The 4 Best Beginner Mandolins – Reviews 2021

beginner mandolin, best beginner mandolin, good beginner mandolin

Photo by Daniel S. / CC BY

Mandolins are beautiful stringed instruments that are slightly chirpier than acoustic guitars and far more playable than ukuleles, easier to hold than basses, and much simpler for beginners to pick up and learn as far as the learning curve is at stake.

Today we are going to talk about what makes the best beginner mandolin better than similarly priced models, as well as recommend a couple of models for everyone’s budget, and after our recommended instruments, we’ll touch upon some of the things you should keep an eye out for.

Ultimately, you’ll need a playable instrument that produces a decent tone and that feels right when held, so try to find the right balance between weight, size, looks, and raw performance. With that in mind, let’s head over to the reviews.

These are our recommendations for the 4 best beginning mandolins on the market:

The Loar LM 110 BRB Honey Creek A-style Mandolin

Loar’s LM 110 BRB is without any shadow one of the best beginner mandolins around. It features a spruce top and a sturdy maple neck, and it comes supplied with exceptionally robust hardware.

Obviously, the biggest flaw of the LM-110-BRB is the fact that it could cost quite a bit (though price fluctuations do happen), but its exceptional sound quality and robust build more than make up for the hefty price tag.

Overall, the reason why this particular model is perfect for beginners is that it boasts superior playability provided by the gentle, dotted fretboard while its durability and tremendous sonic performance are more than welcome bonuses.

Pros:

  • Eclectic sonic performance
  • Built to last
  • Exceptional playability
  • Pre set-up
  • Made of top shelf tonewoods

Cons:

  • Pricey
The Loar LM-110-BRB Honey Creek A-Style Mandolin - Clear River Run by Louis Ruoti

Ibanez M510LBS Mandolin Satin Light Brown Sunburst

Ibanez is widely known as one of the most reputable guitar-making companies in the world. But not many people are cognizant of the fact that this company also manufactures some of the best-sounding beginner mandolins as well.

The M510LBS is a schoolbook example of what a starter mandolin should look, feel, and play like as it is outfitted with exceptional tonewoods and a highly playable neck. As a matter of fact, its overall setup is pretty solid. It sports dotted inlays for clearer visibility on the fretboard and chromed hardware for superior intonation.

As far as tone is concerned, Ibanez’s M510LBS features mahogany back and sides combined with a rosewood fingerboard and spruce top. Not only is it as durable as it gets, but it also draws from an eclectic tonal spectrum, having a robust, bass-y lows complemented with firm presence in the middles while not lagging to far behind in the upper register.

Overall, Ibanez’s M510LBS is a beautiful, playable and extraordinarily sounding mandolin that a beginner will feel comfortable and familiar with as soon as they pick it up.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Beautiful and available in multiple style options
  • Strong, robust tonewoods
  • High playability

Cons:

  • Pricey

Vangoa Mandolin A-Style acoustic Electric Mandolin

Vangoa’s A-style acoustic-electric mandolin kit is an excellent choice for beginners who would rather equip themselves with a decent instrument and convenient accessories rather than spending a fortune on a great-sounding vintage standalone mandolin.

This package includes a mandolin strap, a tuner, a pair of replacement strings, and a padded gig bag; the mandolin itself is made of great-sounding mahogany, although its durability leaves some room for improvement. On the brighter side, this mandolin is much lighter and easier to play than most of its similarly priced counterparts.

Pros:

  • Very easy to play
  • Lightweight
  • Made of quality mahogany
  • Electric-acoustic
  • Equipped with a variety of accessories

Cons:

  • Just a tad flimsier than average
Unboxing Review: Vangoa Electric Mandolin

Donner A-Style Mandolin

Let’s wrap it up with Donner’s A-Style mandolin bundle. Just like our previous pick, this is a mandolin package that is supplied with a set of replacement strings, a clip-on tuner, a polishing cloth, two mandolin picks, and Donner’s gig bag.

This mandolin offers a decent sound, but it doesn’t particularly excel in any field of performance. It’s average in terms of size and weight, and the greatest benefits it offers are affordability and extra utility from the gratis accessories.

Pros:

  • Equipped with a variety of accessories
  • Among the best beginner mandolins for the money
  • Quality strings
  • Decently light

Cons:

  • Mediocre durability and intonation
3 Question Gear Reviews: I bought the cheapest Mandolin on Amazon

Conclusion

‘Good’ and ‘decent’ mandolins are pretty easy to find, but the best beginner mandolins are fairly rare, mainly because people get lured in by their looks rather than their actual performance. A great-looking mandolin will end up collecting dust if it’s not playable while a seemingly uninteresting mandolin that plays well will inspire you to pick it up more often.

First and foremost, mandolins are aesthetically different from other stringed instruments, but they are built in a relatively similar way.

This means that you should look for a sturdy mandolin, preferably made from solid woods. The tonewoods will not only affect the sound of the instrument and its volume, but they also play a key role in the sense that they dictate the instrument’s sturdiness.

Quality strings are a plus if you’re a beginner since you probably won’t know how to re-string your new mandolin, but even if the model you’ve liked comes supplied with poor-sounding ones, you’re looking at $5-10 expense at most.

Most manufacturers don’t mention this, but you’ll help yourself quite a lot if you buy a set-up mandolin. Non-set mandolins will inevitably present you with a myriad of potential problems, such as buzzing frets, poor action, and poor intonation consistency. Of course, even if you don’t manage to find one, setting your instrument up will only cost a couple of dollars. The trip and the maintenance downtime are bigger nuisances than the process itself.

Now that you’re equipped with knowledge and the choice of some of the best beginner mandolins that can be found on the market, it’s up to you to pick and choose the model that sounds, feels, and looks the best for you. Good luck!

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