Best F Style Mandolin For The Money In 2022

Best F Style Mandolin For The Money

Are you searching for the best f style mandolin for the money?

F style mandolins are famous for their elegant looks and beautiful designs. Accordingly, they are equally expensive, which makes finding the perfect mandolin a bit hard. So, we took the trouble of reviewing all the top products in this category to help you make a selection.

But before you go, let’s take a look at points that you need to look for when buying an F style mandolin.

What Is Mandolin?

By definition, the mandolin is a stringed musical instrument from the lute family. It is famous for being one of the powerful instruments of bluegrass music. That does not mean it is limited to only one genre, as it also meshes well with jazz, and surprisingly rock. Although it is not as famous as other musical instruments, it is still slowly but steadily gaining popularity in other genres. Many rock legends, including Led Zeppelin, have also used the mandolin in their music. Plucked with a plectrum, the instrument is classic, elegant and will create uniquely beautiful and unique pieces of music you might ever hear.

What Is F Style Mandolin?

F style mandolins are famous instruments best used for bluegrass music. Although they mostly sound similar to A-style mandolins, they are more beautiful and require at least 30% more handwork. Thus, they are more expensive and preferable if you want peer recognition.

Some people hold the belief that the scroll and points give the F style mandolin a more concentrated look. However, some dismiss that claim. In conclusion, F style mandolins are beautiful, expensive, and preferable choices for peer recognition.

Criteria For Buying Best F Style Mandolin For The Money/ Buyer’s Guide:

Even though it is best for bluegrass, Celtic and folk music, it still works well with other genres. There are many types of mandolins from different brands at different price ranges. But as a buyer, you need to focus on the following factors to make the best decision about your purchase.

Sound Holes:

In this category, there are two types of mandolins. First are the mandolins with f holes like a violin. Second are the mandolins with round or oval-shaped sound holes, just like a guitar.

The mandolins with f holes produce clear, bright tones. They are also louder than oval-shaped sound holes, so they better serve acoustic situations. This makes them suitable for bluegrass music. On the other hand, the mandolins with oval holes produce a warm, sustaining tone. This makes them a perfect choice for Celtic or old-time music players.

Tone woods:

Generally, mandolins have a pair of tone woods. Different types of tone woods can affect the sound of a mandolin. The back and sides are typically made from maple due to its clarity. But for the instrument itself, varieties of spruce are used for different purposes. For example, Engelmann spruce creates a warmer and complex tone and responds well to a lighter touch. On the other hand, Sitka spruce is the most commonly used tone wood due to its creation of a balanced and clear tone that retains focus even at loud volumes.

Then there is Adirondack spruce that gives a focused and clear tone that stands up to heavy playing. Then red cedar paired with mahogany gives off a lively sound with a punchy, woody tone. In short, experimenting with different tone wood combinations can give you varying results in looks and tone.

Pickup:

Depending on where you are going to play, you will prefer a mandolin with pickup. For home and acoustic jam sessions, pickup is not needed. But if you are going to play for a bigger audience in large venues, pickups become necessary. Many mandolins come with preinstalled pickups; many don’t. Getting one installed on them by a professional is best.

Type Of Pickup:

There are 2 types of pickups; active and passive. Active pickups use a power source to boost the instrument output, usually a 9V battery. On the other hand, the passive pickups send a less powerful signal. Due to this, you might need to invest in an amplifier to boost the signal.

Amplifier, Or No Amplifier?

Like we mentioned earlier, with passive pickups, you will need a good preamp to boost the signal. Investing in a battery-powered amplifier is better if you are going to play the instrument at home or at campfires. But if you get solid body electric mandolin, the amplifier is unnecessary.

Nut Width:

There is a nut piece at the end of the fingerboard, where the headstock and neck connect. The width of the nut is actually the width of the neck, at that point, to be specific. The wider the neck is, the more distance between string courses. A nut width of 1 1/8” is commonly used, but larger nut widths exist. The difference may not seem much, but for the player, it makes all the difference in the instrument’s feel. It depends mainly on the size of your hand. If you have more extensive hands, you should opt for a nut width of 1 1/8”. Otherwise, the standard is ok for you.

