What exactly is a mandolin, you ask? This is a round-shaped stringed lue, which is something you might expect the sound to be similar to a country guitar. However, it doesn’t sound anything like one. The mandolin is a stringed instrument, but it doesn’t use or need finger plucking and the sound will be better that way. Mandolin has four instruments that are grouped together in pairs – for instance, two finger picks on each hand.
Below is a list of the best mandolins for beginners. These instruments for beginners are a great choice for someone who wants to take their music career seriously, but doesn’t have a lot of money to spend. If you can spare more, they give you the ability to do more and be more creative. Mandolins can give you an edge and open up a lot of opportunities in your musical portfolio. So now would be a great time to get one!
The History of the Origin of the Mandolin
In the middle of the 1800s, the mandolin, which we now know as the mandolin, was created in Naples, Italy. However, similar instruments, known as mandola and mandola, were made centuries before the Neapolitan Mandolin.
The mandora was first discovered in Italy in the 15th century. It was only four to five strings at first, and its name likely derives from mandala or almond.
This instrument featured gut strings and a pear-shaped wooden body. It had no frets and a deeper, sweeter sound than modern mandolins. Since then, the term mandora is used to describe mid-sized mandolins.
The Baroque period, roughly 1600-1750, saw the development of a new instrument that became known as the mandolin or little mandola.
It was a melodic instrument that played primarily in music, which distinguished it from the lute which played both melodic and harmonic roles in the music of the time.
Modern mandolins, at least the European-style round-back design, were developed from the mandolin that was made between 1750-1818.
The Vinaccia family of Naples played an important role in the development of this instrument throughout the period. Pasquale Vinaccia (1806-82) was the man most responsible for the establishment and maintenance the standard design.
The mandolin was distinguished from the Baroque mandolin by a bent soundboard, raised fretboard, more frets (and thus more notes) and 8 metal strings.
The strings are paired together in courses of two strings, where each pair is tuned to the same pitch.
The eight strings can only represent four pitches. The strings are tuned to the exact same pitch as a violin’s strings, namely G, D and A.
Mandolin’s metal strings allowed for a new style in playing. This was the tremolo technique. The player moves the pick rapidly up and down on one pair of strings, creating rapid repetitions of a single pitch. Picks (or plectrums as they were called at that time) were made primarily from tortoiseshells.
The mandolin became a global phenomenon in the second half 1800s. Carlos Munier, grandson of Pasquale vinaccia, was a Virtuoso performer who toured Europe convincing audiences that the mandolin wasn’t just a folk instrument. From the 1870s, masses of immigrants from Italy to the United States brought their mandolins with them.
The Estudiantes Espanolas from Spain were a curious group of musicians who toured the United States in 1880s. They created a buzz of attention in this still-young country.
They played instruments similar to mandolins (called bandurrias), but the mandolin was the only instrument that survived the test of time.
The still-extant Martin Company was an early manufacturer of mandolins in America. But, even more important was the Gibson Company, which was based out Kalamazoo (Michigan).
Lloyd Loar, a Gibson designer, created two new mandolin designs. Each had a flat back, rather than the traditional (to that point), round or bowl back. Loar created the A-style mandolin, while the F-style has F-holes that look like a violin.
These new designs have a more guitar-like sound which makes them more suited for strumming than their Neapolitan-bow-backed counterparts.
Some felt that the new designs lost the Italian mandolin’s sweeter tone. They were able to achieve greater projection and sharper attacks, which are essential qualities for the mandolin’s place in bluegrass music.
Mandolins were established in the United States to encourage large numbers of people to learn the instrument.
In the United States flat-backed mandolins were the norm, while elsewhere bowl-backed mandolins are still very popular.
Styles of music for Mandolin
Italian folk music and classical music are the two main sources of mandolin music. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), a composer from the classical world, incorporated the mandolin in the orchestra.
Vivaldi wrote two concertos specifically for the instrument, one for a solo mandolin and one for two mandolins.
Another composer was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), who wrote music to the mandolin for his opera Don Giovanni.
However, Mozart’s music is based more on folk music than classical music. It is in fact a folk song that is performed by a character in classical opera.
The mandolin was used often to accompany romantic songs and dances in the Italian folk music that inspired Mozart. This type of music can still be heard in the Italian countryside, in films like The Godfather and in Italian restaurants all over the globe. There are many sub-genres that include fast-paced tarantellas and romantic serenades.
