How Much Does A Mandolin Cost? Stringing Your Budget

“Looking to buy a mandolin but unsure about the price? You might wonder, ‘How Much Does A Mandolin Cost?’ In this article, we explore factors influencing the cost of mandolins.

From beginner models to professional-grade instruments, we cover a plethora of options fitting your budget and skill level. Let’s dive in and unravel the mystery of mandolin pricing!”

Factors Affecting the Cost of a Mandolin

When it comes to the cost of a mandolin, there are several factors that can influence the price. Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a mandolin that fits your budget and needs.

Quality of Materials

One of the primary factors that affects the cost of a mandolin is the quality of materials used in its construction. Higher quality woods, such as spruce or maple, will often result in a higher price tag. These woods are known for their resonance and tonal qualities, making them desirable for professional-grade mandolins.

Less expensive mandolins may use laminated or lower quality woods, which can affect the overall sound and durability of the instrument. While these materials may be suitable for beginner or entry-level mandolins, they may not satisfy the needs of more experienced players.

Brand Reputation

Another influential factor in the cost of a mandolin is the brand reputation. Well-established and reputable brands often command higher prices due to their history and craftsmanship. These brands have built a reputation for consistently producing high-quality instruments.

On the other hand, lesser-known or newer brands may offer mandolins at a lower price point as they strive to establish themselves in the market. While these instruments may still be of good quality, they may not have the same level of craftsmanship or attention to detail as more established brands.

Craftsmanship and Workmanship

Craftsmanship and workmanship play a vital role in determining the cost of a mandolin. Instruments that are meticulously crafted with attention to detail will generally have a higher price tag. Skilled luthiers spend countless hours shaping, carving, and finishing each instrument to perfection, resulting in a higher cost.

Mandolins that are mass-produced or made with less attention to detail may be more affordable but may lack the same level of playability and sound quality. It’s important to consider the craftsmanship when choosing a mandolin that suits your needs and budget.

Type of Mandolin

The type of mandolin can also affect its cost. There are various styles of mandolins, including F-style, A-style, and bowl-back mandolins. Each style has its own unique characteristics and price range.

F-style mandolins, with their distinctive scroll-shaped body and ornate designs, are often more expensive due to the additional craftsmanship and materials required. A-style mandolins, with a simpler teardrop-shaped body, are typically more affordable and popular among beginners.

Bowl-back mandolins, also known as Neapolitan-style mandolins, are often associated with classical music and have a rounded back. These mandolins can vary in price depending on the craftsmanship and materials used.

Design and Aesthetics

The design and aesthetics of a mandolin can also have an impact on its cost. Instruments with intricate inlays, bindings, and other decorative elements may be priced higher due to the additional time and effort required to create these embellishments.

Alternatively, mandolins with simpler designs and minimal decorative features may be more affordable. Ultimately, the design and aesthetics of a mandolin can be a personal preference and may not necessarily affect the sound or playability of the instrument.

Finish and Decorations

The finish and decorations of a mandolin can also contribute to its cost. Finishes such as nitrocellulose lacquer or hand-rubbed oil finishes are often more expensive due to their labor-intensive application and durability.

Decorative elements such as mother-of-pearl inlays or engraved tailpieces can also add to the cost of a mandolin. These additional embellishments require skilled craftsmanship and can enhance the overall aesthetics of the instrument.

While the finish and decorations can add to the cost, it’s important to consider their impact on the sound and playability of the mandolin. Some players prefer a more understated and minimalistic look, while others appreciate the intricate details and visual appeal of a highly decorated instrument.

Age and Collectability

Vintage mandolins and those with collectible status can command higher prices due to their age and rarity. These instruments may have historical significance or be associated with renowned luthiers, resulting in a higher demand among collectors.

Older mandolins may exhibit unique tonal qualities and craftsmanship that are not often found in newer instruments. However, it’s important to note that age alone does not guarantee superior sound or playability. The condition and maintenance of the instrument over the years can also significantly impact its value.

If you are considering purchasing a vintage or collectible mandolin, it’s essential to do thorough research and consult experts in the field to ensure you are making a wise investment.

