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This article was originally published in issue #33
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For over 25 years Kentucky mandolins from the US Saga company have been amongst the most highly-regarded, lower-cost Bluegrass mandolins. This experience shows in the arch-top, f-hole KM-140, which closely replicates the look and feel of the 1920’s original on which it is based.
The maple neck, solid spruce top and laminated maple back and sides - all finished in a dark sunburst – give the this mandolin a very “traditional” look. This look is reinforced by the narrow “snakehead” peghead, nickel-plated hardware, the dot inlaid rosewood fingerboard and the adjustable floating bridge. Even at its price point, Kentucky has managed to keep in highly-desirable features such as a nitrocellulose lacquer finish and a dovetail neck joint.
Playability with the factory set-up was reasonably good and it shouldn’t take your dealer much effort to adjust this mandolin’s set-up to produce an easy-playing instrument. Sound-wise, the KM-140 performs well and, although it isn’t a loud mandolin, there is enough percussive chop and tone to please both Bluegrass and Celtic-style players. As with all instruments that don’t come with a case, you’d really need to get at least a decent gig-bag if you’re intending to take it out of the house.