Mandolins are one of the classic fretted instruments that carry a nostalgic touch to any tune. A decent mandolin has 4 courses of double strings, which carries the total to eight. However, there are different types of mandolin that carry 5 and 6 courses as well.  

Picking the best beginner mandolin from the market is not easy. This is the reason numerous players get confused. A portion of the brands are not very well known and you can barely discover an honest review or guide to tell you where to go to find the best mandolins for beginners.

best mandolin for beginners

Fortunately, you have landed on the right page! Now, we can figure things out for you. What are the best beginner style mandolins? For what reason you should pick a specific model? Furthermore, numerous different questions maybe you are thinking. Let’s see how to find the right mandolin.

Top 10 best mandolins for beginners in 2021

After all things considered, going through a deep research, we have found the best 10 mandolins for beginners, which you should consider while buying.

  1. Rogue RM-100A (Good quality mandolin)

2. Kentucky KM-150  (best mandolin under $500)

3. Ibanez M510 (great instrument for the price)

4. Gretsch G9350 Park Avenue (solid quality mandolin)

5. Savannah SA-100 (great little instrument)

6. Ibanez M522SBS (Best f style mandolin) 

7. The Loar LM-520 (top expert mandolin)

8. Ibanez M510dvs (best mandolin under $200)

9. Hola! Music HM-3TS A-Style  (True 5 star instrument)

10. Stagg M50E (top acoustic electric mandolin)

Let’s have a look of them:

1. Rogue RM-100A (good quality mandolin)

Rogue RM-100 Mandolin is A-style mandolin having a maple neck in its construction. RM-100 Mandolin comes with a rosewood fingerboard with the 12th fret neck joint. The bridge of this instrument is compensated, which is movable as well as gives a better sound projection.

This A style instrument is completely covered wood that makes it a well-constructed and smaller mandolin. This instrument is produced using high-quality materials making it strong and versatile. Putting resources into this mandolin is a long-term venture that can keep going for longer periods. The craftsmanship of the Rogue RM-100 Mandolin permits it to project brilliant sound. 

Rogue RM-100A A-Style Mandolin Sunburst

The finishing details of the Rogue A style mandolins feature chromed tuners and nickel-plated frets. They generate incredible resonance that is simple to spring the tension. The gauge of the string supports in creating a more brilliant and full-volume sound.

This RM-100 Mandolin is lightweight as it weighs only 2.9 pounds. It implies that you can play it easily for longer periods with no trouble. You can purchase a mandolin case for this A-style instrument which is sold separately. Thus, you can keep your instrument shielded from water and dust. 

The Rogue RM-100 Mandolin is an excellent instrument for both experts and beginner mandolin players, that’s why it tops the list of our best mandolin for beginners.

Pros

  • Beautiful design
  • Looks professional
  • Clear and bright sound

Cons

  • Case is sold separately

2. Kentucky KM-150 (best mandolin under $500)

We consider Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Mandolin one of the best mandolins for the beginners. This instrument is from a reputed brand. This brand offers an incentive to people who are searching for an economical or budget-friendly mandolin with a classic tone quality.

 The initial thing about this A style mandolin is that it’s available in both solid-top and full-solid design. The solid top model instrument is about $100 cheaper but it will worth your penny. The more you play this high-quality beginner mandolin, the sound quality will be better.

 Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Mandolin

A crucial thing about this starter mandolin is that it has a thinner neck than the Loar, which is its main contender. If you have very large hands you might enjoy playing this instrument. The tools on this beginner mandolin is excellent considering the price.

You won’t need to worry about having tone quality since it has an offset bridge that will help you to set it up to sound as good as the other fretted instruments. You may feel happy about that there is no fretboard extension.

The Kentucky starter mandolin comes with a truss rod, which is quite standard at a mandolin in this price range. The bound fretboard is also decent as well.  

The Kentucky KM-150 is a great and best beginner mandolin. While not having very much volume as the Loar, but the brand is known to have better quality control over The Loar. This Kentucky’s starter mandolin is less expensive and if you are on a budget, this instrument would be one of the best beginner mandolins.

Pros

  • High-quality woods and high-gloss finish.
  • It’s functional with every feature and element designed for best playability.
  • It comes to you already shop adjusted. So, you can start playing the mandolin right out of the box.
  • The durability and ease of use make it an excellent mandolin for beginners.

Cons

  • It doesn’t come with a hard case. So, you will have to buy the case separately. And that can be expensive.
  • The floating bridge on this mandolin can be hard to set-up precisely. Kentucky recommends visiting a shop if you are worried about fixing the floating bridge.

