Mandolin – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2022
Playing the mandolin is an art and for that reason, choosing the right one is what will make you an artist. Although each mandolin produces a beautiful sound, not all of them are right for you and it is these diversities that make mandolins unique instruments suitable for various musical genres. A model like the Classic Cantabile 00023027 mandolin brings an asymmetrical look and professional quality ideal for those who enjoy bluegrass, meanwhile, fans of Italian music can enjoy models like the Gewa 505250, a Neapolitan mandolin with a classic design and pleasant sound.
Opinions on the best mandolins on the market
It may not be the most popular, however, the mandolin is still one of the oldest and most well-known instruments. Its unique design and its participation in various musical genres makes, little by little, more people worry about buying a quality mandolin and, to facilitate this decision, we present the following options that are among the most outstanding today.
Classic Cantabile 00023027
The best mandolin will always be a professional mandolin and this model is one of the most outstanding due to its low cost and high quality. To give you greater comfort and better grip, this product has a weight of 2.2 kilograms and a length of approximately 71 centimeters. Wood is the main element, as the top is made of spruce, while the sides and back are made of maple. The fingerboard and the bridge, meanwhile, use rosewood in their structure.
The mandolin tailpiece gives the metallic contrast, as it is made of nickel-plated metal for strength and comes with a modern engraving to stand out. Its design is asymmetrical and is of type F, with two holes, which indicates that it is ideal for musicians who play bluegrass or who will use the mandolin as a rhythm accompanist. Its color is clear and natural, to give a traditional style.
This mandolin is reasonably priced and offers the quality to use as a primary instrument for practice and performance.
Materials: The different types of wood used in the creation of the instrument give it quality and durability.
Design: Its F design makes it perfect for playing bluegrass and for making harmonies.
Dimensions: The dimensions of the mandolin are ideal to carry comfortably in a case.
Weight: Its weight is adequate for instruments of this type, so it is easy to manipulate the mandolin.
Strings: The strings do not have the best resistance, therefore, it is necessary to change them or play them carefully so that they do not break.
When it comes to finding a professional mandolin, this model could be considered the best mandolin of the moment, as it is an instrument with a concert design, ideal for experienced musicians who need the best quality. Wood is the main material, since the top is made of spruce, the neck is mahogany, while the ribs are made of maple wood together with Mansonia walnut. The fingerboard, for its part, has been created with ebony, one of the most recommended materials for its resistance, together with a rosewood pegbox.
It has Sol-D-La-Mi tuning and a drop shape that indicates that it is an A-type mandolin, recommended in bluegrass or folk-type music, where it is mostly used. The 8 strings have coated steel as the only material, which indicates an impeccable resistance to use. Its design combines light colors with dark ones at the back.
For those who seek and desire the best, this instrument will be able to satisfy all the needs of a professional mandolinist.
Professional: This instrument is of the concert type, ideal for professional musicians who need a quality model.
Woods: The combination of the different woods will give a better performance to each area of the mandolin.
Strings: The coated steel of the strings will make them have a good resistance to the constant use of the instrument.
Cost: The price of this product is quite high, so it is not a good option for those who want to save.
In the debate of which mandolin to buy, an Italian mandolin always stands out, as they are instruments created with attention to detail to offer the best quality. The first thing that stands out about this mandolin is the combination of colors, between the natural tortoiseshell tone of the wood, with a two-tone outline of details, and a central design next to a dark-colored top. This contrast gives it the classic design of the Italian mandolin, but with a modern twist.
Wood, with its different types, is the main manufacturing element. The top is made from spruce, however the instrument has other areas that use maple and cherry wood. Its flat head shape with nickel-plated mechanism and 17 frets indicate that it is a Neapolitan type. Therefore, this mandolin is ideal for traditional Italian music, due to its resonance.
For those who love classical style mandolins and Italian music, this may be the ideal model to practice and also perfect the art of playing the instrument.
Neapolitan: Being Neapolitan in style, this mandolin is ideal for Italian classical music.