The mandolin is most well-known in the United States for its role as a bluegrass instrument. It is the heart of bluegrass music, along with the guitar, banjo and fiddle.
Bluegrass bands often use the mandolin to play full chords and boisterous solos in addition to the standard mandolin style.
The mandolin is not limited to these main genres. It can be used in a wide variety of musical styles.
Talented mandolinists have been featured in many genres of music including American country music, Brazilian music and pop music as well as folk music from many other countries.
The mandolin has a similar tuning to a violin and is therefore very adaptable. It has been a durable instrument throughout the 20th century.
Parts of the Mandolin
The mandolin’s central component is its body. This hollow chamber serves as an echo chamber and produces the sound that the strings make.
The soundboard is the piece of wood that sits on top of the mandolin body. The soundboard is a piece of wood that has one or two sound holes. These sound holes allow the sound from the inner chamber to be projected out into the outside world.
F-style mandolins and some A-style mandolins have two fshaped holes. These holes are inspired from the holes in a violin’s body.
A tailpiece is located at the bottom of the body and serves as the base for the strings. The strings run from the tailpiece to the bridge.
The bridge on a mandolin is not fixed to the body, as it can be moved. This allows for minor adjustments to the tuning. The tension of the strings holds the bridge in place.
A pickguard is a protective cover that prevents wood from being scratched.
The eight mandolin strings are paired in courses of two and cross the bridge.
A mandolin’s neck is relatively short and consists of two parts: the fretboard and fingerboard. The fingerboard attaches to the neck with a flat piece, while frets are thin metal pieces that are hammered into channels in the fretboard.
The frets are used to stop the vibration of the strings at one point on the neck of an instrument. This creates a different pitch depending upon the length of the string.
The mandolin’s head, which is the last major component of the string set, is where the strings end. The tuners are a solid piece made of wood. They consist of eight pegs connected to gears that can be turned to tighten or loosen strings. This in turn raises or lowers their pitch.
Best Mandolins for Beginners
1. Stagg Bluegrass Mandolin with Nato Top M50E
Stagg has a great reputation because they provide excellent quality sound products at an affordable price. When it comes to this particular model, we can’t even see the description on the website because it’s so long. We had to go really in-depth just to find answers to some of our questions.
I love that the mandolin comes with a case, so I can carry it safely everywhere. This mandolin is like the others on the list and it also has an adjustable bridge. This allows for the perfect fit and tuning for beginner players.
While we do recommend any mandolin strings be tuned with caution, it would seem that cheaper models tend to break more easily when the tuning is too tight. This mandolin is an electric instead of acoustic, so it’s super versatile and can give you a lot more variety with the sound. We liked it, but not 100% sure.
2. Kentucky 8-String Mandolin KM-140
This is another one from the list of high-quality mandolins. This instrument has a really high-quality sound, perfect for playing classical music. It has a great shape to rest on the arm or lap while playing as its rounded curves sit firmly.
This mandolin has some awesome materials, with nickel-plated hardware that makes the sound really stand out. The maple on the body produces a distinctive, rich sound that is unlike a Kentucky mandolin.
The Loar is doing a great job of keeping the old fashioned look alive and completely revamped for the modern era. Dark, wooden edges with a high-quality design and finish make up this unique lamp that’s perfect for any collector. Yeah, you probably guessed this, but this is in TOP 5 of the bestsellers for mandolins. If you have the money 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
One thing you can always count on is a guitar’s quality. Whether or not it’s a current Oscar Schmidt or one we reviewed in the past, they’re typically well-made. This Oscar Schmidt Mandolin continues what the company has shown in its earlier instruments – that is, top quality. This ukulele has a cool, white finish that makes it stand out from the crowd of darker colored ones – it would look nice in the hands of a singer-songwriter!
This mandolin is just as versatile as an electric one, so you can play tunes more precisely, and change the output sound.
You’ll have to be extra careful with this mandolin too given its high-gloss finish. There’s a good chance that the glossiness will scratch off over time so you need to take care of it. On top of that, no accessories are included with this product which makes it really annoying to take care of it.
If you like playing daring songs or just want the best in sound, then this Oscar Schmidt Mandolin will be perfect for you! This guitar is well-tuned, acoustically accurate and looks shiny. Mandolins possess a peculiar appeal in terms of sound but this one is also tuned.
4. Savannah A-Model Mandolin SA-100
Say hello to our one-of-a-kind mandolin, which we usually recommended to beginners. We recommend other options for you too. The Savannah has a hard maple deck which makes it an exciting proposition for someone who likes to pluck hard.
