Best Short Scale Bass 2021: Essential Guide To 6 Of The Best

Short scale bass header

Is it fair to say the most famous bass guitar in rock n roll history, is a short scale bass guitar?

After a boom in sales, short scale bases are flying off the shelves. But Why?

We thought it’d be a good time to assist you with our in depth guide for the best short scale bass. We’ve considered some essential points, which will help you before making any decisions.

What Is A Short Scale Bass Guitar?

Generally, A short scale bass guitar is 4 inches shorter than the standard size bass.

This means closer frets, faster fingers, less weight, no back ache or wrist pain, and, a lot less overstretching due to the shorter scale length.

Technical playing will now become that little bit easier due to the shorter frets. 

So in terms of size, the average short scale bass is 30”. Any bass under 31” is seen as a ‘Short Scale Bass’.

If you can imagine it being bigger than an electric guitar, but smaller than a standard bass guitar. Right in the middle.

The sound of a short scale bass is also different compared to the standard size. They give you a much lower, fatter tone, as the length of the strings have decreased. This in turn has lower amplitudes in its higher overtones.

So, if you are looking to get low down and dirty, a short scale bass is for you. 

Quick View: 6 Best Short Scale Basses


How Do I Choose A Short Scale Bass?

The big brand names that produce the short scale guitar are surprisingly affordable. This means you can get a better quality of bass for your budget (compared to the same brand on an electric guitar).

When browsing through our extensive list of best short scale bass, take a moment to check out the brand of hardware that’s been fitted.

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the type of wood that’s been used on the body, neck, and frets. Believe it or not, these factors make a big difference to the overall sound quality and life of the instrument.

Consider the weight of the instrument. If the bass is for a child or a senior, it’s important to ensure you’re buying an instrument that fits the player. All instruments should have the weight specifications on the product page. 

Obviously, the best option is to pop into your local store and try a few out. Stand up, get used to the feel and the tension of the strings. You’ll know which one works best for you, it’s like trying on a pair of gloves. 

If you don’t have the store option, find something of similar weight from the house. Hold it for a while, close to the body. Seems daft I know, but it gives you an idea. 

The lightweight feel of these instruments is why a lot of people are opting for the short scale bass option. 

Being comfortable is king.

10 Advantages Of Playing A Short Scale Bass

  • Physical size is shorter, right in the middle of guitar and electric bass size.
  • You get a deeper, fatter sound quality
  • They’re very light, it’s so much easier playing a 3-hour gig without backache
  • You can play faster than using a standard size, as the notes are much closer together
  • If you suffer from hand/forearm fatigue and back pain over long sets, a short scale guitar is for you. It’s a real issue with some players
  • Less of a reach for smaller hands and technical bits become easier 
  • Aging musicians with carpal tunnel or arthritis can divert to a short scale bass. Also a wise preventative option
  • Easy to play, plain and simple. If you already a guitarist or bassist, short scale basses will be a walk in the park
  • Easier to learn on, child friendly. Aids the beginner no end
  • With a recent explosion in the sales of short scale bases. Children, seniors, beginners, bassists, and guitarists are all drawn to them for the above reasons

AuthorityGuitar: The 6 Best Short Scale Bass Review

Fender Squire Mini P Bass Guitar

Best Beginner Short Scale Bass Guitar

Mini P




Pros: World Famous Brand, Helpful For The Complete Beginner, Child Friendly Size, Chunky Tones, Single Coil Pickups

Cons: None

Ideal for the complete beginner, or somebody looking to dip their toe in. Weighs in at 8.35lbs, so it’s very light but durable.

The Mini P is the child to the ‘Legendary’ Fender Precision Bass. Split single coil pickup configuration with both tone and master volume controls.

The body is made from Poplar wood, the hard-tail bridge ensures longer lasting tuning. The neck material is made from maple wood. Fingerboard radius is 9.5″ and the scale length is 28.58″ (very short).

Perfect size for kids or a player with smaller hands. It’s almost 3/4 the size of the original size precision electric bass.

With any Fender made instrument, you’re going to get that classic punchy tone and a trustworthy durable build. For the low price, look no further for your entry bass guitar.

‘Squire’ belongs to the biggest guitar manufacturer in the world ‘Fender’. The Squire short scale basses are an inexpensive option to the real Fender range. Just be aware, buying Fender guitars is very addictive!

