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 Advise on buying a Morgan Monroe mandolin

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flyboy

Joined 12/28/2010
8 Posts

12/28/2010 20:49:06  Reply with Quote

Hey does anyone have any experience or comments about Morgan Monroe instruments. I am new to the mandolin I play fiddle and am interested in getting a mandolin. I recently bought a Fender M100 mandolin kit before Christmas at a great price. I wasn't expecting a miracle for the price even though it said Fender. It seemed OK to learn on but within 3 days the neck began to form cracks at the headstock and the neck developed a twist in it. Needless to say I got a refund and didn't buy another one. I have been seriously looking at mandolins on the internet this week. And Kentucky and Morgan Monroe have caught my attention. Mostly because they appear to be a lot of instrument for the money. In particular I looked at a Morgan Monroe MMS-8W for around $600 with a case and strap from InstrumentAlley.com. They have adjustable necks and good hardware, ebony bridge and pearl inlay, they do not have grover tuners, but instead it says they have Pearloid tuners. I am not familiar with this brand but I am assuming that they will be up to the job and not slip all the time. They have a lifetime warranty and appear to be well made. Does anyone else have any suggestions or better choices or any additional help. I am looking for a good mandolin to learn on that has low action and good playability and tone and will last a while and have some resale value without breaking the bank. $600.00 is about as much as I would want to pay I am hoping to find a fine mandolin for around this price.Thanks to everyone on the forum

Buffalo Sam

Canada
Joined 12/25/2010
6 Posts

12/28/2010 22:14:57  Reply with Quote

Don't know if you want an A or an F, but the best deal out there IMHO is the Rover RM50 [I think that's the model number]. It's an A-5 type instrument and only $200 or less in the U.S. [check out Elderly, Music Motel, maybe others] They're all solid wood [carved top and back] and sound WAY better than any other inexpensive mandolin [which are plywood]. They also play well. Just don't buy one of the early ones which had no truss rod. I saw two of those that the necks had gone wonky on. My son has one of the new ones [on my advice] and loves it. Two of my friends have also bought them, and I'll buy one sometime to take traveling [or to the beach]. Good luck with it. Now I'll go check out the sources myself and see if they're still available as I remember. R

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ccravens

United States
Joined 12/22/2010
178 Posts

12/28/2010 22:27:10  View ccravens's MP3 Archive  View ccravens's Photo Albums  Reply with Quote

The Morgan Monroe's are good mandos, and actually a step up from just a beginner/starter mando.
I would consider the Rover a starter mando, and good for that. But the MM would be a step up, and if you have the $600 to spend, I would do it, no doubt.

Kentucky's are good, but their quality control is a bit spotty.

If you can play before you buy, that is a big plus, of course.

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Buffalo Sam

Canada
Joined 12/25/2010
6 Posts

12/28/2010 22:40:14  Reply with Quote

Just checked out some websites. Elderly just lists the RM75 for $450 which is an F5 style, but it might be worth a phone call to see about the RM50. Just Google Rover RM50 and you'll get a bunch of places that sell it, though they seem top be out of stock and back ordered, which has happened before. One place showed Jan. 2011 as getting new supplies. They're just too good and too cheap to be able to keep them in stock. Check them out! R

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Flivver

United States
Joined 12/28/2010
9 Posts

12/28/2010 23:32:56  Reply with Quote

I have had a Kentucky KM-250 for a couple of years. A style with radiused fretboard. Spruce top and Maple back and sides. Under $400 new with a nice little hard shell case. The fit and finish was excellent. I lowered the action. It does not demand a lot of finger pressure; all my mando friends have commented on this. It has a good sound though perhaps just a bit on the bright side. It is superior in all regards to a $200 Ibanez I picked up later. I have, on ocassion played a handmade F-style with the unusual combination of a carved Redwood top and Oak back and sides. The depth of its sound made me shiver!
A friend won it at a bluegrass festival a couple of years ago. Shudder to think what is worth. It sounds like it has shoulders. It doesn't play any easier than my KM-250. I've only been playing for a couple of years and figure the KM-250 is fine for now. Good Luck on your search!

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fairportmando

United States
Joined 12/28/2010
28 Posts

12/29/2010 04:40:14  View fairportmando's MP3 Archive  View fairportmando's Photo Albums  Reply with Quote

I had a Morgan Monroe f-style I forget the model number but it was black and one of their more expensive models and I hated it. Maybe it was just that particular mandolin but the frets were uneven and because of that there was always a buzzing on one fret or the other. I bought on a end of the year close out sale and couldn't return it (bad decision) and didn't feel like it was worth the money to have a fret job done; so, I sold it on eBay. I friend of mine has a Rover 75 and loves it. I have heard him play and the Rover is loud and sounded good to my ears.

