Mandolins are typical at guitar shops, but they must be more understood. How can you tell the quality of A mandolin? We can’t help but wonder how many inexpensive mandolins are sitting in drawers and attics, purchased by people who thought they would be an excellent idea but ended up being duped by them. This article will examine how to choose a mandolin that won’t wind up in the attic.
What characteristics distinguish an excellent mandolin?
The level of care used in the instrument’s construction will significantly impact its quality. One of our main complaints about cheap mandolins is that the necks need to get into a shape that allows the instrument to be set up to play quickly. It’s essential for an absolute beginner as it is for an expert to be able to fret notes quickly and consistently.
Mandolins are under a lot of tension, and those small fingerboards don’t leave a lot of margin for error when you’re playing chords. A bad mandolin neck can be identified by running a straight edge along it and observing the fingerboard’s banana-shaped shape between the nut and the body’s joint and its gradual upward rise from the body onward. We cannot emphasize this enough: starting with a mandolin that is too inexpensive will discourage you from playing the instrument!
The mandolin comes in wide different varieties. Which do I want, and what are they all about?
We’ll go over the three prominent families of mandolins—the Classical, Celtic, and Bluegrass—and the variations within each. Like the medieval cittern, the mandolin was invented in Italy as a classical instrument, and Vivaldi, among others, wrote music for it. However, the mandolin’s peak popularity occurred in the 19th century when it rose to prominence as a “light” classical instrument. By the turn of the 20th century, most of Western Europe had caught mandolin fever. Italian mandolins have a bowl-back, which is a staved back resembling a wooden boat’s hull. They resemble small lutes.
The mandolins in Germany were a little chunkier, had distinct sides, and had backs that were much more lightly arched. The 19th-century antiques with classical styling that you most frequently see should be handled very carefully because they frequently need to be in a state where they can be easily made playable. If you want to play period classical mandolin, we recommend looking for a quality antique mandolin from a dealer with experience in them and being prepared to pay a reasonable price for one; a mandolin that costs £100 on eBay is probably only valuable as a decorative item. Although they are uncommon in the UK, some excellent Japanese classical instruments are worth keeping an eye out for. You can also play classical music perfectly well on a Celtic or Bluegrass mandolin.
Which mandolin should I buy?
How can you tell the quality of A mandolin? In a perfect world, we advise a mandolin in the Celtic or bluegrass style. The “Army & Navy” model, which is attractive and reasonably priced, and the lovely, slightly arched Spruce model are all produced by Ashbury. There is also a classic Ozark A model with a sturdy top that plays excellently. The Eastman 305 is a fantastic A-style bluegrass mandolin with all solid, fully carved construction if you can afford to spend a little more.
The Eastman mandolin is the best option if you want to buy one instrument that might last you for the rest of your life because it is of entirely professional quality and is not outrageously expensive. The Stagg is a decent first instrument if you’re on a tight budget, in our experience. Compared to Ashbury or Ozark options, it is an all-plywood A style built to a lower price point, but they can still be configured to play very well for the money. It won’t prevent you from learning your first chords and scales, but if you liked it, you should consider upgrading.