>>Click Here To Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Check Price On Sam Ash Music<<

Category Solid Body Electric Bass, Number of Strings 4, Body Style Mini Precision Bass,Scale Length 28.6″,Number of Frets 20, Body Wood Poplar, Neck Wood Maple, Fingerboard Wood Indian Laurel, Pickup Configuration S, Orientation Right-Handed, Series Mini, Model Mini Precision Bass

Get your ears around this funky groove: The Squier by Fender Mini P

Fender Mustang Bass – PJ – Pau Ferro Fingerboard – Aged Natural

Most Accomplished Short Scale Bass Guitar

Best Short Scale

Pros: Easy Play-Ability, Value For Money, Stunning Colors, Reliable Fender Build, 3 Way Pickup Switch, Medium Jumbo Frets

Cons: None

The real deal. the Fender Mustang bass has a beautiful selection of three colors that you gotta have a look at (aged natural, sienna sunburst, and a firemist gold).

30” scale length; “C”-shaped neck. 9.5”-radius Pau Ferro fingerboard with 19 medium jumbo frets.

A four-saddle bridge and vintage style tuning machines are the classic Fender hallmark. A big step up from the Squire series in build and engineering.

The Mustang series began in 1964 and hasn’t looked back. Top notch original Fender hardware, beautifully crafted pro-level finish. Full size pickups with three position tone controls to create and discover various tones of your own.

The Pau Ferro style fingerboard is stunning. The four saddle hardtail ensures you get perfect intonation and resonance. The overall tone and comfort of the Mustang bass is arguably the best on the market.

>>Click Here To Check Price On Amazon<<

>Click To See Price On Sam Ash Music<<

Category Solid Body Electric Bass, Number of Strings 4, Body Style Mustang Bass, Scale Length 30″, Number of Frets 19, Body Wood Alder, Neck Wood Maple, Pickup Configuration P-J, Orientation Right-Handed, Series Player, Model Mustang Bass PJ

This video is just damn dirty, you’ve been warned: Fender Short Scale Bass, The Mustang PJ

Ibanez 4 String Bass Guitar, Right, Pearl White (GSRM20PW)

Most Popular Short Scale Bass Guitar

  • Pros: Affordable, Nice Finish, Lightweight, Slim Neck, Very Popular, Affordable Price
  • Cons: Not Good For Drop Tuning

The highly-rated ibanez gsrm20 Mikro short scale bass comes in 9 different professional slick colors. Check out the natural walnut. This short scale bass is 29.6″, it’s one of the shortest but i like that.

It’s compact and you can literally play it like a guitar. Whether you’re sitting on a stool or standing up, this light weight guitar can serve the beginner right up to a good player.

The body material is made from Poplar and the neck is made from Maple. With a Rosewood finish fretboard the ibanez gsrm20 ticks all the right boxes on the build.

My only slight criticism, if you’re planning on tuning down to C for metal, this bass isn’t ideal. It’s due to the length of the neck but the strings become too loose. The tuner struggles to detect the notes. Even dropping the bottom E to D is borderline.

I would suggest this bass is for players who are going to play in standard tuning only.

On reviewing many short bases, I must admit, I like the shape of this bass the best. It feels like a nice snug fit, and definitely doesn’t look like what it costs.

A very popular and affordable electric bass, you really can’t do any better within this price range.

>>Click Here To Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Click To See Sam Ash Music Price<<

Series Mikro, Features 28.6″ Scale, Model GSRM20, Number Of Frets 22, Scale Length 28.6″, Body Style N/A, Neck Type Bolt On, Neck Wood Maple, Body, Wood Agathis ,Bridge Pickup “J” Style, Neck Pickup “P” Style, Bridge Type B10, Orientation Right-Handed


Here’s a helpful run through in the video: ibanez gsrm20 Mikro

Hofner IGNITIONSB Electric Violin Bass Guitar – Rosewood Fingerboard, Sunburst Finish

Best Alternative Short Scale Bass Guitar

  • Pros: Instantly Resemble A Beatle, Mellow, Natural, Low Price, Excellent Sustain, Acoustic Resonance, Vintage Style
  • Cons: Not Made In Germany, Unlike The Other Standard Hofners.