This is a characteristic of part time work, more often among beginners. The Savannah also comes with a beautiful bound rosewood fretboard, which is ideal for smooth operations. Bound rosewood is something we can teach beginners on how to use in order to practice plucking.
It has great craftsmanship and its cheap price is unbelievable. You can use it for a long haul without worrying about it breaking from excess wear and tear.
The Savannah also has a compensated bridge, meaning adjustments will be fast when needed. The Savannah mandolin is unique and it’s this one aspect that makes it the best in its class. We recommend this to our young customers.
5. Stagg Bluegrass Mandolin M20
This Stagg is an electric Stagg but it’s an acoustic one. It is mainly due to its unique dome design, which produces crisper and more bassy sounds. This mandolin is a great choice for beginners and those who have had some practice with cheap mandolins.
Stagg mandolins are all about sound and experience. Rosewood fingerboards are standard on the Stagg M20, which means high quality input and output. This is paired with the elegant finish of the mandolin, as well as the basswood construction to make the Stagg M20 a strong competitor for your money.
Like mandolins, the strings of this instrument are difficult to press. It is important to be aware of this before you buy, as it can have an effect on your first journey. You’ll soon get used to it, especially since you are getting a beautiful piece that looks as good as its sound. It is a smart long-term investment.
6. The Loar Honey Creek Mandolin LM-110-BRB
The Loar is our entry into the high-end range of mandolins. These are suitable for advanced users, but they would be great for beginners with a little bit of money. It is distinctive in its shape, which has a very round and fine appearance. The Loar is instantly recognisable and anyone who pulls on one can brag about it. This is just the beginning.
The distinctive sound notes of the Loar mandolin are what make it unique. They have hand-carved spruce tops, which give them a natural feel and sound. This is a great option for beginners as the fretboard has been removed beyond the 20th fret, which allows for easier playing.
The Loar mandolins are distinctively 20th-century in sound. It’s been tuned so that it can cut through today’s orchestral pieces and concerts. This great investment is worth it if you have the money.
7. Ktone F Style Mandolin 5020SB
This is the second Ktone instrument we will be reviewing in this article. The robust design of Ktone is a tribute to the maple neck, which makes it a mandolin that can withstand the elements.
The 28″ model is a mandolin that’s almost as long as a standard guitar. The authenticity of the instrument’s musical output is enhanced by its steel-string and 20 frets design.
Ktones always carry a bag with them. This bag is great for protecting sensitive instruments like the mandolin. The rosewood fretboard allows for smooth plucking, which is great for beginners who will likely struggle with plucking.
The mandolin’s shape is almost like a guitar and can fool most people. However, it is a mandolin with a unique style and grip. It is only a mandolin if it has eyes on either side of the dome.
8. Luna Folk Series Trinity A-Style Mandolin
The Luna Folk Series Mandolin is probably the least attractive-looking mandolin that we reviewed in this article, it’s a bit of an outlier with a less traditional sound. It has a distinctive four-sided hole which gives it such a different look and also gives it such a distinct sound. Compared to the other mandolins, it’s definitely one of our favorites.
The mandolin has a special lunar-shaped logo on the face of it. You can find this trademark on many of their guitars! You’ll never miss this mandolin no matter where you’re at. If you want a really high-quality mandolin, go for the premium one. The more expensive ones are often of better quality and have cool features.
9. Washburn Americana Mandolin M1SDLB-A
The premium mandolins have been kept, but this mandolin is a new addition to the list. It’s geared specifically towards beginners. This is the second Washburn Washburn featured in this article. The mandolin has an elegant black finish and accented edges that are unmistakably Americana.
This instrument is for a wide range of musicians, including bluegrass and Celtic. The instrument has a hand-carved spruce top that adds unique notes to the unfound.
Although it may seem premium, this mandolin is equally suited for beginners. This mandolin’s soundhole is oval, compared to the two-eye rivals. This makes it stand out among the rest.
10. Oscar Schmidt Mandolin OM10ETS-O-U
They are well-known for producing high-quality, high-performance instruments. However, they rarely keep their products affordable to beginners. This is not the case with the offerings mentioned.
This high-quality instrument is for beginners who wish to learn mandolin. Highly skilled mandolin technicians and players fine-tune each mandolin. You’ll hear clear, deep notes that sound very natural as soon as you start to pluck the strings.
This mandolin is made from premium mahogany wood, which places it at the top of beginner mandolins. The passive electronic design of the Ovangkol Fingerboard and its electronic play control give players the best possible control.
