The following guide will help you find the best mandolins for the money. We’ll start by looking at affordable options available around $500 and move onto more inexpensive models as well.
If you want an inexpensive mandolin, or one with a specific sound, then this article might also be helpful!
You will be pleased with the selection of top quality mandolins that are presented here.
They all sound terrific and are made with real quality, so that you will be able to enjoy your mandolin for a very long time.
In a Hurry? Our Top Picks
- Best Overall – Ibanez M522SBS
- Best Under $500 – Kentucky KM-270
- Best Under $400 – Kentucky KM-140
- Best Under $300 – The Loar LM-110-BRB
- Best Under $200 – Rogue RM-100A
- Best Under $100 – Hola! Music
- Best F-Style – Ibanez M700AVS
- Best A-Style – Kentucky KM-150
8 Best Mandolins For The Money:
1. Best Overall (Editor’s Pick)- Ibanez M522SBS
The Ibanez M522SBS F-Style mandolin is the best value for the money. Hands down this mandolin give you the best overall performance than any other on this list. It’s not the highest priced or the lowest, it’s right in a the sweet spot.
When you are looking for a gorgeous violin that has a body shape that is regarded as being the F-style, then there is no doubt that the Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Brown Sunburst Mandolin is a terrific choice. The neck is crafted of elegant mahogany wood that adds to the impressive look of this mandolin that is made with undeniably peek craftsmanship.
When you want the assurance of a mandolin that is strong and sturdy for many musical performances, then this mandolin truly ranks high and will come through for you every time as a result of having a top that is constructed of top quality spruce, along with a back and sides that apply the usage of maple wood. T
his mandolin is deemed as being supremely reliable. as the tuners that are die cast of gold and that sport knobs that are pearloid are first class to allow for the best possible tuning every time, so that all the notes of each piece of music that you play will sound as it should.
This mandolin puts forth music that has an elevated level of clarity and good resonance, which will make your musical time all that more pleasurable.
2. Best Under $500 – Kentucky KM-270
The Kentucky KM-270 mandolin is the best under $500. It has a spruce top and maple back, an East Indian rosewood fingerboard, and comes with quality hardware already installed.
The high-quality parts are internally shielded to reduce interference from cell phones or other wireless devices as well as unwelcome feedback that could spoil your performance and rehearsal time.
This instrument looks elegant in its natural solid wood body and will keep on looking great for years because of the oil rubbed finish and lacquer protection it has been given at the factory.
The Kentucky KM-270 mandolin features a durable and well-built neck with great playability. The strings are tuned quickly, it has an elegant finish, and is easy to set up for beginners and professionals alike.
3. Best Under $400 – Kentucky KM-140
The Kentucky KM-140 is the perfect model for a budget of around $400 with the most value. It and offers a tone that’s big enough to control with your volume. This mandolin has been built to withstand causal abuse while offering all of the essential features found on more complicated production models.
The hand-carved maple back, sides, and spruce top give it beautiful lows without losing mids or highs making this instrument an excellent choice for anyone looking for a quick fix or fast growing project.
Playability is smooth and gentle with its woody tone to your jams with the Kentucky KM-140 mandolin! Built for its balanced tones and devastatingly comfortable playability.
4. Best Under $300 – The Loar LM-110-BRB Honey Creek
The Loar LM-110-BRB Honey Creek A-Style Mandolin beautifully combines durability with top quality craftsmanship.
Truly, you are getting a supreme quality mandolin that is undeniably exquisite when you choose this instrument, which has a top that is hand carved of German spruce wood. It offers much playability for the avid music lover, as it is made exactly the way you need it to be.
In fact, you will be surprised at how beautifully it sounds, as it provides a superior elegant tone in comparison to many other mandolins that are more expensive.
To make this mandolin sound great, there was the application of maple wood and spruce wood in the construction process for this particular mandolin.
