12 Best Beginner Mandolin Reviews 2020 – Mandolin Instrument for Beginners

Best Beginner Mandolin

Best Beginner Mandolin

Here we have another series of our tried and tested guides, where we walk you through some of the amazing instruments out there. Of course, today we will be focusing more on our beginner readers who seem interested in starting out their musical journey.

For this particular list, we have selected 12 of the most common and easy to use beginner mandolins available in the market. These beginner mandolins are great picks for someone who is on a budget, but then again you can always stretch your pockets for some extra oomph.

Read More: Professional Mandolin

What are the Best Beginner Mandolins to Buy?

2) Kentucky 8-String Mandolin KM-140

  • Sturdy Spruce Top
  • M.O.P. Dot Inlays
  • Adjustable Truss Rod
  • Nickel-Plated Hardware

1) Stagg Bluegrass Mandolin with Nato Top M50E

  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Nato Back, Sides & Neck
  • Bluegrass Style
  • Excellent Sound Quality

3) Oscar Schmidt A-Style Electric Mandolin

  • Long Horn Bullet Bridge Design
  • Mahogany Sides, Back & Neck
  • Ovangkol Fingerboard
  • Passive Electronics

What exactly is a mandolin you ask? Well, this instrument is from the lute family of strings. Its roundish shape resembles a country-guitar, but its sound is nothing like it. Unlike most string instruments, the mandolin requires a plectrum for plucking the strings for optimum sound. Its uniqueness lies in the placement of its stings which are groups of two each with a total of four. Here is a list of mandolins for beginners.

Related: Mandolin Capo, Mandolin Pickup, Mandolin Strings, Mandolin Book, Mandolin Case, Mandolin Stand

12 Best Beginner Mandolin Reviews 2020 and the Best Beginner Mandolin Brands

1. Stagg Bluegrass Mandolin with Nato Top M50E

Stagg is a company known for its amazing products that offer the user the best in sound quality, at the best in the market price. And this is also how we see the Stagg M50E. With its description so long that it's utterly invisible to the naked eye, and one has to dig deep to find out more.

What’s great is that this mandolin comes with its very own bag, which is suitable for carrying purposes. Just the others in the list, this mandolin also has an adjustable bridge allowing for the perfect fit and tuning for the beginner mandolin players.

We would nonetheless advise caution with the strings of this mandolin to be tuned with care since it seems a trend with cheaper mandolins that they tend to break easily when tightened too much.

Of course, this is an electric rather than being a pure acoustic mandolin, which allows for a lot more variation in the sound output than what is normally the case with regular mandolins. We would give it a thumbs up, but one that’s not outrightly upright.

2. Kentucky 8-String Mandolin KM-140

This is another one from among the high-end mandolin list of instruments. You’ll find a great standard of music coming out of each strum played on this classical instrument. It has a great shape to easily hold in the arm or lap while playing since its roundish curves sit firmly.

It has premium materials laced all over, with nickel-plated hardware that changes or rather enhances the sound of the mandolin considerably. The use of the standard maple on its body gives it a further exquisite sound that is distinct from a Kentucky mandolin.

Like the Loar, Kentucky is keeping its classic look and feel alive for modern generations to get the feel of. It has the distinct dark outer edges with a wooden interior finish to top off a great design, and a premium fit and finish. This might not come as a surprise, but this model is also among the bestsellers in the mandolin market. If you have the bucks to dish out then you should definitely need to get your hands on this amazing mandolin.

3. Oscar Schmidt A-Style Electric Mandolin OM10EWH-O-U

You’ll come across the same fit and finish that you’ll have seen or even felt if you own one, as the previous Oscar Schmidt we have reviewed. This mandolin continues the fine craftmanship offered by Oscar Schmidt across its entire range. This offering has a distinctive white color which gives it a remarkable finish and allows it to stand out of the crowd in a market filled with wooden textured mandolins.

This mandolin has the same versatility offered by fully electric mandolin’s which include but are not limited to, the great control over each note and tune, as well as the varying output sounds.

You’ll have to be extra careful with this mandolin though due to its high gloss finish, which is bound to get scratchy with time. Add to it the fact that this also does not come with any bags or covers, which makes it even harder to take care of it.