Border: The modern two-tone border will stand out anywhere, especially on stage, as it provides a unique design.
Wood: Spruce, along with maple and cherry are resistant woods that offer a good sound, regardless of the genre.
Tailpiece: Unlike the engraved tailpieces of other mandolins, this model is simple and does not have a prominent design.
This model is among the cheapest alternatives you can find, as it is not just an acoustic mandolin, but a complete kit so you can transport your instrument everywhere without any problem. This is because the purchase comes with a case with an adjustable strap and handles to protect your mandolin with a thickness of 5 mm.
Ideal for bluegrass music, the mandolin features a basswood body, while the bridge and fingerboard use hickory for durability. The pegs are chrome-plated metal, die-cast for a better grip, and the neck is made of mahogany. The F-type design provides a glossy finish, with a very modern gradient of colors on the front. This model is suitable for beginning musicians, as it is economical and its structure is built to have a comfortable grip.
With a case, a brilliant structure and suitable for easy use, this mandolin will surely be your best ally when learning to use the instrument.
Beginner: Those who are starting in the art of the mandolin will find in this instrument the best option to learn.
Cover: The cover included in the purchase makes the transport of the mandolin easier and safer.
Design: The glossy finish of the mandolin, in addition to the color gradient, gives it a unique look.
Professionals: Experienced mandolin players will not be able to enjoy the instrument to its fullest, as it is made for beginners.
This purchase will not only come with an instrument, as it comes with various accessories that make this alternative considered the best value for money mandolin. The 1.6-kilogram instrument with dimensions of 62 x 36 x 12 cm comes with some accessories that facilitate its use. These are two picks, strings, cleaning cloth and also a clip-on digital tuner so your mandolin always sounds great.
The advantage of this instrument is that it can be used in different musical genres, such as folk or bluegrass, for example. Its structure is made of mahogany to give a good sound, while the pegs and tailpiece are chromed, to give greater resistance to use. In addition to this, you will also enjoy a good thickness case, with a front pocket and internal space to carry your mandolin safely along with other essential items.
This instrument is ideal for those who want to have everything in one purchase, as it comes with different practical and useful accessories.
Accessories: The accessories that come with the purchase will make the experience of playing the instrument more complete.
Case: The included case makes transporting the mandolin easy. In addition, it will allow you to carry essential items with you.
Genres: The instrument has incredible versatility, as it can be used in different musical genres.
Design: The look is modern and stylish, which is a plus.
Beginners: The mandolin is made for beginners or those who want to play as a hobby, so it is not recommended for professionals.
If for you the answer of which is the best mandolin is based on having a unique design, this instrument is ideal to fulfill your wishes. This Ashbury model is an asymmetrical mandolin, with curved details on the edges, with a body and neck made of maple, along with a spruce top. This mandolin will really stand out anywhere, as its design is hard to find on any other similar instrument.
The weight of the mandolin is 1.54 kilograms, while the dimensions reach approximately 72 x 32 x 11 cm; this makes it a light and easy to handle product. Thanks to its ease of use, together with its quality materials, the mandolin is ideal for beginners or semi-professional musicians. With its completely oval sound hole and great resonance, this instrument is suitable for folk music.
Professional quality, excellent notes and a design like no other; these are the qualities that this Ashbury instrument offers.
Design: Its asymmetrical design is unique and quite striking, giving you the opportunity to stand out even before playing the instrument.
Bass: The bass notes produced by this mandolin are notorious for being stable and quite resonant.
Quality: The instrument is of professional quality, to give the best to semi-professional players or those who are just starting out in music.
Sheath: This mandolin, as it does not have a sheath, requires an additional expense to be able to transport it safely.
Many musicians know Stagg for the quality of their instruments, so it’s not hard to find someone who thinks it’s the best brand of mandolin. This specific model features an adjustable maple bridge for a defined sound, with a spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, and basswood sides. The choice of woods is excellent to obtain its best qualities in the instrument.
