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Thread: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

  1. #1

    Default My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

    Hello mandolin cafe,

    I set out to make a one time mandolin purchase for $200-$300 that would be decent quality and worth keeping. I was looking for any Kentucky km-150 or better at that price but instead I found this Kentucky KM-630S on ebay. It was being sold by a pawn shop and I took my chances. It survived the trip over, even with the UPS driver throwing it over the apartment fence. It clearly has been dropped before, which I'm fine with as long it doesn't effect the sound, I like the well played, beat up look. I love playing it, it sounds good to me and I'm thrilled to keep it.

    My concerns after reading up on this model is these mandolins had issues with the truss rods and that it was 50/50 with these models. The neck appears to be straight but I'm not certain, it does have cracks on the fret board, shown in the attached photos. There is also a crack running up towards the neck in one of the f-holes, also pictured.

    It stays in tune okay, but I don't really know what to expect there. I know I need to get it professionally set up and get the crack repaired but before I move forward with that, is this mandolin worth putting more money into it?

    I spent $160 on the mandolin+$50 on shipping and $10 to replace the tailpiece cover that was missing. After taxes I'm $235 in on this mandolin. This model has been pretty well broken down on the forums, sadly I do not have the older or newer model that is much improved. I apparently have the not so good version. So I'm wondering:

    1. How much do you think this mandolin is worth?

    2. About how much to get the crack fixed and professionally set up?

    3. Is it worth it for this mandolin or should I try again and trade/sell this one for something else?

    Thank you kindly,

    Rank Stranger
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  2. #2

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    I'm only an amateur builder of ukes and guitars, but what you show seems pretty trivial.

    The crack at the F hole is tight - I'd just work in some hide glue and call it good after clean up. Should take me well under 30 mins in total, so not expensive.

    The cracks at the fretboard are in the binding, so not structural. Probably caused by the binding material shrinking with age. If it's not coming loose, just play it! Reglueing is possible, as is filling the gaps, again not hugely costly.

    Setup and repair costs depend on where you are, and what the setup needs. A luthier should be able to give you an estimate, but find one who understands mandolins.

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  4. #3
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    “A keeper, or keep looking?”

    Keep looking, because it doesn’t hurt, and who knows what you might find. BUT if all you have to spend is 2-300, you may be looking a long while, so in the meantime, if you want to put a little time, effort and money into the one you have, go for what you can afford to have done. I would suggest that if you do that, the first thing would be to get it into the hands of a qualified luthier or a qualified mandolin player and have them assess the structural integrity and playability before proceeding with any repairs. I would also suggest that you might learn to do some of it yourself in order to save $$$ if it is worth keeping.
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  6. #4
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    What Mark Gunter said. Get it set up and evaluated. That is really nothing to spend for a playable mandolin. Look around here and you will see that mandolins can go for exorbitant fees. Are they worth it? I don't know but for a couple of grand you can get into a very nice mandolin. So is this one a keeper? Learn more about mandolins and you will know the answer to that question.

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Yes indeed! Get a set up done by someone that knows how to set up a mandolin. Try to find one that will listen to you when you tell him exactly what you have in mind for this mandolin. The set up can be done several ways and you will want one that is easy to play and stays in tune. As to the dings on your mandolin, there arenít any real show stoppers there. The F hole crack can be glued pretty easily. There was an earlier suggestion of using hide glue, but cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) will work just as well. You may want to take it to a good tech for that. Doing it yourself can lead to some really bad results, and the glue job shouldnít cost all that much. Itís in a pretty accessible area. Good luck with your new mandolin and be sure to let us know how it sounds when you get it all well and whole again.
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  10. #6
    Confused... or?
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Play it, enjoy it, learn from it. "Cosmetics" are unimportant, especially on a $200-300 instrument. That is, nobody will be any more impressed if it looks pristine than if, as it does now, it looks used, appreciated, experienced, and ... loved.