Now that you know what to look for let’s move on to the list of best F style mandolin for the money.

Comparison Table

Last update on 2022-12-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best F Style Mandolin For The Money:

Kentucky KM-1500:

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Right, Sunburst (KM-1500)

First up on our list of best F style mandolin for the money is the Kentucky KM 1500 sunburst mandolin. It has the perfect beauty of the F style mandolins. However, it sits at the top because it has superior note clarity and acoustics that musicians long for.

It deserves to sit at the top of the list of best F style mandolin for the money.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Sunburst
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 28 x 13 x 3.75 inches
  • Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Adirondack Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Highly Flamed Graduated Northern Michigan Maple
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Neck Material: One-piece maple
  • Finish Type: Polished
  • Body Style: F Model
  • Bridge Material: Polished ebony with adjustment wheels
  • Sound hole Shape: Traditional F hole
  • Nut Width: 1-5/64″
  • Pickguard: Tortoise (Optional)

Key Features:

  • F style mandolin
  • Nut Width: 1-5/64″
  • Optional pickguard

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Strong, compact body
  • Vintage style and height-adjustable ebony bridge that makes handling easier
  • Superior note clarity

Cons:

  • The manufacturer does not set up the bridge. It is not recommended that the user do it themselves if they have no experience doing so.

Kentucky KM 1050:

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Vintage Sunburst (KM-1050)

Kentucky KM 1050 is the perfect professional-level mandolin you are in search of. Its sturdy hand-carved design gives an elegant look that makes other instruments pale in comparison. Additionally, it has superior sound clarity, and the material used in the build gives it an extra punch. Furthermore, even though it is a professional-level instrument, it is still user-friendly.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Vintage Sunburst
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 35 x 13 x 3.75 inches
  • Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Maple, Spruce, Ebony
  • Back Material Type: Maple, Spruce Wood
  • Bridge Material: Polished Ebony with Adjustment Wheels
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Finish Type: Lacquered
  • String Material: Alloy Steel
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Body Style: F Style
  • Neck Material: One-piece Maple
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8″
  • Pickguard: None
  • Sound Hole Shape: Traditional F Hole

Key Features:

  • Slim neck
  • User-friendly features like skillfully scooped fingerboard extension with inlaid nickel-silver fret markers, a Wider nut, and saddle for more comfortable string spacing,
  • Ebony fingerboard with a compound radius
  • Taller and broader frets compared to those on vintage mandolins

Pros:

  • Durable built. It will last for a long.
  • User friendly.
  • High-quality material makes it sturdy and beautiful.
  • Shop adjusted, so you won’t need to do anything.
  • It doesn’t get out of tune easily

Cons:

  • The initial setup can be a bit hard.
  • The sound needs some time to start opening up.

Eastman MD315 F Style Mandolin:

Eastman MD315 F-Style Mandolin with F-Holes

The loving hand-carved Eastman MD315 F Style Mandolin is another superior choice. Although it is much less expensive than other picks, it is still perfect. This made it onto the list of best F style mandolin for the money because of its smooth playability. Additionally, its beautiful and solid design is a perfect homage to traditional music lovers.

Specs:

  • Brand: Eastman Guitars
  • Color: Brown (Natural wood)
  • Dimensions: 30.7 x 13.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Weight: 4.81 pounds
  • Top Material: Carved Solid Spruce
  • Back/Sides Material: Carved Solid Maple
  • Finish: Satin lacquer
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 3/32 inches
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Bridge: Fitted adjustable Ebony
  • Body Style: F Style
  • Sound hole Shape: F holes
  • Pickguard: none

Key Features:

  • Vintage F style
  • Distressed stained and matte finish
  • Nut Width: 1 3/32 inches

Pros:

  • It comes with an Eastman warranty
  • Smooth, excellent playability

Cons:

  • None

Eastman MDC805 16″ Archtop Sunburst Mandocello:

Eastman MDC805 16 Archtop Sunburst Mandocello

Next up is the Eastman MDC805, an Archtop jazz mandolin with F holes that make it a delight to play bluegrass music. The beautiful design and high-quality material ensure that the instrument will be used long.

Beautiful and durable, how can you skip this option?