The unique longhorn bullet design of this mandolin allows for beautiful fit and finish. This rigidity is closely matched by the high-end mandolins from Oscar Schmidt. This beast’s acoustics, reliability and beauty will amaze you. This is a great investment for the long-term, even though it is slightly more expensive than its category price.
11. Ktone A-Style Mandolin 5021RB
Next up is the Ktone. Its beautiful design is amplified by its versatility of use. The Ktone’s robust design is a tribute to the maple neck mandolin. With its durable finish and sturdy construction, it is another mandolin that can withstand the bumps of the rusty road.
This mandolin measures 27 inches in length and is quite large, making it a good choice for beginners. The authenticity of the instrument’s musical output is enhanced by its steel-string and 20 frets design.
Ktone’s offer will make you happy if you were drooling about its price in our previous recommendation. This mandolin is the most affordable you can purchase. You might need to replace the original steel strings, especially on this model.
This deal is a no-brainer and we do not see why you shouldn’t grab it. This range is well worth it for the looks and sound.
12. Washburn A-Style Mandolin M1S-A
Washburn is a premium product that comes at a low price. Washburn has many characteristics that are similar to the excellent Stagg series. It is an elegant-looking, fine-sounding piece.
Washburn’s maple construction is a great option for beginners. It is easy to learn how to use the tuners. The Sitka steel bracing adds visual appeal to the mandolin and is crucial in achieving the Washburn mandolin’s superior acoustic quality.
Beginners can easily learn finger placements by using the dimples on the deck. Teachers can also use this method to help the learners understand the mandolin’s position, which is crucial for its playback. The only problem is that the purchase does not include a casing or cover.
FAQ for What Exactly is a Mandolin
What exactly is a mandolin?
Mandolin is a musical instrument that is played with a bow. It is also known as the violin or the lute.
The mandolin has been around for thousands of years, but it was not until the 19th century that it became more popular. The mandolin was originally created in China and was brought to Europe by travelers who were returning from North Africa.
In America, the mandolin became popular during the early 1900s when minstrel shows featuring African American music began to gain popularity.
How do players a mandolin?
Mandolin is a musical instrument that is made up of a bowl-shaped body, strings, and a bridge.
The player holds the mandolin in their right hand and plucks or strums the strings with their left hand. The player can also use their fingers to pluck or strum the strings while they are playing.
What are the key features of a mandolin?
Mandolins are a type of musical instrument that is typically played with a plectrum. It has been around for centuries with its earliest forms dating back to the late 18th century.
Mandolins have been used in many different cultures and styles of music, such as bluegrass, jazz, folk, classical, and rock. They are also used in the traditional Italian mandolin orchestra known as the mandolin at.
The key features of a mandolin include:
- The body is carved from a single piece of wood
- The strings are usually metal or nylon
- The neck is usually made out of one piece of wood
What is the music like on a mandolin?
Mandolin is a stringed instrument that is played with a bow and has the same range as a violin. The sound of the instrument is mellow, and it can be heard in various genres like bluegrass, classical music, jazz, Celtic music, and folk music.
It is also used in traditional Irish music and in country dance music such as polkas.
What is the difference between a mandolin and a violin?
A mandolin is a stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body, which is the main difference between it and the violin.
A mandolin has a round body, while the violin has an elongated body. The strings are attached to a movable bridge that can be moved up and down to change the pitch of each string.
What are common types of mandolins?
Mandolins are stringed instruments that have been in use for centuries in many different countries. They are typically made of wood, but some modern ones are made of metal or plastic.
Mandolins can be divided into three main categories – bowed, fretted, and chorded mandolins. Bowed mandolin is the most common type, with the strings being attached to a bow on one end and then to a bridge on the other end. Fretted mandolin has metal strings that run over a fretboard instead of a bow. Chorded mandolin has metal strings that run over tuning pegs instead of a bow or fretboard.
There is also an acoustic mandolin which is not strung like other types of mandolins. It features nylon strings and no bridge or tail.
Where do mandolins come from?
Mandolins come from Europe, but they also have roots in Asia and Africa. The instrument was introduced to the United States in the late 18th century by African slaves who brought it with them.
The mandolin is a stringed musical instrument that has been called a “fiddle” or “violin” because of its sound and construction. It is a member of the lute family and is typically tuned one whole step below the viola (A-D-G-B-E).
Mandolins are traditionally played with a plectrum, which is held between the thumb and index finger.