The Best Mandolins Under $1,000 – A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Are you looking to purchase a mandolin that costs less than $1000 and is wondering which one is best? We have compiled some of the best in the market, so you do not have to worry about which one to pick.

The mandolin is easily one of the most interesting sounding string instruments we have around, and they tend to give a beautiful feel to the music in general. However, as with many musical instruments around, it is easy to get confused about which one to pick, especially when you are a beginner. There are multiple types and styles, and each one carries a unique characteristic. So, with a budget of $1,000, what mandolin would make the best pick, and why?

The Best Mandolin Under $1,000 Comparison Table

Mandolin Model Type/ Style Unique FeatureBuy on Amazon
Ibanez M510BS Mandolin A-styleVery affordableBuy Here
Seagull S8 Mandolin SGA-styleHand finishedBuy Here
Washburn Vintage 8-string Mandolin F-styleVintage looking partsBuy Here
Gold Tone GME-4 Mandolin F-styleComes with adjustable bridgeBuy Here
Eastman MD305 Mandolin A-styleHand builtBuy Here

The Best Mandolin Under $1,000 Products Review

Ibanez M510BS Mandolin – Best affordable mandolin for beginners

If you are looking to start learning to play the mandolin and are afraid of committing with one that may seem overly expensive, you might want to begin here. It is an affordable piece that comes with great features and a solid build.

Key features

  • A-style mandolin
  • 8 strings
  • Chrome die-cast tuners
  • Built using spruce, rosewood, and mahogany
  • Comes ready to play

When considering cost, the general assumption is that lower-priced items have the tendency to present extremely poor quality. However, in this instance, the quality of the Ibanez M510BS Mandolin, especially where both the build and sound produced go, comes as a pleasant surprise. This product is likely the most affordable on our list, but it ranks pretty high as far as performance is concerned.

For starters, this instrument is built using high-quality wood that includes spruce, rosewood, and mahogany. Aside from being beautiful and hardy, these woods are also highly preferred for musical instruments because of their natural ability to create resonance, enhancing the sound produced as you play.

The combination of spruce and mahogany is particularly clever, and it has been proven to create deep earthy tones that add an incredible depth to the music. Spruce, in particular, has more rounded and grounded tones, and the fact that it is set just beneath the strings works as an excellent advantage, especially when depth is what you were aiming for.

Apart from its material, this mandolin also comes with an ideal body for beginners. It is easy to hold, making it pretty easy to play, even over long periods of time. You will also be glad to know that you will not need to spend extra on a case as it comes on its own.

Even at its price point, this mandolin manages to provide its users with extra accessories that include a tuner. In addition, it comes fully assembled, and you can go on and play it right out the box.

Pros

  • It is very affordable
  • It makes an ideal instrument for beginners
  • Great for music that requires deep tones
  • It comes with a case and tuner
  • Comes ready to play

Cons

  • The neck has been proven to be wider than most others

Verdict

Even though it comes with a slightly wider than the regular neck, this mandolin proves pretty easy to play. This characteristic, along with its affordable price, makes it excellent for people who are just starting out on their mandolin journey.

 

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Seagull S8 Mandolin SG – It is a hand-finished mandolin

With its exceptionally unique shape and its hand-finished instrument, the Seagull S8 Mandolin SG makes an excellent acquisition for people with a keen eye for class. Its affordability also works as an excellent advantage.

Key features

  • A-style mandolin
  • Made using spruce and maple woods
  • Vintage nickel-plated tailpiece
  • Hand-finished
  • Open-geared tuners

Apart from making quite a statement with its look and build, the Seagull S8 Mandolin SG makes an excellent tool for persons who see themselves playing the instrument for a long time. This is because it features a pretty solid build that guarantees good quality and longevity.

The body is made using wood laminates obtained from spruce, maple, and rosewoods. All these woods are great for string instruments, and they offer multiple characteristics that influence the sound achieved. For example, you will hear loads of earthiness and depth with spruce, and with rose and maple wood, you will achieve great resonance.

To add to its overall look, this mandolin comes with a vintage tailpiece that is plated with nickel. The neck is made of maple wood, but it is solid the whole way through and does not feature any laminate parts.

The neck’s thickness is pretty standard, allowing persons with small hands to hold it with ease. This characteristic, combined with the general shape of the mandolin, makes it excellent for both beginners and professionals. It is particularly great for dexterity and fast playing.

Pros

  • Easy to hold, easy to play
  • It has a solid build
  • Produces high-quality sound
  • Has a beautiful vintage look
  • It is hand finished

Cons

  • Does not come ready to play

Verdict

If you are looking to get your hands on a classic piece of equipment that will not cost you an arm and a leg, this might be the one for you. Remember, however, that it does not come ready to play, meaning that you might have to make tuning adjustments before it is ready.

 

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Washburn Vintage 8-string Mandolin – Made using vintage looking parts

Another vintage-looking mandolin, the Washburn Vintage 8-string mandolin, makes an incredible match for beginners and professionals as well. It is pretty beautiful and has an intriguingly unique sound profile.

Key features

  • F-style mandolin
  • 8 strings
  • Alloy steel strings
  • Made using maple, spruce, and ebony
  • Produces deep earthy tones
  • It comes with a hard case
  • Has a complete vintage look

One characteristic that stands out the most about this mandolin is that it does not just present a couple of vintage parts but that everything about it is made to look vintage. This feature makes it one of the most unique-looking devices on our list.

