How Much Does a Mandolin Weigh?

The answer about how much a mandolin weighs depends largely on the type of wood used to construct it, as well as the size and style of the particular instrument. 

It also depends on what type of mandolin you have. The three most common types are the round-backed mandolin, the carved-top mandolin, and the flat-backed mandolin. 

Despite all these variables, most mandolins weigh in between 2 to 5 pounds.

As any musician knows, lugging around your instrument in its case can be quite the chore, especially when the instrument has some weight to it. 

Read further to fully understand what this means for you and your banjo.

Materials/Quality

The answer to this question really depends on the quality of the materials used to build heavier mandolins. 

A great mandolin that will withstand the test of time has a sturdy top, back, and sides. Having a top and body made of solid wood definitely adds some weight to a higher quality instrument. Laminate is lighter and cheaper, but not as high quality as a material. 

Solid wood means that the instrument is made from several large chunks of wood. 

Laminate wood is thin slices of wood that are glued together and then used to build the instrument. A more expensive layer is usually placed over several cheap layers, which decreases the cost of the instrument. 

Laminate wood also does not transmit sound vibrations as well as solid wood, which decreases the overall quality of the mandolin. Luckily, there is one main way you can separate the wheat from the chaff when shopping for a mandolin. 

If you’re shopping in person, check out the sound hole. Mandolins with tops made of solid wood will have wood grain lines that run through the piece of wood around the sound hole. 

If the top is laminated, the wood grain line will end right at the edge, but not traverse the sound hole. 

You can also tell by getting a feel for the heft of the instrument. 

Of course, mandolins with solid tops and sides will be a little heavier. But, weight alone can be difficult to judge when you don’t have anything to compare it to. 

If you’re shopping in a store, you can also ask the employees for assistance. 

If you’re shopping online, be sure to carefully read the product description to determine how the top and body of the instrument were constructed. 

Do good mandolins need to be heavy? 

This is another excellent question. Some players prefer their mandolins to have a little more heft because of the solid versus laminate wood issue. 

Additionally, many mandolin players are unwilling to sacrifice the higher sound quality that comes from a wider neck. 

A wider neck adds some weight to the instrument. The structural integrity of the instrument is also very important, so it can be difficult to shave off too much mass without compromising the quality of the vibrations and therefore the sound that the instrument can produce. 

Conclusion

Mandolins are beautiful string instruments that belong to the lute family. Traditionally, they plucked with a flat tool called a plectrum. 

These lovely instruments originated in Europe between the 17th and 18th centuries.

Luckily, mandolins are a great choice for entry level and seasoned musicians alike because of their relatively small size compared to other instruments in the string family.

In conclusion, heavier mandolins are often of higher quality and produce a better, more pleasing sound when they are played. That being said, there are mandolin players on both sides of the argument. 

Some prefer lighter instruments that have more flexibility, and some people even go so far as to drill holes in the neck and corner blocks to reduce the weight of their instruments. 

Others are adamant that an instrument with some heft offers an overall better quality. 

These people would never dream of drilling holes in their precious instruments to cut down on the mass! They are happy carrying around and handling a slightly heavier instrument because of the overall net benefit they feel is provided: namely, a better sound. 

At the end of the day, it’s definitely all about the vibrations.

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