What You Need To Know About Mandolins

When most people think of mandolins, the very first thing that comes to their mind is "Losing My Religion" by REM.  Personally, I am a fan of the

Mandolin Neck Shot

virtuoso Chris Thile that I have mentioned in a previous article found here. However, there are many more songs that contain the mandolin than you may know.  Mandolins add a unique substance to a song regardless of genre, but before you run out and buy your first mandolin, there are a few things you should know about this incredibly cool instrument.  Let's first discuss that there are 2 different body styles that mandolins come in.  Both of these mandolin styles have different features that you may want to consider.  The two different types of mandolins are the A and F shape that can be seen below.

The Differences Between The A And F Mandolin


A Mandolin

A Mandolin
  • Oval-shaped body
  • More budget friendly (most of the time) as they are easier to manufacture
  • Common genres: Classical, Folk, and Celtic

F Mandolin

F Mandolin
  • Has a curl on the top with point on bottom to rest on knee
  • A little pricier
  • Common genres: Bluegrass and Country

Even though both of these body styles have completely different construction, there is no sound difference between the two.  As I said in the bullet points under the A mandolin style, the reason that A style mandolins are cheaper is that they are easier to manufacture.  The difference in sound quality will be more reliant on the wood and maker.

Mandolin Wood Differences


Spruce

  • The highest quality of mandolins
  • Bright tone
  • higher price tag

Spruce Top and Laminate Body

  • Medium quality
  • Good tone
  • Mild price tag

Laminate Top

  • Several layers pressed together
  • Sound quality okay
  • Very cheap

The neck of the mandolin is most often made of rosewood or ebony and is held in place by the strings.  For electric mandolins, this is typically where the pickup will be.  All of this being said and assuming you are new to the mandolin, I would highly suggest a laminate A style mandolin for a beginner.  With that in mind, here are a few laminate A style mandolins for you to check out:

In case you would like a little motivational boost for the mandolin, here is a video of the mandolin king, Chris Thile:

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