A great value in an A-style mandolin from Saga Music, with solid woods and vintage-style appointments.
by Dan Gabel
August 15, 2016
Kentucky mandolins are built by Saga Music, which also builds Blueridge guitars, Regal resonator guitars, Cremona violin-family instruments, and other popular brands. Like other Saga-built instruments, Kentucky mandolins have become a go-to recommendation for folks looking for high-quality, playable instruments at reasonable prices. With Kentucky’s Standard series for entry-level mandolins, the mid-priced Artist series, and the high-end Master models, they cover a lot of ground in the mandolin market.
The Kentucky KM-505 Artist A-Model is at the high end of the company’s Artist series, with a price of $795 list and about $520 retail. It has a solid, carved Sitka spruce top; solid, carved flamed-maple back and sides; and a solid maple neck with an ebony fretboard. The neck has a standard 1⅛-inch nut width and a rounded D-shape profile that is super comfortable to play. And with an adjustable bridge and two-way adjustable truss rod, the KM-505 can be easily set up to any player’s preferred specs.
Visually, the KM-505 has a cool vintage vibe, with Kentucky’s “mountain rose” inlay on the peghead, a black-and-white layered pickguard, 1920s-era tailpiece design, and a classy “amberburst” finish.
Overall, the KM-505’s tone is rich and round, as you can hear when Peghead Nation mandolin instructor Joe K. Walsh plays the instrument in the video above, with deep lows and long sustain, particularly on the G and D courses. While the trebles are sweet and relatively mellow, they still manage to cut through when playing with an accompanying guitarist. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a great first instrument, or an experienced player looking for a solid, road-worthy A-style mandolin to add to your collection, the Kentucky KM-505 Artist A-Model should be on your short list.
To study mandolin with Joe K. Walsh, subscribe to The Advancing Mandolinist on Peghead Nation.
SPECS: A-style mandolin with solid, carved Sitka spruce top, solid flamed-maple back and sides, solid maple neck, ebony fingerboard. Adjustable ebony bridge. Black-and-white layered pickguard. 13 7/8-inch scale. 1⅛-inch nut width. Gotoh tuning machines with ivoroid buttons. Two-way adjustable truss rod. Loop-end strings only. Amberburst finish. Made in China. $795 list. SagaMusic.com
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