But perhaps what is more interesting is that it comes with a different wood combination and a class above the rest. On it is a Sitka Spruce top that is quite beautiful, and the sides are made from maple wood. Most intriguing is the fact that the fretboard is made using ebony, which is an incredibly beautiful wood.

The choice of spruce makes this mandolin produce great sounds that are deep and earthy and that are also pretty resonant. You will find that it is a pretty loud piece of equipment that can be heard across large rooms. Apart from presenting great sound, the wood combination makes for a strong body that allows for durability.

The 8 string instrument is a popular choice among beginners, largely because it is pretty easy to play. However, it also makes an ideal tool for pros who prefer to use fewer strings. One of the main advantages of this mandolin is that it comes with its own hard case and that the price point remains friendly even with the additional features.

Pros

  • Has a complete vintage look
  • Made using strong and durable wood
  • It has an ebony fretboard
  • It comes with its own hard case
  • Ideal for beginners and pros

Cons

  • May have weak latches on the hard case

Verdict

The tones produced by this mandolin are deep and earthy, making it ideal for music that needs additional depth. This, combined with its vintage look, makes it an excellent choice for players who like to stand out.

 

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Gold-Tone GME-4 Mandolin – It is fitted with an adjustable bridge

This mandolin presents what would be considered an unconventional look, largely because it has a close resemblance to an electric guitar. It also comes with a double-cutaway and has a generally small frame.

Key features

  • It comes with 4 string sets
  • F-style mandolin
  • Has an alder top
  • It has an adjustable bridge
  • Wide range of tone

Because of its unique electronic guitar look would be pretty easy for a person without a seasoned eye to think this mandolin is a small guitar. This is because it has a slender body profile, and the fact that it comes with a double-cutaway that is characteristic of most electric guitars.

Interestingly, this mandolin does not come with a completely solid body as many others do. It is also made using alder wood that has a completely different sound profile than maple, Sitka spruce, and mahogany. Alder has been known to produce cleaner sounds that are not prominent in depth. The sound also lacks warmth, making this instrument less ideal for songs that require the depth.

However, one of the features that play to its advantages is that the Gold Tone GME-4 Mandolin comes with a good degree of adjustability. The fact that the bridge can be adjusted allows for the instrument to deliver a wider tone profile, even where it lacks in-depth. This characteristic plays to the advantage of both beginners and professionals.

Pros

  • Has a unique body profile
  • Comes with an adjustable bridge
  • Has a wide tone profile
  • Ideal for both beginners and pros

Cons

  • Does not produce deep sounds

Verdict

If you are looking to get your hands on a unique mandolin that presents a unique combination of features, this may be the one for you. It makes an ideal match for people who are unlikely to play songs that require a deep tone profile.

 

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Eastman MD305 Mandolin – It is a handmade mandolin

Each part of this mandolin is actually made by hand, and this makes it an incredibly unique instrument for most players.

Key features

  • Has 8 strings
  • A-style mandolin
  • Made using rosewood, maple, and spruce
  • F-holes
  • Ebony bridge and fingerboard
  • Hand made

Apart from the fact that this instrument is completely handmade, it also features an impressive combination of materials that make it sound pretty unique. The body is made using male wood, Sitka spruce, and rosewood, all of which are hardwoods. But, more importantly, they are great for creating deep earthy tones and resonance.

Apart from these woods, it also presents an ebony wood fretboard and bridge. One of the reasons this mandolin is pretty popular is that it comes with a beautiful sound profile that delivers deep earthy tones and can produce a full musical range. Also, the fact that it is an F-style mandolin makes it excellent for Celtic music.

Pros

  • Handmade
  • Has a full sound profile
  • Made using spruce, maple, rose, and ebony
  • Great for pros

Cons

  • Louder instruments can easily muffle it

Verdict

This instrument is best suited for seasoned players, and the fact that it comes with an all-around sound profile makes it excellent for Celtic music.

 

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Buying a mandolin under $1,000 – What to look out for

Sound profile

It is important for you to know what kind of sounds you would like to produce. This knowledge will guide your choice of a mandolin so you can create the sounds you prefer.

Body material

Seeing as different types of wood produce varying sounds, it is important that you pick those that promote resonance and clarity.

Number of strings

The number of strings on a mandolin has a big effect on the overall loudness of the instrument. Therefore, if playing in a group, go for more strings as they will produce better sound.

Final Verdict

An incredibly unique string instrument, the mandolin makes for beautiful music when combined with other instruments. The truth is, a good number of them can get overly expensive. If your budget falls below the $1,000 mark, you will be glad to know that there is a pretty wide selection from which to choose. Be sure to go for an instrument that produces the kind of sound you need it to.

Michael Gray is a Virtuoso by profession and has wowed many with his instrument playing skills. He is well versed in playing various musical instruments thus the need to share some of the knowledge. Individuals looking to get into music tend to have a hard time finding the perfect instrument for the type of genre that they play. But with the resources compiled at Mandolin Expert, Michael believes that finding the right equipment that fits an individual’s style of play and complements their music will be easier. Michael Gray is a Trainer and a Virtuoso and he also loves to teach music in schools.

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