Specs:

  • Brand: Eastman
  • Color: Sunburst
  • Dimensions: 40 31/32″ x 16″ x 3 1/4″
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Top Material Type: Maple, Spruce, Ebony
  • Back Material Type: Maple
  • Bridge material: Ebony
  • String Material Type: Nylon
  • Finish Type: Lacquered
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Nut width: 1 ¾ inch
  • Nut Height: 0.018 inches
  • Body Style: Archtop Jazz
  • Sound hole shape: F Holes
  • Binding: Ivoroid

Key Features:

  • Body Style: Archtop Jazz
  • Sound hole shape: F Holes
  • Nut width: 1 ¾ inch

Pros:

  • Beautiful, compact design
  • It comes with a nifty warranty!

Cons:

  • None

Kentucky KM-1000B (Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Right, Black Top (KM-1000B)):

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Right, Black Top (KM-1000B)

Kentucky KM-1000B is another perfect choice from the Kentucky brand. But if you have sharp eyes, you might have noticed something different. That’s right; it is the addition of ‘B’ at the end of the model number. To sum it up, this is a mandolin from the KM-1000 series, but what sets it apart from others is the black-colored top. The unique color makes it a worthy mention in the list of best F style mandolin for the money.

If you want to stand apart, this is the one for you. This instrument will definitely make a statement.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Black Top,
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 63 x 9.88 x 3.38 inches
  • Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Adirondack Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Highly Flamed Graduated Northern Michigan Maple
  • String Material: Alloy Steel
  • Finish Type: Polished
  • Body style: F style
  • Sound hole shape: F holes
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Bridge: Vintage style Ebony bridge with small adjustment wheels

Key Features:

  • Black colored top
  • F style mandolin
  • Vintage style Ebony bridge with small adjustment wheels

Pros:

  • Superior not clarity
  • It comes in black instead of amber sunburst
  • The extra punch from solid carved maple

Cons:

  • The sound is a bit tight at the beginning. It takes some time to open up.
  • Need to be set up by a professional before use

The Loar LM-500-VS Contemporary F Style Mandolin:

The Loar LM-500-VS Contemporary F-Style Mandolin

The next up on the list of best F style mandolin is the famous The Loar LM-500-VS Contemporary F Style Mandolin. It is the perfect mandolin for professionals. Thus, it has a classy and elegant look that is hard to ignore.

Specs:

  • Brand: The Loar
  • Color: Sunburst
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 27.25 x 10.5 x 2.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.1 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Fully Graduated Spruce
  • Back/ Sides Material Type: Fully Graduated Maple
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Headstock Inlay: Abalone/Mother-of-Pearl “Bon Fleur”
  • Finish Type: Gloss
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 inches
  • Number of Frets: 29
  • Binding: Ivory
  • Bridge: Compensated Adjustable Ebony

Key Features:

  • compensated adjustable ebony bridge
  • Grover turners for keeping the instrument in tune
  • Nut width is bigger, suitable for people with more extensive hands.

Pros:

  • The compensated adjustable ebony bridge allows you to modify the instrument for your performance.
  • Grover turners keep the mandolin in tune no matter the type of performance.
  • Beautiful design, perfect for professionals.

Cons:

  • It does not have many features as it is a minimally appointed mandolin.

Kentucky KM-750 (Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Sunburst, 0 (KM-750)):

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Sunburst, 0 (KM-750)

The Kentucky KM-750 is a vintage-style mandolin with all the associated perks. It has got the crisp, bright tunes that will make you fall in love with it. Additionally, its clear articulation makes it another worthy mention in the list of best F style mandolins from the Kentucky brand.

Moreover, it is lightweight, which makes it perfect for those who prefer less load.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Sunburst
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 63 x 10.13 x 3.38 inches
  • Weight 19 pounds
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Solid Alpine Maple
  • Fretboard Material: Santos Rosewood
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Neck Material Type: Maple
  • Body style: F style
  • Sound hole shape: F shape
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Number of Frets Clear: 15
  • Number of Frets Total: 22
  • Bridge Material: Polished Santos Rosewood with Adjustment Wheels
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 inches
  • Pickguard: Multi-ply B-W-B

Key Features:

  • Body style: F style
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 inches
  • Pickguard: Multi-ply B-W-B

Pros:

  • Great tone and silky smooth playability
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Produces a crisp, bright tune

Cons:

  • None

Eastman MD515 F Style Classic Finish Mandolin:

Eastman MD515 F-Style Classic Finish Mandolin with Hard Case

The next entry on the list of best F style mandolin is the Eastman MD515 F Style Classic Finish Mandolin. This is perfection in your hand, from sound to looks to playability. There is nothing that might make you unhappy with this model.