The resonance you get from the Hofner Ignition is among the best in this review list. As it’s a semi-hollow body build, you get a warm woody, almost acoustic tone.

Comes in a traditional violin bass shape and sunburst color. Spruce top and staple humbucker pickups, it looks exactly like the old school Paul McCartney bass.

This alone is a major selling point for Hofner.

You have the ability to create lots of sounds with the traditional 500/1 style tone controls.

Each pick up has its own volume controls, this is really handy in band situations. Switch from a big heavy fat sound, to a ‘Drive My Car’ riff mode in one click.

A rosewood fretboard, 30inch scale, and a trapeze tail bridge, which keeps you safely in tune.

If you’d like to get yourself a piece of history, you can do it with the versatile Hofner Ignition.

>Click Here To Check Price On Amazon<<

>Click To See Price On Sam Ash Music<<


Product Dimensions 114.3 x 12.7 x 30.48 cm; 3.11 Kilograms, Item model number HI-BB-SB, Back Material Maple, Colour Sunburst, Fretboard Material Rosewood, Guitar Pickup Configuration H, Scale Length 30.0, Top Material Spruce, Neck Material Type Maple, Number of Strings 4, Guitar Bridge System Adjustable, Item Weight 3.11 kg


Get a look at how beautiful this bass is. This guy really gets many tones out of The Hofner

Cordoba Mini II Bass MH-E, Small Body, Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar


Best Acoustic Bass/Home Player

Pros: Truly Beautiful To Look At, Low-End Sound Sublime, Affordable, Child Friendly, Top Choice For A Complete Beginner

Cons: Small/ Quiet Acoustic Type Bands Only

I had to review a Cordoba Electric Acoustic bass guitar, as their a highly thought of manufacturer in the Ukulele world. I also wanted an acoustic version of a short bass, for the players in acoustic type bands or quiet home situations.

The Cordoba Mini II features a (22 7/8”) scale length so it tunes perfectly to Standard E. This is the shortest in the review, yet has a completely different use in mind.

Plugin its MB103 pickup configuration, and you’ll be surprised by this rich robust tone.

Beautifully built with all mahogany woods, gives you a unique mellow soft tone which the other bases cannot create.

The strings are a coated phosphor bronze, nylon core. The low end you get from the Cordoba is just sublime. Clear and resonates true, no boggy, distorted buzzing sounds. Check the clip below to see what I mean. Gorgeous.

So, if you’re looking for a way into playing bass, and you’re unsure you can do it, this would be the perfect 1st purchase because of its small friendly size.

It may assist you onto bigger instruments, as the Cordoba is extremely comfortable to play. If you’re leaning towards a quieter bass or an instrument for an acoustic band, look no further than the Cordoba Mini II.

>>Click Here To Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Click To See Price At Sam Ash Music<<

Body Size/Shape Cordoba Mini, Body Wood Mahogany, Top Mahogany, Cutaway None, Neck Wood Mahogany, Neck Shape C, Scale Length 22-7/8″, Fingerboard Composite, Number Of Frets 19, Nut Width 45mm, Electronics Cordoba MB103, Orientation Right-Handed, Series Cutaway & Electric, Model Mini II Bass MH-E

Just listen to how clear the low end is! Cordoba Mini II

Epiphone EB-3 Electric Bass Guitar, Cherry Red Finish, Mahogany Body and Neck, SG shape


The Beast

  • Pros: Flawless Live Instrument, Gibson SG Shape Is Classic, Tough As Nails, Mahogany Body, Low Price, A Ground Vibrator
  • Cons: Limited Range Of Tones

You have probably heard of Gibson guitars and basses before. They are one of, if not the biggest manufacturers in the guitar world.

Gibson owns Epiphone, so you can guarantee a certain level of quality, just like Fender does with Squire. This means they can use all the statistics to produce a lower priced Gibson (made outside the U.S.).

This already should have your ears pricking, especially when you see the low price range.

I played in a cover band with a guy who played one of these for 2 years, they are so powerful. Really chunky and fat. When we hooked up on riffs, the Epiphone EB was an absolute beast. You could feel the ground move.

So, if you’re in a band situation playing rock or metal. This Epiphone EB-3 has to be in your arsenal.

