Best Mandolin Under $1000 In 2022

best mandolin under $1000

Mandolins are beautiful musical instruments capable of producing unique and beautiful musical pieces. Not only is their music full of soul and passion, the build of these instruments is equally beautiful, which is why they are expensive. Hence, if you search for the best mandolin under $1000, it will prove a difficult task.

Finding the best mandolin under $1000 is not easy. Considering how much work goes into building them, they are expensive instruments, which makes sense. Hence, you might not find the right one when you are limited under the budget. This is why we have done most of the work to bring you a list of the best mandolins under $1000 to make it a little bit easier for you.

But what is it that you need to look for in a mandolin? Is there any specific criterion that you need to look out for? Keep reading to find out!

Type Of Mandolin:

What type of mandolin do you want? Is it A-style or F-style mandolin? On their basis, they mostly sound the same. Most of the difference comes from how both types look. If you are a bluegrass music player, F-style mandolin is best for you. But if you want a mandolin for Celtic music and like, A-style is a better option. Generally, F-style mandolins are more adaptable to other genres. However, they are also more expensive. Again, both sound the same, but if the recognition of peers is your goal, then F-style brings more advantages.

Sound Holes:

Corning this category, there are two types of mandolins. First, there are mandolins with f-holes like violins. Second, there are mandolins with round or oval 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 more complex tone and responds well to lighter touches. 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?

As 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 not needed.

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 there are larger nut widths. 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.

Comparison Table

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

Best mandolin Under $1000:

1. Eastman MD315 F-Style Mandolin:

Eastman MD315 F-Style Mandolin with F-Holes

The first mandolin on our list is the famous Eastman MD315 F-Style. The top preference for bluegrass music player, the instrument has high acoustics and superb tones. The intonation is already set out of the box, so not much is required for the setup. Additionally, it gives a great tone and projection.

But this mandolin is not just good in its technical specs. It is also excellent, designed with the utmost care and thought. The satin finish gives it a bright look that is hard to ignore. All in all, this is one of those mandolins you will love to get your hands on. In other words, it deserves to be at the top of the list of best mandolin under $1000.

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

2. The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin:

The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin

The following entry is another favorite choice among music lovers. The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin is one of those instruments that have raised a bar for their competitors. At this price point, this is perhaps the only all-rounder mandolin you will be able to get your hands on.

This is a masterpiece created explicitly as a response to the player’s wishes of wanting an F-style mandolin at a reasonable price. The price was kept low by sacrificing some aesthetic features, but its technical specs were more than makeup. It is a worthy member of the list of best mandolin under $1000.

Specs:

  • Brand: The Loar
  • Color: Sunburst
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 9 x 10.5 x 1.75 inches
  • Weight: 2.9 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Solid Hand-Carved Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Solid Hand-Carved Maple
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Finish Type: Gloss
  • Finish Options: Vintage Sunburst
  • Tuning Machines: Grover with Pearloid Buttons
  • Number of Frets: 29
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 inches
  • Bridge: Compensated Adjustable Ebony Bridge
  • Pickup: Available With Fishman Nashville Pickup

Key Features:

  • Bridge: Compensated Adjustable Ebony Bridge
  • Weight: 2.9 Pounds
  • Beautiful design
Pros
    • You can get it in different sizes.
    • Lightweight, easy to carry
    • Crisp, rich sounds
    • It does not get out of tone no matter how hard you play
Cons
  • The action is very high, so there might be some intonation issues.
  • The highest frets are essentially useless.

3. Seagull S8 Mandolin SG:

Seagull S8 Mandolin SG

Seagull is known to produce the most unconventional designs, and this instrument is no different. The Seagull S8 Mandolin SG is the best example of beauty with functionality. It looks like a ‘double cutaway,’ which gives it its unique look, but it is as good as it looks. The mandolin is highly durable solely because it is built for travel so that it will work for a long time. Moreover, the curved soundboard gives it a superior tone and strength, marking it as the best mandolin under $1000.

Sure, it is not exactly a traditional choice, but it will prove to be a fruitful companion on your journey.

