Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Got a new Mandolin today!

Hey all, I bought a Kentucky Km855 artist model today. It is a 09 model but has spent it’s life in a case on the shelf so the guy decided he needed money and put it up on CL yesterday. i picked it up for 500 dollars with the hard case. It is in very good condition certainly has not been played much. Pretty much looks new. Seems to play pretty good to a little wider fret board than some i tried, but never playing one before time will tell on the playability and so on. From what I have been able to find on the bay and all the dealers this was a good buy for my first mando and I am anxious to get started as a second instrument. It looks like the original strings are on this thing, the intonation is right on so i guess it was set up ok.
What strings would you guys recommend for this mandolin? I have no idea what to get.
Anyway looking forward to learning on this little guy. Will start at square one with Ben naturally. :mrgreen: Jerry

Congrats! If you want mediums, that’s fine, but I would suggest considering lights to start… the tension is greater on a mando, so lighter strings are nice on the fingers when getting used to it (and it typically plays a bit easier). D’Addario J73s or Elixiir lights are 2 that I have tried and like. One suggestion… I am guessing you have a moveable bridge (I am not familiar with the model). If that is correct, don’t remove all the strings unless you want to learn to set the bridge location for intonation. You’ll need to learn at some point, but unless that is your goal, replace like the inner two courses, then replace the outer two courses. Another thing to consider, is that many people (myself included) like a rounded pick tip for mandolin.

Again, congrats! Ben has some great videos for getting started on mandolin.

Thanks Mike. sorry for the double post don’t know how I did that and can’t delete it …will got out and get some new strings this coming week and try some lights. Yes the bridge is moveable what I learned on my arch tops is to put a piece of masking tape on each side so you can remove to clean the top and put back in same place. works good on guitar so why not this? i did check the intonation and it’s right on. Don’t know much about set up on these but as time goes on I’m sure i will learn…All in all a good day for buying, the cheapest I could find them at GC or mando stores was 1099.00…Jerry

Yep, masking tape works great on mandos as well. I don’t mess with removing the bridge every time… maybe every other time or every third time. If you have an adjustable bridge, setup on mandolins is pretty easy. You can easily tweak it and undo stuff. One thing to watch for when you do remove the bridge for cleaning: when it goes back on, as you bring the strings to pitch it will sometimes lean the bridge towards the nut due to the small footprint of the bridge. If that happens, just loosen the string up again and fix it.
I look forward to seeing and hearing new mando!

BTW, I deleted the duplicate thread.

Thanks Mike… :mrgreen:

Sounds like you got a good deal on what I’ve heard is a good mandolin. Almost everyone I know uses mediums and a lot of them including me use D’Addario J74s. Even if you start out with lights you’ll eventually want mediums to pull the tone out of that Kentucky.

Thanks guys, got a set of 74’s today and have them on, cleaned the whole mando , new strings, set action and it seems to play pretty good. Might have he action a little low but am going to play it a while and see how it goes. Looks brand spanking new now. I think the strings were the orig. from 09, very old and cruddy. Also the action was super high. Looks like maybe it was bought at GC or someplace that doesn’t know mandos well…Jerry

Hey… I use Elixers- mediums on my two f styles… I tried lights at one point but had a horrible time keeping my mandolin tuned… eventually took them off after a couple of days and put med’s back on it… I do use lights on an old A style Kalamazoo I have… a luthier friend suggested them for that as to keep as little pressure on the bridge as possible… they work well on it… I like the Elixers because they hold tuning great and last 2 or 3 times longer than anything else… they also seem to be easier on the fingers…

Congrats! One, strings -it depends what and who you are plying with. If in a jam with more than 3 people or a banjo or two you will likely want j74 or mediums or heavier. If just starting out or just playing with a guitar a lighter gage can work. I am about to try j75s on the A and E only next or I have heard good things about the ghs mediums that have a heavier A, I find in jams or shared mike situations I want more girth from my E and A. ( I probably will keep the G and D the same)

Also or two- if you didn’t know, if you need to reset the bridge on a f hole instrument best place to start is placing the bridge with it lined up in line with the points in the center of the "f"s. Although not exact luthiers try to have those points be the right distance from the twelfth fret and nut for it to be the “intonation” spot. (I believe true for fiddles, cellos as well)

I’ve had my mandolin for about a year & a half now & as soon as I got it I put J-75’s on it. I’ve never had any problems with sore fingers or too much tension on the mandolin with heavier strings. They give it a full sound & the high strings sound thicker, not so tinny.

The best advice is to simply try different brands & different gauges until you find what best suits you. The instruments we play are as different as the people playing them.

Congrats on the new mandolin, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.


Thanks I put on the new 74’s and all is well…Jerry

Congratulations! I just got a new one too. I was hoping to wait until my Tax Refund came, but I got an offer I couldn’t refuse on a 2004 Collings MT2. My wife is going to kill me, but I get home from work an hour before she does, so I have at least that much time to play it.

I don’t own an MT (or MT2), but I’d guess that it’s the instrument most likely to be a future purchase. They are just phenomenal sounding and playing mandos. The MT2 is a pretty thing as well. Congratulations!

Wow! What a nice mandolin. Congrats.

Just cover up the headstock and tell your wife it’s a Rogue mandolin.

Dang Jim, you went all out didn’t you? I can only imagine how good that rascal sounds. Great mandolin from a great company. I bought one of their guitars this year. They put out some fine instruments down there in Austin.

Thanks Guys. And sorry Jerry, in my excitement yesterday I just jumped on the first thread I could find. My wife obviously did not kill me, but I got a pretty good eye roll out of her.

I’m definitely not worthy of an instrument like this right now, and that’s not false modesty. I’ve only been playing about a year now. But I am in those ‘peak earning years’, and often wake up in the middle of the night in fear of my job. So I struck while I had the means.

I had the new one and my old one (The Loar VS 220) out together when I got home. The Collings was clearly louder, but I was a little unsure about the tone at first. I kept switching between the two for a bit before I finally started ‘getting it’. I think it took a bit because of my own limited skills at the moment. The right hand seems much more important on the mandolin than my usual instrument, the guitar. There’s alot more of that headroom, I just need to use it. And the overall responsiveness us great. And I’m getting the tone now too, it really started to shine doing some of those McReynolds cross picked rolls. There isn’t an instrument on the planet than can fix my chop as it currently exists.

I’m in love. It’s actually a used 2004 model, but in excellent condition. The handle on the case is even padded. I tried passing that off as a selling point, but that just got another eye roll out of the missus. It was worth a shot.