Home Music & Audio Best Mandolins [Buying Guide] in 2020

Best Mandolins [Buying Guide] in 2020

by Jonathan Logtenberg
Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin, Dark Violin Sunburst
Hola! Music A Style Mandolin Instrument with Adjustable Truss-Rod Model HM-3TS, Glossy Sunburst Finish
Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-model Mandolin - Transparent Amber
Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin
Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin
Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin
Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin, Dark Violin Sunburst
Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin
Hola! Music A Style Mandolin Instrument with Adjustable Truss-Rod Model HM-3TS, Glossy Sunburst Finish
Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin
Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-model Mandolin - Transparent Amber
Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin

My first day in a recording studio was so exciting that the memories remain fresh until this moment. I was about eight and just getting into music. Mom felt it will be great for my uncle John to take me to his recording session. It was so exciting to discover that making music involved so many individuals taking turns to contribute. I can remember vividly that one of the most exciting moments in the studio was when an old fellow entered to make his contribution. Everyone was so excited that I immediately loved the man. When he brought out his funny looking guitar, I became more curious. Even as a kid, I was impressed by the sound of the instrument and clapped excitedly with the adults when he was done playing.

Back home, on the dining table, I had to ask Uncle John in front of everyone if he could play the guitar like the old soul. I remember feeling a little embarrassed and excited at the same time when he said that wasn’t a guitar but a Mandolin. What the hell is a Mandolin?

Several years after my encounter with the Mandolin, the instrument still has a big spot in my heart. I have learnt so much about it and can play it myself. The sound of the instrument has a way of waking up something in me which is why I am always excited to introduce people to it. So what exactly is a Mandolin?

A mandolin is a string musical instrument that belongs to the lute family. It is a small, short-necked lute that has 8 strings (there are 10 strings and 12 strings versions too) and is usually plucked with a plectrum. This wonderful instrument produces sound through the vibration of the strings. When tuned properly the sound you can get from a mandolin can be rapturous. 

What we know today as Mandolin has come a long way. The earliest form of the instrument was developed in Italy between the 17th and 18th centuries. It became an integral aspect of European classical music in no time. When it was introduced in the American continent, it wasn’t hard for the instrument to earn itself a place in the rich traditions of American country, folk, and bluegrass music. It has gone ahead to make enviable appearances in jazz, rock ‘n roll, and other music genres. When it comes to adding that old-time flavor to your song, no matter the genre, the mandolin is a great instrument to consider.

Just like other musical instruments, the mandolin comes in different types and grades. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you need a quality instrument to make the experience worthwhile. It is also important that you buy an instrument that will complement your skill level.

Are you at lost on how to find the perfect Mandolin? There is no need to fret as Surf n’ Buy is here for you. We have done the bulk of the work you need to do to find the right instrument. Here, we will review the best Mandolins you can buy right now. We will also provide relevant information that will help you have an excellent experience with the instrument.

Are you ready to purchase the perfect Mandolin for your musical journey? Here are the top 5 products to consider right now:

Top 5 Mandolins

1. Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin


This is a classic A-style mid-budget mandolin from one of the companies that changed the narrative for Asian made musical instruments. Ibanez has produced its fair share of Mandolins and this model is one of the very best in its class. From the design to the sound it produces, the Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin is an excellent instrument for so many reasons.

This instrument is constructed entirely with laminated wood: mahogany and spruce. These materials are known to offer rich and warm resonance. The spruce is the top wood while the mahogany is used on the back and sides. Though this is a deviation from the traditional combination of spruce and maple, it is better than the cheaper tonewood found in some instruments. The Mandolin has a unique dark violin sunburst color that makes it eye-catching.

Asides from the attractive design, there are other important reasons to consider this instrument. The chrome hardware is top-notch. You can be sure that the tuners will hold the strings better than most other instruments in this class. This is one of the reasons the instrument sound a lot better than others in its class. This model also features a compensated bridge, which is very helpful in ensuring that your mandolin is well intonated. While it may not have the characteristic response of the more expensive mandolins, the sound will be satisfactory once the player employs the proper technique.