    But most importantly, DO keep looking: It's a VERY educational experience, and you'll learn much along the way. When the time to upgrade comes, you'll automatically know it, and you'll be glad to have your current one as a "beater".

    Semi-off-topic but not really: Most newbies think of a 40%-60% increase in price as a "significant" upgrade. It is not, just a differing set of compromises. A REAL upgrade (at almost any level) usually requires a price increase of 300-400%, because now you're making fewer compromises at all!

    Personal note, talking about education: Just last month, I got my first-ever shot at playing an actual Gibson Lloyd Loar-signed F5, at a house concert in Montclair, NJ, thanks to the incredible generosity of Mike Marshall. Thus, the never-ending education goes on...
    - Ed

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  12. #7
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    Play it, enjoy it, learn from it. "Cosmetics" are unimportant, especially on a $200-300 instrument. That is, nobody will be any more impressed if it looks pristine than if, as it does now, it looks used, appreciated, experienced, and ... loved.

    But most importantly, DO keep looking: It's a VERY educational experience, and you'll learn much along the way. When the time to upgrade comes, you'll automatically know it, and you'll be glad to have your current one as a "beater".

    Semi-off-topic but not really: Most newbies think of a 40%-60% increase in price as a "significant" upgrade. It is not, just a differing set of compromises. A REAL upgrade (at almost any level) usually requires a price increase of 300-400%, because now you're making fewer compromises at all!

    Personal note, talking about education: Just last month, I got my first-ever shot at playing an actual Gibson Lloyd Loar-signed F5, at a house concert in Montclair, NJ, thanks to the incredible generosity of Mike Marshall. Thus, the never-ending education goes on...
    I still have my $235 1st mandolin, a KM200S, so I guess it's a keeper of sorts. After some work, it's a good "beater". I took it with me on a trip, and lent it to my brother for awhile.

    In fact, I did keep looking, and within 2+ years, I seem to have accumulated *ahem* a few.

    Think I'd be scared to handle an actual Lloyd Loar-signed F5, but I sure love my ratty '13 F2.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  14. #8

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Thank you! I'll get it over to a luthier and hopefully it wont be too expensive, obviously money is tight, hence the $300 budget haha. I feel like it sounds good, it looks awesome so I'd really like to hold on to it if it doesn't have any serious damage. Thanks again for the feedback!

  15. #9

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Thank you Mark. I can't help myself from browsing the internet for mandolins and guitars so that kind of looking wont be a problem haha. I know I need to bring my budget up to get into the good mandolins, it's not an option for me yet but I hope to get there in a few years. Hopefully this one will be a good "beater" in the meantime to learn on and take on the road. I absolutely want to work on it myself, that's always my preference but I wanted to make sure I would be doing that on a mandolin that was worth the time. I'll get it over to a luthier and have them make sure the structural integrity and playability is good before I get too invested. Thanks again for the recommendations.

  16. #10

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Thank you Bob, you're absolutely right about mandolins coming with exorbitant fees. I also understand that you get what you pay for and that certainly is true with musical instruments. It was misleading when I said one time mandolin purchase, I'll certainly circle back when I can afford it. I just want one good enough to enjoy and not want to immediately replace, in the meantime. Thanks for the feedback.

  17. #11

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Thank you, I'll make sure to do that. I'll let you all know what the luthier says. Thanks again.

  18. #12

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Loved indeed! This mandolin has been through it, I'm looking forward to learning from it and I love not having to worry about being the first person to scratch it. Thanks for the education on price increases for upgrades, It'll be a while before that's an option for me but that's good to know. This will hopefully be a solid option to learn and enjoy until then, so far so good!

    And holy shit! THE mandolin of all mandolins, 100 years later, from his hands to yours! Apologies if that's too dramatic haha. Good for you! The "we're not worthy" scene in Wayne's World is all I can think of for myself with that haha
    Thanks for sharing

  19. #13
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    I'm surprised nobody has yet pointed you toward Rob Meldrum's excellent free setup ebook. Just email him at rob.meldrum@gmail.com and put Mandolin Setup in the subject line.

