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You are here: Home > Mandolins > Mandolin Buying Guide & Tips
What you need to know when buying a Mandolin

  • Define your need: Decide the type of mandolin you want to purchase. There are flat-backs, bowl-backs, eight-string, five-string, F-style, A-style and so on. Many bluegrass mandolinists play the F-style instrument, while many orchestral musicians choose between the A-style or F-style design. If you are a beginner to the mandolin, you may want to start out with a flat-top, teardrop-shaped instrument that's affordable and comfortable to play.
  • Select your wood: Find out what kind of wood the mandolin is carved from. Most mandolin soundboards are made from spruce, but some varieties use laminated tops. Some mandolinists believe a mandolin made from spruce sounds better than one with a laminated top. However, customers on a budget may want to consider the laminated mandolins, since they more affordable
  • A or F Style Mandolin: The 'A style' mandolins are tear drop shaped and are the favorite of old-time musicians. The 'F style' mandolins are more ornate, and have the signature scroll shape. Bluegrass mandolin players prefer the 'F style' mandolins. For starters, you can spend about a thousand dollars less by sticking with the 'A style' mandolins.
  • Sound Holes: You can get either f-shaped or oval-shaped sound holes in both 'A' and 'F' style mandolins. There are many opinions about which is better and why, but it is generally agreed that if you want more projection, choose the f-shaped sound hole. If you want better tone, then choose the oval shaped sound hole. You will see little to no difference between an 'A style' or 'F style' in music quality.