Best Mandolin Under 3000 In 2022: Best Quality Mandolin

best mandolin under 3000

Are you searching for the best mandolin under 3000? Mandolins are famous for being one of the most beautiful instruments in the musical world. Not only are they aesthetically appealing, but they also produce soothing, soulful tones that breathe life into any piece of music. To summarize, the mandolin is beautiful and pleasing in every way.

However, they are equally expensive. It is not easy to find the perfect mandolin for yourself, even if you are willing to splurge some money on it. Hence, we took it upon ourselves to review the best mandolin under 3000 and summarize our findings in this list.

But before you grab your wallet and head out, take some time to learn about what to look for in a mandolin.

What Is Mandolin?

By definition, a mandolin is a stringed musical instrument from the lute family. It is famous for being one of the significant 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. The instrument is plucked with a plectrum and is classic, elegant, and will create uniquely beautiful and extraordinary pieces of music you might ever hear.

Criteria For Buying Best Mandolin Under 3000/ 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.

Type Of Mandolin:

What type of mandolin do you want? Is it A-style or F-style mandolin? At their basics, 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 the 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:

There are two types of mandolins concerning this category. First are the mandolins with f-holes like a violin. And 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 tonewoods can affect the sound of a mandolin. The back and sides of the instrument 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 tonewood 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 there is red cedar paired with mahogany that gives off a lively sound with a punchy, woody tune. 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, and many don’t. Getting one installed on them by a professional is best.

Type Of Pickup:

There are two types of pickups for mandolins; active and passive. Active pickups use a power source to boost the instrument output, which is usually a 9V battery. The passive pickups, on the other hand, 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 play the instrument at home or 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 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 feel. It depends mostly on the size of your hand. If you have bigger 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 mandolin under 3000.

Comparison Table

Last update on 2022-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Mandolin Under 3000:

Kentucky KM-1500:

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

First up on our list of best mandolin under 3000 is Kentucky KM 1500 sunburst mandolin. Like many other F-style mandolins, this instrument is also pleasing to the eye. However, what sets it from apart from others is the superior note clarity and volume it provides.

Perfect for quick action, what more could you ask?

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 recommended that the user get it done by a professional instead of doing it themselves, especially if they have no experience doing so.

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 for a long time.

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 1050:

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

Want a professional mandolin? Then Kentucky KM 1050 is the one for you. The sturdy hand-carved Adirondack spruce top gives it an elegant look, superior sound, and comfort to the player. The Michigan maple side and back provide an extra punch to the songs. This user-friendly model sits at the top of the list of best mandolins under 2000 as it is perfect for both; beginners and experts.

Durability, user-friendly, beautiful, what’s not to like?

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

Eastman MDC804 Oval Hole 16 Archtop Mandocello:

Eastman MDC804 Oval Hole 16 Archtop Mandocello

Next up on the list of best mandolin under 3000 is an A-style mandolin from Eastman. True to their words, they have delivered a perfect quality piece for Celtic and old folk music. Moreover, if you get it in time, you can also avail the Eastman Lifetime Extended Warranty!

Specs:

  • Brand: Eastman Strings
  • Color: black, gold, wooden
  • Dimensions: 40 31/32 X 16 X 3 ¼ inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Top Material Type: Maple, Spruce, Ebony (Carved Solid Spruce)
  • Back: Sides Material: Carved Solid Highly-flamed Maple
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Fingerboard: Ebony
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1 ¾ inch
  • Sound hole shape: Oval Hole
  • Binding: Ivoroid
  • Body style: A style

Key Features:

  • Nut Width: 1 ¾ inch
  • Sound hole shape: Oval Hole
  • Body style: A style

Pros:

  • Perfect for folk and Celtic music.
  • A shaped holes
  • Compact design

Cons:

  • It is A-style mandolin, which can turn off musicians who are more concerned about peers recognition.

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

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

Another entry from the Kentucky brand is the Kentucky KM-1000B. The model KM-1000B is different from its brothers in the same series, as it has a black top instead of the usual sunburst. All the other specs are the same as the other instruments of the same model, so you get the same thing with different colors. Its distinct color made it a worthy mention in the list of best mandolin under 3000.

A black-colored F-style mandolin? Perfect for those who like to stand out, as this piece makes a definite 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
  • 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

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

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

The Kentucky brand works hard to satisfy its loyal customers, and this model is no different. The hand-carved Kentucky KM-750 is another best mandolin under 3000 that will win you over with its crisp, bright tunes and precise articulation. Additionally, it is lightweight, which makes carrying it easier.

This instrument provides all that you would expect from a vintage-style mandolin.

