A more recently founded company in 1999 that makes mandolins is Michael Kelly Guitars. They were started by Tracy Hoeft in Clearwater, FL, although they import their instruments from South Korea. In the beginning, they solely focused on acoustic bass guitars and mandolins because you could not find a quality instrument of these kinds for an affordable price at the time.
As an importer, they offer both a low end beginners model and a higher end musicians model. Both of these offer an excellent sound because they do not use cheap materials such as laminates, even on the low end model. This supports their company vision of providing quality instruments without killing your budget. For these reasons, we recommend their mandolins for both beginners and intermediate skill level players.
Tracy Hoeft wanted to name his guitar company after his family. He didn’t feel his own name would be worthy, so he combined the names of his kids – Michael and Kelly. Hoeft was an employee for Dean and Gibson for 7 years before he decided to start his own company to target an under served niche market in the music industry.
This is truly a family run company. Tracy still runs the business today. His wife and two children are also part of the team. The kids were young when Tracy first started the company, and they are now adults working for the family business. This is important for customers because family run businesses are notorious for delivering a higher lever of quality and customer compared with a large corporation. After all, it is their name on the business so their personal reputation is at stake.
This is the mandolin that they are known for making and it has helped cement it’s place as a respected name in this industry. It’s a worldwide best seller, and as such, it is sometimes hard to find one to purchase. The first thing you’ll notice about this mandolin is the way it looks. It has a classic F-Style design, but with a lot of extra embellishments. The overall style gives you a sense that it is an ornate, vintage instrument.
Carved, solid wood is the way to go to get the highest quality and best sounding mando, and that is exactly what you get from the Dragonfly. The top is spruce and the sides and back are made from flamed maple. Many upgrades have gone into this instrument to create the best tone, while other upgrades are purely for aesthetics to give it it’s stunning look.
The A Solid or A-Style mandolin from this brand is more of a beginner instrument. It’s still a quality piece, but it doesn’t have a lot of the extra upgrades and design features found in the F-Style.
This actually works out great for someone that is just getting started because they are looking for something that is reasonably priced and will be good to learn on.
You still get all solid, caved woods with this model, so it will produce a nice sound.