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Best Mandolins

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Best Mandolins

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Best Mandolins
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Heather
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Your Authors and Guides
Article Author
Heather Patton
Article Author
Jennifer Trimbee
Article Author
Samantha Dewitt

How to Choose the Best Mandolin

A mandolin is essentially a lute with different body shape and metal strings. This lends it a more metallic sound. It’s a really cool instrument to learn to play, and with our help, you can pick out the best beginner mandolin to help you get started! We’ve done all of our research and reviewed a ton of different instruments to bring you only the best. Here are some things you should know before we get started!

Best Mandolins

Wood Type: Mandolins can be made from a variety of different woods, from spruce and maple to mahogany. They have different looks and sounds, so make sure you look into this while you’re shopping for your next mandolin.

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Dimensions: How big is the instrument? Mandolins are notoriously small, but there are some that are smaller than others. Make sure you choose one that you can play easily, taking into account the size of your hands.

How to Choose the Best Mandolin

Type: There are acoustic mandolins and electric mandolins, not to mention mandolins that are both acoustic and electric. We’ll let you know which type you’re dealing with here so you can make the best decision for you.

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Body Style: There are two main body types for mandolins represented here. The A-style body is more rounded like a banjo, while an F-style body looks more like a small guitar. The difference is purely cosmetic and doesn’t affect the sound.

Best Mandolins

Gig Bag: Does the mandolin come with a gig bag? Some of them do, so if you’re looking for a kit that includes everything you need you should definitely check this information out. Otherwise, you will have to purchase it separately.

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Strings: This will tell you how many strings the mandolin has. Most mandolins will have eight strings, and they are made of metal coated with copper to produce a more metallic sound than some other string instruments.

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With that out of the way, we can show you the mandolins that we recommend! We’ve compiled ten of the best instruments on the market right now to help you find the best mandolin for your musical needs. Check out our top pick and budget pick first before strumming down the rest of the list. Don’t fret! We’re sure you’ll find the best entry level mandolin for you to get started on!

Kentucky KM-140 Mandolin

Kentucky KM-140 Mandolin
For our top pick, we are going with the Kentucky KM-140 Mandolin. Made from a combination of solid spruce on the top and maple on the back and sides, its multi-ply top binding and adjustable compensated rosewood bridge come together to make a beautiful instrument that is a joy to play and be seen playing. The fingerboard has a stylish mother of pearl inlays that really pop on the instrument, and the entire layout makes for an attractive acoustic piece that you’re going to love owning and enjoy playing. It has an adjustable truss rod, nickel-plated hardware with a traditional glossy sunburst finish. This instrument has a vintage look with its maple back and sides and creates a beautiful sound when you play its eight strings. What more could you ask for? It’s the best value mandolin on our list because it is truly a luxury instrument with a price point you’re definitely going to appreciate.
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Rogue Mandolin Sunburst

Rogue Mandolin Sunburst
Our best cheap mandolin is the Rogue Mandolin Sunburst, with an affordable price point and slightly smaller A-type body style. It has eight metallic strings that lend it a beautiful sound, along with a maple body that looks and sounds beautiful. The fingerboard is made of sturdy, gorgeous rosewood with clean workmanship and a beautiful finish. It really stands out, and as the best inexpensive mandolin, it’s a great value for the quality that you get. It’s a great starting mandolin because the neck is easy to play, and the bridge is adjustable with chrome tuners and nickel-plated frets. It sounds great when you’re playing bluegrass, country, or whatever style you prefer. You can’t go wrong with this mandolin! It’s going to be easy to find an appropriate gig bag for it, as it is sized like most other A-style mandolins. It’s an amazing value for the price, and you’re definitely going to love playing it.
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Oscar Schmidt OM10E Mandolin