If you like to be daring and want the best in class sound, then this mandolin by Oscar Schmidt is a great offering. It's shiny, acoustically accurate, and tuned, as well as has the appeal mandolins not usually enjoy in the instrumentals.

4. Savannah A-Model Mandolin SA-100

What we have here is a one of a kind mandolin that we usually recommend to our beginners. Of course, it’s one among many others which we recommend. The Savannah has a hard maple deck which makes it an exciting proposition for someone who likes to pluck hard.

This is a trait common mostly to beginners who are a bit jittery in their approach. The Savannah also comes with a bound rosewood fretboard which is ideal in scenarios that require smooth operations, and something which can be taught to beginners in allowing them to finetune their plucking.

Its craftsmanship is remarkable and does not correspond to its cheap price. You can take it for a long hauler and not worry about having the mandolin split in half.

The Savannah in addition also has an adjustable compensated bridge, meaning any amount of adjustments will be easy and swift. It’s a different story with the other mandolins in the market, and this is one feature in which the Savannah comes out on top. We still recommend this to our brooding young fan base.

5. Stagg Bluegrass Mandolin M20

This particular Stagg is an acoustic mandolin, which although doesn’t have the versatility of the electric Stagg, still manages to keep its own. This is particularly down to its uniquely refines dome-style which gives out crisper and bassy notes. This can consider a good pick for advanced beginners, those who already have some experience with playing mandolins on the cheap side.

The Stagg mandolin is all about the sound and the experience, with no corners being cut to achieve that purpose. The Stagg M20 comes with a rosewood fingerboard which translates to quality input and output. Couple that with the stylish finish of the mandolin and the basswood construction, you are left with a pretty strong contender for your money.

Its strings, like usually the case with mandolins, are pretty hard to press. This is something that beginners should be aware of before buying since it could have an impact on your initial journey. However, with the time you’ll get used to the difficulty level, especially considering that you’re getting a sexy looking piece which sounds as good as it looks. It’s a wise long-term investment.

6. The Loar Honey Creek Mandolin LM-110-BRB

With the Loar, we are entering the high-end spectrum of mandolins. These are for slightly advanced users but would suit beginners who have somewhat deep pockets. The shape of the Loar is highly distinctive, with a roundish and very fine style to it. It is immediately recognizable and anyone tugging around a Loar can boast about it as well, eyes will be definitely set upon them. But that’s not even the start of the story.

A Loar mandolin is recognizable from their distinctive sound notes, which are unlike any other mandolin. This is because they have hand-carved spruce tops that give them the authentic feel and sound. It’s great for beginners because the removal of the fretboard beyond the twentieth fret has allowed for more easy-going playing.

The Loar mandolins have a distinctly early 20th century sound and it's been finetuned in such a manner that it cuts through even today’s concerts and orchestral pieces. If you’ve got the bucks then you’ll surely enjoy this great investment.

7. Ktone F Style Mandolin 5020SB

This is the second instrument by Ktone that we are reviewing in this article. Once again, the robust design of the Ktone pays its debt to the maple neck of the mandolin, with its sturdy finish, this is another mandolin which can bear the roughs of the rusty road.

This one coming in at 28”, is a fairly longer-sized mandolin which makes it an almost allrounder for all purposes of beginner use case scenarios. Its steel-string and 20 frets design adds to the authenticity in its musical output.

The great thing about Ktone’s is that they always have a bag along with them. This is a source of great protection for sensitive musical instruments such as a mandolin. Its rosewood fretboard provides the players with smooth plucking and is ideal for beginners, who’ll likely struggle with plucking.

This mandolin has an almost guitar-like shape, and could deceive most eyes but make no mistake, it’s a true mandolin with a distinctive style and grip. The eyes at each side of the dome are the only indication of it being a mandolin, so look out for those while buying.

8. Luna Folk Series Trinity A-Style Mandolin

Probably the strangest looking of all the mandolins reviewed in this article is the Luna Folk series mandolin. It has a distinctive four triangled soundhole which not only gives it a very unique look but also gives it the most distinct sound of all the other mandolins featured so far.

On top of the mandolin, there’s also a lunar-shaped crescent which is the logo of the company itself. You cannot miss this mandolin whether in the public or if you’re playing in an orchestra. Look to buy one of these with a premium price in your mind for this premium yet wild mandolin.

