How to Choose the Right Mandolin for You

Your Guide to buying the best Mandolins


Mandolins are a unique stringed instrument that have been used for centuries to make beautiful music. They can be heard in many genres of music, from folk to rock, and can be used in a variety of different settings. Whether you are a beginning musician looking to learn a new instrument or an experienced pro looking for a new sound, a mandolin can be a great addition to your instrument collection. This buying guide will help you find the perfect mandolin for your playing style and needs, taking into account factors such as size, construction material, pickups, and more. Whether you are a professional musician or just starting out, this buying guide will help you find the best mandolin for your needs.

Key features

  1. Style of Mandolin: First decide on the style of mandolin you would like to purchase. There are flat-top mandolins, bowl-back mandolins, and A-style mandolins. Consider the type of music you will be playing and the sound you want to produce when making your selection.
  2. Construction: The materials used in the manufacturing of the mandolin will ultimately influence the tone of the instrument. Consider whether the mandolin is crafted from solid wood or laminated, and what type of wood is used.
  3. Size: Mandolins come in different sizes that are suitable for different purposes. Consider the size of the instrument and ensure it is comfortable for the person playing.
  4. Fretboard: The fretboard and frets on a mandolin will affect playability and the tone produced. Consider the number of frets and the width of the fretboard when making your selection.
  5. Pickup: If you plan to amplify your mandolin, you should consider investing in a mandolin with a built-in pickup. This will allow you to plug the mandolin into an amp or PA system and will help to produce a more consistent sound.
  6. Price: Finally, consider the price of the mandolin. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the model you purchase. Make sure you are investing in a quality instrument that will last for years to come.

See the most popular Mandolins on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Versatile - Mandolins are extremely versatile instruments and can be used to play a variety of different styles of music, from classical to bluegrass.
  • Portability - Mandolins are relatively small and light instruments, making them easy to transport.
  • Affordable - Mandolins are typically more affordable than other stringed instruments of similar quality.
  • Easy to Learn - Mandolins have a relatively simple design and are easy to learn compared to other instruments.
  • Unique Sound - Mandolins have a unique sound that can be used to create a range of beautiful music.


  • Price - Mandolins can be expensive compared to other stringed instruments, especially if you are looking for higher quality models.
  • Setup and Maintenance - Mandolins require more set up and maintenance that some other string instruments, and it can be difficult to adjust the bridge and strings if you are not a skilled luthier.
  • Sound Quality - While the sound of a mandolin can be appealing, it may not have the same resonance and clarity as some other stringed instruments.
  • Size and Portability - Mandolins are smaller and lighter than some other stringed instruments, but they still require a dedicated carrying case and can be bulky for travel.

Best alternatives

  1. Guitar - A versatile string instrument with six strings and a fretted neck.
  2. Banjo - A string instrument with a long neck, a hollow body and a drum head.
  3. Violin - A four-stringed instrument with a hollow body and a bow for producing sound.
  4. Ukelele - A four-stringed instrument with a small body and a fretted neck.
  5. Dulcimer - A string instrument with a flat top, frets, and a long hollow body.

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Tuning Wrench/Key/Pegs - A small tool used to adjust the tension on the strings and tuning of the Mandolin.
  • Soft Case/Gig Bag - A padded bag specifically designed to carry and protect the Mandolin.
  • Strap - An adjustable strap used to help keep the Mandolin secure while playing.
  • Amplifier - An amplifier which helps to project the sound of the Mandolin when playing in a band or ensemble.
  • Capo - A device used to press down on all of the strings in order to raise the pitch of the Mandolin.
  • Picks - Small pieces of plastic used to pluck the strings of the Mandolin.
  • Strings - Replacement strings for the Mandolin, usually made of metal, nylon, or gut.

Common questions

  1. How much does an average Mandolin cost? An average Mandolin costs in the range of $150 - $1000.
  2. Where can I buy a Mandolin? Mandolins can be purchased from most music stores, online stores, and some department stores.
  3. Are there different sizes of Mandolins? Yes, there are different sizes of Mandolins such as A-style, F-style, octave, and plectrum.
  4. What is the difference between A-style and F-style Mandolins? A-style Mandolins are generally smaller and have a rounder body shape. F-style Mandolins typically have a more pointed body shape and are larger in size.
  5. What type of wood is used to make Mandolins? The most common types of wood used to make Mandolins are spruce, maple, and mahogany.
  6. What accessories do I need to use a Mandolin? Some accessories you may need to use a Mandolin include a strap, picks, an amplifier, and strings.
  7. What type of strings should I use for my Mandolin? The type of strings you should use for your Mandolin depends on the type of music you play and your personal preference. Common types of strings used on Mandolins include steel, bronze, and nylon.


A popular mandolin fact is that The Beatles first recorded song, Love Me Do, was recorded with a mandolin. The mandolin part, played by George Harrison, was described by producer George Martin as being a 'lonely sound'. This story about the power of a mandolin to contribute to a song is memorable and often serves as a source of inspiration for aspiring mandolinists. Source

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.