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unclepoppy

Joined 12/26/2010
7 Posts

12/29/2010 06:29:59  Reply with Quote

The MMS-8wc is all solid wood, HS case included, $600 is a fair price esp. if they're throwing in a decent strap. You might find it new for less but not much less. Pearloid refers to the buttons on the tuners. They also have a lifetime factory warranty, I'm surprised fairportmando's dealer didn't advise him of that.

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PeachyPicker10

United States
Joined 12/29/2010
5 Posts

12/29/2010 09:10:33  View PeachyPicker10's Blog  Reply with Quote

I own several mandolins, Morgan Monroe and Kentucky are two of them, F style. I do prefer my Kentucky over my Morgan Monroe but that is because it is one of those that was made so well and easy to play, when someone plays it they want to buy it. I highly recommend playing the one you want to buy to make sure it is playable and has a good sound. No 'pig in the pokes' for me, I want to know what I'm getting. By the way the Morgan Monroe plays just fine it just has a deeper tone and out of the two I like the volume I get on the Kentucky.

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Canister

United States
Joined 12/24/2010
8 Posts

12/30/2010 06:52:11  View Canister's Blog  Reply with Quote

You should check out "The Loar" A style for the best bang for the buck. I have a 400 and it's great. I got it from Big Joe's Guitarshop.

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UsuallyPickin

United States
Joined 12/26/2010
188 Posts

12/30/2010 10:41:26  Reply with Quote

Well, yeah, Morgan Monroe is a solid mid-grade level instrument. Kentucky also is in that category. Kentucky mandolins have a somewhat longer history that began production in Japan and those instruments ,used, from the 70's and 80's can be excellent finds. When I say mid-grade I mean an instrument that plays and sounds fairly good made of solid woods not laminates and with reasonably good finish work, a case should be included. These instruments should be priced 600.00$ to 900.00$ new, and should come with an original owner warantee for materials and workmanship...... Michael Kelly and Eastman mandolins have instruments in this price range also. THey also have higher priced models. At one point or another I have played all these makers and found them satisfactory in quality and tone. THe caveat being all manufacturers have made lemons from time to time. Be careful purchasing online if there is no try out period. It is better to "play before you buy'., R/

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coelhoe

Joined 12/27/2010
103 Posts

12/30/2010 12:57:40  Reply with Quote

Even though you pay more (sometimes a lot more) for an "F"model mandolin, there is no difference in the size of the sound chamber between similar F and A models. The scroll and the points are just decoration. If you want to pay more for place to hang your strap, well...so be it, but everything that matters in terms of volume and tone is the same for A models as for F.

Quality in "off-shore"mandos has improved enormously in the last decade.

Having said all that, among the lesser priced instruments, I have been most impressed with the Breedlove models I have played.

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UsuallyPickin

United States
Joined 12/26/2010
188 Posts

12/30/2010 15:58:54  Reply with Quote

Reply to Ad #45219 Check this one out on Mandolin Cafe . It's a Kentucky 380 "A" model. R/

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flyboy

Joined 12/28/2010
8 Posts

12/31/2010 08:18:51  Reply with Quote

Thanks for all the good advise I have been learning a lot about different makes and models of mandolins. I actually went to several local music shops to see and try a few instruments . I found one particular brand called Danville model M-009 and it had an impressive sound for a $350.00 mandolin, maybe that isn't' always the case for Danville, but this one sounded good. I played many different brands, I played Morgans and Rovers and Kentuckys and others. Yesterday I went to another local music shop recommended by a friend that plays bluegrass and the owner made me a good deal. He has offered me a New Michael Kelly Legacy Vintage with Hard case out the door for $500.00 I understand that they have been discontinued and all, and I checked the internet for info on this model, and all new and used sold for much more than this. This mandolin seems very well made good sound many high end features there seems to be nothing wrong with it and a 2 year warranty. His deal seems fair, he said that it has just been hanging on the wall too long and he wanted to sell it. I told him that I would think about it over the weekend. Does this sound like a good deal, is there anything that I should know about Michael Kellys that might change my mind? Thanks

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UsuallyPickin

United States
Joined 12/26/2010
188 Posts

12/31/2010 10:04:04  Reply with Quote

Sounds reasonable .... I have not played this model nor any Walnut mandolin , if this is indeed back and sides of that wood. as the ones I found online were. I do own a walnut banjo and it has an excellent and bright tone. A good instrument to hang with until you get the bug to buy another I'd say...... Enjoy.. R/

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flyboy

Joined 12/28/2010
8 Posts

12/31/2010 16:58:48  Reply with Quote

I went back to check that about being walnut. I think that only means that they tried to make it look like walnut color with sort of a worn or distressed look around the scroll. The Legacy Vintage is solid maple including the neck.

