Best-Rated Mandolins for the Money in 2021 [Review]


Are you fond of playing string instruments? If yes, you have probably played all types of guitars and violins, and now you desire to play a different string instrument. Then the mandolin is a good choice.

The mandolin is an instrument that is part of the string instruments family. It has a short, stubby neck and eight/ten strings plus a body that acts as a resonator. Mandolins produce a very distinct sound with a higher pitch than guitar or any other string instrument.

The mandolin was discovered in Naples in the late 1500s and 1600s, and ever since, it has been used all over the world to play all sorts of musical styles from rock music to country, jazz, classical to folk music.

Different types of Mandolin

Many types of mandolin have been designed to suit specific kinds of music. The main types of mandolins are:

  • A Style Mandolins: The A-style mandolin flaunts a pear-shaped body, or A-shape, where it gets its name. This mandolin is very streamlined and straightforward in design, making it more affordable than other mandolins. Due to its simple design and low cost, the A-style tends to be a good option for beginner players.
  • F style Mandolins: F-style mandolin is named after the Florentine style. Bluegrass musicians and professional players prefer f style mandolins. They feature an elaborate design that includes a scroll and point, making them pricier than the A-style mandolins. Therefore, they may not be a good choice for a novice player. But they are beautiful instruments that add a great deal of flair to the playing experience.
  • Bowl-back Mandolins: The bowl-back mandolin is a mandolin with a round back that rests on the player’s leg. It is also referred to as a watermelon or tater bug. This is a very outdated mandolin style that looks a lot like the early Italian lutes, the musical instrument from which the contemporary mandolin evolved. The bowl-back mandolins produce deeper sounds than the flat-back mandolins, but they are scarce in the market. Often, they are traditional lute-violin fusions and are quite expensive. They are less practical for playing purposes.
  • Flat-back Mandolins: The flat mandolin is a modern type of mandolin. It is played in developed countries. It is used for playing rock music, jazz, or bluegrass.

The 6 best-rated mandolins for the money in 2021

We are going to look at some of the best mandolins on the market today so that you can make the right choice.

1. Kentucky, KM-1050 8-String Mandolin

Mandolin players, particularly those skilled in playing other stringed instruments with wider string spacing will love the Kentucky KM-1050 mandolin. At first glance, this topnotch mandolin has similar specs as its predecessor (KM-1000) but comes with more user-friendly features.

These features include an ebony fingerboard with a bigger radius, a wider nut and saddle for more comfortable string spacing. Like other Kentucky Mandolins, the body of the KM-1050 is hand-carved and features a spruce top, and a slim comfortable neck made of first-class Northern maple to offer clear tones.

Also, if you want to save some cash without compromising playability and quality the Kentucky KM-1050 is the instrument. Other great features to enjoy including.

  • Slim flamed maple neck for comfortable, easy action
  • Durability
  • High-gloss beautiful finish

2. Washburn Vintage Series M118SWK Mandolin

The Washburn M118SWK mandolin is another affordable mandolin that extrudes both beauty and high performance. It has a vintage finish that will give you an authentic and traditional feel. This Washburn mandolin is constructed with premium wood like Spruce and Maple making it very durable

This mandolin has an F soundhole that provides a deeper and crisp sound. Its wider nut enables wider string spacing. While the white binding enhances the tear-shaped body. The gold tuners enable easy fine-tuning. Therefore, this mandolin is not only about modern looks, but it provides well-rounded tones.

You can comfortably play the mandolin as it offers smooth player experience and enjoy the following:

  • Florentine cutaway design
  • Distressed vintage finish
  • Carved solid spruce top, Maple sides and back

3. Rogue RM-100A A-Style Mandolin Sunburst

The Rogue RM-100A is a popular mandolin among both professional and novice players because of its clear and resonant sound. The mandolin features a maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard that has 12 frets. It is constructed of laminated wood making it durable and resilient, while the chrome tuners and the nickel-plated frets give the mandolin a sleek, professional finish.

Another reason that will make you love the Rogue RM-100 is its lightweight. So, you do not have to worry about being comfortable when playing the instrument for extended periods. You also do not have to break the bank to acquire Rogue RM-100A.