    I'll also recommend a similar and in some ways more extensive book that is not free but not expensive either, Brad Laird's, The Mandolin Handbook, available at http://www.bradleylaird.com/mandou-site/buymh.html. NFI, but I got this book recently as part of a package, and it's a great complement to Rob's book.
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

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  21. #14
    Registered User mandolin breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    That's a great find for the $$. The Monroe'd headstock is great. Many spend big money for a 'distressed' model --- much better to have the real thing. Seriously, it's a great platform to learn setup, etc. And no reason the thing shouldn't wail, or sing sweetly, it's in your hands, good luck.

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  23. #15

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Thank you Sue, that's my hope with this one. I know it wont be long before I get the itch to get back in the mandolin market. I hear mandolins get lonely by themselves, they need friends haha

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  25. #16

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    This is great, thank you so much! I just emailed him.

  26. #17

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    That's what I was thinking! The old distressed look is the best, when its organically distressed that is! Thank you for the kind words Mandolin Breeze. I'm only playing the basic chords but this thing rings like a bell when it gets going. Thanks again.

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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

    I’ve never worried about getting all my money back when I sell an instrument. If the going price exceeds what I paid then I’m golden. If not, I view the difference as the cost of using the instrument for however long I’ve had it. If I’ve been playing it I’ve gotten value from it so I don’t mind.
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  29. #19

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

    Hello Iím new here and looking for a mandolin. Thought this thread might help answer question about this used one I found locally. Selling for $480. Is it worth it and also is it real. The serial number sticker Iíve never seen.

    Thank you

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  30. #20

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

    Indeed. Its the long term playability I'm most concerned with. Thanks for the feedback.

  31. #21

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

    Hello Eda,
    I think you're right to weary about that, but I'm brand new so I'd want some other opinions. I did a google search of some washburn's and they had normal serial number stamps, not those stickers. https://reverb.com/item/59425651-was...style-mandolin
    I'd post that in its own thread and it'll get figured out pretty quickly I'm sure. Good luck!

  32. #22
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    . . . But most importantly, DO keep looking: It's a VERY educational experience, and you'll learn much along the way. When the time to upgrade comes, you'll automatically know it, and you'll be glad to have your current one as a "beater". . . .
    Not only that, but your tastes will change and, most importantly, your ear will improve.

    The differences in guitar tones are obvious, even to the untrained ear. Not so mandos. They all sound sort of the same at first. It's not until you've been playing for a while that you'll start to really hear them.

    So get this one to a luthier for some mojofication, play it a lot, and start saving for the next one — probably something in the $1k-to-$2k range if you need a scroll and fern, more if you don't.

    Welcome, Stranger!
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  34. #23
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

    Quote Originally Posted by Eda View Post
    Hello I’m new here and looking for a mandolin. Thought this thread might help answer question about this used one I found locally. Selling for $480. Is it worth it and also is it real. The serial number sticker I’ve never seen.

    Thank you
    Welcome, Eda!

    Yes, it's a real mandolin. Is it a Washburn? I'd be surprised if it isn't. People who make fake instruments don't make fake Washburns. There's no money in that.

    But for more info on it, as Stranger says, you might get more answers if post your question as a new thread.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  35. #24

    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking?

    Thank you Charlie! I'm excited about that process of developing my ear and ability on the mando at the same time. I'll be enjoying this one along the way and try and play other mandolins as much as I can. Eventually when the time is right I'll get the $1-2k mandolin I'll know exactly what I want...hopefully. Thanks again!

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  37. #25
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: My First Mandolin- A Keeper or keep looking

    Eda -

    The price is about right on that mandolin, most of those are serviceable instruments imo

    In that price range, you may find other serviceable instruments, but probably nothing fantastic. Best bet is to play it and see if it speaks to you.

    Check these threads about the M6SW https://www.google.com/search?query=...m%2Fforum#ip=1
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