Accessories Included

The accessories included with a mandolin can also affect its cost. Some mandolins may come with a case, strap, picks, or other accessories, while others may be sold separately. The inclusion of accessories can add value to the overall package but may also increase the price.

It’s important to consider your specific needs and budget when evaluating the worth of the accessories included with a mandolin. While it may be convenient to have everything bundled together, you may also have the option to purchase accessories separately based on your individual preferences.

Customization Options

Some mandolin manufacturers or luthiers offer customization options, allowing you to personalize the instrument to your specific preferences. Customization options can include selecting the type of wood, finish, inlays, and other specifications.

While customization can add to the cost of a mandolin, it provides a unique opportunity to create an instrument that is tailored to your playing style and aesthetic preferences. Talk to the manufacturer or luthier to discuss the customization options available and the associated costs.

Market Demand

Lastly, market demand can have a significant impact on the cost of a mandolin. Mandolins that are in high demand and limited supply may be priced higher due to their desirability. Factors such as popularity, trendiness, and endorsements can influence the market demand for specific brands and models.

Conversely, mandolins that have lower demand or are less in vogue may be available at a more affordable price. It’s important to balance your personal preferences and budget with the current market demand to make a well-informed purchase decision.

Entry-level Mandolins

Price Range

Entry-level mandolins are typically priced between $100 and $500. These mandolins are designed to be affordable options for beginners or budget-conscious players.

Materials and Construction

Entry-level mandolins often utilize laminated woods or lower quality solid woods to keep costs down. The construction may also be simpler, with less ornate designs and fewer decorative elements.

Brands and Models

Some popular brands that offer entry-level mandolins include Kentucky, Rogue, and Washburn. These brands have a range of models that cater to different price points and provide decent playability for beginners.

Pros and Cons

The pros of entry-level mandolins include affordability, making them accessible to beginner players. These mandolins can provide a good starting point for learning the instrument without a significant financial investment.

However, the cons of entry-level mandolins include potential limitations in sound quality and overall durability. As these mandolins are designed for entry-level players, they may not offer the same level of tonal richness and resonance found in higher-end instruments.

Recommended Entry-level Mandolins

Some recommended entry-level mandolins include the Kentucky KM-140, Rogue RM-100A, and Washburn M1SD.

Mid-range Mandolins

Price Range

Mid-range mandolins are typically priced between $500 and $1500. These mandolins offer a balance between affordability and quality, making them suitable for intermediate players or those seeking an upgrade from an entry-level instrument.

Materials and Construction

Mid-range mandolins often feature solid wood construction, with higher quality tonewoods such as spruce or maple. The attention to detail and overall craftsmanship may be more refined compared to entry-level mandolins.

Brands and Models

Some popular brands that offer mid-range mandolins include Eastman, Loar, and Recording King. These brands are known for their commitment to quality and offer a range of models that cater to different playing styles.

Pros and Cons

The pros of mid-range mandolins include improved sound quality and construction compared to entry-level instruments. These mandolins can provide a more satisfying playing experience for intermediate players and those seeking a better tonal response.

However, the cons of mid-range mandolins include higher price points compared to entry-level instruments. While the quality and playability may be improved, the cost may still be a consideration for some players.

Recommended Mid-range Mandolins

Some recommended mid-range mandolins include the Eastman MD305, Loar LM-520, and Recording King RK-M9.

Professional-grade Mandolins

Price Range

Professional-grade mandolins are typically priced above $1500 and can range up to several thousand dollars. These mandolins are designed for experienced players and performing musicians who demand exceptional playability and tonal qualities.

Materials and Construction

Professional-grade mandolins often feature high-quality tonewoods, such as Adirondack spruce or highly figured maple. These instruments are meticulously handmade by skilled luthiers who take pride in every aspect of the construction process.

Brands and Models

Some popular brands that offer professional-grade mandolins include Gibson, Collings, and Weber. These brands have established a reputation for their exceptional craftsmanship and have prominent professional musicians endorsing their instruments.

Pros and Cons

The pros of professional-grade mandolins include superior sound quality, responsiveness, and craftsmanship. These mandolins are designed to excel in the hands of professional musicians and offer a wide range of tonal possibilities.