The mandolin is type A for bluegrass and has a design that combines a brown color with a black rim with a glossy finish. On it stands a chrome tailpiece that has an engraving to highlight and, despite being a mandolin for beginners, it has a completely professional design. In addition to all that, the instrument is quite light, as it only weighs 1.2 kilograms and this makes handling the mandolin easier.
Mandolin fans will find in this model an instrument of the best quality. Here are its most prominent pros and cons.
Beginners: People who are starting in the art of playing the mandolin can use this model to learn to play the instrument.
Tailpiece: The engraving of the tailpiece gives the mandolin a striking and modern touch that, additionally, will make the bright tone of the piece more noticeable.
Light: Since this instrument is light in weight, it is easier to move and play, so children and beginners will feel more comfortable.
Professionals: The most experienced musicians will not be able to enjoy the qualities of this mandolin, since it is not intended for them.
The type of mandolin most used by professionals is the class F and, for that reason, this is one of the best mandolins of 2022, as this instrument made for bluegrass is ideal for those who love music and want to improve their skill with the mandolin. The weight of this product does not even reach a kilogram, making it one of the lightest options. Additionally, the dimensions of 69 x 26 x 5 cm make it easy to store and transport as well.
Basswood is the main material used in the structure of the mandolin, giving it strength and durability, however, rosewood is the element used in the bridge, guaranteeing a pleasant and stable sound. The design has a glossy finish with a gradient that goes from brown to yellowish tones, which gives it a modern look. The tuner has anti-corrosion protection and is easy to clean.
Those who want to learn to play the mandolin can choose an easy-to-use model to learn comfortably, while looking like a professional.
Tuner: The tuner with its anti-corrosive quality makes the maintenance and durability of the mandolin better.
Weight: This mandoline is one of the lightest on the market, so no beginner will have trouble getting used to it.
Bridge: The bridge, being made of rosewood, will not wear out easily. Thanks to that, the sound will not be distorted, no matter the use.
Amateur: This mandolin is not made for professional people, therefore, only those who consider themselves still apprentices will be able to enjoy it.
Among the cheaper models, this mandolin tuner stands out for being able to keep these instruments ready to use.
This versatile device comes with a rechargeable battery that supports up to 500 recharges, each of which will allow you 5 hours of use. If you play multiple instruments, this tuner will be great as it can be used on guitars, basses, banjos, mandolins, and other stringed instruments.
Bright colors and large letters make it easy to see. The 360° swivel clip makes it easy to use for left and right handed players alike, and its 45.4 grams means you won’t overexert yourself.
How to choose the best mandolins?
Mandolins, being quite delicate and complex instruments, are somewhat difficult to choose when you do not have enough knowledge about them. For that reason, it is necessary to take the time to identify and know each difference and characteristic, since this is what will help you not to make a bad decision. Remember that a good mandolin can accompany you for years, you just have to know what to choose.
The key when buying any musical instrument, especially the mandolin, is to not get carried away by the first thing that catches your eye, no matter how beautiful its design or how convenient its size. Just as an electric guitar is better for rock, and a classical guitar is better for flamenco, mandolins also come in different types to suit specific musical styles.
The first question you should ask yourself when making your guide to buying the best mandolin is what kind of music you want to play and, from that point, it will be easier to recognize the right instrument for you.
If you are a fan of classical music with mandolin solos or Italian music, then your best alternative may be a Neapolitan mandolin. This instrument is the traditional one that was used hundreds of years ago and is still marketed among those who enjoy the soft sounds and the presence of the mandolin in the foreground.
For those who enjoy folk music and want to get started in Celtic culture, for example, from countries like Ireland and Scotland, the folk mandolin will be the best option. This is very similar to the Neapolitan, however, it has a more rounded mouth to be able to produce its distinctive sounds.
When it comes to more modern music, like the country genre, for example, then the bluegrass mandolin is the one you need to play it. This type of instrument comes in two types and, although the sound does not vary much, its structure is totally different. Type A is teardrop-shaped, symmetrical, and slightly smaller than Type F. The latter is preferred by professional and amateur bluegrass mandolinists.
