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Thread: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

  1. #1
    Dan Sampson mando_dan's Avatar
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    Default Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    After putting MAS to sleep for a long while I read this review of the Kentucky 272 written by MC member MikeZito back in 2017. If you're not familiar with this model it's an amber colored oval hole A-model that retails for ~$550. That review and other including a YouTube clip with Jimmy Gaudreau lauding this model gave me the confidence that the Kentucky would a pretty good instrument for the price. Gave Elderly a call and a few days later a package arrived on my doorstep.

    Unboxing is always scary - things can get broken in transit and, ugh, the mandolin may be not what you were expecting (in a bad way). Cutting to the chase, it's a great great instrument *perfectly* reviewed in the above link. In summary, it looks great, the Elderly setup was perfect, it has a super chunky neck that takes a minute or two to get used to after which it feels comfy, it plays easily up and down the neck, never goes out of tune, and the sound, well, it's really good. While it's not going to beat the really high end instruments, the sound is more than enough to simply enjoy. I'm in love. Really in love with this wonderful inexpensive oval hole.

    What's the problem? I like it too much. After a couple of weeks of playing, my wife asked me why I hadn't touched Bucky, my Buckeye (Pete Hart) f-hole 'grass monster. I explained that I'd never owned an oval hole and was just having a blast with my shiny new instrument. The next day I grabbed Bucky...

    The Buckeye is an amazing mandolin that's been in a lot of hands and given high praise from high level players including John Reischman and Skip Gorman, the latter of whom really didn't want to give it back. The tone is everything you want in a good old F5. It's always been my lifer instrument that I knew I'd keep forever. Maybe you can see where this is going.

    Immediately upon picking up Bucky I noticed the skinny v-shaped neck which didn't feel too great after playing some a bunch of chords that required barring. That neck profile of the Buckeye was never my favorite but had never given me pause. Then I kept hitting Florida with the pick. I missed the radiused fretboard and my hand hit the scroll on the B chop chord. While the tone was better on Bucky, the playing experience just wasn't as pleasurable. And that was not expected, even a little bit! In fact it actually bummed me out.

    Hell/heck- what next? Certainly nothing hasty. Am I experiencing a crush that will fade over time? Should I consider getting Florida removed? Getting a radiused fretboard installed, or gulp, a new neck if that's even possible? Ugh and ugh again- that's more money that I spent on the Kentucky! I never never expected a $500 Pac Rim import to have stolen my heart. Advice? Thoughts? Something to make me laugh?
    1999 Buckeye #18 (Bucky)
    198x Flatiron pancake mandola (no name)

  2. #2
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    I'm not saying that your current infatuation will untimately pass/fade, but it will likely cool off a little. After playing your oval a while, you'll miss the much different sound of your Buckeye, and you'll end up enjoying it for what it is.

    I often go back and forth between a couple of my main fiddles. One week/couple of week I'll be digging the sound of my clear, powerful fiddle. So much so that I'll wonder if the other is a keeper or not. Then after a week or two I'll pick up my more gritty, low-end heavy, old-time music style fiddle and find that I've really missed that sound. I'll play it for a few weeks, and the cycle continues.

    I wouldn't do anything to your Buckeye until some time has passed. Months. The you can get a true evaluation of the situation, after the oval infatuation has cooled just a little.

    Glad you found happiness with your newbie. It's great when a new instrument makes you want to play a lot! Good problem to have!
    Chris Cravens

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  4. #3
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    After I got my Newson mando, I haven't really touched my Gibson F9 unless I have to haha. I love them both - but the Newson just sounds (and looks) better IMO. Whenever I pickup my Gibson now, it doesn't feel right either. I have adjusted the actions on both so they are the same and use the same strings - but the feel is all off IMO.