The neck of this Ibanez instrument has pearl dot inlay that offers smooth player experience. This makes it possible for the player to get better high and low tones. It also comes with a truss rod that will let you adjust the neck accordingly for improved playability. The Ibanez M510DVS Mandolinis an affordable device. At the price it is sold, it is a valuable device that you can grab straight away. The fact that it can be used by musicians of all levels is another remarkable factor.


  • The overall construction quality of this instrument is one of the most outstanding characteristics. The materials are satisfactory for an equipment of this class and the chrome hardware is impressive in terms of aesthetic and the sound quality they produce.
  • The Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin is a beautifully finished A-style instrument. It will be difficult for most people to tell that it is a budget mandolin.
  • This instrument has a truss rod, which means the neck is adjustable and will not bend out of shape easily. You can adjust accordingly for improved playability.
  • The Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin is an affordable instrument that can be used by players of all calibers. It will be a valuable addition to any collection of mandolins.


  • Though the construction quality is considered great for a product in this class, it is obvious that some materials are not of the best quality. The pick guard and the tuning pegs, for instance, don’t look too great.
  • It may be a little difficult to set up for high-level playability. In fact, it may require some professional setup to get it to the right level.


The Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin is an excellent instrument for instrumentalists of all levels. It represents a solid balance between quality and affordability. It has above-average construction. The chrome hardware also contributes to aesthetic appeal and improved sound quality. Affordability is another impressive thing about the instrument. Though some materials are obviously not of the highest quality, the instrument sounds great and will stand the test of time. 

2. Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin


This is one of the instruments to consider if you are on a tight budget or you are a student who wants to start with the cheaper models of mandolin until you master the instrument. In spite of the cheap price, this is a good instrument to consider. It has many impressive features for an instrument in its class and the build quality is satisfactory.

The Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin has a body that is made of Maple, a wood that has been used in many musical instruments. This is a quality wood that also looks incredible. It is the prominent instrument, covering the top, back, sides, and neck of this mandolin. The fingerboard of the instrument is made of walnut, another wood you will find in many top-quality instruments. These incredible materials do not just look great but contribute to bringing out the right sound from the mandolin. The entire instrument has a glossy sunburst finish that enhances the aesthetic appeal.

Asides from the quality of the construction and the good look, there are other valid reasons why this instrument is featured in this buying guide. It has a truss rod that you can use to make micro-adjustments to the neck of the instrument to improve playability. This mandolin also features an adjustable compensated bridge. The 2 silver screws on the right and the left sides of the bridge can be used to set up the string action (the distance between the string and the fingerboard) according to your preference.

Other impressive features of this instrument include 20 silver nickel frets, chrome-plated open-gear tuners and tailpiece, black ABS pickguard, as well as white ABS binding around the body, neck and head. The Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin is also an incredibly affordable instrument.


  • Though this is a budget instrument, it is constructed and finished in a very attractive manner.
  • The Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin is an incredibly valuable instrument. You will get a lot more than what you will pay for it.
  • The sound you will get from the instrument will be crisp and a lot better than similar cheap instruments.
  • The Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin is ready to play immediately you receive it. There is no need for a professional setup.
  • This is an excellent mandolin for beginners and students who need an affordable instrument to start with.


  • The strings of the Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin does not appear durable; you will likely need to replace it before long.
  • The tone of the instrument betrays the look to some extent. Though it is not too poor, it rattles when you play and an experienced individual will notice.

Key Takeaways

The Hola! Music A-Style Mandolin was built with beginners in mind. It is a perfect mandolin for individuals who are just embracing the instrument and are not ready to spend big in the early days. In spite of the target market, this instrument is well made. The quality of construction is commendable and the sound is just okay for beginners. The price may be the most attractive thing about this mandolin but the overall value you will get is simply mind-blowing.

3. Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin


This is a top-quality A-model mandolin that will suit advanced players and professionals. It is an instrument of choice for most artists as it offers a professional-grade quality instrument that is considerably affordable. From the build quality to the special features it offers, this is an instrument that will give you all you need and more. It is unofficially considered as America’s favorite mandolin.

All materials used for the Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin are hand-carved. The top and the back are meticulously arched and graduated in a manner that ensures correct balance of strength and lightweight rigidity for optimal tone. In terms of look, this is a pleasing instrument. The high-gloss transparent amber lacquer finish enhances the luster and aesthetic appeal.