With a single sidewinder humbucker (you won’t need more!), chrome hardware including a fully adjustable three-point bridge, 30.5 inch scale length, and mahogany top and neck material finish.

A reliable instrument and superb value for money in mind.

>>Click Here To Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Click To See Sam Ash Music Price<<


Product Dimensions 129.54 x 50.8 x 17.78 cm; 5.44 Kilograms, Back Material Rosewood, Body Material Neoprene, Colour Cherry, Fretboard Material Rosewood, Guitar, Pickup Configuration H, Scale Length 30.5 Inches, Top Material Mahogany, Neck Material Type Mahogany, Number of Strings 4, Guitar Bridge System Adjustable, Country Produced In USA, Item Weight 5.44 kg

Told you the Epiphone EB 3 short scale bass guitar is a great live instrument, check the proof!

The Long And Short Of It: Review Winner

The Best Short Scale Bass


Fender Mustang Bass – PJ – Pau Ferro Fingerboard – Aged Natural


Best Short Scale

The bottom line: 

The Mustang PJ series is easily the most versatile of all the basses reviewed.

They look fantastic and are built by a world-class leader. This does reflect in the price, but you’re buying a short scale bass that will last you.

If you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, the mustang suits all. The other short basses cannot play certain types of music due to their unique sound.

The Fender mustang can handle jazz through to metal. I cannot think of another bass that can cover so many avenues on the spectrum.

Go get yourself one, you won’t be disappointed.

>>Click Here To Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Check To See Sam Ash Music Price<<


Don’t Forget-Wood Types


A strong, clear, full-bodied sound, with beefy mids and excellent lows


Ash comes in two types: Northern Wood (Hard) produces extra treble and a good sustain, with less warmth than other guitar woods. Swamp Ash (Soft) has a much warmer feel than hard ash.


Dense with extended sustainability. Very popular because of its bright tones. Plenty of bite and a good level of sustain


One of the softer hardwoods, nicely resonant with a meaty tone. Many guitar manufacturers use Poplar as a substitute for alder body wood, as it is quite similar in tone.


A mahogany body is mainly used on acoustics, for back and sides. Hard wearing, resonant, not as bright, a distinct attractive look

Basswood & Agathis

Basewood is light in weight, bright, and gives off superb resonance, but softer than other woods. Agathis is similar to Mahogany, dark, punchy with excellent sustain

5 Tips Before Buying a Short Scale Bass Guitar

  • Hit your local music store and try a few, There are many types of short scale basses just like guitars, so grab five and see what hits your spot. 
  • Make sure it’s comfortable to play. This is pretty obvious but ask any bass player in a band who plays a 26 song set. The larger basses are very heavy. Your spine will tell you this
  • A Short scale bass guitar ranges from very cheap all the way up to a 1000. Some lower-end guitars have shabby pickups and cheap wood. It can make you sound like you’re playing a toy. Check the details as you can really find value for money in this market
  • Choose suitable strings and a tuner. It makes so much difference. Buy a pack with your bass. The ones that come with the bass are generally poor. 
  • Check for a warranty. Always a good thing if you’re spending your hard-earned wages. 

Did You Know….

Sir Paul McCartney played a short scale bass guitar, in fact its named ‘Beatle Bass’. The Höfner 500/1 Violin electric bass is the bass you probably see when you picture him.

Paul’s association with the Hofner started in Hamburg around August 1960. The Beatles were learning their trade in those days and had no money. They certainly weren’t the power horse they were a few years later. 

The Hofner was purchased simply because it was at an affordable price and McCartney could turn it around (as he was a lefty) and it wouldn’t look odd. The Hofner is symmetrical! He could also play guitar, so the hybrid instrument was a perfect fit for him.

Back in those days left handed guitars were not available as much as today. You’ve seen Jimi Hendrix’s guitars, haven’t you? The same reason applies, it’s upside down. No left handers about like there is today. 

McCartney still plays Hofner short scale basses today. Is it the most recognized short scale ever? If it’s cool enough for Sir Paul, then we should all have one.


Paul & George. Paul with his Hofner short scale bass guitar, probably singing “Yeaaah”
Photograph by VARA

Other Heroes To Grace The Short Scale Bass Guitar:

Jack Bruce (Cream), Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Andy Fraser (Free), Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull), Trevor Bolder (Spiders From Mars, Uriah Heep), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Garry Tallent (E Street Band), Bruce Thomas (the Attractions), Gary Mounfield (Stone Roses, Primal Scream), Mike Watt (Minuteman, Firehose, Stooges) John Entwistle (The Who).