Oscar Schmidt OM10E Mandolin
The title of the best acoustic-electric mandolin falls to this one by Oscar Schmidt. The OM10E is a great example of a mandolin that you can use however you’d like, with acoustic tones with passive electronics for enhancement. These electronic elements work so well that it’s also the best electric mandolin that we could find. It has a typical A body style and doesn’t come with a gig bag, but it is a standard size for the body type so finding a bag at a great value should be easy. The eight metallic strings sound great with the rosewood fingerboard and bridge, as well as the mahogany and spruce construction. It’s a handsome instrument that you’re going to love playing, and it’s going to sound beautiful no matter what skill level you bring to the instrument. We love the way that this mandolin looks and sounds, and we know you will too once you give it a try!
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Donner A Style Mandolin

Donner A Style Mandolin
Donner’s A-style mandolin comes with a well-rounded kit that makes it the best starter mandolin. Everything that you could need comes in this kit, including a gig bag, eight strings, a digital clip-on tuner, polishing cloth, and even guitar picks. That’s a lot of value for your money! It has a mahogany body that will give you a rich, bright sound, and it’s going to look great with the chrome-plated open gear tuners and tailpiece. The truss rod in the neck is adjustable for your convenience, to make it easier for you to play. The instrument itself has a mahogany body with a glossy sunburst finish that looks and feels great while you’re playing. If you’re looking to get started with a mandolin, this is one of the best values because of all of the accessories that it comes with. You won’t have to buy these things separately! If you don’t like it, you can return within 30 days!
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Rogue Learn-the-Mandolin Package

Rogue Learn-the-Mandolin Package
What is the best mandolin for a beginner? That’s ultimately up to you, but the Rogue Learn-the-Mandolin Package is a great place to get started. That’s because it comes with quite a few beginner accessories that will help you learn. It includes a Mandolin Method book and a Mandolin Chords Plus book to help you learn some of the basics of playing the Mandolin. Plus, the instrument comes with a gig bag that will fit all of the accessories as well as the instrument for taking them on the go. If you need help learning how to play your new Rogue RM-100A, this is definitely the kit that’s going to help you get to where you want to be as far as skill goes. It’s an A-body style acoustic mandolin that looks and sounds great, made of durable mahogany with 8 metallic strings for the sweetest, purest mandolin sound that you could imagine. You’ll love it!
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Savannah SA-100-BK Mandolin

Savannah SA-100-BK Mandolin
You won’t regret picking up this solid Savannah SA100-BK Mandolin. It’s got a perfectly-sized acoustic A-style body. The neck is made of hard maple wood so it’s sturdy and durable, with a rosewood fretboard and a joint at the 12th fret. It comes with an adjustable compensated bridge so that you can customize every aspect of your instrument according to how you play. It’s going to be easy to find a gig bag that will fit this mandolin, as it’s got a pretty standard mandolin size. It comes with 8 metallic strings that you can tune and work with as you choose. It’s an attractive instrument that is also affordable and gives you a bright, acoustic sound that you’re going to love. While it’s pretty basic as far as mandolins go, it’s also a great instrument that will help you learn how to play while allowing you to adjust it to your particular play style.
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Barcelona Violinburst Mandolin

Barcelona Violinburst Mandolin
If you’re a left-handed player, we have good news for you! Barcelona’s Violinburst Mandolin is a left-handed mandolin that allows you all of the same comforts and considerations as right-handed players. Look no further for your next favorite left-handed mandolin. It’s a type A mandolin that comes with 8 strings, so it’s fairly standard. Crafted from basswood on the top, back, and sides, it includes a nickel engraved tailpiece and open geared tuners. The black stained maple bridge is adjustable and attractive. It also has a couple of signature ‘FF’ holes that make unique sounds that help contribute to the way your mandolin plays. It has a nice sunburst design on the top so it doesn’t just sound great, it looks amazing as well! You’re going to look amazing playing this basswood mandolin, and you don’t have to settle for a right-handed instrument any longer. Plus, it’s a standard size so it’s easy to find a gig bag that fits.
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Stagg M20 Bluegrass Mandolin

