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Apr 30, 2022 - 3:59:20 PM
1 posts since 4/30/2022

Hi all... this is my first post, and I am glad I found this place. I play Tenor Sax and recently took up the banjo to learn to play some bluegrass. In doing that, I have been exposed to the mandolin and really love the sound of it. I know there are a ton of "what first mandolin should I get", so I will try and phrase this a bit differently as I was not able to find really what I was trying to hey in on.

I know that the better quality instrument that you will buy, the better it will sound, play, usability, etc. I have a Sax that is quite expensive, and the fit, feel, seal on the pads, etc are just so much better than the sax I first had when I first started. It would have been nice to have my current sax then, but it was a major investment, and many years ago (40+) my parents didn't know if I would be serious with it or not. So it was a good investment for my parents to get me a beginner sax.

I have two really nice banjo's (Deering Americana, and a Gold Tone OB-150, and they play really nice.

I want to get a good mandolin, and I want to be able to play multiple styles of music on it. I would like to learn some bluegrass, but I also want to be able to play some Italian folk songs on the mandolin for my wife as well (as well as some other types of music possibly).

I really like the F model bodies, but I also like the classic A style mandolin's. I thought I heard that the A style mandolins may not be made as well though (but I don't know how true that is... although, I guess any style can be made "cheaply").

Two models I am looking at are the Kentucky KM-140 in the A style, and The Loar 310F in the F model body. The loar has a more appealing price point, but I hear some good things about the Kentucky.

I would really like to buy a non-Asian made one, but just like the banjo, that's really hard to do without spending a ton of money, so I am hoping you can help steer me. Both of the models that I listed I really like the looks of, but I can't base this just on looks. Play ability has to be a major factor in this, and I don't want to go too far in to start, as who knows, maybe I will hate playing this.

Anyhow, what are the pro's and cons of each, and are there other things I should consider in that same price range.

Thanks so much.

May 1, 2022 - 4:55:38 AM

250 posts since 12/23/2010

You might check in at and ask the folks there. You'll probably gets lots of answers as it's a busy site.

May 3, 2022 - 3:03:46 PM

699 posts since 10/3/2012

No matter how many people you ask, you’ll get different answers on those two — A models are not inferior in sound and playability— F models, for some, are just more aesthetically appealing— I started on a $75 dollar used mando — once I proved to myself that I was serious, I made gradual upgrades— more because I didn’t know what features were most important to me — my suggestion is to spend less initially and play everything you can get your hands on — one size doesn’t fit all

May 3, 2022 - 3:26:57 PM

122 posts since 2/15/2012

Whichever Mandolin you choose, be sure the dealer will give it a setup.

Jun 30, 2022 - 9:58:56 PM

Jim Yates


474 posts since 12/22/2010

It's almost always a rule that you will get a better quality mandolin, at a given price point, if you choose an A model.
A $1000 A model will be a better quality mandolin than a $1000 F style mandolin.
This goes for $200 mandolins or $2000 mandolins. An F style will cost more for the scroll, which is more difficult to build, but has minimal effect on sound. Fastening a scroll and points to the body doesn't improve the sound.
There are, however, some wonderful sounding F style mandolins, so if money is no object and you really want a scroll, go for it, but if you have a particular price limit, don't settle for an inferior mandolin because you need a scroll.
(Not that a $2000 F style will be an inferior mandolin; it will probably just be inferior to a $2000 A style.)

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