Best Beginner Mandolin: Everything You Need To Know

Main Header Best Mandolin

This is our review for the Best Beginner Mandolin

There’s a lot more to the mandolin than you may realize. Let’s look at the essentials and guide you towards finding a suitable beginner mandolin. 

Due to the success of the Ukulele and Banjo, the Mandolin has had a surge in popularity. They a widely used in modern-day music, with REM, Led Zeppelin, Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead, White Stripes, Goo Goo Dolls, Rolling Stones, Steve Earle, The Band, Chris Cornell, and Rod Stewart, all incorporating this historic instrument into their music. Imagine ‘Maggie May’ without it! Or REMs ‘Losing My Religion, unthinkable.

They’re a pretty unique and beautiful sounding instrument. 





Beginner Mandolin


The 5 Best Beginner Mandolin Review

Hola! Music A Style Mandolin Instrument with Adjustable Truss-Rod Model HM-3TS, Glossy Sunburst Finish

Best A-Style Mandolin

  • Pros: Great Beginner Choice, Very Nice Tone, Value For Money, Hola Has Great Customer Support, Vintage Look
  • Cons: Tuning Heads May Slip After A Little Use

8-string traditional A-Style mandolin in glossy Sunburst finish. Built with a maple top, back, sides and neck. A Walnut fingerboard and adjustable compensated rosewood bridge. Beautifully crafted chrome plated tailpiece. A very popular choice at a reasonable price. I can’t see a better-sounding instrument at this price.

I really love the Hola designed. It looks so traditional. With a crisp vintage sound, the Hola HM-3TS is already a favorite of mine. Just by looking at it, it makes me want to play. 

Check out the video below and you’ll love the tone.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Listen to the calming tones of the Hola HM-3TS:

Stagg M40S 8-String Bluegrass Mandolin with Solid Spruce Top – Goldburst

Best Lower Price Mandolin

  • Pros: Holds Tuning, Easy To Play, Good Enough To Gig With, Solid Wood Build, Value For Money, Child Friendly, Solid Maple Build
  • Cons: Nut Sits A Bit High

Stagg M40S is a solid performer at a friendly price. A surprisingly loud mandolin that can be used in gig scenarios. It certainly has a bark.

Built from solid spruce wood, solid maple back and sides, a rosewood fingerboard, and an adjustable bridge. Another beautiful nickel engraved tailpiece. A traditional bluegrass style mandolin which gives you a bright tone and lots of volume. Perfect starter instrument, even for children as it’s light and very pretty. At a totally insane affordable price, the Stagg M40S is very popular, a good beginner mandolin. So be quick, as you’ve found your new toy!!

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

This girl really can play! Here’s some very clean Irish Traditional music : Stagg M40 S







The Loar LM-310F-BRB Honey Creek F-Style Mandolin

Best Medium Priced Mandolin (F Style)

  • Pros: Hand Crafted, Smart Buy, Deeper Tones, Perfect For Guitarists, Minimum F Style Mandolin Price
  • Cons: May Need Setting Up

Straight from your first strum, you’ll get a 1920s authentic tone. The Loar Mandolin is a cut above the rest in build and tone. The price does reflect this. It’s certainly head and shoulders above the rest if you have a higher starter budget. 

The thin “V” profile of the maple neck fits comfortably in the player’s hand, easy to strum without getting hung up on the extended upper frets. The action is set up lower, which makes a big difference. The strings are closer to the frets and so much more comfortable. This makes it easier to learn in comparison to the cheaper instruments.

The Loar LM-310 gives you a surprisingly lower, deeper tone. I actually prefer this sound on a mandolin. The Loar has a professional dark look about it, in fact, it looks much more expensive than it really is. If you have a higher budget, it’s worth the stretch in the price difference. If you’re after an F Style mandolin, this would be the best mandolin for beginners at the ‘lowest price’.