Coming to the materials used for this instrument, it is just the quality you would expect from the best instruments. It has a solid spruce top. The back and the sides are made of maple. These are the standard for mandolins and are hand-carved and graduated in this instrument as mentioned already. This Kentucky mandolin has a rosewood fingerboard with mother-of-pearl dot position markers, bound in white ABS. This ensures that the instrument is silky smooth while you are playing. 

The Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin features a vintage-style, adjustable rosewood bridge with small adjustment wheels. There is also the ABS truss rod to make neck adjustment smooth for improved playability. Other features of this Kentucky mandolin you may find impressive include high-quality tuning machines with white buttons, 22 highly-polished nickel silver frets, as well as nickel-plated tailpiece with coverplate and leather insert.


  • The quality of construction of this instrument is the most remarkable thing. Solid handcarved and graduated spruce top as well handcarved and graduated maple back and sides ensure that the instrument does not only feel great in the hands of the player but sound great too. 
  • The rosewood fingerboard of the Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin is well constructed and bound in white ABS to make playing the instrument smoother and more enjoyable.
  • The high-gloss nitrocellulose finish is incredibly attractive and will appeal to your audience almost in equal measure as the sound you are dishing out from the instrument.
  • Though the Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin is a top-of-the-class Mandolin, it is still affordable. Every serious mandolin player can purchase and enjoy the value it offers.


  • The case of this instrument is sold separately. It would have been great if it comes with a quality carry case, even if that will raise the price a little.


In terms of quality, this is one of the best mandolins you will find in the market. It is superbly constructed with the best materials for durability and excellent sound production. The price of this professional-grade instrument is another thing that will baffle you. It is one of the most valuable musical instruments you will ever buy if you are interested in mandolins. Unofficially declared as America’s favorite mandolin, the Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin offers incredible value for the money.

4. Vangoa A-Style Acoustic Electric Mandolin 


If you are an old soul who has not shopped for a mandolin in the last couple of years, Vangoa will sound strange to you. It is one of the youngest companies on the market but their can-do spirit has rewarded the young team faster than anyone can imagine. Established in 2017 as an e-commerce platform for musical instruments, Vongoa has matured so quickly to the extent of having one of their instruments in our revered buying guide.

The Vangoa A-Style Acoustic Electric Mandolin is an excellent and innovative instrument that can inspire anyone to create great music. Like the company behind it, the instrument has a good dose of new technology. It is an 8 string traditional A-style mandolin with lots of impressive features. It also has an impressive design that will appeal to both young and old players. It has a mahogany body and solid wood bridge that help to make the sound quality satisfactory. To make the product more attractive, the makers of this instrument struck it with a glossy red sunburst finish. This gives the instrument a distinctly premium look.

Besides the good look, this new acoustic-electric mandolin has the right features to make your playing experience smooth and inspiring. It has chrome-plated closed gear tuners and tailpiece. There is also an adjustable truss rod that will let you adjust the head accordingly for improved playability.

The Vangoa A-Style Acoustic Electric Mandolinoffers you the options of playing the instrument plugged in or acoustically. When plugged in, the instrument can be used for performance even on the big stage. It is a decent option for advanced players and will be an incredibly helpful instrument for any confident beginner. It also comes with a strap and padded gig bag for safe storage and transportation.


  • This is an innovative instrument that you will love to hold. The deep hues and glossy finish make the instrument extremely attractive.
  • With the Vangoa A-Style Acoustic Electric Mandolin, you have the options of playing acoustically or plugging in for amplification.
  • The instrument comes with several accessories including guitar picks, Vangoa stickers, digital clip-on tuner, extra strings, strap and a padded gig bag. This is a beginner-friendly package that will get you started immediately.
  • The Vangoa A-Style Acoustic Electric Mandolincomes with a full one-year warranty against any damage or defects.


  • Though it looks like a premium product, it is not. At best, it is a good option for beginners and intermediate players.