However, the cons of professional-grade mandolins include the high price tag, which may be beyond the reach of many players. These instruments require a significant financial investment, and it’s important to consider whether the additional cost is warranted based on your skill level and musical goals.

Recommended Professional-grade Mandolins

Some recommended professional-grade mandolins include the Gibson F-5G, Collings MF5, and Weber Gallatin F14-F.

Vintage and Collectible Mandolins

Price Range

Vintage and collectible mandolins can vary greatly in price, depending on factors such as age, condition, and provenance. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars or more.

Factors Affecting Price

Several factors can affect the price of vintage and collectible mandolins. These factors include the age of the instrument, the reputation of the luthier, historical significance, rarity, and overall condition.

Brands and Models

Vintage mandolins from brands such as Gibson, Lloyd Loar, and Lyon & Healy are highly sought after by collectors and can command premium prices. Other brands, such as Martin, Vega, and Larson Brothers, also have collectible models that are highly regarded.

Pros and Cons

The pros of vintage and collectible mandolins include their unique tonal qualities, craftsmanship, and historical significance. Owning a piece of musical history can be a rewarding experience for collectors and enthusiasts.

However, the cons of vintage and collectible mandolins include higher prices and the potential for additional maintenance and repair costs. These instruments may require extra care and attention, and finding replacement parts can sometimes be challenging.

Recommended Vintage and Collectible Mandolins

Some recommended vintage and collectible mandolins include the Gibson F-5 Mandolin, Lloyd Loar-signed mandolins, and Lyon & Healy Style A mandolins.

Custom-built Mandolins

Price Range

Custom-built mandolins can vary widely in price, depending on factors such as the reputation of the luthier, materials used, and the level of customization. Prices can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Factors Affecting Price

The price of custom-built mandolins is primarily influenced by the reputation and skill level of the luthier. Established luthiers with a strong track record and a waiting list will often command higher prices.

Other factors that can affect the price include the choice of tonewoods, level of customization, and the complexity of design and ornamentation.

Brands and Luthiers

There are numerous highly regarded luthiers who specialize in custom-built mandolins. Some notable luthiers include Steve Gilchrist, Bill Collings, and David Harvey. These luthiers are renowned for their attention to detail, craftsmanship, and ability to create instruments tailored to the individual player.

Pros and Cons

The pros of custom-built mandolins include the ability to personalize every aspect of the instrument, from tonewoods to design elements. These instruments are crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail, resulting in a truly unique and personalized playing experience.

However, the cons of custom-built mandolins include the higher price tag and the potential waiting period to have the instrument built. Custom orders often require patience and a significant financial investment, but they can result in a mandolin that perfectly suits your playing style and preferences.

Recommended Custom-built Mandolins

Some recommended custom-built mandolins include instruments crafted by Steve Gilchrist, Bill Collings, and David Harvey. It’s important to research and consult with the luthier to discuss your specific needs and budget.

Mandolin Kits

Price Range

Mandolin kits are often more affordable options for those interested in building their own instrument. Prices for mandolin kits can range from $100 to $500, depending on the brand and the quality of components included.

Materials and Components

Mandolin kits typically include all the necessary components and materials to assemble the instrument, including the body, neck, hardware, and instructions. The quality of these components can vary, so it’s important to research and read reviews before purchasing a kit.

Brands and Models

Some popular brands that offer mandolin kits include StewMac, Saga, and Musician’s Friend. These brands provide a range of options for beginner builders or those looking for a more affordable alternative to a fully built instrument.

Pros and Cons

The pros of mandolin kits include the affordability and the opportunity to learn about the instrument’s construction and assembly. Building a mandolin from a kit can be a rewarding experience for those interested in hands-on craftsmanship.

However, the cons of mandolin kits include the potential for lower quality components and the possibility of needing additional tools or skills to complete the assembly. It’s important to assess your own comfort level and experience before diving into a mandolin kit project.

