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Best Mandolin

Looking to buy the best Mandolin? Check out our guide below and you’ll be well-placed to select the correct one for you.

What To Look For When Buying A Mandolin

Mandolins are prevalent at guitar stores, but they’re also a little misunderstood, and we can’t help but wonder how many inexpensive mandolins are sat in cabinets and attics, purchased by folks who thought they’d be a good idea but ended up being bamboozled by them.
We’ll look at how to go about getting a mandolin that won’t end up in the attic in this blog.

What characteristics distinguish an excellent mandolin?

Obviously, the amount of attention paid to the instrument’s construction will have a significant impact on its quality.
Mandolins are under a lot of tension, and those small fingerboards don’t leave much room for error when playing chords, so you need a nicely shaped, straight neck that can be adjusted correctly – one of our biggest complaints about cheap mandolins is that the necks are impossible to get into a shape that allows the instrument to be set up to play easily, and it’s just as important for an absolute.
Laying a straight edge along the neck and seeing a banana shape to the fingerboard between the nut and body connect, then a’ski jump’ – ie the fingerboard rises gradually upwards – from the body onwards, is an excellent telltale indicator of a faulty mandolin neck.
We cannot emphasise this enough: starting with a too-cheap mandolin will discourage you from learning to play the mandolin!

A more refined build will also help to the sound quality, with cheaper instruments being overbuilt and hence sounding weak and harsh, whilst a more delicately built high end mandolin will sound rich and full.

The type of wood is also crucial.
The cheapest instruments are made of plywood, while the more expensive ones are solid wood, although there are a few alternative construction methods for arch top mandolins (don’t worry, we’ll get to arch top and flat top in a minute):
solid wood is less expensive.
Mandolins are created out of thin pieces of solid wood that are steamed into form, with the best ones being carved like a violin top.
Because the grain direction is varied, this has a significant impact on the stiffness of the top, making the carved top more responsive and dynamic.

There appear to be numerous types of mandolin.
What are all of them, and which one do I want?

We’ll go over the Classical, Celtic, and Bluegrass families of mandolins, as well as variations of each.

The mandolin began as a classical instrument in Italy, akin to the Medieval cittern, and was composed for by composers such as Vivaldi.
The mandolin’s heyday was in the nineteenth century, when it became a highly popular ‘light’ classical instrument, and by the turn of the twentieth century, most of Western Europe had succumbed to mandolin fever.
Italian mandolins have a bowl-back, which resembles a miniature lute with a staved back (like a wooden boat hull).
Mandolins in Germany were thicker, with distinct sides and a considerably more softly arched back.

The classical style instruments you’re most likely to see are antiques from the nineteenth century, and these should be approached with extreme caution because they’re not always in playable condition.
If you really want to play period classical mandolin, our recommendation is to hunt for a good vintage one from a reputable dealer who specialises in them and be willing to spend a fair price for it – a £100 Ebay find is likely just worth as an adornment.
There are a few good Japanese classical instruments worth looking for, but they aren’t widely available in the UK.
A mandolin in the celtic or bluegrass style can also be used to play classical music.

Celtic style mandolins have a flat (or very slightly arched) top and back, and are perfect for jigs and reels. They’re quite lively, with a lovely sustain and loads of jangle, so they’re ideal for jigs and reels.
There are several excellent UK makers of this style of mandolin, and businesses like Ozark and Ashbury provide good instruments at a reasonable price.
A celtic model is an excellent beginner’s instrument, and those switching from guitar typically find them to be quite familiar and approachable.
Because there is only one sort of celtic mandolin, distinctions are negligible for a novice – as long as you like the way it plays and sounds, it’s an excellent one.

The bluegrass mandolin, which has a violin-like arching top and F holes, is the most prevalent modern mandolin.
Gibson guitars were the first commercially produced models, and Gibson dominated the market to the point where most bluegrass mandolins are modelled on Gibson instruments.
The ‘A’ model and the ‘F’ model are the two primary types.
The A model has a teardrop shape, whereas the F has a more intricate shape on the bass side with an ornate scroll.
Do they have a distinct sound?
The short answer is probably no; the lengthy answer is that they might in principle, but for a beginning, the best way to think about it is if you want to pay extra for the F style’s aesthetics.
Bluegrass mandolins are commonly made of plywood, with the best instruments being carved.
The majority of novice mandolins are A-style instruments that range in quality from dreadful to acceptable.
F holes are the most prevalent, however round or oval holes are also observed, and there is sometimes a small tone difference between the two.

The ‘chop’ of bluegrass mandolins is a slightly percussive assault that allows them to carry well in a band setting.
Whereas Celtic mandolins needed to be loud enough to compete with guitars, squeezeboxes, and banjos in close quarters, bluegrass mandolins needed to be able to cut through and project effectively on larger stages, therefore cutting through and projecting well was vital, and the design reflects that.
Having said that, while being commonly referred to as bluegrass mandolins, they can play a wide range of music from classical to modern rock, making them a versatile instrument.

What kind of mandolin should I get?

In an ideal world, a solid top Celtic or bluegrass style mandolin would be recommended.
Ashbury makes a couple of great Celtic-style mandolins, including the ‘Army & Navy’ model, which is appealing and cheap, and a wonderful, slightly arched Spruce type.
There’s also an excellent conventional Ozark A style model with a solid top.

The Eastman 305 is a fantastic A type bluegrass mandolin with all solid, completely carved construction if you can afford it.
We believe that this mandolin is of professional quality and that it is not overly expensive, therefore it is ideal if you want to buy one instrument that will last you a lifetime.