Specs:

  • Brand: Seagull
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 15 x 9 x 3.25 inches
  • Weight: 1.1 Pounds
  • Color: Burnt Amber
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Maple
  • Number of Strings: 8
  • Neck: Maple
  • Finish: Semi-Gloss
  • Nut Width: 1.188″ (30.18 mm)
  • Scale: 13.88″ (352.43 mm)
  • Upper Bout: 5″ (127mm)
  • Body Style: A-style
  • Sound hole shape: Oval
  • Pickguard: tortoiseshell celluloid

Key Features:

  • Pickguard: tortoiseshell celluloid
  • Weight: 1.1 Pounds
  • Body Style: A-style
Pros
    • Robust
    • Solid
    • High tone quality
    • Beautiful design
Cons
  • It does not come with a good setup

4. Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-model Mandolin:

Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-model Mandolin

If you are a beginner and learning to play the mandolin but still want professional-level music, this is an obvious choice. The Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-model Mandolin is perhaps the best mandolin under $1000 at the starter level. Moreover, it comes with all the features and specs Kentucky is known for.

It is an affordable starter mandolin that gives you rich tones that will immediately make you fall in love with it. It is the best choice if you can’t afford a professional-level instrument because it comes with all the necessary requirements. In short, you will fall in life with it.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Transparent Amber
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 26.25 x 10.25 x 3.38 inches
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back and Side Material: Solid Alpine Maple
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Finish Type: Lacquered
  • Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Number of Strings: 6
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Body Style: A-Model
  • Bridge Material: Polished Santos Rosewood with Adjustment Wheels
  • Fingerboard Material: Radiused Santos Rosewood
  • Finish: Sunburst High-gloss Lacquer
  • Neck Material: One-piece Alpine Maple
  • Number of Frets: Clear 14
  • Number of Frets: Total 22
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 in.
  • Pickguard: Black/White/Black ABS with beveled edge
  • Scale Length: 13 7/8 in. (354mm)
  • Sound hole Shape: Traditional F-Hole

Key Features:

  • The extra punch from solid carved maple back and sides
  • Comfortable, easy action due to slim maple neck
  • Ensures silky smooth playability with East Indian rosewood fingerboard ensures silky smooth playability
Pros
    • Beautiful, sturdy, and smooth.
    • Has booth the expected oval-shaped holes and f-shaped holes, which brightens the tone and opens up the high pitches.
Cons
  • It has to be handled with care as the finish is easily scratched.
  • The bridge needs to be adjusted.

5. Gold-Tone OM-800+ Octave Mandolin:

Gold Tone OM-800+ Octave Mandolin (Mahogany)

Gold-Tone OM-800+ Octave Mandolin is another fantastic piece you would regret never getting your hands on. Not only does it looks beautiful, but it is also lightweight, which makes it a preference for those who would like to lighten their load. The tonal quality is equally superb.

It has a rich resonance and sustains in terms of sound and tone. It is a well-made mandolin that will fulfill all your expectations and more. This is on the list of best mandolin under $1000 because it is truly an all-rounder. It has managed to satisfy all its users and went beyond that in performance.

Specs:

  • Brand: Gold Tone
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 33 x 3.25 x 13.5 inches
  • Weight: 3 Pounds
  • Color: Natural
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Maple
  • String Material Type: Phosphor Bronze
  • Number of Strings: 8
  • Nut Width: 1-1/4″ ZeroGlide Nut
  • Bridge: Adjustable Bridge
  • Fingerboard: Radiused Rosewood
  • Frets: 21
  • Inlay: Dot
  • Material: Mahogany
  • Binding: Cream ABS
  • Finish: Natural / High Gloss
  • Body Style: A-style
  • Sound hole Shape: Oval holes

Key Features:

  • Body Style: A-style
  • Bridge: Adjustable Bridge
  • Weight: 3 Pounds
Pros
    • Loud natural sounds compared to others
    • Good harmonics
    • Sustainable, will be used for years
Cons
  • I need some time to adapt to strings

6. Left Hand Oscar Schmidt OM40LH Mandolin:

Left Hand Oscar Schmidt OM40LH Mandolin

Another entry on the list of best mandolin under $1000 is the Left Hand Oscar Schmidt OM40LH Mandolin. This is truly a masterpiece as it is an exquisite instrument. It has a beautiful design and sturdy body. The material used to construct this mandolin is not just there for looks; it is also sturdy and punchy tones.