Recommended Mandolin Kits

Some recommended mandolin kits include the StewMac F-Style Mandolin Kit, Saga Bluegrass Mandolin Kit, and Musician’s Friend Folk Style Mandolin Kit.

Used Mandolins

Price Range

Used mandolin prices can vary greatly, depending on factors such as the age, brand, condition, and rarity of the instrument. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

Factors to Consider

When purchasing a used mandolin, there are several factors to consider. These include the overall condition of the instrument, any necessary repairs or maintenance, the playability, and the reputation of the seller.

Condition and Playability

Assessing the condition and playability of a used mandolin is crucial before making a purchase. Look for signs of wear and tear, potential structural issues, and any necessary repairs or adjustments that may be needed.

It’s also important to test-play the instrument, if possible, to gauge the playability, tone, and overall feel. This can help you determine if the mandolin meets your expectations and suits your playing style.

Brands and Models

When considering used mandolins, it’s helpful to research reputable brands and models that have a track record of quality and durability. This can give you a better understanding of what to look for and help you make an informed decision when evaluating used instruments.

Pros and Cons

The pros of buying used mandolins include the potential for finding high-quality instruments at a more affordable price. Many used mandolins have already been played in and may have developed a desirable tone and resonance over time.

However, the cons of buying used mandolins include the potential for hidden issues or the need for repairs. It’s important to thoroughly inspect the instrument and potentially seek expert advice before making a purchase.

Recommended Places to Buy Used Mandolins

Some recommended places to buy used mandolins include reputable music stores, online platforms such as Reverb or eBay, and classified ads in local newspapers or online communities. It’s important to research the seller, ask questions, and potentially try the instrument before completing a transaction.

Where to Buy Mandolins

When it comes to buying a mandolin, there are several options to consider. Each option has its own advantages and considerations, depending on your preferences, budget, and location.

Local Music Stores

Local music stores often carry a variety of mandolins, catering to different price ranges and playing levels. Visiting a music store allows you to see and try the instruments in person, providing a hands-on experience that can help you make a more informed decision.

Online Retailers

Online retailers such as Amazon and Guitar Center offer a wide selection of mandolins and often provide detailed product descriptions and customer reviews. While you may not be able to try the instrument before purchasing, online retailers can offer convenience and a significant range of options.

Luthier Shops

Luthier shops specialize in handmade and custom-built instruments. Visiting a luthier shop allows you to interact with skilled craftsmen and potentially have a custom instrument built to your specifications. Luthier shops often carry a range of mandolins, from beginner to professional-grade, and can provide expert advice and guidance.

Auctions and Classifieds

Auctions and classified ads, both online and offline, can be a great way to find unique and vintage mandolins. These platforms often offer a range of price points and can sometimes result in excellent deals.

However, it’s important to exercise caution and verify the authenticity and condition of the instrument before making a purchase through these channels.

Secondhand Markets

Secondhand markets such as flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales can occasionally yield hidden gems in the form of used mandolins. These markets often offer lower prices but may require more extensive research and inspection to ensure the quality and value of the instrument.

Things to Consider When Buying

When buying a mandolin, there are several factors to consider:

  • Playability: Ensure that the instrument feels comfortable and responds well to your playing style.
  • Sound quality: Listen for a balanced tone, good projection, and clarity across the strings.
  • Construction and materials: Assess the quality and durability of the instrument’s construction and materials used.
  • Budget: Determine your budget range and explore options within that range, considering both the immediate investment and potential long-term value.
  • Reputation: Research reputable brands, luthiers, and models to guide your decision-making process.

You may also read: Ukulele Vs Mandolin/How Much Does A Banjo Cost?


Understanding the factors that affect the cost of a mandolin can help you navigate the market and make an informed purchase decision. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate player, professional musician, or collector, there are mandolins available at various price points to meet your needs and budget.

Investing in a quality mandolin can enhance your playing experience and allow you to explore the rich tones and versatility of this unique instrument. Consider your preferences, playing style, and budget, and take the time to research and try different mandolins before making a final decision.

By carefully considering the factors discussed in this article, you can find the right mandolin that suits your musical journey and brings you joy for years to come.

How Much Does A Mandolin Cost?


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