The Complete Mandolin Buying Guide

Are you thinking of learning to strum a mandolin? Maybe you’ve been using a guitar for a while or want to try something interesting. Whatever your reasons, this complete mandolin buying guide will be helpful if you’re considering buying a mandolin.

It might be overwhelming to learn to play any instrument. But with the appropriate information, you can choose the best mandolin for your requirements. And we will go through everything from the basics of mandolins to their design and construction.

This thorough mandolin buying guide will assist you in making an informed decision. So whether you’re a beginner or upgrading your current instrument to something more professional level, keep reading to learn everything about buying a mandolin.

The Complete Mandolin Buying Guide

What is the best mandolin to buy for your requirements? We’ll break down all the crucial facts in this comprehensive guide to choosing the best mandolin. Mandolin types, materials used to make them, price ranges, and other issues all are here.

So let’s dive in!

Types of Mandolins

Mandolins are available in various types and varieties, each with unique qualities. Understanding the numerous factors that can impact your playing experience before purchasing is crucial.

Let’s take a look at the four different types of mandolins available:

  • Flatback mandolins are the most popular and common style of mandolin available. The design features a flat backboard, making it lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Bowlback mandolins are characterized by their round, bowl-like back design. This type of mandolin provides a deep sound and is commonly used in traditional Irish or Italian folk music.
  • Classic or Neapolitan-style mandolins feature an arched or curved backboard for increased stability, volume, and resonance. They are usually more expensive than flatback and bowlback mandolins but offer more excellent projection and sharpness in tone.
  • Electric mandolins feature an electric pickup suitable for amplified performance on larger stages or recording studios. The sound of the electric mandolin is similar to the acoustic one but with added clarity and punchiness when amplified.

How to Choose the Right Mandolin

Choosing the right mandolin can be a daunting task. Let’s look at the key factors to consider when buying a mandolin.


There are two main construction types of mandolins: solid bodies and hollow bodies. Solid-body mandolins are more durable and are better for louder playing styles, like rock or blues. Hollow-body mandolins have an acoustic sound that can add a bit of “warmth” to their tone.


If you plan on playing amplified, live, or in a recording studio, consider getting one with pickups (or humbuckers). Pickups are magnetic devices installed into the instrument that can be plugged into an amplifier or recording device. So it can be made louder or softer depending on your playing needs.


Price is also an important factor when buying a mandolin. Generally, you’ll find good-quality mandolins in the $500–2000 range, depending on materials, construction style, and pickups.

Features to Look for in a Mandolin

When buying a mandolin, there are a few features you need to consider, including the body shape, bridge, string length, and tuning pegs. All these features come together to affect the sound quality and playability of the mandolin.

Body shape

There are two types of mandolin bodies: A and F. An F-style mandolin have an elegant hourglass shape with two “F”-holes in the body. While an A-style has a more squared body and a single round aperture. The style of the mandolin is going to depend on your personal preference. Make sure you consider both shapes when making your decision.


The mandolin’s bridge is one of the critical components influencing sound quality. Generally speaking, bridges come in two varieties: adjustable or fixed, which affect tune strings and maintain intonation on your instrument.

String length and tuning pegs

String length and tuning pegs are factors you must consider when looking for a mandolin. Opting for a longer scale length is best if you’re playing with heavier gauge strings. And shorter scale lengths can struggle with this additional tension. As for tuning pegs, higher-end tuners have quality gears that allow for more precise pitch adjustments. Ideal if you’re looking to keep your instrument in perfect tune at all times.

Narrowing Down the Selection

Once you’ve narrowed down what type of mandolin you’re looking for, you can focus on specific features and characteristics. From sound to inlay patterns, countless details can affect your decision.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. Sound: Your mandolin should provide clean tones that are balanced and dynamic. It should also produce a consistent sound in all registers.
  2. Playability: Make sure the neck is comfortable, as well as the strings and frets. Check that it’s easy to move around on the fingerboard without too much resistance or drag.
  3. Materials: Take a look at the materials used to make the mandolin. It should be made from sustainably sourced wood to ensure durability and long-lasting.
  4. Finishes: The finish of your mandolin impacts its sound and longevity. Look for a finish that will protect the mandolin’s surface but won’t dampen its sound quality or cut resonance.
  5. Inlays: From simple dots to intricate designs, a wide range of inlay options are available for your mandolin. So take your time exploring which one speaks to you most!

Tips for Maintenance and Care

Once you’ve got your mandolin, taking good care of it is essential. It can last you a lifetime if you follow these simple maintenance tips.

Cleaning your mandolin

Cleaning your mandolin is critical to keeping its beautiful shine and sound. After each use, wipe down the body and strings to remove any oil and dirt buildup. Once a month, use a soft cloth dampened with a mild soap solution and warm water, then wipe dry with a soft cloth. 

Storing your mandolin

It’s always best to keep your mandolin stored in its original case when not in use to ensure its best condition. Also, store it where the temperature suits; an area without direct sunlight or humidity works best.

Regular Setup and Adjustment

You should check your mandolin for adjustments from time to time. How often depends on how much you play it and how humid your environment is. Your technician may also make recommendations for additional repairs or upgrades. That can improve the overall sound quality of your instrument over time.

Here’s the complete violin guide if you are interested in the violin and plan to buy one.


In the end, we hope that the complete mandolin buying guide will help you choose the right one. No matter what you’re searching for, you can discover a superb mandolin at any price point. So whatever you need, you can find it. Now that you know what to keep in mind when shopping, you’re ready to take your mandolin playing to the next level. Good luck!

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Jr. Robert A. Plant

Hey there! I'm Jr. Robert A. Plant, an artist, blogger and reviewer who's absolutely in love with the world of music. I have a knack for reviewing music gear, sharing my thoughts and insights at Raisingsand FX. When I'm not exploring gear, you'll find me lost in the creative process of writing songs. Music is my passion, and I'm here to inspire and touch lives through my artistic journey.

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