In terms of tonal quality, it will satisfy you without any complaint. This F-style mandolin produces bright tones at a loud volume that are hard to ignore. However, all of that is not what qualified it to be present on this list; it is the fact that it is made specifically for left-handed musicians.

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, perfect for bluegrass music and acoustic situations.
    • Beautiful design.
Cons
  • Suitable only for left-handed musicians

7. Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin, Brown Sunburst High Gloss:

Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin

Next up on the list of best mandolin under $1000 is the M522SBS from Ibanez. It is not exactly the sturdiest mandolin out there, which will make many hesitate. However, it still qualifies as the best mandolin for beginners under $1000, as its price tag is not exactly high. Additionally, this beautiful-looking mandolin is still beautiful enough to compromise on some things.

There are minor flaws, but this is a good choice for beginners. It has smooth playability and fast action, which makes it the perfect choice for new learners.

Specs:

  • Brand: Ibanez
  • Color: Sunburst
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 27 x 3 x 10.5 inches
  • Weight: 2.5 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Rosewood, Maple, Mahogany, Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Maple, Mahogany
  • Neck: Maple neck
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Bridge: rosewood, adjustable
  • Finish: gloss
  • Body binding: ivory
  • Number of frets: 24
  • Nut Width: 1.2 inches

Key Features:

  • Weight: 2.5 Pounds
  • Adjustable bridge
  • Nut Width: 1.2 inches
Pros
    • Very light compared to other mandolins
    • Loudest mandolin in this price range
    • Play ready out of the box needs just a little bit of adjustment
Cons
  • Not precisely the sturdiest mandolin out there.

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

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

Kentucky produces many mandolins all around the year, but it still manages to produce the best pieces. And the Kentucky KM-656 is another worthy addition to the list of best mandolins under $1000. The design is beautiful, and it has a sturdy build.

Additionally, this mandolin is perhaps one of the best in clear articulation and its bright tunes. Overall, this is another brilliant piece that will satisfy you.

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

9. Washburn Mandolin Series M108SWK:

Washburn Mandolin Series M108SWK, Natural

Another worthy entry on the list of best mandolin under $1000 is the Washburn Mandolin Series, ut nevertheless, it still packs a punch. It still has many features that will be enough at this price range.

The M108SWK is the best mandolin for beginners under $1000. It is sturdy, affordable, and can take a few hits, so honestly, there is nothing to complain about.

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 than all other entries
  • The neck needs some adjustments

10. Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Mandolin:

Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Mandolin

And finally, we have the Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Mandolin. This artist-style mandolin is the perfect choice for folk music due to its bright but soulful tones. Additionally, it is one of the most affordable pieces with so many features at this price range, so that you will be getting the best of it.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Sunburst
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 38 x 10.25 x 3.38 inches
  • Weight: 5 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Maple
  • String Material Type: Alloy Steel
  • Number of Strings: 4
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Body Style: A-Model
  • Bridge Material: Polished Santos Rosewood with Adjustment Wheels
  • Fingerboard Binding: White ABS
  • Fingerboard Material: Santos Rosewood
  • Finish: Sunburst High Gloss
  • Neck / Body Joint: Dovetail
  • Neck Material: One-piece Alpine Maple
  • Number of Frets Total: 21
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 1/8 in.
  • Pickguard: Black Multi-ply
  • Sound hole Shape: Traditional F-Hole
  • Tailpiece: 1920s-style Stamped Brass / Press-fit Cover

Key Features:

  • Pickguard: Black Multi-ply
  • Sound hole Shape: Traditional F-Hole
  • Bridge Material: Polished Santos Rosewood with Adjustment Wheels
Pros
    • Smooth playability
    • Easy action
    • Beautiful design
Cons
  • Bridge needs to be set up correctly before use