>>Check Price On Sam Ash Music<

Get a look look at this quality mandolin. Beautiful deeper tones showed right here, wow: Loar LM-310 F Mandolin

Rayzm Traditional Bluegrass Mandolin in Shinny Sunburst Color with Padded Gig Bag, A-Style 8-String Acoustic Mandolin, Linden Body, Walnut Fingerboard, Mahogany Neck

Best Entry Mandolin

  • Pros: Comes With Soft Bag, Budget Price, Child Friendly, Perfect Entry Mandolin, Stays In Tune Well. The Price!
  • Cons: Cheap Wood, Tone on the Tinny Side

Rayzm has produced a starter mandolin for those looking to dip their toe in. A Solid walnut fingerboard & bridge, solid mahogany neck. A beautiful shiny look, with quality ABS binding on the body and fingerboard. Comes with an adjustable walnut bridge. A very well constructed instrument considering the price. A little on the tinny and thin side of tone for my liking.

A really popular instrument worldwide, which tells me a lot. You’re not going to be gigging with this. It’s a small, durable, good-looking style mandolin, so inexpensive. The Rayzm is my choice for a lower-budget player wanting to get into music from home. 

A beautiful option if you’re into traditional folk music. 

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Donner Mandolin Instrument Mahogany Black A Style with Tuner, String, Gig Bag, Guitar Picks (DML-100B)

Best Budget Starter Pack

  • Pros: Accessories, Well Balanced Volume, Brighter Sound, Adjustable Neck, Adjustable Truss Rod
  • Cons: Short Sustain, High Action

Donner produces all sorts of instrument accessories, guitars, and ukuleles. This starter pack comes with a tuner, four picks, spare mandolin strings, a digital clip-on tuner, and polishing cloths. Now, I like this. They are covering a lot of requirements complete beginners may need. Most beginners may break a string, then what do they do? They have to find out the string size and a local shop that sells one string. Once that string has broken a lot of beginners give up. I really like the thought they’ve put into the pack.

A mahogany body gives you a richer and brighter sound. Chrome-plated open-gear tuners and tailpiece, adjustable truss rod inside the neck. The tuner is a 100% must buy for every new musician, and Donner has added one into the mix. This will have the beginner musician in your house strumming away in no time.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

Here’s a great video of the unpacking and playing of the Donner DML series mandolin:

Don’t Forget Your Mandolin Essentials:

Overall Winner: Best Beginner Mandolin

Stagg M40S 8-String

After considering all the options carefully, I decided the Stagg M40S 8-String is the best beginner mandolin. After all, we are looking for a mandolin that is suitable for the complete beginner (or a child). At a friendly price that won’t break the bank, but is good enough to assist you with learning and having fun.

As the Stagg M40S is a solid-bodied instrument, I’ve gone for this. Not only does it last the bumps and scrapes better, but the overall sound is also much superior to a laminated mandolin. It’s very pretty in looks ( and comes in in slightly different models: Black and a Redburst). The Stagg holds it tuning well, it’s easy to play and can be gigged with due to the superb resonance.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<



How To Choose A Beginner Mandolin: 

What’s Best For Me & How Much Should I Spend?

It’s a good idea to start with a cheaper mandolin, especially if you are a complete beginner. That’s not to say if you have a higher budget, aim at a better quality of the instrument. Just because a mandolin is cheap, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and learn properly. In fact, it’s a great practice to get a luthier or technician to set up your mandolin when you first receive it. This makes so much difference, this will see you through the learning period without any tuning aggravation.

After 25 years of playing guitar, I still take my instruments to a local guitar doctor to be set up and maintained.

Electric Mandolin Or Acoustic Style?

This all depends on your situation. An acoustic electric mandolin can amplify sound, this gives you total control in a band scenario. You can mix your sound up and down with the other instruments in the band. It’s also handy if you’re playing a gig outside or in a small quiet setting. In fact, they sound amazing through an amp. If you’re looking to learn or play the mandolin from home, then an acoustic mandolin is fine. 

Essential Tips To Consider For Before Buying

Firstly, decide on a budget. If you have 300, then try not to go too far below this amount. Get the best mandolin pound for pound your budget allows.

What Will My Budget Get Me?

Let’s look at what you can expect for your budget:

  • Low Cost (up to 300): ‘A-Style’ mandolins are made from laminate wood. Most likely built in Japan. With a lesser construction reliability comes a lesser quality of tone, compared to the higher-level products. This isn’t to say these are bad, far from it. You can still grab a good starter mandolin around this budget. 