Vangoa may be a new entrant in the world of mandolin but they have surpassed many existing companies already. What the company has achieved with this mandolin is nothing short of miraculous. The Vangoa A-Style Acoustic Electric Mandolinis a product of high quality offered at a surprisingly low price. It is simply too attractive for a product in its class. The fact that it offers you the opportunity to play acoustically or plugged in is another impressive feature. As a budget-friendly instrument, it is highly recommended for beginners and intermediate players. It is also a great option for experts who wish to experiment with acoustic-electric mandolins.

5. Ibanez M510EDVS A Style Electric Acoustic Mandolin


This is the second Mandolin from Ibanez in this buying guide. This clearly shows that the brand is doing a good job. Like other instruments from this component, this mandolin is built with quality components. The quality of construction is top-notch for durability and incredible musical experience. It belongs to the special acoustic-electric mandolins that many players are embracing. It also offers pro features at a price that can be considered extremely affordable.

The Ibanez M510EDVS A Style Electric Acoustic Mandolin is made using the finest tonewoods. The neck, back, and sides are constructed entirely with mahogany, which is crisp and offer improved durability. The instrument has a spruce top which contributes to a balanced tone that will be distinctive on any stage. It has a rosewood bridge and fretboard that ensure smooth playing experience. It also features chrome hardware and tuners. This Ibanez instrument has a gloss polyurethane, dark violin sunburst finish that contributes immensely to the overall aesthetic appeal. 

One of the most remarkable things about this acoustic-electric mandolin is the single-coil magnetic pickup that you can rely on for the rich, true mandolin sound. There are also volume and tone passive controls to make playing the instrument more enjoyable. You can either play acoustically or plug in and pick away for the ultimate sound during performances on a large stage.

The Ibanez M510EDVS A Style Electric Acoustic Mandolinis an excellent instrument for professional players. It is also ideal for the confident and adventurous learner who is ready to take the next big step. With all the amazing features we have summarized, you will think this is an expensive instrument. Ibanez has made it incredibly affordable.


  • The Ibanez M510EDVS A Style Electric Acoustic Mandolin is a well-built instrument with the right materials. It will stand the test of time.
  • The sound you will get from this instrument is nothing short of surreal. The balanced tone is distinctive and will make your performance a lot better.
  • Like all top-quality mandolin, this instrument is well finished. The dark violin sunburst finish gives it a premium look and feel.
  • The single-coil magnetic pickup, as well as volume and tone passive controls, are great features that will enhance your experience with the instrument.
  • In spite of all the impressive features, the Ibanez M510EDVS A Style Electric Acoustic Mandolin is affordable. It is a quality instrument for players who want to add the trendy acoustic-electric mandolin to their collections. 


  • You will have to buy the carry case separately. It would have been better if the instrument comes with a carry case for more value.


The Ibanez M510EDVS A Style Electric Acoustic Mandolin is an excellent instrument by all standards. It is made with the right materials and will stand the test of time. In addition to being an acoustic-electric instrument, it has several impressive pro features that any real mandolin player will find attractive. This wonderful instrument is also affordable. There is absolutely no reason why it should be in the collection of any real mandolin player.

Mandolin Body Style

Mandolins vary widely. It is important that you have an idea of the different types before deciding on a particular product to buy. This is because these different types of instruments do not only vary in shape but also in the kind of sounds they produce. Without further ado, let us discuss the different body styles of mandolins:

  • A-Style Mandolins

The term A-type is used to describe all teardrop-shaped and oval-bodies mandolins. The origin of the term can be traced back to Gibson’s A-type mandolins that were produced in the early 20th century. Most of the modern A-style mandolins have carved tops and backs. In some, the backs are arched like the violin. Those with arched backs are sometimes described as having flat backs to differentiate them from the bow-back mandolins. They may have one ‘O’ hole in the middle of the soundboard or two ‘F’ holes, which look like the holes in a violin, one on each side. 

Over the years, A-style mandolins have become the commonest types. This is majorly because they are easier to build and relatively less expensive. They are versatile in tone and can be used in different genres of music including jazz, folk, Celtic, classical, and bluegrass. It is not an accident that all products featured in this buying guide are A-shaped instrument.

  • F-Style Mandolins

The F-style mandolins are quite similar to the A-shaped versions. The only difference is that they incorporate a ‘scroll’, an embellishment that sits at the top of the instrument’s body near the bottom of the fretboard. This type was produced in the early 1990s and they quickly became top of the Gibson line then. Typically, they have two ‘F’ holes.

