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I am 54 years of age and have been playing the guitar for a little more than a year. I have a Taylor Big Baby and a Fender Telecaster. I'm a member of the Taylor group and now the Mandolin Players group.

I love the sound of the mandolin and I will soon be purchasing my first mandolin. I am strongly considering the Kentucky KM 172 A-Model Oval Hole mandolin and I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on this particular model.


I am also looking for any resources that you can direct me to such as websites, books or files.


I am in search of a good printable pdf file of the mandolin fretboard that not only includes the fretboard notes but also corresponding notes on the staff.


Thank you for reading my post.




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Replies to This Discussion

Hey Wayne.  I don't have any experience with that model, but I can tell you this, it's much easier to get a decent playing and sounding cheap guitar than a decent cheap mandolin.  A LOT more work goes into a mandolin so it's really hard to find a decent one without spending an arm and a leg.  Also, I started with a A model (Gibson A5-L) but I ended up wanting an F model.  You will probably want to end up with an F-5, so if you can possibly swing the $$ I would start there.  You're 54, you've been a good boy (right?) you deserve it!  I haven't played them, but a lot of people say good things about Eastman F-5s.  I think the model is MD615, MD715, MD815 and MD915, the higher the number, the more ornate and expensive.  You don't need ornate, you need a maple backed F-5 with F shaped sound holes.  Don't be afraid of eBay, I've bought many high end instruments used, and I've never been disappointed.

As for websites, definitely check out mandolincafe, you'll probably find all the tab you need.  

Good luck and have fun!


thanks Chris

I am quickly finding out that the local stores (I'm Canadian) are not keen on mandolins. They are not as popular as guitars so therefore they can not make their expected profits. My search will have to take me to places online such as eBay.

I am actually having difficulty finding quality mandolins of any make.

But I have heard good things about the Kentucky brand. Liking the sound of an oval hole mando.

Thanks for the input and I'll keep looking.

I purchased a Crestwood mandolin model M107TSB off of eBay for a pretty good price.  You being a first time buyer I would recommended getting one from a somewhat better established retailer.  The chain stores like Sam Ash and Guitar Center ocassionally have something good.  I purchased my first mandolin from Guitar Center about 4-5 years ago.  It was a Fender FM-63S and the one I picked played nice but there was a problem with the pick-up.  I forget exactly what happened, but they swapped it out with another one they had.  Pick-up worked but it wasn't as playable as the other - string buzzes.  They gave it to the guy who setup their guitars and when I got it back it was no better than before.  So I got a refund and ended up buying an Ovation Mandolin Celebrity (MCS 148).  I am very pleased with the Ovation.  Although I don't think it's widely accepted not being a traditional style.  Either way, I'm very happy with it.

If you look at the mandolin discussion list you'll find a couple posts I made with songs attached.  They were played on the Crestwood mandolin.

The Kentucky mandolin brand you mentioned is owned by some people over at the Mandolin Cafe.  Take a look at the social groups and look for a "gear" type group.  I can't find one right now but I know there is one.

Almost forgot, pretty much any mando you get will need a setup done to get the intonation and action right across the fretboard.  This applies to any string instrument really.  Having a setup done is the fine tuning of the instrument.  A good luthier will be able to adjust it to the player as well.


Two great sites:

Mandolin Cafe: This is a great site for the mandolin family.  Be sure to go to the Social Groups and join the "Song-A-Week Social".  This is probably the most active group on the site.  Each week a song is selected for people to learn and optionally submit either as a YouTube video or MP3 file.  I've been lurking there about a year and just submitted my first few songs this past week.

Mandozine: Another great site, especially for mandolin tabs.  The Song-A-Week references this site often for mando tab.

Another resource you'll find handy is a program called "TablEdit".  It's a great program that I use all the time to import ABC files from the Song-A-Week social and all of the music on Mandozine uses the TablEdit file format (TEF files).  TablEdit is a notation program so you can use it to create sheet music.

There are a lot of great mando books out there too.  I have quite a few.  What styles, genres of mando are you interested in - blues, jazz, Irish, bluegrass, etc.?  Or all!! 


I don't have one particular style in mind. I like all types of music. However I have listened to various audio files and found I really like the sound of an oval hole mandolin so that is the type of mandolin I hope to purchase.


So far I have purchased a number of books including the Beatles for mandolin.

Listening to a recording and listening to yourself play an instrument are two very different perspectives.  A recording is generally how a listener hears it.  Which is fine but many times a recording will get doctored with compression, EQ, limited, reverb, etc.  Actually playing the instrument will give you a much better idea of it's sound and playability.  The later being the most important factor.  An instrument might sound great playing in an open position (first few frets), but playability might be bad and it can get worse as you play higher up in the frets.  Many times this can be fixed by a setup done by a luthier - especially for newly purchased (used or new) instruments.

Hi Wayne,

When purchasing a new mandolin, a lot depends on what type of music you'll be playing, and the sound you want. You said you started with an A type, which is tends to be the mando of choice for Celtic and old timey music, while F types are used in blugrass and country. F types are more common, so if you're looking this type, you should be able to find one on eBay or Craigs list.Before buying sight unseen from an online source, try out a similar model at a music store if possible.

For resources, as mentioned by John Gundrum, MandoCafe and Mandozine have a lot of great info, check them out.

I also like the bi-monthly webzine on the Melbay website. There's a mando specific one, but a lot of the banjo material can also be played the mandolin. Standard tuning is the same, DGAE, so  all the tenor banjo tabs can be played on the mandolin. Melbay also has a lot of books for sale.

Good luck


I think you meant GDAE for the tuning?

As a confirmed gear head, I have four different types of acoustic guitars, a uke, a violin, a psaltery and a 6-string banjo, so I placed an order for an Rogue A-style mandolin and package containing a case, chord book and method book.  Why not!  I've been thinking about adding this instrument for a few years now and I'm looking forward to jamming with it.  The mandolin is inexpensive, but I like to go easy and start out with minimum investment before the really good instrument investment is made.  I'll check in and get some advise from all you experienced mandolin players from time to time.




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