3. Ibanez M510 A-style ( great instrument for the price)

Ibanez M510DVS is an amazing mandolin that has been available for quite a while. Although new brands and models continue coming out, it remains one of the sound quality beginner mandolins.

This high-quality beginner mandolin has a classic A-style with overlaid mahogany back, sides and a tidy top. The mandolin is as strong as you would need it to be with an outstandingly rich and warm sound.

Ibanez M510 A-style Mandolin

Ibanez brand realized where to head with the design of the M510DVS. The chrome material gives the instrument such a pleasant appearance with pearl dot inlays, which makes it much more splendid.

With regards to playability, you will be satisfied with the rosewood fingerboard that permits you to have better tones and a phenomenal splendid sound. Ibanez M510DVS comes with a simple design with the great workmanship that makes this probably the best mandolin for beginners, which will never become unfashionable. 

We have to tell you that the strings that feature this mandolin are not as high-caliber as the instrument. However, at some point, each player needs to replace the strings of their mandolins, so you should do it first when you buy this mandolin.

Pros

  • Great shape, mahogany back and sides.
  • One of the best mandolins under $300.
  • The Ibanez provides a good tone and stays in tune.
  • Decent pickup.

Cons

  • people often find the electric pickups very weak.

4. Gretsch G9350 Park Avenue (solid quality mandolin)

Gretsch G9350 Park Avenue Mandolin is one of the popular choices when it comes to F-style beginner mandolin. The body of the F-style is created from spruce and maple. The spruce top is used though for back and the top while the maple is used for sides.

It makes this electric mandolin strong and tough to endure regular use. The best materials guarantee the instrument will keep going for a long time. The reaction that is carried by this Gretsch G9350 is incredible with plenty of warm. The V profile maple neck permits you to play this F-style Gretsch electric mandolin fast while giving a decent tone and incredible balance. 

Gretsch G9350 is an acoustic-electric F-style mandolin, which delivers a phenomenal sound that will take you to old times. This instrument gives a warm and brilliant tone. The tuners work exceptionally well offering best spring tension and simple tuning. You won’t have any issue with the sound since its repaid connect.

Gretsch G9350 Park Avenue F-Mandolin A/E

The bridge of this instrument uses clamshell that makes changing the strings easily. It implies adaptability and simple playability. This electric mandolin gives a superb player experience as it can reconnect classic tunes back to life. Gretsch G9350 is one of the best f-style mandolins as it gives you the sound and feels you are looking for.

Pros

  • Solid quality, features and playability at a reasonable price.
  • If you are looking for an affordable all solid wood F style with an oval hole, this is the right mandolin.
  • Suitable for bluegrass, folk-blues, jug band, blues and so forth.

Cons

  • Narrow fretboard.
  • It becomes somewhat neck heavy and tends to dive a bit.

5. Savannah SA-100 ( great little instrument)

Our next alternative mandolin is the Savannah SA-100 Mandolin. This mandolin includes a solid maple neck with bound rosewood fingerboard. It has a movable compensated bridge that gives superb sound as well as excellent frequency reaction. Savannah SA-100 Mandolin comes with has a 12th fret neck joint that permits you to have smooth player experience. The chrome tuning machines of this started mandolin make tuning consistent. The chrome tuners add a vintage contact to this instrument. The tuning features an advanced system, which offers precise tuning. 

 Savannah SA-100-BK A-Model Mandolin

Furthermore, the fingerboard of this mandolin has dot inlays that permit you to have exact fingering. It makes playing the Savannah SA instrument simple while you can move it around smoothly. The Savannah Mandolin also offers excellent performance and player experience. Savannah SA-100 Mandolin has excellent craftsmanship, which makes it well constructed and smaller. The sound Savannah Mandolin produces is splendid, warm and rich. This instrument can endure the test of time, making it one of the best mandolins for beginners.

The Savannah SA-100 Mandolin looks and sounds incredible. It is an ideal decision for all artists as it has incredible development, great sound and fitting.

Pros

  • Very well constructed instrument.
  • Moderate performance – neither too high nor too low.
  • Beautiful tone.
  • It comes at a reasonable price.

Cons

  • It needs some maintenance from time to time

6. Ibanez M522SBS (best f style mandolin) 

If you have played any of Ibanez banjo, then you would know what you can expect from this Ibanez M522SBS mandolin in terms of quality. Ibanez M522SBS mandolin is solidly constructed and it looks brilliant. 

The Ibanez F-style mandolin generates a great sound that is extremely loud as well. If you have a good knowledge of guitars, then you will admire this Ibanez mandolin.

 Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin (Brown Sunburst High Gloss)

This Ibanez M522SBS elegant 8-string bluegrass machine is one of the best electric mandolins since it’s under $500 price point, which is prepared to hit up the jams out of the box. In fact, it’s one of the budget mandolins for mandolin players. This F-style Ibanez mandolin features a strong spruce top and a flamed maple body for fresh and striking tones. The mahogany neck, as well as the rosewood bridge and the fretboard of this Ibanez M522SBS, generate sustaining tone while the gold tuners keep the mandolin holding the notes in the key. 

With a high gloss finish, the Ibanez is one of the best mandolin models that stands out in a striking style making it one of the best mandolins for beginners.  

Pros

  • Stylish look with flamed maple back and sides.
  • All-wood construction is high-quality and durable
  • The bridge allows you to adjust the height of the strings.
  • You can choose the level that suits your playing best that makes it easier to play

Cons

  • It needs a good set-up by a professional.

7. The Loar LM-520 (top expert mandolin)

Another alternative for the best mandolins for beginners is The Loar LM-520-VS Performer Mandolin which features a strong hand-made spruce top with handmade maple sides and back. When it’s about construction, the neck of the LM-520-VS mandolin is produced using maple with adjusted V profile. This instrument offers you a scope of various tones. 

The compensated bridge of this instrument is delivered using Ebony, which is flexible. It offers better pitch and reaction frequency. The fingerboard of the bluegrass country instrument is from bound padauk. It has 29 frets with the flexible truss rod. The vintage sunburst finish of this mandolin makes it more charming.

The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin

Also, the Grover playing machines ensure it remains in the tune regarding how hard you play. The Loar LM-520-VS delivers high-end sound with excellent projection. With brown burst finish, this Loar Mandolin gives a rich vintage look.

The Loar LM-520-VS mandolin has a gleaming finish with vintage sunburst as you have known already. The materials used in the construction of this instrument is of top-quality. 

Purchasing a mandolin can be your long-term investment in terms of durability. The Loar LM-520-VS Performer Mandolin is durable that has fresh and rich sound projection with a high-end tune. This instrument is an incredible decision for the musicians who would prefer not to have whistles and bells.

Pros

  • Excellent playability.
  • Pretty much set up – ready to play.
  • Amazing strings.
  • High-quality materials.

Cons

  • The bridge needs to be dropped a bit.

8. Ibanez M510dvs ( best mandolin under $200)

Ibanez M510DVS mandolin is a great instrument that has been available for a while. Despite the fact that new brands continue to come out, this A-style instrument is still a superior choice for mandolin players. This acoustic-electric mandolin has a classic A-style sunburst finish with mahogany back or sides and a spruce top.

The instrument is pretty much as strong as you would need it to be with an uncommonly rich and warm solid. Ibanez realized where to head with the plan of the model. The chrome hardware gives this starter mandolin an appealing appearance with pearl spot inlays, which makes it more outstanding.

Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin, Dark Violin Sunburst

When it’s about playability, you will be satisfied with the fingerboard that enables you to have a better tone quality and bright intonation. The classic design with superior workmanship is the thing that makes this instrument the best A-style mandolin that won’t ever become old.

However, the strings that come with the Ibanez M510DVS mandolin are not as great as the instrument. It’s not an issue since at some price point, mandolin players replace the strings later on.

With the Ibanez M510dvs Mandolin, the brand has tried to fulfil a decent harmony among tone quality and affordable price point. Considering the instrument or tone quality, Ibanez M510dvs Mandolin will worth your penny.

Thanks to its durability since you won’t have to purchase a new one soon because of wear or tear. Obviously, as you become a better mandolin player you may want a superior tone quality. For many bluegrass players, this A-style instrument is satisfactory especially if you take it to an ace to set it up rightly. 

Pros

  • Impressive design
  • It offers an excellent rich resonance
  • Great construction
  • With spruce top as the wood, the sound quality is great.
  • Durable instrument
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Needs to be set-up by a professional
  • Doesn’t offer good strings

9. Hola! Music HM-3TS ( true 5 star instrument)

The Hola! Music HM-3TS A-Style Mandolin is a great starter mandolin that is convenient and a decent introduction to a mandolin player. Featuring with built-in strap pin, this instrument allows mandolin players to play when standing while the black pickguard shields the woodwork from erratic playing. You can change the walnut bridge up or down to shape the sound further. It seems like Hola A-Style Mandolin is a durable instrument at a reasonable price point. This is a classic styled 8-string mandolin in maple with a beautiful sunburst finish.  

Hola! Music A Style Mandolin Instrument with Adjustable Truss-Rod Model HM-3TS, Glossy Sunburst Finish

You may say this is not the best starter mandolin available however it is more than sufficient for beginner mandolin players, with a bunch of good strings, this A-style mandolin considered to be a high standard. Obviously, you won’t get those deep tone qualities that you would get with an expensive mandolin but it works fine.  