Some people feel that the scroll in the F-style instruments has an impact on the tone of the instrument, this is not really the case. The scrolls are almost entirely cosmetic. Most F-Styled instruments have points sticking out on the lower half of the instrument that make it more comfortable to rest on the lap of a player in a sitting position. Also referred to as Florentine mandolins, this type is the first choice for most bluegrass, country and roots musicians. They are always more expensive than A-style mandolins.

  • Bowl-back Mandolins

This is the oldest style of mandolins. This shape is very similar to the traditional lutes and similar instruments that predate the mandolins. They have rounded bags and normally produce deeper and rounder tone than A and F-styled instruments. These instruments are also referred to as Neapolitan mandolins or taterbugs. This type is most popular among musicians who play classical, Baroque, renaissance, and other historical music genres. They are not considered ideal for beginners/students.

Mandolin Construction Methods and Woods

The construction methods and the woods used in making a mandolin matter so much when it comes to the performance of the instrument. Generally, spruce is the perfect wood for the construction of mandolin tops, which are also called soundboards. Well-constructed spruce mandolin tops will provide bright and articulate response that will make the sound quality of the instrument superb. In some instruments, mahogany or cedar is used instead of spruce for the top. This will produce a somewhat deeper tone which is not the best for professional-grade instruments.

Handcarved mandolin tops are also better than machined tops. While some have arched tops, others have flats tops. There are also book-matched tops that are made from two pieces of woods positioned to form an open book-like appearance. Laminate tops are for lower-cost mandolins and are not considered good for professional-grade instruments.

For the body of the mandolin (neck, back, and sides), maple is the most used and acceptable wood. Laminated woods can also be used for the body of the instrument: as long as the top is made of spruce, the instrument will still sound okay. More attention is needed for the construction of the neck as it greatly impacts playability. Mahogany is the material of choice for the neck and laminated necks are considered a plus.

For the fretboard of a mandolin, rosewood or ebony is acceptable. The material just has to be smooth for easy and comfortable fretting. The bridge can also be constructed from rosewood or ebony. The hardware (turners and tailpiece) need to be of the right quality too. 

Some mandolins have cosmetics that have little or no impact on the sound and performance of the instrument. Fretboard and headstock inlays are often made of mother-of-pearl or abalone shell and will impact the value and pride of owning the instrument. The finishing of the instrument is another thing to look at when shopping. Though it will have nothing to do with the quality of sound you will get from the instrument, it will add to aesthetic appeal. 

Parts of a Mandolin

It is also important that you understand the different parts of a mandolin. Here we will briefly explain them:

  • Body

The body of the mandolin comprises of the top, the back, and the sides. The top is the most important part when it comes to the sound quality of the instrument. The wood used in making this part of the instrument will have a decisive impact on the sound it can produce.

  • Neck

The neck extends from the body of the mandolin and is considered one of the most important parts of the instrument. In some mandolins, the neck has a metal truss rod for strength. The truss rod also allows for adjustment. The fretboard is located on the top side of the neck, and this is where you can control the chords and tones of the instrument. 

  • Back and Sides

The back and the sides are also considered part of the body. While spruce is highly recommended for the top, the back and sides of the instrument can be made from maple, rosewood, birch, mahogany, or maple.

  • Scroll

This is an embellishment that is peculiar to F-shaped mandolins. Some players believe they have little impact on the quality of the sound and this can be the case with some special instruments.

  • Sound holes

As you can tell from the name, this is the part of the instrument where the sound comes out from. They are of two major types ‘O’ and ‘F’. The ‘O’ types are majorly found on A-style and bowl-back mandolins while the ‘F’ types are found on F-styled and some A-styled mandolins.

  • Bridge

The string is the important part of the mandolin that dictates the positioning of the strings and helps to transfer the vibrations produced by the strings to the top of the instrument.

  • Tuners

As the name suggests, these are the parts used to tune the instrument. There are normally eight of them in an average mandolin.

  • Tailpiece

This is the part of the instrument the strings are attached to the mandolin. It normally comes as a cast piece of metal or as a stamped one. It is both decorative and functional in all mandolins.