Specs:

  • Brand: Eastman Guitars
  • Dimensions: 26 11/16″ x 10″ x 1 7/8″
  • Weight: 7.63 pounds
  • Color: Nickel
  • Body Top: Solid Spruce
  • Body Back/ Sides: Solid Maple
  • Finish Type: Lacquered
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Fingerboard Radius: 12″
  • Nut: Bone 1 3/32″
  • Scale Length: 13 7/8″
  • Style: F Style w/ F Holes
  • Binding Material: Ivoroid
  • Body Finish: Gloss Finish
  • Bridge: Adjustable Compensated Ebony Bridge
  • String Spacing: 1 5/8″
  • Nut Height: 0.018″
  • Pickups: Optional K&K Duotone

Key Features:

  • Material: Spruce and Maple
  • Bridge: Adjustable Compensated Ebony Bridge
  • Pickups: Optional K&K Duotone

Pros:

  • The adjustable compensated ebony bridge helps in modification for any performance
  • Excellent tone
  • Beautiful design

Cons:

  • A bit heavier than other mandolins.

Kentucky KM-656 (Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Transparent Brown (KM-656)):

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Transparent Brown (KM-656)

It might be tiring to see Kentucky products constantly, but the fact is that the Kentucky brand works hard to serve and satisfy its customers. And this attempt is not in vain, as Kentucky KM-656 is another worthy mandolin, deserving its spot on the list of best F style mandolins. It has a beautiful design, clear articulation, and bright tunes, so honestly, nothing to complain about.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Transparent Brown
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 5 x 12.88 x 4.38 inches
  • Weight: 3.04 pounds
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Solid Alpine Maple
  • Fretboard Material: Rosewood
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Bridge: Polished Santos Rosewood with Adjustment Wheels
  • Neck Material Type: Maple
  • Finish: Transparent Brown High Gloss
  • Body Style: F Model
  • Sound hole shape: Traditional F hole
  • Fingerboard Binding: Ivoroid
  • Number of Frets: Total 22
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 inches
  • Pickguard: Multi-Ply Black/White/Black

Key Features:

  • F style mandolin
  • Weight: 3.04 pounds
  • Bridge: Polished Santos Rosewood with Adjustment Wheels

Pros:

  • Lighter than other mandolins
  • Perfect for bluegrass music
  • Crisp, bright tunes
  • Clear articulation
  • Traditional beauty with smooth playability

Cons:

  • None

Kentucky KM-755(Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Amberburst (KM-755)):

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Amberburst (KM-755)

Another lightweight mandolin, the Kentucky KM-755, is another good choice. If you want the best f style mandolin for the money that is perfect in every way, this will not disappoint you. Finally, this works best for bluegrass music, so this should be your go-to option if you are an avid player.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Amber burst
  • Item Dimensions (L x W x H): 28.5 x 12.88 x 4.38 inches
  • Weight: 3.15 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Maple
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Fretboard material: Rosewood
  • Neck Material Type: Maple
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Body style: F style
  • Sound hole Shape: F holes
  • Number of Frets Total: 22
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 inches
  • Pickguard: Multi-ply B-W-B

Key Features:

  • Weight: 3.15 Pounds
  • Body style: F style
  • Pickguard: Multi-ply B-W-B

Pros:

  • Lightweight, 3.15 pounds make it the first choice for musicians who lighten their load.
  • Perfect for bluegrass music and acoustic situations.
  • Comfortable to hold.

Cons:

  • None

Left Hand Oscar Schmidt OM40LH Mandolin:

Left Hand Oscar Schmidt OM40LH Mandolin

There is an apparent reason why Oscar Schmidt OM40LH made it onto the list of best F style mandolin for the money. If you have a keen eye, you might have already noticed it. This is a mandolin made for left-handed musicians.

