A-Style vs. F-Style Mandolin: What’s the Difference?

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Did you know that there are two main mandolin types? Not sure whether you should buy an F-style or A-style mandolin to play and learn on?

The mandolin is a unique instrument with a very interesting history. It’s a great instrument to play in a variety of genres including bluegrass, Celtic, classical, folk, and more.

Whether you’re thinking about buying a mandolin or you’re simply curious about them, you may have discovered that there are two main types: the A-style mandolin and the F-style mandolin. If you’re new to the instrument, however, you might not know what the difference between the A-style vs F-style mandolin is.

Fortunately, understanding the difference isn’t too complicated. In this short guide, we’ll tell you what you should know about A-style vs F-style mandolin body types.

Key Differences Between the A-Style and F-Style Mandolin

A-Style Mandolin
A-Style Mandolin

While you may have heard various rumors about A-style and F-style mandolins, the truth is that they aren’t very different at all. Both types of mandolins play and sound virtually the same and there isn’t much, if any, variation between them. Where the changes really lie is simply in the overall appearance of the instrument.

The A-style mandolin, otherwise known as the teardrop style mandolin, is a bit simpler in form and appearance and doesn’t have a lot of intricate woodwork. The F-style mandolin, on the other hand, features a more stylish design. It has a carefully crafted scroll at the top of the body, a beautiful headstock, and a few more intricate design touches that make it stand out over the more simplistic A-shape.

Other than the appearance, the two types of mandolins aren’t very different. The actual body of the mandolin styles are almost the same and the sounds of the instruments aren’t very different at all.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) On Mandolin Body Style Differences

There are some common questions that people ask about F-style vs A-style mandolins. You may find the answer to your questions below.

Are F-Style Mandolins Better Than A-Style Mandolins?

F-Style Mandolin
F-Style Mandolin

Other than the visual appearance of an F-style mandolin, nothing is inherently better about it. Visually, many people prefer the look of an F-style mandolin when compared to an A-style mandolin.

Other than the appearance, it really comes down to each individual mandolin rather than the style that it has. There are varying levels of quality in all mandolins that are on the market. Prices range from a couple of hundred dollars to a thousand dollars or more.

It’s important to research any particular mandolin you’re thinking about buying to ensure that you’re making a good choice. Many other things go into determining the quality of a mandolin besides whether it’s A-style or F-style such as build quality, manufacturer, and more.

If you’re looking for the best beginner mandolins, be sure to check out this post.

Why Are F-Style Mandolins More Expensive?

There is a big range of mandolin prices in both A-style and F-style models. However, F-style mandolins tend to be more expensive in general.

The reason for this is the improved scroll and headstock features that were crafted with care. The design of an F-style mandolin is more intricate.  so an increased amount of labor was required in order to create F-style mandolins when compared to A-style mandolins.

Additionally, people tend to like the way that the F-style mandolins look more. Because of this, they sell for higher prices than A-style mandolins.

Which Type of Mandolin is Better For Bluegrass Music?

Another common question that’s asked about mandolin styles is which one is better for bluegrass music. The mandolin is one of the primary instruments used in bluegrass, and many people who buy the instrument focus on this genre.

This is one case in which the F-style mandolin and the A-style mandolin aren’t quite the same. However, their differences have nothing to do about the tone of the instrument or the playability. It has everything to do with tradition.

F-style mandolins are actually the standard choice among bluegrass players. It’s generally recommended that you get one of these mandolins if you’re interested in playing in the genre. This is especially true if you plan to go to bluegrass jams or play with others. You may look a little bit out of place if you have an A-style mandolin at a bluegrass jam.

You’re unlikely to be ostracized if you use an A-style mandolin. However, you may find that you’ll prefer to have an F-style mandolin since that’s what most other bluegrass players will have. The sound will be completely the same.

Understanding the Differences Between A-Style Vs F-Style Mandolins

If you’re trying to decide between buying an A-style vs F-style mandolin, be sure that you understand all of the information above. F-style mandolins offer a slight edge if you want to play bluegrass or prefer their appearance. However, the truth is that there isn’t much difference between these two mandolin styles.

Want to get started off on the right foot when learning the mandolin? Read this post now to find the best lesson books for beginner mandolin players.