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Looking for the best mandolin for beginners? Ready to start working wonders with 8 strings?
The mandolin is a very interesting and versatile instrument that is a lot of fun to play. While it may be best known for bluegrass music and the creation of the genre by Bill Monroe, it can fit in well with many genres. The mandolin fits in well with jazz, blues, and even rock. Even rock legends like Led Zeppelin have made use of the instrument.
If you’re ready to get started with the mandolin you’re making a wise decision. However, it’s important to get started on the right foot with a high-quality instrument that is great for learning the ropes.
If you’re looking for the best mandolin for beginners, look no further. This list will tell you everything you need to know.
Best Mandolins For Beginners – Quick View
|Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin||A-Style||An A-style mandolin that makes a great choice for beginners due to its nice mix of features and pricing.|
|Kentucky KM-500 Series A-Style Mandolin||A-Style||A topnotch instrument that gives you a lot of value for the money you're spending.|
|Loar LM-520 Mandolin||F-Style||An F-style mandolin that features very high-quality construction and simply looks amazing.|
|Loar LM-310F-BRB Honey Creek F-Style Mandolin||F-Style||Another great mandolin by The Loar. This F-style mandolin has a great look and an impressive sound.||Check Price on Amazon|
|Donner A-Style Mandolin Instrument Sunburst Mahogany DML-1||A-Style||A budget option for beginners that will still fully satisfy any newcomer to the instrument.||Check Price on Amazon|
|Vangoa Acoustic-Electric A-Style Mandolin||A-Style||This mandolin offers everything a newbie to the instrument is likely to need at an affordable price.||Check Price on Amazon|
|ADM A-Style Mandolin||A-Style||A budget mandolin that sounds, looks, and plays well.||Check Price on Amazon|
|Hola! Music HM-3TS A-Style Mandolin||A-Style||A budget-friendly mandolin that offers an amazing value.||Check Price on Amazon|
Differences Between A-Style and F-Style Mandolins
One of the questions you’ll likely ask when searching for a mandolin for the first time is what the difference between an A-style mandolin and an F-style mandolin is.
First of all, the two styles of mandolin have markedly different looks. While the A-style mandolin has a symmetrical pear-shaped body, the F-style mandolin features a distinctive scroll near the bottom of the instrument’s neck. There are also two points at the bottom of the body.
Other than the changes in appearance, there is actually very little difference between the two mandolin styles. Some claim that there is a difference in sound and tone, but others disagree wholeheartedly.
In the end, your choice of mandolin will come down to your own personal preference, although there is one caveat to that.
If you plan on playing bluegrass on the instrument, you’ll likely want to opt for the F-style version. The F-style mandolin is the typical choice for bluegrass players, and if you bring an A-style mandolin to a bluegrass jam, you may not fit in as well as you’d like.
What Are the Best Mandolin Brands to Buy?
While the brand might not matter to you very much as a beginner to the mandolin, it’s worth knowing a little bit about the different brands that are out there. Especially if you’ll be buying a mandolin from a pawn shop or used on eBay, be sure to keep the best brands in mind.
Here are some of the highest-quality brands you might want to keep an eye out for if you’re buying a mandolin:
- Gold Tone
If you buy a mandolin from any of the brands listed above, chances are that you’ll end up with a pretty impressive instrument.
Keep in mind that you can find well-built mandolins from other brands as well. If you’re buying a mandolin from a different brand, however, you’ll want to be even more sure that you’ve read the reviews and that you’ve verified the quality before purchasing it.
Best Beginner Mandolin – REVIEWED
Ready to find the best starter mandolin for your needs? Here are some of our favorite mandolin instruments on the market today.
1. Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin
Topping our list of the best mandolins for beginners is the Ibanez M510DVS mandolin. This is an A-style mandolin that makes a great choice for beginners due to its nice mix of features and pricing.
This mandolin is very high-quality and features some great craftsmanship as well as quality parts and materials. The instrument also offers a great tone and is also quite loud, making it great for playing in front of an audience.
The mandolin features a mahogany neck, sides, and back along with a rosewood fretboard and overall has a nice design and attractive look.
Unfortunately, this mandolin does require some slight adjustments out of the box but once it’s set up it has a wonderful sound and will offer you plenty of enjoyment.
Overall, if you’re looking for the best mandolin for beginners, the Ibanez M510DVS is likely just what you’re looking for. If you want to be among the best mandolin players in the world someday, this is probably the beginner instrument that you’ll want to have.
2. Kentucky KM-500 Series A-Style Mandolin
The Kentucky KM-500 mandolin is another excellent choice if you’re looking to get started with the instrument. This mandolin offers solid wood construction and a resonant, warm tone that is hard to compete with. The tone also has plenty of dynamic power, making it perfect for chopping, strumming, or playing solos.
The Kentucky KM-500 is an A-style mandolin and has a nice vintage look that will make anybody you’re jamming with look twice. The intonation on this mandolin is also more than adequate. The instrument features deluxe open-geared tuners that keep the mandolin in tune well at all times.
Unfortunately, this Kentucky mandolin is one of the more expensive mandolins on this list. However, if you’re looking for a top-notch instrument that gives you a lot of value for the money you’re spending, this may be the best choice for you.
Overall, this is another great choice that will not disappoint any new or intermediate player out there.
3. Loar LM-520 Mandolin
The Loar LM-520 mandolin is the third on our list and offers many of the same things we love in the previous choices. The F-style mandolin features very high-quality construction and simply looks amazing. The instrument features a solid maple back that is hand-carved. It also comes with solid maple sides and a fully graduated spruce top.