This mandolin has a wonderful authentic look that you appreciate in a mandolin, which adds to the musical enjoyment that this instrument provides.
The shape of this mandolin overall is terrific in that it allows for long periods of comfortable playing, so that you can enjoy wonderful mandolin music to the fullest any time.
5. Best Under $200 – Rogue RM-100A
When you are looking for a top quality mandolin that provides real value, then you need to get the outstanding Rogue RM-100A A-Style Sunburst Mandolin.
This mandolin provides classic beauty and a traditional style that you are looking for in a mandolin that performs well.
Many people who are professional mandolin players are astonished by the high quality of the performance of this mandolin, as it truly plays as well as many other professional mandolins that are more expensive.
Therefore, for the price, craftsmanship and quality of performance, you are getting a real bargain when you get this unique mandolin. The tone of this mandolin is of an impressive and excellent caliber.
You will be pleased that the strings on this mandolin are ultra strong and will, therefore, not break easily in order to allow you many hours of musical enjoyment whether for yourself or when you desire to entertain a large group of people.
The fret board is made of lovely rosewood that adds to the beauty and durability of this device and makes the instrument comfortable to play for long periods of time.
6. Best Under $100 – Hola! Music
This mandolin has a gloss sunburst finish, and is the best budget option for an instrument in this genre being around for $100.
The mandolin features a maple top, rosewood bridge and a soundholes that are wide open to create natural resonance.
Inside the body there is figured mahogany wood and sandwiched between them you’ll find two chrome plated bronze strings which give it a rich voice.
Included in its incredible tone are adjustable truss rod, which allow adjustments to be made to the angle of your neck while playing.
The tone of the mandolin speaks volumes about its quality. The sound is crisp and bright with a clean resonance throughout for the price you are paying.
The best budget option for people who want a cheap but great mandolin!
7. Best F Style – Ibanez M700AVS
Ibanez’s M700AVS mandolin brings with it over a century of experience as one of the best F-style mandolins on the market. With an exquisite flamed maple back and sides, this f-style instrument produces tones that are bright and crisp.
Its solid spruce top ensures that you’re always playing quality sound. The rosewood fretboard is smooth to the touch and with its premium features, this truly is a professional workhorse mandolin worth checking out!
8. Best A Style – Kentucky KM-150
The Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Sunburst Mandolin is truly both a solid and beautiful instrument. The German spruce top provides real enjoyable enhancement for the articulation of this finely crafted mandolin that will surely impress you at a very high level.
Moreover, this mandolin is superior in that it provides you with a tone that is crisp and clear. To add an elevated punchy style to this gorgeous top quality mandolin, the back and sides are crafted with the usage of lovely maple.
Also, the instrument is supremely reliable as a result of the inclusion of the usage of maple for the construction of the neck of this wonderful musical instrument that allows for lots of playing action.
Moreover, the neck of this mandolin is noted as being slender to grant optimal comfort during playing sessions.
The fingerboard allows you to play easily with a style that is smooth and silky to add extra beauty to the quality of music that you play on this instrument. The finish is done in a high gloss sunburst effect that is highly appealing.
Buying Guide: Choosing The Best Mandolin For The Money
Mandolins are becoming more popular every day, especially in America. Although mandolins are versatile instruments that can be used in various music genres, they are mainly utilized by classical music, folk, traditional, bluegrass and Irish music players.
This article focuses on tips that a buyer should know when choosing a mandolin and getting the best value out of each dollar that you spend.
Type Of Mandolin
You’re most likely going to need a bluegrass mandolin but you need to decide if you want an a-style or f-style. Though you can play most music with either.
The a-style mandolin has an oval shaped sound hole while the f-syle has and f-shaped hole. Read more about the types of mandolins here.
A-style mandolins are ideal for beginners and people on a budget because they are more cost-effective.
Wood & Construction
Great mandolins need to have special woods in their construction. Mandolins construction may be either solid wood or layered commonly referred to as laminate.