Finally, some special mandolins manage to adapt to various musical genres and if you want to be able to participate in the creation of different rhythms or you still do not discover your preferred genre, then using a mandolin of this type may be the best.
Design and structure
The moment you make a comparison of mandolins, you will realize that, depending on the type of instrument you buy, the structures change noticeably. The first thing that differentiates between mandolins of different types is the soundboard, since each one of them varies in order to produce the specific sound you are looking for.
Some mandolins have slim frames, while others have domed soundboards. The structures not only influence the sound, but also the way you manipulate and play them. Certain designs are not comfortable for playing standing up, as is done in folk music, while others are not well suited to playing sitting down.
However, no matter what shape the instrument has, one thing that does need to be taken into account for each mandolin is that its materials are not plastic. Mandolins that have a plastic bridge are a good, inexpensive option for beginners, however, how much the instrument costs shouldn’t be a determining factor for professionals.
The mandolin bridge, responsible for defining the sound and resonance, should not be made of plastic, but of good quality wood or bronze. The materials cannot wear out with use, otherwise this will directly affect the sound the mandolin will produce.
An economic instrument usually comes alone, without any accessories, however, in order to save more money in the long term, it is preferable to purchase a mandolin that has different accessories in the purchase to live a more complete experience.
It is advisable to get a mandolin that comes with a case included, as this will prevent the instrument from being damaged due to bumps or falls. In addition to that, it will also facilitate its transport to any place and will give you space to carry your essentials, without the need to buy a backpack.
But, if you want to go higher, it is possible to find models that come with other accessories included to improve the use of the mandolin, such as digital tuners, spare strings and other items that will serve both beginners and professionals.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to use a mandolin?
Playing a mandolin follows the same steps as most stringed instruments, so if you have experience playing the guitar or ukulele, for example, playing the mandolin will be easier for you.
The first thing you should do is learn the chords of your mandolin and have a plectrum at hand that will allow you to play it. Let the instrument rest on your torso, without putting pressure on it, while your dominant hand does the strumming. Tune the mandolin, and then you just have to press your fingers on the fretboard to mark the notes, while with the other hand you make the strings vibrate.
Q2: How to tune the mandolin?
The mandolin uses the tuning of the violin in terms of notes, however, the difference and difficulty lies in the fact that the mandolins have 8 strings that work in 4 pairs.
Use a digital tuner and follow the violin notes to get the correct pitch.
Q3: Where is the mandolin from?
The origin of the mandolin dates back to Italy and many classical musicians used it in their symphonies. However, today the instrument is known and used in various parts of the world. In the United Kingdom and Ireland it is used in folk music, in the United States in country music, while Latin America has a place for the mandolin in various folk tunes from different countries.
Q4: How to play the mandolin with numbers?
The method of teaching by numbers is used by various people. With this type of teaching, the spaces between the frets occupy a progressive number that starts from 1, while the strings have numbers that, starting at number 10, increase by 10 as they go up. That is, the first pair of strings from the bottom would take the number 10, while the last pair of strings from the top would take the number 40.
If the note indicates that you have to play 24, it is necessary to position yourself on the second strings and in the fourth space. If they are numbers that end in 0, such as 10, 20, 30 and 40, it means that these strings must be played open.
Q5: How to change the strings on a mandolin?
The first thing you should keep in mind is that it is recommended that as soon as you remove a string, you place its replacement to avoid confusion.
Untie the string from the tailpiece, and attach the new string from the same tailpiece. With its end securely fastened, to prevent it from unraveling or breaking due to not being in its place.
Stretch the string all the way to the headstock, letting it pass between your index and middle fingers so it stays straight. Place it on the pegbox and start tightening, making the string stretch more as you twist.
Q6: Is the mandolin played the same as the guitar?
Regardless of how much one instrument resembles another, there is no way that the process of playing it will be the same. Each instrument is different from each other and, for that reason, there is no way that the mandolin can be played like the guitar, even though they both have strings.
The mandolin, for example, has eight strings that come in pairs for four specific musical notes. Unlike the six strings on the guitar. Keep in mind that the mandolin is a unique instrument and playing it will become easier as you practice.
