While most musicians will think of guitars, violins or even ukuleles when you say ‘stringed instruments,’ mandolins are increasingly becoming popular as a stringed instrument of choice. In the US alone, there has been a surge of folk-inspired music which is bringing the mandolin back into fashion, due to their practical use and the beautiful sounds they can bring to your productions.
It goes without saying that a mandolin creates a unique sound, whether you’re a guitarist who’s looking to expand their instrumental horizons or simply looking for a fascinating instrument that creates a captivating sound that you and your audiences will fall in love with, a mandolin is worth consideration.
However, when it comes to purchasing such a unique instrument for yourself, you need to make sure you’re making the right choice, so you’re not left disappointed. In short, you’ll be looking for the quality of the instrument itself, such as the materials it’s made from, and other performance-related features, such as the sounds it makes, the volume it produces and the tones and chords you’ll be able to play.
Of course, it can be hard to know where to begin. However, never fear! We’ve searched far and wide for the best mandolins that are available on the market today, narrowing down the best to just four top contenders.
No matter what your budget or experience level, below you’ll find the best beginner mandolins that can help you have the best instrumental experience. Let’s get started!
#1 – Washburn M1S A-Style Mandolin
To start off our list of best beginner mandolins, we’ve chosen a mandolin that promises to tick all the boxes when it comes to quality, performance, and ease of use. We’ll start by saying that this mandolin is hand-crafted using the finest hand-picked spruce, rosewood, and maple materials. That’s right, hand-crafted. This is a level of quality that will resonate with you as soon as you pick it up for the first time.
These materials are made to craft the beautiful main body, complete with the traditional f-holes that many mandolins have, providing you with that sound you’ll come to know so well. Connected to the body, you’ll find the neck and fingerboard which prides itself on the 20 frets it has. These make this a full-sized mandolin, so you can fully experiment with the sounds you’re creating.
The neck has a connection join on the 12th fret, so while this isn’t made of one piece of wood, this is a simple two-piece mandolin, which as any guitarist will know, is far better than a three-piece model that you have to connect up yourself.
When you consider the fact that Washburn has been masterfully crafting instruments since 1883, you know that you’re buying a mandolin you can trust to perform when you need it to, delivers the sound quality you’re expecting and is built to last for many years to come, securing its place as one of the best beginners mandolins available today.
- 20 fret construction for all the sounds you need
- Made from three beautiful kinds of wood for fantastic durability
- The producer has over a century’s worth of experience with fretted instruments
- A-style mandolin which is ideal for beginners
#2 – Rogue RM-100A A-Style Mandolin
Next up, if you’re looking for a super-affordable mandolin, perhaps to see whether this kind of instrument is right for you, but you still want the quality of a premium mandolin, this stunning creation from Rogue could tick all your boxes.
Another beautiful a-styled mandolin with the traditional f-holes is sure to melt your heart, especially due to the captivating Sunburst finish which you’ll be proud to call your own. Looking into the specs of this mandolin, it’s made using highly durable materials, such as maple for the neck and rosewood for the fingerboard, two of the most popular woods for these purposes, and for a good reason.
What we really love about this best beginner’s mandolin is the fact that you can adjust the rosewood bridge to wherever you want it to be. This feature allows you to really experiment with the sounds that you’re creating, allowing you to find the perfect tones that you’re looking for in your musical ventures.
Again, this is a two-piece mandolin that requires you to assemble it when it arrives, yet you’ll find the connecting part on the 12th fret, ensuring minimal disturbance to the quality of the overall sound.
Furthermore, we’ll sure you’ll agree when it comes to the extra touches Rogue has implemented here, including the solid chrome tuning mechanics and the nickel-plated frets.
This all comes together to create a beautifully sounding mandolin that’s not only ideal for first-time players but also those who have music experience, whether that’s with another mandolin or another fretted instrument.
- Quality chrome locking tuners
- Solid, high-quality nickel-plated frets
- Beautiful Sunburst finish
- Constructed from highly durable wooden materials
- Sound quality not as pristine as premium mandolin, yet still perfect for beginners
- Does not come with a pick
#3 – Michael Kelly MKLDFAVS Legacy Dragonfly Flame Mandolin
While the mandolins listed above are ideal for beginners who are shopping on a budget, we understand that many of you may be looking for a premium quality mandolin that may cost more, to begin with, but is well worth the investment, especially when you’re buying an instrument that you plan to use for many years to come.
To suit this niche of musician, we’ve selected the Michael Kelly Antique Dragonfly mandolin, easily one of the most beautiful mandolins available today and could well be the only mandolin you ever need to buy.
This outstanding dovetailed instrument is a stunning aesthetically as it sounds. It prides itself on its 24-fret neck and oozes quality thanks to its construction from flamed maple (body), solid and durable spruce (top) and radiused rosewood (bridge and neck), guaranteeing this is a durable build that will last for decades.
However, take a closer look, and you’ll see the phenomenal attention to detail that has taken place which includes the real pearl and abalone fret indicators and tuners. As you can see, this masterpiece still provides the traditional f-holes that most mandolins have, creating a beautifully resonating sound that you simply cannot match.
This level of quality is finished off with Phosphor coated bronze mandolin strings (medium 11-40s) which hold their settings for long periods of time, even through excessive use, and promises to create a sound that will have you and your audience hanging off every note.
- Beautiful dragonfly flame, antique design
- 24-fret for ultimate musical experience
- Solid yet lightweight wooden build for a long lifespan
- Incredible attention to aesthetic and performance details
- Premium price tag
#4 – Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin
To conclude our list of best beginner’s mandolin that you’ll simply fall in love with, we’ve decided on this stunning mid-range creation that’s easily one of the most popular mandolins around and is ideal for all skill levels, whether you’re looking for one to get you started for the first time, or looking to replace your existing one without forking out for a premium price tag.
This classic 8-string mandolin is crafted using durable maple wood for the top, back, sides and neck, a walnut fingerboard, and prides itself on its adjustable compensated rosewood bridge which you can position wherever you like so you can find the sounds that you wish to play.
Interestingly, you can even adjust the truss rod inside the neck, so you can further pinpoint your desired sound. The wrench to do this is included with your purchase.
On the neck of this beautifully-finished Sunburst mandolin, you’ll be able to enjoy 20 silver nickel-plated frets which make it easy to find the right chords. This level of detail is only improved upon thanks to the solid chrome plated gear tuners and tailpiece, all of which come together to create this long-lasting mandolin that simply puts quality first at every turn.
With an integrated black abs pickguard to protect your instrument while you’re playing, as well as white abs binding around the body, neck, and head, this affordable mandolin is perfect for all kinds of musicians and surely deserves a place in your instrumental collection for the far foreseeable future.
- Gorgeous maple build that will last for years
- Stunning Sunburst aesthetics finish
- Adjustable bridge and truss rod for finding that perfect sound
- Solid chrome tuners and nickel-plated frets
- Abs pickguard and white abs binding for a superior quality finish
As you can see, when it comes to choosing the best beginner’s mandolin that you can fall in love with, whether you’re picking up an instrument for the first time, or have experience with other instruments, there are so many great choices out there for you to decide upon.
All the mandolins we’ve listed above are fantastic for any skill level, and it will solely depend on the budget you have and how much you’re willing to spend. No matter which one you choose, you can be sure that you’ll enjoy this beautiful sounding instrument for many years to come.