9. Washburn Americana Mandolin M1SDLB-A

We’ve kept the premium mandolins for the last and this one is another in the list of premium mandolins targeted especially towards beginners. Moreover, this is also the second Washburn to feature in this article. It has a very elegant black finish with accented edges, which are unmistakable of the Americana series of the mandolin.

This instrument is aimed at a variety of players including Celtic, bluegrass, and many more who want to add to the pallet of their sound instruments. It has a carved hand spruce top which adds to its distinct notes which are unfound of.

As much as this seems premium, it's equally been targeted at beginner players. You’ll notice that this mandolin has an oval soundhole compared with the dual eyes of rival mandolins, and this is what makes it stand out of the crowd.

10. Oscar Schmidt Mandolin OM10ETS-O-U

These guys are known to produce high-quality and high-performance instruments but seldom do they keep their offerings for beginners at relatively modest prices. That seldom happens to have occurred in the form of the offering mentioned here.

It is a high-quality instrument aimed at beginners who want to take the mandolin learning to the next level. Each mandolin is fine-tuned by highly trained mandolin players and technicians. The moment you pluck the strings, you’ll notice deep and very clear notes with very little reverberance in the output.

It’s made with premium mahogany wood which puts it at the high end of the beginner mandolins. Its passive electronic design and the Ovangkol Fingerboard give the players maximum control over their play.

Its distinctive longhorn bullet design allows for a beautiful fit and finish, and the rigidness this provides is closely matched with high-end offerings of mandolins by Oscar Schmidt. You are bound to get astounded by the acoustics and the reliability of this beast. It’s a great long term investment considering its slightly higher than its category price.

11. Ktone A-Style Mandolin 5021RB

The Ktone comes up next with its beautiful design being amplified by its versatility in usage. The robust design of the Ktone pays its debt to the maple neck of the mandolin, with its sturdy finish, this is another mandolin which can bear the roughs of the rusty road.

Coming in at 27”, this is a fairly well-sized mandolin which makes it an allrounder for all purposes of beginner use case scenarios. Its steel-string and 20 frets design adds to the authenticity in its musical output.

If our previous recommendation had you drooling over its price, then the Ktone’s deal will lay you flat. It is practically the cheapest mandolin you can buy. The steel strings do tend to get out of shape especially on this model, so do keep in mind before buying the Ktone that you might very well have to replace the original strings on this model.

That aside, we don’t see any reason why you should not grab this no-brainer of a deal. The looks and the sound are well worth the money at this range.

12. Washburn A-Style Mandolin M1S-A

When you talk about a premium product at not such a premium price, the Washburn should always cross the mind. Having characteristics very much similar to the equally good Stagg series, Washburn is a fine-looking and fine-sounding piece of equipment.

Beginners would love the fact that the Washburn’s maple construction adds to weight and durability. The tuners on this thing are super easy to use, and one can quickly learn to master it. The steel Sitka bracing not only adds to the visuals of the mandolin but is key in attaining the Washburn mandolin’s acoustic superiority.

The finger placement dimples on the deck allow for beginners to easily learn the finger placements without having to wander off target too much. This also helps the teachers to better make the learner understand the positioning on a mandolin, which is key for its playback. One slight bummer is that you’ll have to buy your own casing and cover since it’s not included with the purchase.

Choosing The Best Beginner Mandolins from the Best Beginner Mandolin Brands

This wraps up the list, and an extensive one too, on the beginner mandolins available to you If you’re just starting out your musical adventure using mandolins. These are the unique instruments that give you an edge in your musical portfolio and would open up opportunities for you which you might not have realized earlier.

2) Kentucky 8-String Mandolin KM-140

  • Sturdy Spruce Top
  • M.O.P. Dot Inlays
  • Adjustable Truss Rod
  • Nickel-Plated Hardware

1) Stagg Bluegrass Mandolin with Nato Top M50E

  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Nato Back, Sides & Neck
  • Bluegrass Style
  • Excellent Sound Quality

3) Oscar Schmidt A-Style Electric Mandolin

  • Long Horn Bullet Bridge Design
  • Mahogany Sides, Back & Neck
  • Ovangkol Fingerboard
  • Passive Electronics

But opportunities and professional endeavors aside, the mandolin really is a treat to learn and play. Learning a new instrument is always something that a musician needs to do, to keep themselves safe from rusting.

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