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danjo

United States
Joined 1/2/2011
10 Posts

01/02/2011 07:13:43  Reply with Quote

flyboy,i bought a morgan monroe f-style and love it.my father always played the mellon backs and i had an a-model that was stolen.the only down fall of the m-m was really terrible strings and the neck wasn't oiled.i bought it on e-bay,so i didn't get to play it.i was really discouraged with the tone and volume,i oiled the neck and put some nice gibson "bill monroe" strings on it,incredible....i'm considering the old growth sullivan bridge,i put one on my banjo,"yikes",what a difference.hope this helps.
danjo





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Susan H

United States
Joined 12/23/2010
52 Posts

01/03/2011 04:06:22  View Susan H's Photo Albums  View Susan H's Blog  Reply with Quote

Flyboy, my first real mandolin was a Morgan Monroe 100. It got me off on the right foot to get started with learning. I graduated from there to an Eastman 615. I got my Morgan Monroe from the Mandolin Hut, it might be a good place to look too.

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South Hills

United States
Joined 12/24/2010
10 Posts

01/03/2011 04:19:25  View South Hills's Photo Albums  Reply with Quote

I bought a used Morgan Monroe from Janet Davis when I started taking lessons. I am very happy with it. It is a MMS-5 Rocky Top made in Korea before they moved their production to a factory in China. It is easy to play and a good instrument for someone starting out. I recommend you play different models before you buy. There are as many opinions as there are models in your price range. Good luck.

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mandoteacher

United States
Joined 1/3/2011
212 Posts

01/03/2011 18:15:05  View mandoteacher's MP3 Archive  View mandoteacher's Classified Ads  View mandoteacher's Blog  Reply with Quote

Morgan Monroe mandolins are made by Daewon Musical Instruments in Dalian, China. If you bought yours before 2002, it was probably made in Kimpo, South Korea. Now all the instruments are made in China. Here's a video Emily and I took when we were visiting the factory there in 2004 or 5. Here the worker is setting a binding on a Morgan Monroe mandolin: youtube.com/watch?v=sYVD1qrObI0

There are more videos of that factory on my Yahoo page if you are interested, also some quick mando videos I made for my students.

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flyboy

Joined 12/28/2010
8 Posts

01/03/2011 19:46:35  Reply with Quote

Thanks for the help everyone, today I bought the Michael Kelly Legacy Vintage that I looked at last week at a local music shop in my neighborhood. I got a fantastic price from the store owner who just wanted to reduce his inventory for the new year. It plays very nice and is a beautiful instrument, I couldn't pass up this deal for a quality mandolin. I'll be hanging around the forum a lot this winter learning the finer points of playing the mandolin Thanks again

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mandoteacher

United States
Joined 1/3/2011
212 Posts

01/03/2011 21:15:43  View mandoteacher's MP3 Archive  View mandoteacher's Classified Ads  View mandoteacher's Blog  Reply with Quote

Flyboy, MK mandolins are made by these guys too...all the same manufacturer.

Having said that, they are decent instruments with good overall tone and fine projection. I'm not dissing the instruments in any form whatsoever. I'm merely stating that they are basically the same company is all.

Have fun!

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SDenizen

United States
Joined 12/31/2010
46 Posts

01/03/2011 23:27:04  Reply with Quote

I have a Morgan Monroe MMS-3 that has been a great instrument for me. Got it with a great setup and it gets played daily. Judging by the dates provided by teacher it is probably one of the earlier Chinese made MM's.

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creekwater

United States
Joined 1/4/2011
11 Posts

01/04/2011 10:58:21  Reply with Quote

I would not recomend a MM. I had a MMS5 & a MMS8. Both looked nice, but the tops and backs are carved way too thick, so they have a "tight" sound to them. The best mandolin I had in the lower price range was a Kentucky 250S, looked good, played true, pretty decent volume. I have picked a couple of the new Flatirons that sounded really well for the $.

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Mandolin Ant

United States
Joined 12/27/2010
288 Posts

01/04/2011 12:40:19  View Mandolin Ant's Photo Albums  Reply with Quote

I'm currently playing a MM-100-SB/E with passive pick-up and volume and tone knobs. Personally, I LOVE it. I spent a lot of time on the set up AND how I mic/set it up plugged in for performances. Mine has great tone, nice projection and is very playable. I'm sure I'll eventually move up, but right now I'm way happy with what I've got. OF course my MAS is currently being held in check by my finances, but, that being said, I'm happy with my MM.

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Flivver

United States
Joined 12/28/2010
9 Posts

01/05/2011 01:02:06  Reply with Quote

Hey Adam, checked out your youtube footage of factory in China. Very interesting! I suppose there are several musical instrument factories in China. Any idea where Saga's Chinese manufactured musical instruments are produced? Saga being the source of Kentucky mandos and Blueridge guitars. Thanks.

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Mandolin Ant

United States
Joined 12/27/2010
288 Posts

01/07/2011 06:56:38  View Mandolin Ant's Photo Albums  Reply with Quote

Hey flyboy,
How are you diggin' that MK?

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