We’ve found the Stagg to be a good first instrument if you’re on a small budget.
It’s made entirely of plywood.
A style that is immediately noticeable is built at a lower cost than the Ashbury or Ozark alternatives, but they can be set up to play extremely well for the budget.
If you liked it, you’ll probably want to upgrade, but it won’t stop you from learning your first chords and scales.

The best mandolins to buy

Bestseller No. 1
Donner Mandolin Instrument Black Mandolin Instrument Set for Beginner Adult Mahogany A Style with Tuner, String, Gig Bag, Guitar Picks (DML-100B)
  • 【Styles】8-string traditional a style, Donner Mandolin in glossy Sunburst finish, suited for all styles of music.
  • 【Frets】 20 Brass Frets with Fret position Marks at 3th, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th and 17th frets on neck and top of fingerboard.
  • 【Right-hand】Right-hand design, smooth and accurate, Mahogany body bring you richer and brighter sound.
  • 【Tuners&Tailpiece&Truss Rod】Chrome plated open gear tuners and tailpiece, and adjustable Truss Rod inside the neck.
  • 【Abundant gifts】 Comes with gig bag, strings, digital clip-on tuner , polishing cloth and guitar picks.Save yourself time and money with an all-in-one mandolin bundle!
Bestseller No. 2
Vangoa Mandolin Instrument A Style Sunburst Acoustic Mandolin for Beginners with Tuner, Strings, Gig Bag, Picks
  • 【Great Craftsmanship】Made of quality tonewood with popular sunburst color, shiny finish. It can produce ethereal and crisp sound, while it is light-weighted. A-style mandolin is a good selection either a gift or the first instrument
  • 【Easy Playability】Played by picks, no more pains on your fingers. A relatively wider range of 20 frets is suited to beginners and the experienced. Chrome-plated open gear tuner is easy in tuning and stays in tune
  • 【Value Offering】Buy 1 mandolin get everything you need to start. It comes with pick-up, picks, strap, extra strings, backpack, and tuner. Ready to play straight out of the box
  • 【Show yourself】It has pick-up for connecting to an amplifier. Don't hesitate, just show your talents on the stage, when you have the confidence
  • 【1-year Warranty】Vangoa provides a 1-year warranty. We aim to provide customers with high-quality products and sincere service. If you have any problems, just feel free to contact us. We will definitely give you a satisfactory solution
SaleBestseller No. 3
Rocket MAE02 Electro Acoustic Mandolin, Redburst
  • Electro-acoustic mandolin ideal for stage or home
  • Nato top, back and sides
  • Black stained adjustable maple bridge and engraved nickel tailpiece
  • Nickel open gear machine heads
  • Tuning: gg dd aa ee
Bestseller No. 4
Ibanez M510E-BS A-Style Mandolin - Brown Sunburst
  • Ibanez Mandolin in Brown Sunburst
  • Magnetic pickups
Bestseller No. 5
Stagg M50E Electro-acoustic Bluegrass Mandolin with Nato Top
  • Top: nato - back & sides: nato - neck: nato
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: black-stained maple, adjustable
  • Tailpiece: engraved, nickel - machine heads:
  • Open gear, nickel
Bestseller No. 6
Mandolin, Musical Instrument, Antirust Black And Golden Metal for Playing Beginner Concert Music Enthusiast(black)
  • This bridge can fit for Mandolin 8/10/12 loop-end Strings
  • Great workmanship, a good accessory for Mandolin string
  • The surface is electroplated and polished, which is not easy to rust.
  • High quality metal material die-cast, can be used for a long time
  • Removable cover for quick and easy replacement of strings
SaleBestseller No. 7
Folk songs of Mandolin
  • Folk Songs for Mandolin
  • Bobby Westfall (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 08/08/2013 (Publication Date) - Mel Bay Music (Publisher)
Bestseller No. 8
Mandolin Bag, Musical Instrument Bag Fine Workmanship Adjustable Shoulder Strap Easy Carry for Mandolin
  • [Protect the Inside] The inner cloth is fine and smooth to protect your Aegean.
  • [With a Small Bag] The accessory package is designed to fit small accessories and wipe piano cloth, which is convenient and practical
  • [Adjustable Shoulder Strap] Adjustable Oxford cloth shoulder strap protects cervical spine. It can be carried in two ways, back and hand
  • [Easy Carry] Mandolin bag is suitable for travel, easy to carry and unique knitting design
  • [Portable and Easy Clean] Soft good, easy to clean, easy to tidy up the interior, light to carry
Bestseller No. 9
Kmise Banjo Ukulele 4 String Concert Banjos Classic Style Professional Musical Instrument with Bag and Tuner
  • Fret: 18 pieces copper frets provide adequate resistance to abrasion
  • Fingerboard: wood fretboard is resistant to corrosion and provide comfortable touch
  • Tuner: chrome geared closed tuning pegs guarantee the accurancy of the intonation
  • Strings: preset superior quality Aquila strings made In Italy guarantee its crisp sound
  • Warranty: 60-day warranty and free string replacement
Bestseller No. 10
01 02 015 Musical Instrument, Mandolin String Removable Sturdy for General Purpose for Professional Use for Replacement for Mandolin for Mandolin String(Golden)
  • The surface is electroplated and polished, which is not easy to rust.
  • This bridge can fit for Mandolin 8/10/12 loop-end Strings
  • High quality metal material die-cast, can be used for a long time
  • Great workmanship, a good accessory for Mandolin string
  • Removable cover for quick and easy replacement of strings

Honest Bob is committed to providing genuine guides from a panel of experts. As an Amazon affiliate Honest Bob earns commission from any qualifying purchases.Thank you for your support!

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