Comparison Table

Title

Eastman MD315 F-Style Mandolin

The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin

Seagull S8 Mandolin SG

Kentucky KM-252 Artist A-model Mandolin

Gold-Tone OM-800+ Octave Mandolin

Left Hand Oscar Schmidt OM40LH Mandolin

Ibanez M522SBS F-Style Mandolin

Kentucky KM-656

Washburn Mandolin Series M108SWK

Kentucky KM-150 Standard A-model Mandolin

Products

Brand

Eastman

The Loar

Seagull

Kentucky

Gold Tone

Oscar Schmidt

Ibanez

Kentucky

Washburn

Kentucky

Item Weight

4.81 Pounds

2.9 Pounds

1.1 Pounds

5 Pounds

3 Pounds

5 pounds

2.5 Pounds 

3.04 pounds

 10 pounds

 5 Pounds

Dimension

30.7 x 13.8 x 6.1 inches

26.9 x 10.5 x 1.75 inches

28.15 x 9 x 3.25 inches

26.25 x 10.25 x 3.38 inches

33 x 3.25 x 13.5 inches

35 x 14 x 4 inches

27 x 3 x 10.5 inches

28.5 x 12.88 x 4.38 inches

41 x 16 x 5 inches   

26.38 x 10.25 x 3.38 inches

Color

Brown

Sunburst

 Burnt Amber

Brown

Natural

Tobacco Sunburst

Sunburst

Transparent Brown

Brown

Sunburst

Top Material Type

Maple, Rosewood, Ebony

Solid Hand-Carved Spruce

Spruce

Spruce

Spruce

Rosewood, Maple, Spruce

Rosewood, Maple, Mahogany, Spruce

Spruce

Spruce

Spruce

Back Material Type

Rosewood, Maple, Spruce, Ebony

Solid Hand-Carved Maple

Maple

Solid Alpine Maple

Maple

Maple, Rosewood

Maple, Mahogany

Spruce

Mahogany

Maple

Body style

F-style

F-style

A-style

F-style

A-style

F-style

F-style

F-style

F-style

F-style

Sound hole Shape

F-holes

F-holes

Oval holes

F-holes

Oval holes

F-holes

F-holes

F-hole

F-holes

F-holes

Pickguard

None

 Yes

Tortoiseshell Celluloid

None

None

None

None

Multi-Ply Black/White/Black

None

Black Multi-ply

Prices

Top Picks:

Eastman MD315 F-Style Mandolin:

A beautiful musical instrument with lots of features.

The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin:

An all-rounder mandolin is not the most beautiful instrument but makes up for its quality and technical specs.

Seagull S8 Mandolin SG:

A unique looking durable mandolin built for traveling.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Which is the best mandolin to buy?

Ans: We have prepared an extensive list of the best mandolins that you have no doubt gone through by now.

Q: What is a reasonable price for a mandolin?

Ans: It depends on the skill level of the musician. For a beginner and learner, sturdy but affordable mandolins are best, so spending anywhere from $100 to $300 or even $400 is enough. The mandolin should be of better quality for intermediate skills as the player has surpassed the phase of damaging the instrument by mistake. Hence, $400 to $800 is a good investment. But if you are an expert, then go beyond $800. Most limit themselves to $3000, but you can go above that if you want a better or customized mandolin.

Q: Which brands produce the most popular mandolins?

Ans: The list is as follows.

  • Kentucky
  • Ibanez
  • Washburn
  • The Loar
  • Oscar Schmidt
  • Seagull
  • Gold Tone

Q: What is the most expensive mandolin?

Ans: That would be the mandolin built by the head engineer of Gibson Lloyd Loar in 1923. It costs around a whopping $225,000.

Q: How much does a professional mandolin cost?

Ans: A professional mandolin costs anywhere from $600 to $3000 or above.

Q: Where are Kentucky mandolins made?

Ans: The first ones were made in Japan, then in Korea. Finally, the Kentucky mandolins were built in China, where they are still being produced.

Q: What is the difference between A-style and F-style mandolin?

Ans: The primary difference is in their looks. A-style mandolins have a pear-shaped body with no points. On the other hand, F-style mandolins have two points on their back and an ornamental scroll in the headstock.

Q: Why do mandolins have double strings?

Ans: Mandolins have double strings, 4 strings repeated twice, making 8 strings in total. This is because the double strings will provide more substantial vibrational energy. As a result, the tones produced have much more a fuller sound and the sustainability for a more extended resonance of higher strength than a single string can produce.

Conclusion:

And there you have it, our list of best mandolin under $1000. Mandolins are beautiful musical instruments. But as beautiful their music is, the more expensive they become, which makes finding the right one under budget a difficult task. Nevertheless, we hope that this list will provide you with the necessary information to buy the right one.