Another reason why you will love this model is that it only weighs 2.85 pounds. Lightweight is a plus to players who worry about not being comfortably, especially those who play for long sessions. Other features why you should pick this mandolin

  • Comes with a case
  • Appealing aesthetics
  • Perfect for learning

4. Gretsch G9350 Park Avenue F-Mandolin A/E

This mandolin from Gretsch, a German company famous for producing electric guitars, drums, and mandolins. Constructed with Spruce on the top, and with Maple on the back and sides, the Gretsch G9350 Park Avenue is a strong and tough mandolin that can withstand everyday usage.

The V-shaped Maple neck allows you to grip the mandolin comfortably while playing. producing.

This acoustic electric F-style mandolin produces balanced warm tones. Also, thanks to the outstanding tuners, tuning this instrument is easy and the compensated bridge makes intonation a breeze. This gives you flexibility and easy playability.

  • High-quality construction
  • Classy design
  • Solid mahogany top, back, and sides
  • Warm, balanced tone

5. APC MOC312 Portugal Octave Mandolin

Made in Europe by a Portuguese Family Business the APC MOC312 Portugal Octave Mandolin is the instrument for you if looking for world-class instruments yet affordable. Constructed with spruce on the top, Ovangkol on the backs and sides, and Mahogany on the neck, this mandolin is built with precise craftsmanship. It comes with accessories such as bags, case, and strings. Other highlights that will make you love this mandolin are:

  • Strings are made of Steel and Nickel
  • Tuning (1st) EE, AA, DD, CC- Scale length: 563mm
  • Finish: Open Pore

6. Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin

Ibanez M522SBS is one chic, fancy mandolin you will come across when shopping for mandolins. If you are looking for a mandolin that looks stylish, sounds good, plus affordable, this instrument is for you.

When it comes to the build, the Ibanez M522SBS F-Style mandolin has a robust maple body with a solid spruce top. The neck is made of mahogany wood with a rosewood fingerboard, this is quite impressive and contributes to the durability of the instrument.

The gold die-cast tuners together with Pearloid knobs, make the tuning procedure very easy and offer incredible tones. All the features have been put together in a professional way to offer an excellent playing experience. You must choose this mandolin because of the

  • Excellent built quality
  • deep and rich sound
  • Easy to adjust the length of the strings
  • Durable

How to Choose the Best-rated Mandolins for the Money:

Choosing the mandolin that is perfect for you can be a difficult task. Not only do mandolins come in a variety of sizes, styles, and designs, but their quality varies considerably. If you are in the market for a mandolin, consider the below factors to choose a mandolin that is right for you.

  • Material: The mandolin’s material is critical, as it affects the tone and the durability of the instrument. Mandolins can be made from wood, melding, or high- grade plastic. Always go for mandolins made from premium material; this way, the mandolin will last for several years with no tear and wear.
  • Style: Most mandolins come as either A-style or F-style. F-style mandolins are best for advanced players due to their intricate design and higher tones. A-style mandolins have a generally milder tone that goes with any kind of music. So, if you are a beginner, go for the A-style mandolins.
  • Sound holes: Mandolins have either an oval-shaped sound hole like a guitar or F-holes that are found on violins. F-holes produce a bright, clear crisp tones, while round sound holes offer warm, satisfying tones. Mandolins with f-holes are always louder than those with oval soundholes, so if you intend to play bluegrass music, a mandolin with f-holes maybe your best option.
  • Cost: Today’s market is filled with excellent mandolins. Some costs as low as a few hundred dollars, and others go as high as $1500. Regardless of the price, most models are similar in terms of parts and overall playing experience. If you are on a tight budget, look for an affordable mandolin to start with, then upgrade to something fancier later.


If you are on a budget it does not mean you go for the least expensive mandolin you can find. You should pick a mandolin that plays and sounds well. If you get a low-priced mandolin you may end up with a poorly constructed or badly set up mandolin. You will be less likely to play it and your interest, mandolins may suffer. The most important part of playing an instrument is to enjoy playing it whether you are alone or with others around.

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