While this mandolin looks pretty great, the sound won’t leave you disappointed either. The mandolin features a high-end tone that really rises above the noise, giving you an excellent-sounding chop while playing.
The mandolin is very easy to set up and get started with right out of the gate. This mandolin will seem a bit pricey to some beginners. However, it is well worth the money you’ll be paying for this high-quality Loar instrument. That’s why it’s also featured at the top of our list of mandolins in the less-than-1k price range.
Overall, if you’re looking for the best mandolin for beginners that offers a great look and sound, you can’t go wrong with the Loar LM-520.
4. Loar LM-310F-BRB Honey Creek F-Style Mandolin
Another mandolin made by The Loar, the LM-310F F-Style Mandolin is a great option for beginner players. This one is a bit cheaper than the LM-520 but still offers impressive quality and a killer sound. It’s one of the best mandolins for the money that you’re likely to find on the market today.
The instrument is a perfect choice for both beginner and intermediate mandolin players and is built well. This mandolin has a hand-carved solid spruce top along with a maple neck, back, and sides. A satin brown burst finish gives this instrument a sleek look and makes this one instrument you’ll want to show off at any chance you get.
Overall, this mandolin is well worth a look if you want a starter mandolin at a very attractive price. Be sure to consider it if you’re looking for a fantastic F-style mandolin for beginners.
5. Donner A-Style Mandolin Instrument Sunburst Mahogany DML-1
If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly mandolin around, the Donner DML-1 A-Style Mandolin is the instrument you’re looking for. While the brand doesn’t have the same name recognition as many other manufacturers out there, this mandolin is worth a gander.
Despite its low price, the mandolin offers everything that the beginner will need. The mandolin is great for beginners who want to try out the instrument for the first time before making a huge investment.
The A-style mandolin features a glossy Sunburst finish, a mahogany body, and a chrome-plated tailpiece and tuners. The mandolin is also bundled with extras including a tuner, guitar picks, strings, and a gig bag.
Overall, this instrument is perfect for mandolin newbies and you won’t be likely to find a better deal anytime soon. It can be especially great to learn on, so be sure to get a good mandolin lesson book to go with it.
6. Vangoa Acoustic-Electric A-Style Mandolin
The Vangoa A-Style Mandolin is another one of the best mandolins for beginners. It offers everything a newbie to the instrument is likely to need and comes at an affordable price.
The A-style mandolin features mahagony construction and is built to last. This means that you can play your heart out with this mandolin and it will still remain in great condition for years to come.
While it’s built well, the instrument also has a great look. The instrument features a high-gloss red Sunburst finish and has a solid wood bridge. The action and intonation on this instrument are also top-notch, and the instrument has great playability and feels very comfortable on the fingers and hands.
While a slight tuning may be needed out of the box, the instrument is overall a great choice that any beginner will get a lot of mileage out of when playing their first notes. Be sure to consider this instrument if you’re looking for a reliable beginner mandolin to use.
7. ADM A-Style Mandolin
The ADM A-Style Mandolin is the next mandolin on our list. However, it offers just as much bang for the buck as the above options do and can also be had for a great price. The mandolin is highly popular among players and it makes a great choice for newcomers to the instrument.
The ADM mandolin features a really nice-looking appearance. The black finish really helps the mandolin stand out. The instrument features a top, sides, back, and neck that is made from mahagony, and along with it comes a great sound.
The tone of the instrument is not to be trifled with either. The mandolin offers a bright tone that clearly and easily cuts above the noise and offers a lot of resonance. The instrument also includes open-geared tuners that work well. This mandolin kit also comes with accessories such as a gig bag, a clip-on tuner, picks, and a polishing cloth, so you’ll have everything you need to get started right away.
Overall, if you’re looking for a high-quality mandolin that sounds great, looks great, and plays great, the Donner mandolin is a great choice for you.
8. Hola! Music HM-3TS A-Style Mandolin
The Hola! Music HM-3TS A-Style Mandolin is a budget-friendly mandolin that is well worth considering. Currently, the mandolin is priced at under $100, so you could definitely consider it a steal. Amazon reviewers rank this mandolin highly and it offers a lot for the money that you’ll pay to get your hands on it.
This mandolin features an adjustable truss rod, maple body construction, and a beautiful glossy sunburst finish. While this isn’t the highest-quality instrument that’s on the market today, it may be the one that provides the most value to beginner mandolin players. The mandolin has pretty decent playability and sound for a mandolin of its price and you won’t want much more when you’re in the early stages of learning this unique instrument.
Be sure to take a closer look at this A-style mandolin and consider purchasing it if you’re interested in learning to play. Overall, this is a great deal and it’s sure to offer the playability you’ll need early on in your journey.
Successfully Choosing the Best Mandolin For Your Needs
The mandolin is one of the most interesting instruments out there and offers a great sound in a small package. It also has a very interesting history. The mandolin offers more versatility than you may realize. Although it is a staple of the bluegrass genre, it can also serve as a great addition to many other types of music as well.
If you’re ready to get started with the instrument, you’re in for a great journey. By choosing one of the above instruments, you’ll have the best chance at learning in style while sounding as great as possible.
Do you want to start playing the mandolin with an even more high-quality option? Check out our list of high-quality mandolins for under $1,000 now to discover even more excellent mandolins.
Hi, I’m Harrison! I created this website to help musicians navigate the ins and outs of their craft and to help them choose new instruments and gear to add to their collection. I have 15 years of experience as a guitarist and singer and have also played many other instruments throughout the years including the bass guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica.