7 Best Mandolins For Beginners (Buying Guide & Reviews)

As a beginner getting the right mandolin depends on the quality and quantity of information that you have about the instrument.

It is can even be worse when it comes to choosing a mandolin without the necessary prior details at hand. You could end up making huge losses for lacking some key ideas.

Luckily for a beginner, I have compiled the best beginner mandolins on the market today.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall
Budget Option
For The Money
Runnerup
Washburn Americana M1-Pack with Gig Bag, Mandolin
Vangoa A Style Mandolin Musical Instrument Sunburst, 8 String Acoustic Mandolin with Tuner, Strings, Bag, Picks
Ibanez M510BS A-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst
Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst High Gloss
Washburn Americana M1-Pack with Gig Bag, Mandolin
Vangoa A Style Mandolin Musical Instrument Sunburst, 8 String Acoustic Mandolin with Tuner, Strings, Bag, Picks
Ibanez M510BS A-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst
Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst High Gloss
A-Style
A-Style
A-Style
F-Style
-
-
-
-
$199.00
$119.99
$169.99
$329.99
Best Overall
Washburn Americana M1-Pack with Gig Bag, Mandolin
Washburn Americana M1-Pack with Gig Bag, Mandolin
A-Style
-
$199.00
Budget Option
Vangoa A Style Mandolin Musical Instrument Sunburst, 8 String Acoustic Mandolin with Tuner, Strings, Bag, Picks
Vangoa A Style Mandolin Musical Instrument Sunburst, 8 String Acoustic Mandolin with Tuner, Strings, Bag, Picks
A-Style
-
$119.99
For The Money
Ibanez M510BS A-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst
Ibanez M510BS A-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst
A-Style
-
$169.99
Runnerup
Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst High Gloss
Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst High Gloss
F-Style
-
$329.99

Best Beginners Mandolins

#1 Washburn Americana M1-PackBest Overall

This mandolin by Washburn includes a pitch pipe, gig bag, a booklet, strap, and picks along with an A-style mandolin. Mandolins have been made by this brand since the 1800s. The mandolins produced by this brand can add new dimensions to your music and improve your choice for music whether you are a rock player, any other type of player. From this world-class instrument, even traditional musicians can improve their music and tone.

It is a high-quality A-style mandolin with sides and back made of maple, well-groomed top and smart bracing made of quarter-sawn Sitka. Sunburst structure with a glossy finish. It has Addario J73 light gauge strings specially designed for mandolins.

The Washburn Americana is our pick for being the best mandolin for beginners.

#2 Ibanez M510BS A-Style MandolinFor The Money

This mandolin by Ibanez offers tonality and craftsmanship of the highest standards as offered by other mandolins form this brand. This mandolin is made affordable for every musician, beginner, and professional. The quality features of this mandolin include 8 strings along with other standard features at a very reasonable price.

This mandolin from Ibanez with A-style teardrop platform includes a neat and smart top to balance the tone of sound perfectly. Its body made of mahogany is perfectly maintainable and offers rich lows. Its fretboard made of rosewood offers clarity of tone and clear sustainability for which the Ibanez brand is known. High gloss finish and chrome hardware are its other features.

The main features of this mandolin from Ibanez include A-style body, 8 strings, well-groomed top and back, sides, and neck made of mahogany. It has 350mm scale, rosewood flat fretboard, mahogany neck, the width of nuts 30mm, 20 frets, chrome tuners, and Rosewood Bridge are its other features. This mandolin with Chrome hardware and High gloss finish.

If you want the best value for the money you’re going to spend then this mandolin is for you.

#3 Vangoa A-Style MandolinBudget Option

It is a mandolin totally made of maple- one of the well-known woods. You can get the glossy sunburst finishing with this mandolin. You will also get the covering of mahogany back, side and top coat. This mandolin features the adjustable rosewood bridge and simple pickguard of black ABS. You will get the chrome plated open gear and it can produce variety of sounds. The fingerboard is made of walnut. The appearance of this mandolin is outstanding. The truss rod is adjustable. The steel bar is also there that runs along the neck of the mandolin. It is a traditional looking mandolin. 

#4 Ibanez M522SBS F-Style MandolinRunnerup

Ibanez has designed this mandolin with versatile features as it includes tone and volume controls along with a single-coil magnetic pickup. Its spruce top and sides and back made of mahogany produce great tones. A rosewood bridge and fingerboard, a tortoise style pickguard, and chrome hardware in a glossy brown sunburst finish are its other important features. You will have to buy its case separately.

This F-Style Mandolin from Ibanez projects a crisp and unique sound well when it is played through its magnetic pickup. It is made comfortable for musicians by making it easy to play with its rosewood fretboard and maple neck. It looks beautiful with its laminated spruce top, sunburst finish, and F-style body.

Ibanez offers Gold Coverage warranty to the professional musicians. This warranty covers wear and tears from unintentional and unexpected drops, cracks, and spills along with normal wear and tears. Damage caused by surges in power supply as well as humidity, dust, and internal heat. In this way, the manufacturer of this mandolin protects you from the damages caused by accidental failures and mishandling from up to 5 years from the date of its purchase at a very low cost. In this way they allow you to play it in a worry-free environment.

#5 Washburn 8-String Mandolin

This is the best mandolin for you if you are looking for a new affordable mandolin to produce music with the tips of your fingers. It has been designed to fulfill the requirements of musicians of all levels, beginners and professional players. This piece of fine craftsmanship includes an excellent mandolin made of wood, easy to use tuners, colorful fit together to produce distinctive sounds of acoustic music. In this mandolin, a wood fretboard with dots is inlaid carefully so that you can learn to make octave changes and play chords with your fingers.

The shape of this mandolin is finely designed with 8 light gauge strings fixed on a tastefully decorated tailpiece. For beginners, sticky tuning pegs are very frustrating sometimes. This mandolin includes 8 tuners made of chrome die-cast to allow the beginners to use them accurately, quickly, and smoothly to save their time and avoid frustration while playing the music of their choice. The strings used in it will not break easily as they are dense enough.

This mandolin with back, neck, and sides made of maple, top made of solid spruce, and bracing of spruce made of quarter-sawn Sitka produces distinctive acoustics with superior tones to reach far away without losing the distinctiveness of its music.

The features that make this mandolin very attractive for musicians include a solid spruce top, quarter-sawn Sitka spruce bracing and back, sides and neck made of maple, chrome die-cast tuners to ensure its longevity and ease of tuning acoustics.

#6 Ammoon A-Style Mandolin

Ammoon has introduced this electric mandolin with an A-style body in black and sunburst finish with 8 strings. Its spruce body is made of solid basswood, neck from okumen wood, and fingerboard of rosewood. Its other features include 2F soundholes, bridge of rosewood, tone, and volume control knobs to produce high-quality sounds. This mandolin made beautifully with exceptional workmanship includes a cleaning cloth, 8 strings, and a cable.

#7 Loar LM 310 Mandolin

This is another product from the same brand like previous one. The mandolin is looking like the thin V profile. It comfortably fit in the hands of the players. In this mandolin, you can find the authentic and hand-crafted spruce top. You can also get the real sound of 1920s. It is a perfect combination of authentic and traditional F-style body. This product not only sounds great but also easy to play for the beginners. It is the best choice for next generation players as well. With its woody characteristics, it is very warm and full. It can produce some classy tones. It is very easy to play and joy to listen as well. 

Choosing The Best Mandolin As A Beginner

Buying the right mandolin is a step in the right direction for a beginner. Below is everything you should know before buying your first mandolin.

Have A Budget 

Do not wake up and rush to buy a mandolin just because you got some cash that you had not expected. Planning, depending on your financial status, is a good starting point. Buying the most expensive mandolin as a beginner does not mean that you will become an expert faster.

On the other hand, do not go for a mandolin just because it is the cheapest.It could be affordable and faulty, which will break before you start learning. For beginners, I would recommend that you start with an intermediate mandolin. You can consider buying a second-hand mandolin from a friend if you can manage to get one in good condition.

Try Before You Buy

When buying a mandolin, you need to consider visiting the dealer with a friend who is experienced with other instruments or who knows how to play the mandolin. Let your friend guide you on checking the qualities of the device. You should ask the dealer to give a tuner and check whether the mandolin intonates well preferably up to the seventh fret.

Make sure that the mandolin is adequately set up to save them from the embarrassment that comes with poorly set mandolins. Try to learn the essential mandolin setups from friends who own the instrument before you buy yours. Compare various mandolins before deciding the one to buy.

Buying Online

For a beginner, I discourage the idea of buying a mandolin online. It is good that you buy a mandolin to a dealer where you can test before buying. Only buy online if the dealer promises to take the mandolin back if you buy online and find it is defective.

Check For Technical Defects

If you happen to purchase an old mandolin, make sure that the instruments’ bindings and seams are intact. Check for any cracks and make sure the mandolin has a straight neck. Ensure that your instrument’s soundboard is in good condition. A new machine should have all it’s tuning keys when turned on. For a beginner, the action on the mandolin should not be too hight to avoid hurting your fingers when you start training.

The Body Style/Type

Nowadays, mandolins usually come in three different types, and your choice for the three depends on your style of music, your financial position as well as the appearance that suits you. The three configurations are as follows.

Bowl- backed is the oldest of all with its origin in Italy. It has a round back and a dark tone that makes it appealing for classical and folk music. They are quite cheap, and most are of low quality. Not so much recommended for beginners.

A-style mandolins are also known as flat-backed mandolins and usually have a pear-shaped body. They have holes that resemble the holes in a violin on both sides. They are cheaper than F-style mandolins of the same quality, and they are also easier to build as compared to F-style

F-style have a curved body that distinguishes them from A-style. Most of them have points protruding out on the lower part which makes the instrument comfortable playing when sitting by resting it on the laps. F-style mandolin are used a lot for bluegrass music.

Type Of Wood

Various parts of a mandolin are made of different kinds of wood to put them under stress. These wood types have a great deal in determining the tone the mandolin produces, and knowing where different types of wood function best will help you choose the right instrument.

The soundboard of most mandolins is made of a lightweight and hardy wood known as spruce. Use of other wood like cedar and mahogany to make the soundboard makes the mandolin produce a deep sound which may not be okay.

Some other makers use laminate wood to make the top which may, in a way, help the beginners who have a slim budget. It is also wise to check the type of finish on a mandolin, and a massive finish might affect the quality of sound produced by the instrument.

Strings

Try and get a mandolin with eight strings since that is the most common. Every mandolin we listed above has the basic eight string configuration.

Electric vs. Acoustic

Acoustic mandolins are cheaper than electric mandolins; however, price alone should not determine which type you choose, but your selection depends on where you intend to use the instrument.

Check For The Accessories

When you decide to purchase a mandolin, carry with you the following accessories lest your mandolin becomes useless.

  • Gig Bag/Case- buy a case to protect your mandolin from being scratched. The amount you spend on buying a case should be directly proportional to the price of your instrument.
  • Tuner-have a tuner and know how to use. Electronic tuners are handier for that matter.
  • Strap-helps the instrument from being damaged when not in the case in case it accidentally falls. It also helps when carrying the device to avoid straining your body.
  • Strings -Buy some spare strings since replacements of strings after sometimes is necessary.
  • Buy A Capo-It helps to achieve different sounds which would not be comfortable without a capo.

Best Mandolin Brands For Beginners

Some of the best mandolin brands that can suit the need of various mandolin beginners are discussed below.

Conclusion

That’s all folks! Now you have already got an idea about the mandolin and got a full list of it. These are our top picks. We have mentioned these products as per the quality, structure, sound and price as well. You can take your pick from these. We hope this article and review will help you to pick the best choice.

Leave a Comment