  • Fretboard/Frets 

The Fretboard is the piece of wood that is added to the neck of the mandolin. The frets are the thin metal strips that run across the fingerboard. They are just like the frets you find on a guitar.

  • Nut

The nut is the little part that keeps the strings of the mandolin raised off of the fretboard and the body. It is positioned on the bottom of the headstock, just like in the guitar.

Mandolin Tuning and Strings

As stated in the introductory part of this buying guide, the average mandolin has 8 strings. The standard 8-string mandolin has four courses, each with two 2 adjacent strings that are usually tuned in unison. To be honest, the mandolin is not an easy instrument to tune. It is hard to tune it to perfection but you need to try as much as you can. It is important that you learn how to do it as early as possible, and you will need assistance from a pro.

The commonest tuning for the mandolin is the same scheme used on violins: G-D-A-E, from low to high, with each pair of strings tuned to the same tone. This means the pattern will look something like G-G-D-D-A-A-E-E when you take each string into consideration. There are occasionally used tunings in which string pairs are tuned to different pitches to create ‘cross-tuning’. It can also be tuned to match the intervals found on a guitar for players who are familiar with guitars. You can stick with the basics until you become an expert before experimenting with unusual tunings.

Acoustic or Electric Mandolin – Which One to Pick?

Another important decision you will have to make is choosing between acoustic and electric mandolin. Depending on your intended use of the instrument, you need to pick the right option. To make the right choice, there are several questions you will have to answer.

Are you going to be playing alone most of the time? Are you going to play as a member of a band? Do you intend to perform on a large stage with the instrument? Are you going to play in a mandolin orchestra? Will you play in a bluegrass band where you will need to cut through other instruments? Your answers to these questions will give you a better idea of the type to choose.

If you are a beginner/student and will play by yourself, an acoustic mandolin is a right choice. If, on the other hand, you need to amplify the sound from your instrument, there are two major options you can explore. Firstly, you can place a microphone in front of the instrument while you play. The other option is to plug the instrument to a loudspeaker or amplifier. This is where you need an electric mandolin.

Placing a microphone in front of a mandolin can work most of the time. There are instances where it may create interferences and echoes that can affect your performance. This is rampant when you are playing in a band with other instruments around. There are other instances where this option works great and can even result in better sound quality.

With an electric mandolin, amplifying your sound will never be a problem. It is the best option to consider if you are going to be performing with a band.

There are acoustic-electric mandolins that solve the problem for individuals who don’t want to limit themselves. Two such mandolins are featured here. These instruments have the same basic specifications as acoustic mandolins but come with what is called ‘piezo electric’ pickup in the bridge. This is the part of the instrument that converts the vibrations on the strings to electronic impulses that can be transmitted to an amplifier. Replacing the bridge of an acoustic instrument with a bridge that contains piezo electric pickup is another option for people with acoustic mandolins who want to amplify. Usage of magnetic pickup like those found in violins is another possible solution.

What Are Octave Mandolins?

Octave mandolins are instruments that are similar to standard mandolins in all aspects. The major distinction is that they are always tuned a full octave below the mandolins, also tuned to G, D, A, and E. They are typically 20-inch scale length.

Best Mandolin for Beginners and Students

Are you new to mandolin and looking for the right instrument to learn with? The best option to consider is the Rogue RM-100A A-style Mandolin. It comes in an excellent all-in-one bundle that will save you time and money.

Best Mandolin for Advanced Players

Are you an expert or a professional player looking for the perfect mandolin? The best option to consider right now is Kentucky km-150 Standard A-model Mandolin. It is an all-solid, traditionally designed A-Style instrument with nickel-plated hardware and several other pro features you need to perform on the big stage.

Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Mandolin - Sunburst
Solid German spruce top gives you clean articulation and a crisp, bright tone; Solid Alpine maple back and sides for extra punch

Mandolin Cleaning and Maintenance

Like other musical instruments, the mandolin needs to be cleaned regularly and maintained appropriately to keep it in great shape and elongate its lifespan. Here are a few tips on how to care for the instrument:

  • Clean the instrument anytime you want to put it back in the case.
  • Use good microfiber cloths to wipe and avoid any fabric that can scratch the finish
  • Make sure that all accessories you use with the instrument are of the right quality
  • Take time to clean the less obvious parts of the instrument like under the string and around the tuner from time to time
  • Handle the instrument carefully at all times and store appropriately.


