When it comes to stringed instruments, the guitar reigns supreme, but you’ll still find many musicians buying mandolins to find unique sounds and tunes in their music. Mandolins have a unique sound that is appreciated by bluegrass fans.
Kentucky mandolins have been around for many years and are very popular for their great craftsmanship, quality tone-wood, and unique astonishing sound. They come in a wide range of prices from mid-range to high prices. The KM-140 and KM-150 are great Kentucky mandolins that look identical at the front but are different at the back. The 140 has laminated mahogany back and sides and a solid carved spruce top, while the 150 also has a solid spruce top but uses solid maple wood for the back and sides. There’s also a difference with the neck. The KM 140 uses mahogany for the neck, while KM 150 uses maple for the neck.
Differences between Kentucky KM 140 and 150
|Mack and side material||Solid mahogany||Solid alpine maple|
|Fingerboard material||Tonewood||Santos rosewood|
|Top||Solid German spruce||Solid German spruce|
|Number of frets clear||12||12|
|Number of frets total||20||21|
Kentucky KM 140 vs. 150. How do they compare?
Back and sides
Cheaper instruments are mostly cheaper because the manufacturer has cut corners in manufacturing. This usually extends to the materials used to make the instrument, whether it’s hand-carved or machine-made. The funny thing is solid woods with be costly, but they’re more vulnerable to damage, while laminate is cheaper but more durable. The KM-140 is made with laminated mahogany back and sides, but the top is carved with solid spruce. This gives it a vastly improved tone. On the other hand, the KM-150 uses solid maple for the back and sides and a solid carved spruce top. The mandolin is made with German spruce and alpine maple for its back and sides.
The KM-150 is made with better quality solid maple back, and sides than KM-140 made with laminate wood.
When it comes to tone, the materials used to make the mandolin affect the tone and playability of the mandolin. The wood used on the mandolin will determine the sound, especially the top or soundboard. While laminate is the cheapest wood that is usually tough, it doesn’t produce the best sound quality. When it comes to the tone and playability of the KM-150, it can hold its own. To ensure it achieves the best tone and volume possible, selected German spruce is used for the top and alpine maple for the back and sides. KM-140 also has a solid carved spruce top that will give you a great sound, even for a beginner’s mandolin.
The KM-150 produces a better tone than the KM-140.
Kentucky KM 140 Vs. 150. A comparison review
The KM-150 mandolin is very popular and is a favorite for both beginners and more experienced players. The KM-150 models in the past were made of pressed solid pieces of spruce and maple until mid-2012 when the new Kentucky factory came online. The new KM-150 mandolin has a larger V-shaped neck, frets, and a wider nut, while the old version had a C-shaped neck with a 1-16th inch neck joint. In addition, it has an excellent sound considering its low price range and a tone that leans towards the dry side, which is expected from a bluegrass mandolin.
The top wood is made of solid, high-quality German spruce to give it a bright and crispy tone, alpine neck for easy action as you play with a slim width that is comfortable to hold and play. The peghead has a snakehead shape ad a modified dovetail neck-body joint. The tone-wood bridge is adjustable, so it’s easy to tune it. Likewise, it’s effortless to tune the mandolin with the help of open-gear tuners that are quite accurate.
What we liked
- Easy to tune and keep in tune
- Very high-quality mandolin for beginners
- Excellent sound
- Comfortable and easy to play and hold
What we didn’t like
- A bit expensive
The KM-140 is a more affordable mandolin than the KM-150. It has a solid top made of select narrow-grained spruce, maple back and sides, a solid maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. It has a traditional look with a great visual appeal and a unique tone that is great for beginners. In addition, it has features that you wouldn’t normally find in an entry-level mandolin, including an adjustable rosewood bridge and adjustable truss rod.
The bridge is also compensated for better tuning. The solid spruce top with narrow grains and solid back and sides give you a very crisp and punchy sound. The volume is also very impressive without taking away from the nuances tonal range.
What we liked
- Simple yet attractive mandolin
- A crisp, sweet sound
- It has a dry bluegrass tone
- Larger frets for clean fretting
What we didn’t like
- Not the best strings
The mandolin isn’t very popular like the guitar, buts it’s a fun instrument that will add flavor to your music. While it’s mostly used in bluegrass, folk, country, and traditional music, you can still use it in other music genres. Both Kentucky KM-140 and KM-150 have been made with quality materials and are very affordable. It all comes down to personal taste and preference.
Verdict. So, which is better, Kentucky KM 140 or 150?
These two mandolins are perfect for both beginners and intermediate players. If you’re working with a budget, the KM-140 is a more affordable option with a great balance between quality and affordability. It’s stunning, sounds great, playable, and durable. However, if you appreciate a good tone and can spend a few more coins, the KM-150 is the mandolin for you. But, KM-150 is a better mandolin.
Are Kentucky mandolins any good?
Unlike other instruments made in Asia, the Kentucky mandolins have an excellent reputation because of their quality. Even the lowest-priced model is still made with quality materials, just like the high-priced ones.
How difficult is a mandolin to play?
A mandolin isn’t a difficult instrument to learn. And the fact that it has fewer strings than most other instruments like the guitar makes reading tablature easier.