However, there are few downsides of this starter mandolin that is understandable at this price point. If you’re a beginner mandolin player and you want a mandolin at a reasonable price point, Hola A-Style Mandolin is an amazing choice. But if you’re one of the expert bluegrass players, this A-style instrument may not be the right choice for you. 

Pros

  • 8-string classic A style mandolin in glossy Sunburst finish
  • Comes with a black ABS pickguard. White ABS binding around body, neck & head
  • A decent starter mandolin
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Poor rattling noise when strumming hard

10. Stagg M50E (top acoustic electric mandolin)

For all the acoustic-electric lovers out there, it’s your stop! It’s time to get back to the mandolins at an affordable price point. Stagg M-30 Bluegrass music mandolin costs less than half of the KM-150 if you are talking about the acoustic model. Interestingly, this Stagg M-30 comes with an acoustic-electric bluegrass music mandolin that costs a couple of dollars more.

If you need to record your music or use an amplifier, the Stagg M-30 electric mandolin might be a better investment. But if you are a beginner mandolin player, the acoustic mandolin is enough at this price point. There are several designs like red burst design and gold burst design is available with this instrument.

Stagg M50E Acoustic-Electric Bluegrass Mandolin with Nato Top - Redburst

This acoustic-electric has a Nato body with a black maple bridge, a rosewood fingerboard, basswood for the back or sides and pearl dot inlays that make it look modern style mandolin. Because of its solid spruce top, you can depend on its bright sound projection. The bridge of this instrument is adjustable that allows you to control the intonation. One thing that will really dazzle you is the tuners. There are 8 open-gear nickel tuners that can support you with changing the frequency and get an amazing connection.

Now let’s jump to the Stagg M50E electric mandolin specs; the instrument includes a single pick-up coil with two knobs for volume and tone controls. All things considered, you will get a bright tone quality with a fresh deep sound while playing different music genres. Since Stagg M50E may require a bit of an adjustment, you may want to consult a pro. Besides, the action is more than adequate for this acoustic-electric mandolin. The tone quality is also great, compared with what you may expect from a mandolin at this price point. So if you are looking for the best acoustic-electric mandolin, then go for Stagg M50E. This instrument is luxurious, incredible sound quality and easy to adjust.

Pros

  • Vintage looks
  • First-class built-quality
  • Supports electric playing

Cons

  • For gig bag, you may have to pay extra

Considerations: Buying the Best Mandolin for Beginners 

Before you purchase your mandolin, ensure that you have an overall thought of what you are searching for in the starter mandolin (according to you) and that you have made a difference between mandolin brands so you realize what is in store. 

You might be searching for the beginner mandolin available, that is totally hand-made and sounds like a fantasy or you might be searching for the best mandolin for beginners that is affordable and will get you through learning the instrument. 

Whatever the case might be for you, ensure you have a basic comprehension of what you are searching for in your mandolin.  And fortunately, after reading out all the reviews above, surely you have found your best beginner mandolin already!   

FAQ

What is the best mandolin for beginners?

  • It will depend on your budget and preferences. Read our review on starter mandolins thoroughly, note down your preferences and budget, then choose your beginner mandolin!  

What’s the difference between A and F-style mandolins?

  • These two mandolin styles have major differences in terms of their appearance. The F-style features an ornamental scroll in the headstock and close to the neck and two points on the lower construction of the instrument, while the A-style usually comes with a plain, pear-shaped construction and no points.

Is the mandolin easy to learn to play?

  • If you are dedicated enough as a beginner mandolin player, you might feel it easier to learn. However, the mandolin is not a hard instrument to learn. It also features fewer strings than many other instruments, for example, the guitar. The mandolin is just unique enough that people will be interested as to what instrument you are playing 

How much does a beginner mandolin cost?

  • You should expect to pay at least $300 for a good quality starter mandolin. 

How long does it take to learn the mandolin?

  • If a beginner player were to practice every day for 30-60 minutes per day, it would take about 3 months to play the instrument with confidence and persistence. Being a beginner player if you practice more, you will improve your skillset and your playing will come naturally to you.

Final Verdict 

We recommend you to not to accept this review as the final for mandolins. Regardless of whether you know nothing about playing an instrument, tuning in to the instruments being played and feeling them in your grasp can help with settling on your choice simpler. However, if you have a budget that you are set up to spend on your new mandolin, you could manage the price of an instrument that is of marginally better quality and durability.  

Make a point to remember that since you are paying more for an instrument does not imply that it’s fundamentally going to be a superior fit for your own needs or style. We trust you have delighted in finding out about the best mandolins for the beginners at your reasonable price point!