Stagg M20 Bluegrass Mandolin
Here is a slightly larger left-handed mandolin made by Stagg. The M20 Bluegrass is a great instrument for strumming along to your favorite bluegrass or country tunes. You have options when choosing a left-handed mandolin, and this is definitely one of the best. The back and sides are made of basswood, with a nato neck and a beautiful but sturdy rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The violin burst design on the front of the instrument takes it to a classy place, making this one handsome mandolin. It comes with 8 strings, and it’s going to be easy to find a gig bag because it is a standard-sized mandolin. It’s a great choice for left-handed players and comes at a modest price that isn’t going to break the bank. It really is a beautiful blanket that we’re sure you’re going to enjoy playing, and it’s great for learning if you’re a left-handed player. Now you can play your favorite bluegrass easily!
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The Loar Honey Creek Mandolin

And last but not least is the Loar Honey Creek mandolin. It’s the only F-style acoustic mandolin on our list, which means that the body has a much more attractive and classic shape. This is a great-looking mandolin that you’re going to love playing. The quality of this instrument really shines. It’s somewhat more expensive for the addition of the body type, but the quality is apparent in the maple neck and satin brown burst finish. The back and sides are made of maple for excellent sound quality. It’s a great, classical-sounding mandolin that you can immediately recognize from the first strum. The top is hand-carved and absolutely amazing, with graceful curves and a sturdy neck. It comes with D’Addario strings, so you won’t have to replace them after ordering. This is hands down the best bluegrass mandolin that we found. You’re going to love the gorgeous, full sounds that this mandolin can make regardless of your skill level.
And last but not least is the Loar Honey Creek mandolin. It’s the only F-style acoustic mandolin on our list, which means that the body has a much more attractive and classic shape. This is a great-looking mandolin that you’re going to love playing. The quality of this instrument really shines. It’s somewhat more expensive for the addition of the body type, but the quality is apparent in the maple neck and satin brown burst finish. The back and sides are made of maple for excellent sound quality. It’s a great, classical-sounding mandolin that you can immediately recognize from the first strum. The top is hand-carved and absolutely amazing, with graceful curves and a sturdy neck. It comes with D’Addario strings, so you won’t have to replace them after ordering. This is hands down the best bluegrass mandolin that we found. You’re going to love the gorgeous, full sounds that this mandolin can make regardless of your skill level.
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Eastman MD305 Mandolin

The Eastman MD305 Mandolin is for when you want to get serious with your playing. The A style tear-drop style mandolin is made in much the same way as it was in the early 20th century. Handmade using the finest select tonewoods, this instrument carved from maple on the top, back, and sides with a beautiful ebony bridge and fingerboard. This instrument is a stunning example of Eastern craftsmanship. This acoustic A style mandolin comes with a gig bag and 8 strings. Its triple bound on the top and features a single piece cast tailpiece. The scroll work is masterfully rendered and is a stunning example of the quality that is present across this instrument. For the amazing quality, it’s one of the best affordable mandolins on the market right now.  You get a great instrument that you can learn to play on without breaking the bank if you find that you don’t like it.
The Eastman MD305 Mandolin is for when you want to get serious with your playing. The A style tear-drop style mandolin is made in much the same way as it was in the early 20th century. Handmade using the finest select tonewoods, this instrument carved from maple on the top, back, and sides with a beautiful ebony bridge and fingerboard. This instrument is a stunning example of Eastern craftsmanship. This acoustic A style mandolin comes with a gig bag and 8 strings. Its triple bound on the top and features a single piece cast tailpiece. The scroll work is masterfully rendered and is a stunning example of the quality that is present across this instrument. For the amazing quality, it’s one of the best affordable mandolins on the market right now. You get a great instrument that you can learn to play on without breaking the bank if you find that you don’t like it.
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Article last updated on:

June 4, 2019

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TOP PICK

Kentucky KM-140 Mandolin

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