Q7: How to tune the mandolin with the guitar?
Although it is recommended to do the tuning with a violin, if you have knowledge about tuning a guitar, then you can lean on it. The guitar is tuned, in the four low strings, with Mi, La, Re and Sol; and the mandolin for its part is tuned, most of the time, with Sol, Re, La Mi.
Therefore, the key is that, listening to a guitar, you tune the mandolin in the opposite way. From the lowest note to the highest.
Q8: How to clean the mandolin?
The first thing you should keep in mind is that being wooden instruments, you should take care of them from water, as this can damage their structure. A damp cloth will suffice to remove the dirt.
Mandolin strings should be cleaned with special oil to preserve their firmness, right after wiping them with a tissue each time you use them. It is not recommended to use waxes or silicones to clean the instrument.
From time to time try polishing the wood with a polishing solution for wooden items and a dry cloth. This will preserve the shiny new look of your mandolin.
The mandolin: an instrument known to few
The mandolin is one of those instruments that not many people identify at first sight, since its popularity has not been very marked. However, it has been around for centuries, playing a leading role in classical, popular and folk music, as well as inspiring new genres like bluegrass.
More than an instrument of constant evolution, the mandolin is characterized by having a rather uncertain origin. Its small shape and its box similar to the shape of a pear, allows it to be associated with a large number of instruments dating back to the 10th century. However, scholars have specified that the mandolin is a family of “Laudes”, which They are instruments provided with a peg and a fingerboard, whose origin is from Africa and Asia. Some of them are “la Mandore”, “La Gittern” and “Chitarino”, which, after their evolution, gave way to the birth of the mandolin.
Origin of the term Mandolin
The first record of the term associated with the word mandolin was found in Rome in 1634. The word appears written on accounts payable belonging to Cardinal Francesco Barbarini. In the paper there is a reference to the repair of a “mandolini box”. In this way, historians reaffirm that the terminology “Mandola” was completely different from the “Mandolin”.
During the period from 1620 to 1670, in which the reign of Ferdinando II de Medicci occurred, some mandolin music could be found in Florence to be performed in ensemble or solo. Similarly, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries some of the first mandolins were built, thanks to the violin maker Antonio Stradivari. Currently, the “Stradivariano di Cremona” museum exhibits the patterns used by Stradivari with annotations in his own handwriting for the manufacture of mandolins.
From mandola to mandolin
The term “mandola” became known at the end of the 16th century. It is an instrument related to the mandolin, which in ancient times was the cause of great controversy due to its resemblance. However, the mandola is played with a plectrum, its body is much larger, and its tuning is a fifth lower than that used for the mandolin.
Today, the similarity of the mandola with the mandolin can be appreciated more closely, thanks to the specimens preserved in some museums. For example, in the Museum of Art History in Vienna, there is a mandola made in Padua during the year 1599, which has four orders of strings. The first of them is simple and the second double.
Similarly, the “1600 Mandola” appears, which incorporates 29.9-centimeter strings and, of its four orders, the first stands out for being single, while the remaining three are double. According to historians and scholars of the decorative arts, both specimens have marked similarities with respect to the mandolins built during the 19th century.
For its part, in the city of London there are also a couple of mandolas that are part of the instrumental collection of the “Victoria & Albert Museum”. These mandolas belong to the 18th century, have a marked Gothic style and were built in both Paris and Venice, during the years 1752 and 1757, respectively. The design of both give an idea of what the mandolin would later be.
types of mandolin
The mandolin is grouped into three types: Italian, folk, and bluegrass. Each of them has distinctive characteristics, which could make us question which is the best mandolin. However, this would be quite unfair, since its resonances are adapted to different musical genres.
Let’s start by talking about the Italian mandolin, which is widely used in classical and Italian music, due to its firm resonance. The instrument has an oval mouth and a pear-shaped case. Furthermore, its cap forms an obtuse angle given by the division of the cap.
For its part, the design of the folk mandolin may have some v