Even though it incorporates all the features of a typical mandolin, it’s built for left-handed users earned it its spot on the list of best F style mandolin for the money.

Specs:

  • Brand: Oscar Schmidt
  • Color: Tobacco Sunburst
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 35 x 14 x 4 inches
  • Top Material Type: Rosewood, Maple, Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Maple, Rosewood
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Neck Wood: Mahogany
  • Style: Left-Handed, F Style

Key Features:

  • Left-handed
  • F Style mandolin

Pros:

  • Perfect for left-handed musicians.
  • F style mandolin, which makes it perfect for bluegrass music.
  • Beautiful design.

Cons:

  • None

Washburn Mandolin Series M108SWK:

Washburn Mandolin Series M108SWK, Natural

The last entry on the list of best F style mandolins is the Washburn Mandolin Series M108SWK. Although it might not be the first choice of musicians, it is still capable enough. Accordingly, it is the perfect instrument for beginners. Additionally, it can take a few hits, as it has a sturdy, durable body.

Specs:

  • Brand: Washburn
  • Color: Vintage F Style
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 41 x 16 x 5 inches
  • Weight: 10 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Mahogany
  • Number Of Frets: 24 frets
  • Nut: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 ¼ inch
  • Body Style: F style
  • Sound hole Shape: F holes
  • Pickguard: None

Key Features:

  • Weight: 10 Pounds
  • Bridge: Ebony
  • Tuners: Distressed Open Gear

Pros:

  • Sturdy
  • Loud, beautiful tones
  • Perfect for beginners

Cons:

  • Heavy, double the weight of all other entries
  • The neck needs some adjustments

Top Picks:

Kentucky KM-1500:

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Right, Sunburst (KM-1500)

Famous for its special note and clarity, this F style mandolin is the perfect catch for musicians who want to start with a bang.

Kentucky KM 1050:

Kentucky, 8-String Mandolin, Vintage Sunburst (KM-1050)

Want a professional but user-friendly mandolin? Then Kentucky KM 1050 is the one for you.

Eastman MD315 F Style:

Eastman MD315 F-Style Mandolin with F-Holes

This mandolin is cheaper than previous picks; however, what set it apart are the glowing reviews its users have.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is F Style Mandolin Hard To Play?

Ans: Compared to A-style mandolin? Actually, no, there is no difference in the difficulty level in both types of mandolins. Both have 8 strings, 4 strings repeated twice, which makes it easier for beginners to learn compared to other instruments.

Q: Do A And F Mandolins Sound Different?

Ans: Strictly speaking, they sound similar. It’s just that the notes and scrolls on the F style mandolin ensure the mandolin has a more concentrated tune. But honestly, not all believe that.

Q: Do F Style Mandolins Sound Better?

Ans: Like we mentioned earlier, both of them sound quite the same. But some people believe that the notes and scrolls on F style mandolin give it a more full-bodied tone than the A-style mandolin.

Q: What Makes An F Style Mandolin More Costly Than An A-Style Mandolin?

Ans: First of all, the F style mandolin is more beautiful. Second, it has to be made more carefully due to the previously mentioned reason, which requires at least 30% more handwork. The mandolins are hand-carved, so the price is justified in the case of F style mandolins.

Q: Which Is Better, F style Or A-style?

Ans: We have already mentioned above how both mandolins differ from each other. They are primarily different in how they look, so there is no competition. However, an F style mandolin will be a better choice after peer recognition.

Another difference is in the sound hole shapes. A-style mandolins have oval or round-shaped holes. Contrarily, F style mandolins come with traditional F holes, which are these instruments’ signature.

Q: Which Mandolin Should I Get? A-style Or F Style?

Ans: We have already explained that if it is peer recognition you are after, F style mandolin will do you justice. But, if you are looking at this from the genre point of view, then it depends.

If you are a bluegrass music lover or want the instrument for situations that demand higher acoustic requirements, F style is the one. On the other hand, you should get A-style mandolin for Celtic and old folk music.

Conclusion:

And there you have it, our list of best F style mandolin for the money. As a buyer, you need to keep in mind that you need to sort out your priorities. Learn what you need, then look at your requirements and finally decide.