default Re: Whatís after a Kentucky KM-1050?

    I have worked on or inspected three of the older Weber mandolins. One, which was one of the plainer models, I didn't care for. The other two, which were upper level models, were quite good. I have not played any Webers made after the company changed hands.

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