  • Mid Range (500-1000): A step up in the quality of wood used. A much prettier instrument. Most of the time the wood used in the build is solid wood, rather than the laminate pressed construction. Solid wood makes a big difference in tone and will handle dings and bumps much better. If you want to gig with your mandolin, then I would suggest starting at around 600.

  • Top End (2000+): Hand carved instruments, using finer top notch woods, outstanding tones to be had. The finest F Style instruments come within this price bracket. Ideal for live and studio use. Beautiful instruments with the scroll feature on top for the pro player.


Mandolins are built from a variety of woods. As different parts of the instrument are put under different stresses, certain woods are required in certain places. Now, I could write a whole article about the different types of wood, there are… a lot.  It’s a wealth of information that isn’t important at this particular time, so let’s look at the basics:

Mandolins use different woods for different parts, as mentioned above.

The ‘soundboard’ (top) is the most important piece. Spruce wood is commonly used here. There are also cedar soundboards but are not as common. Before buying a mandolin, look for the wood type of the ‘top’. Be aware, some retailers use the term ‘Select Spruce Top’. This is a bit naughty in my eyes, it’s basically laminate, they just don’t want to write that. 

A simple rule of thumb would be to follow this:

  • Spruce (Laminate: made from various pieces of wood glued together. Vibrates less)

  • Select Spruce Top (Laminate)

  • Solid Spruce (Solid spruce wood, made from one piece of wood. Vibrates better)

  • Maple (Generally back and sides)

  • Rosewood or Ebony (Fretboard)

My last tip is probably the most important but gets overlooked so many times. Buy a hard case with your beautiful new instrument. It’s incredible the number of times I’ve seen musicians turn up to a gig with a soft case and an expensive instrument inside!!

A soft case is 100% necessary for home storage, but not much else. Protect your instrument. The hard case for my guitar costs quite a bit, it’s worth every penny. You’ll also need a good clip-on tuner. This should be your second purchase. Click here for Authority Guitar Best Tuners.

Mandolin Seperator


This isn’t for sale, unfortunately!

Mandolin Terminology Made Easy

If you’re reading through a few details regarding mandolins, you might see it advertised as A Style or F Style. Again, it’s important to know what you’re buying. Let’s have a look at the meanings behind the terminology:

  • A-Style Mandolin : A tear-shaped and oval-bodied mandolin

  • F-Style Mandolin : A tear-shaped mandolin with added scroll and points (also known as Florentine). Both A style and F are available with oval or F soundholes

  • Carved Top : The top is carved into the classic arched shape rather than pressed

  • Pressed Top : Pressed by a machine using heat and pressure. Inferior to ‘carved’

  • Arched Back : As opposed to a straight back. The arched back makes the mandolin louder, the sound is pushed outward rather than bouncing around a straight back body.

  • Scroll : You may find it at the top of the mandolin. It serves no acoustic function at all to the scroll, it is purely aesthetic. Hides the strap button, that’s it. 

Is Mandolin Easy To Learn?

Yes! You can play almost any song with three chords.

With all this free time at the moment, now would be the best time to try your hand at learning an instrument. Due to the small size, you have the benefit of taking it everywhere. A mandolin is easier to learn than a guitar or piano. Bear in mind, the best instrument to start with is the one you’re most interested in. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s very true

Ukuleles are probably as easy to learn, but some people find them too small. Mandolins have a far superior overall sound than a uke. 

Mandolins generally come with four courses of doubled metal strings (8 strings). There are five (10 strings) and six (12 strings) stringed mandolins too. Don’t let this put you off, a decent tuner is your best friend. The sound you get from learning a couple of chords will have you hooked within minutes. Get yourself a mandolin chord chart and you’re away.

Mandolins are perfect for a complete beginner and very affordable.

Did You Know?

Ludwig Van Beethoven loved playing the mandolin. That’s right, although better known as a Pianist, Beethoven would hang his favorite mandolin beside his piano. 


This was Beethoven’s Milanese mandolin

Beethoven composed at least six works for mandolin, only four of which survived. None were published during his lifetime. It shows the rich history of the mandolin dating back to Italy in the 18th century.  

Other players to rock the mandolin were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Vivaldi.