    One thing I haven't done is really measured the instruments to see what the differences are and what, if anything, can be done to narrow those differences without hurting the respective tones. I suppose in your case, you might be able to sand down Bucky's neck somewhat to mirror your new crush - though I wouldn't DIY that project hahaa.
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  6. #4
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    You're still in the honeymoon phase or "new mando smell", or whatever you want to call it. Keep playing the Kentucky for now. But after a while, you'll probably be wanting to see if something you're playing on that instrument sounds different (or better?) on the Buckeye. And then you might just fall back in love with Bucky.
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  8. #5

    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    It seems to me like you have found a mandolin with playability that works for you; radiused frets, a neck with more of a D shape, no florida. There's plenty of high end instruments that have these characteristics, Webers come to mind. It could be the next mandolin you purchase is a mandolin with these qualities and better tone than your 272.

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  10. #6
    Orrig Onion HonketyHank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    Per Adam Steffey: "A man can never have enough mandolins". Watch out.
    New to mando? Click this link -->Newbies to join us at the Newbies Social Group.

    Just send an email to rob.meldrum@gmail.com with "mandolin setup" in the subject line and he will email you a copy of his ebook for free (free to all mandolincafe members).

    My website and blog: honketyhank.com

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  12. #7
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    You could always have the Florida scooped—less drastic than a full floridectomy.

    Those KM-272s are amazing for the price. I had one for a while, and my kid was more than happy to have it when I moved up. It's a different sound than an ff-hole. You're infatuated, but there will come a time when the sound of your Buckeye will be just what you're after. Saga/Kentucky owes Mike Zito! He sold a number of 272s for them.

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  14. #8
    Dan Sampson mando_dan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    Thanks for your good humor and thoughts everyone. Rest assured that Bucky isn't going anywhere though I am considering having the neck scooped so I can hit the stings where and how I want to, not where I'm forced to play. In reality, I'm just really lucky to have two great instruments!
    1999 Buckeye #18 (Bucky)
    198x Flatiron pancake mandola (no name)

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  16. #9
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    Side question here. What would a fair price be for a used Kentucky KM-171, Black, Mint, w/gigbag?

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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    Quote Originally Posted by pete12string View Post
    Side question here. What would a fair price be for a used Kentucky KM-171, Black, Mint, w/gigbag?
    My guess is around $350 max.

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  19. #11
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    When i got my KM900 I was happy as a clam until i read on the cafe that somebody didn't like the sharp V at first few frets, then it bothered me too.
    Kentucky km900
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  20. #12

    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    This makes me want to get a 272...

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  22. #13

    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    Well I couldn't resist. Pulled the trigger on a 272 from The Mandolin Store. Will report when it arrives!

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  24. #14

    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    Congrats! A friend of mine recently got a KM-276, basically the same thing, she has a beautiful Gibson F-5 but the 276 is getting all the play time lately between the two. It plays really good, intonation is on, sounds great. The oval is definitely alluring to the player's ears...at least mine!

  25. #15
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    Default Re: Kentucky 272 and my big problem

    My first mandolin had a flat board and a full FB extension, and I played it in blissful ignorance for a few years. Then I got my Silverangel with a thinner V neck, speed neck, radiused FB, and no extension, and I dont ever want to go back, lol. I picked up a new Rattlesnake F5 at Lowe Vintage a couple years ago that was an awesome looking and sounding mandolin, but the extension drove me nuts for the 5 or 10 minutes I played it. Would I adjust if I stumbled onto a mandolin with perfect tone for me but a flat board and full extension? I think I could, but, more likely Id have the extension scooped or removed and then play it for a few months before deciding whether or not to have the FB radiused.

    My Rigel has an abbreviated and scooped extension, and Ill sometimes hit it if Im really digging in, but only for the first couple of minutes playing it, then I adjust. So, I agree with others advising you to live with Bucky for a few months more before making any big changes. That said, if after a few months these features still bother you, then Id say have the work you want done or find another mando with the features you want. For now, enjoy your new Kentucky! Sounds like you got one they got just right!

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