When buying your first mandolin, buy the type that comes with solid wood because they give a better tone and are more quality too.
When buying a mandolin, check the soundboard, as a new buyer, you should be careful not to buy an instrument that has a warped soundboard.
With great modern construction, you can get a good mandolin featuring laminate wood style. Most budget mandolins comes with laminate instead of solid wood.
Common mandolins have 4 courses of paired metal strings which are 8 altogether and tuned to basic G-D-A-E. Although in some cases there are models that have 10 and 12 strings.
An effective mandolin that can play Irish music is the instrument with a solid top. The best mandolin should not only have a solid top, but the back and the sides too should be made of solid materials.
You may land a good laminate top mandolin, but there is no guarantee that any cheap instrument will be ideal. A good F-hole with a solid top can produce a kind of resonance you wouldn’t think of.
Mandolins are small; therefore, precision is needed. Irish music mandolin should have frets that are well aligned and with the perfect location. Even if you are on a budget, do not invest in a sort of mandolin that will never help you in your music journey.
Some mandolins, especially those under $300, are hard to adjust the neck, whenever it is out of whack.
Mandolins that do not have that long screw to loosen and tighten soon bends out of shape due to the pressure of the strings and since the long screws ensure that the neck always curves up or down.
So be careful when buying your mandolin because even famous brands sometimes leave this feature when manufacturing a lower series of the instrument.
Irish music players fancy putting magnetic coil pickups on their mandolin, which sounds great. However, correctly placed piezo-electric produces a truly impressive tone.
However, mandolins with mag pickups may have a bad sound. However, if you are using a mandolin without a pickup, don’t worry cause you can still retrofit with piezo-electric and use an outboard preamp to lower the amount of carving as you may wish.
A quality mandolin is the attribute of design, materials, and construction. A quality mandolin should adhere to the traditional construction designs.
This means neck having dovetail fittings and hand-applied vanishes rather than urethane sprayed. Mandolin should be of great quality.
Something else to consider when choosing a classical music mandolin is cost. At any time, quality comes at a price.
So do not go for low priced mandolin to use, just ensure they are in good tune, and the sound produced is excellent. A high-end instrument will mean more money but worth the price.
Finally, irrespective of the quality you pick, it is essential to test and try to play. Playing your new mandolin will make you feel the tone, note, tuning, and make sure the entire instrument functions excellently.
Moreover, it doesn’t mean quality should sacrifice beauty. Ensure that the mandolin meats your requirement in terms of style, tastes, and preference.
Some shopping mistakes to avoid
There are various shopping mistakes to avoid when buying a mandolin to get a good one for classical music, as explained below.
Aesthetical and ornamental shopping
Many buyers, especially beginners, when buying a mandolin, they may be tricked by looks and inlays like gold fitting, playability to end up buying poor quality.
When buying ideal classical music mandolin, do not buy a specific one because they are sold by a very big brand or because a star X plays the same model.
When Buying Online
Only buy from reputable sellers with the favorable return policy and ensure the instrument is checked properly by an expert immediately you receive. The reason for checking the status of the instrument is because sometimes the shipment mishandling can cause damages.
Also before you click the button online read through the instrument and read what people are saying about the instrument. Be sure that the reviews recommend it as ideal for Irish music.
Consider Buying Used If Possible
Before you pay thousands of dollars to an instrument you can get with a few hundreds of dollars when used, check out from the used market. It is possible to get an ideal instrument from experienced players who can assure you that it is exactly ideal for Irish music.
If you visit the used market local store with an experienced player, who can recognize and point out the best instrument for you, it will be easier to get a nice instrument
Type Of Music
A-style mandolin is great for Irish, Folk music while the F-style is better for traditional bluegrass music.
If you have five hundred dollars to spend on a mandolin then you are sure to get some of the best in the industry.
We have provided and reviewed the best mandolins we could find to give you the best option to choose from in your important decision.