There are several accessories you will need for your instrument. While some may come with the package you order, you will have to buy others separately. Here are our recommended accessories to buy:

Mandolin for Dummies

It will give you easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to play the instrument.

Mandolin For Dummies
For Dummies; Julin, Don (Author); English (Publication Language); 396 Pages - 10/01/2012 (Publication Date) - For Dummies (Publisher)

Pickboy Mandolin Pick

A celluloid pick that will respond well and enhance your playing experience.

Pickboy Mandolin pick, Nytro, 0.75mm, 10 picks
0.75mm; Celluloid; 10 pc pack; Mandolin

D’Addario Leather Mandolin Strap, Brown

This is a reliable strap that will keep your instrument properly secured during play.

Hola! Soft Case for A & F Style Mandolin

A heavy-duty and reliable gig bag that you can use to store and transport your instrument safely.

Hola! Heavy Duty A & F Style Mandolin Gig Bag (Soft Case) with 15mm Padding, Black
Hola! Heavy Duty A & F Style Mandolin Gig Bag (Soft Case) with 15mm Padding, Black; Exterior made of heavy duty 700D Oxford Nylon fabric with 15mm padding.

Planet Waves Mandolin Capo Pro

Designed for 4 or 5-string banjos or mandolin, this Capo Pro assures buzz-free, in-tune performance at any fret.

Planet Waves NS Banjo/Mandolin Capo Pro
Designed for 4 or 5-string banjos and mandolin; Micrometer tension adjustment assures buzz-free,in-tune performance at every fret

Mandolin Tool Kit

This is a complete repair and setup kit for string instruments including mandolin, guitar, ukulele, banjo and the rest.

Stagg SUVM-A100K Foldable ‘A’ Stand for Mandolin

A well-built foldable stand that will hold the instrument securely and prevent scratching even as you perform.

Stagg SUVM-A100BK Foldable"A" Stand for Ukuleles, Mandolins and Violins
Steel construction; Locking mechanism to keep stand safely open; Folds flat for convenient storage and portability

String Swing Mandolin Wall Mount Stand

The design of this durable wall mount stand has been recently updated so that it will balance your instrument more vertically.

String Swing Ukulele Wall Mount Stand for Mandolin Ukele – Concert Pineapple Soprano Tenor and Baritone Compatible – Case Alternative Kit for Home or Studio - Black Walnut Hardwood CC01UK-BW
Recently updated cradle design balances the uke more vertically than previous designs; Wooden block, Steel and rubber cradle will last a lifetime

D’Addario XT Mandolin Strings Medium (11-40)

These are strings you can trust for enhanced pitch stability and long-lasting performance.

D'Addario XT Mandolin Strings Medium (11-40)
Strings last at least 4 times longer than traditional uncoated strings

The Hal Leonard Mandolin Fake Book: 300 Songs

An astonishing book that will significantly make your musical journey easier and more fun.

The Hal Leonard Mandolin Fake Book: 300 Songs
Amazon Kindle Edition; English (Publication Language); 456 Pages - 12/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Hal Leonard (Publisher)


The mandolin is an incredible instrument that you will enjoy playing. Whether you are just starting up with the instrument or have been playing for a while it is important to buy the best for your need. With so many available options on the market, finding the right one can be a lot of stress. To make things easier, we have reviewed the best options you can consider right here.

The Ibanez M510DVS Mandolin is an excellent option that any player, irrespective of his/her level of experience with the instrument will find valuable. The Hola! Music A style Mandolin is a good instrument to consider if you are on a budget. It is an excellent option for beginners and students. For professional players who want a reliable instrument they can use for major gigs, the Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-Model Mandolin is an excellent option to consider.

At Surf n’ Buy, we strongly believe that online shopping shouldn’t be too hard. This is why we have gone through the troubles of compiling this buying guide. In addition to reviewing the best mandolins to buy, we have provided other information we feel you need. We sincerely hope this piece helps make your experience with the Mandolin smoother and more enjoyable.


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