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

Next up on the list of best mandolin under 3000 is the Eastman MD515 F-Style Classic Finish Mandolin. This F-style mandolin is perfect in every way; from its performance to its looks, there is nothing that might make you feel unsatisfied.

Perfection in your hand. What more could you want.

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:

  • An 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)

You might be tired of seeing the products of Kentucky again and again, but to be honest, the brand has been serving the US faithfully for more than 40 years. Thus, this model also does not disappoint. Beautiful design, compact body, crisp tunes, clear articulation, and lightweight. What’s not to like?

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Transparent Brown
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 28.5 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, Amber burst (KM-755)):

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

A lightweight entry on the list of best mandolin under 3000, the Kentucky KM-755 is nothing to scoff at. It is complete in all aspects; its looks, tuning, acoustics. This instrument will satisfy you with its soothing tones. Additionally, it is F-style, so it is perfect for bluegrass music.

The instrument produces crisp sounds that compliment any piece of music. It is comfortable to hold.

Specs:

  • Brand: Kentucky
  • Color: Amberburst
  • 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 want to lighten their load.
  • Perfect for bluegrass music and acoustic situations.
  • Comfortable to hold.

Cons:

  • None

Gold-Tone OM-800+ Octave Mandolin (Mahogany):

Gold Tone OM-800+ Octave Mandolin (Mahogany)

Want a high-quality mandolin but are tight with your budget? Gold-Tone has the solution to your problem. The natural colored mandolin is a high-quality instrument that you will seldom find in this price range. Additionally, the instrument is tuned one octave lower than other mandolins, making it the best mandolin under 3000 for nitpicking musicians.

Beautiful, elegant, and affordable, all rolled into one neat package.

Specs:

  • Brand: Gold Tone
  • Color: Natural
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 33 x 3.25 x 13.5 inches
  • Weight: 3 Pounds
  • Top Material Type: Spruce
  • Back Material Type: Maple
  • String Material Type: Phosphor Bronze
  • Finish: Natural Gloss
  • Bridge: Adjustable Compensated Select Wood
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Nut Width: 1 ¼ inch
  • Nut Material: Bone
  • Pickup: None (some sources do provide it, though)

Key Features:

  • Weight: 3 Pounds, lightweight
  • Natural color
  • High-quality build

Pros:

  • Lighter than other mandolins.
  • Tuned 1 octave lower than a standard mandolin
  • high-quality build

Cons:

  • you won’t be able to stretch all your four-finger chords.

Top Picks:

Kentucky KM-1500:

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

The F-style mandolin has superior note clarity and volume, making it a delight for the player. Whether Celtic, folk, or other genres, this is one instrument you don’t want to miss.

Eastman MDC805 16″ Archtop Sunburst Mandocello:

Eastman MDC805 16 Archtop Sunburst Mandocello

Another best mandolin under 3000, this instrument is perfect for playing bluegrass music and acoustic situations.

Kentucky KM 1050:

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

Kentucky KM 1050 is perfect for both professionals and experts. Its user-friendly design and sturdy built will simply make you fall in love with it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Mandolin Under 3000:

Q: Is Mandolin Hard To Play?

Ans: No, it is much easier to learn than other instruments. This is because the instrument has 8 strings, 4 strings repeated twice. Moreover, it is also lighter, which makes playability smooth.

Q: Do A And F Mandolins Sound Different?

Ans: Both sound same, to be honest. However, they both differ in aesthetics. F-style mandolin is much more beautifully designed. Additionally, F-style is better if you want peer recognition.

Q: Do F Style Mandolins Sound Better?

Ans: You will get a mixed answer on this. But to summarize, everything boils down to scroll and points. Some say that they don’t matter, while some claim that these factors give F-style mandolins a much more concentrated sound than the A-style ones.

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

Ans: It’s designed beautifully to be aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. Plus, it requires more handwork to create the magnificent F-style piece than the A-style mandolin.

Q: Are There Any Difficulties In Playing Mandolin?

Ans: It is straightforward to learn, but some might face difficulties due to the bigger size of their hand. The strings have more tension, which will make you struggle to push them down.

Q: Is Mandolin Harder Than Guitar?

Ans: Not at all, because a guitar has either 6 or 12 individual strings. In comparison, mandolins have 4 strings repeated twice, so 8 strings in total.

Q: How Long Does It Take To Get Good At Mandolin?

Ans: It depends on your dedication and consistency. If you practice playing mandolin daily for 30 to 60 minutes, you will play a decent piece after approximately 3 months.

Best Mandolin Under 3000 – Conclusion:

And there you have it, our list of best mandolin under 3000. Keep in mind that buying a musical instrument is a kind of commitment. If you don’t have a passion for it, don’t do it. Otherwise, make sure you know what you want and need, and then go for it.