In this article, we’ll explore the best mandolins under $1,000 and the best mandolin brands that produce the best professional and intermediate mandolins on the market.

Quick Look: Best Mandolins Under $1,000

#1 Best Mandolin Under $1000 Overall: Eastman MD315 


My name is Anthony, and I’ve been playing the mandolin for several years. I’ve composed many themes and songs on this interesting and beautiful instrument.

Are There Good Mandolins Under $1000?

Certainly, there are. In this price range, you can find many high-quality and professional mandolins with hand-carved wood and high-grade materials.

a stunning mandolin musical instrument

These instruments are a perfect match for intermediate or professional players who’re looking for the best mandolin for a reasonable amount of money.

Types of Mandolins Under $1000

There are many different types of mandolins. The two main and most popular ones are the F-style and the A-style, both of them archtop styled. Other types like flatback, doubletop, and bowlback are less used, and they’re really rare.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Mandolin Under $1000

When you’re looking for an intermediate or professional mandolin, check how the wood is produced. The best option is a solid body or hand carved, as those types will give better sustain and overall acoustics.

Level of Experience

There are many mandolin lovers in the world. Some of them are quite expert with this instrument, and others are at more of an amateur or beginner level. Fear not, as there is a perfect match for every level of expertise.

Beginner Mandolins Under $1000

For the best beginner mandolin under $1000, you should look for something that’s easy to set up and play. The best option here is a more basic and simple instrument that will help you create a solid foundation for your mandolin techniques.

Intermediate Mandolins Under $1000

If you’re looking for the best intermediate mandolin under $1000, you might need a balance between a high-quality instrument and something more accessible and easy to use. Under this price, you can find quite high-grade and professional instruments if you look in the right places.

A musician playing a mandolin

I’ve personally heard some amazing sounding mandolins in this price range. Some models have really surprised me with their pleasing and smooth sound, as well as their beautiful and unique design and finish.

Pro Mandolins Under $1000

Here we’re getting near the starting point for really professional and expensive ones. Any mandolin will cost you some considerable money, and at this price range, we’re starting to get a feel for what a professional mandolin will look and sound like.


The overall size of the mandolin varies a bit. This might depend on the type of the mandolin, as the bowlback, for example, has slightly bigger dimensions. The main and most used types have quite a similar size, but this varies depending on the model and the brand.

The Overall Tone & Sound

It’s difficult to define what’s the best tone or sound for the mandolin, or any other instrument for that matter. Sonic preference is a subjective matter, and it depends on the musical style or certain sound desired for certain productions.

But we certainly can judge the overall feel of the sound and its quality, and if you compare several instruments you can start to distinguish the subtle differences between them.

But in my personal opinion, it’s sometimes hard to hear the difference between a decent intermediate and the most expensive and professional instruments, and more so if you haven’t heard different models before.


The mandolin is quite expensive, even in the lower tier. The price tag defines the overall quality of the instrument, and it’s an important thing to consider when you’re choosing your mandolin. But you can certainly find some incredible mandolins for a good price.

10 Best Mandolins Under $1000 Overall

On this list of 10 instruments, I’m introducing the best mandolins under $1000, which were selected for their high-quality materials and overall sound quality.

1. Kentucky KM-256 A-Model

  • Size: 27.88 x 27.88 x 3.75 inches
  • Weight: Five pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, transparent brown finish
  • Sound: Clean and crisp
  • Best for: Intermediate

The Kentucky KM-254 A-Model is a great instrument with a bright tone and high-quality materials. As always with the Kentucky brand, this mandolin is top notch and has a unique and pleasant sound that’s perfect for bluegrass and blues. This instrument is an excellent mandolin for any beginner or intermediate level musician.

✅ Simple and elegant finish
✅ Bright tone
✅ Comfortable to play
✅ High-quality construction
❌ Might take time to set up and tune

Why I Recommend It

Even though this mandolin is at the beginner or intermediate level, the sound and overall quality are anything but. The tone is surprisingly clean and crisp, and the overall construction is solid through and through.

I played it once, and I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable this mandolin is. The Kentucky KM-256 is certainly a great instrument for any musician who needs a good sounding and durable instrument for years to come.



2. The Loar LM-520 F-Style

  • Size: 27 x 12 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 2.91 pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, gloss and vintage sunburst finish
  • Sound: Crisp and rich
  • Best for: Beginners

The Loar LM-520 comes from a long line of evolution and design made by The Loar brand. With improved body design and better graduation, The Loar LM-520 is a step higher than its older brothers LM-600 and LM-700.

✅ Hand carved
✅ High-quality materials
✅ Easy to play
✅ Adjustable bridge
❌ Some parts have a low-quality finish

Why I Recommend It

This mandolin is one of the best products created by The Loar. Some would say that this model is the best F-style mandolin you can get in this price range. The Loar LM-520 is certainly a great addition for any musicians who need a unique and high-quality instrument for their productions.



3. Eastman MD315 F-Style

  • Size: 30.7 x 13.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Weight: 4.81 pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, classic finish
  • Sound: Crisp and bright
  • Best for: Intermediate

The Eastman MD-315 F-Style is the most popular model of the Eastman brand. This mandolin offers a bright tone with professional quality construction, all for a good price.

The finish of this mandolin is just incredible, and the classic colors have an elegant and unique look reminiscent of classical violins and violas.

✅ Beautiful finish
✅ Solid wood body
✅ Easy to play
✅ Bright tone
❌ Might take time to set up

Why I Recommend It

This mandolin is a high-quality instrument on so many levels. The professional sound and tone with the beautiful look and design make this mandolin an amazing instrument all around.

I heard this instrument once, played by a musician in a jam session, and I must say this mandolin sounds great and has a mesmerizingly beautiful look to it.



4. Kentucky KM 272 F-Style

  • Size: 26.25 x 10.25 x 3.25 inches
  • Weight: Five pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, transparent amber finish
  • Sound: Bright and clean
  • Best for: Professionals

The Kentucky KM-272 is a professional instrument made of the best hand-carved wood and high-quality materials. The sound is quite unique, and it has its own personality compared to other F-style mandolins.

This instrument is a great mandolin in this price range, and you can find many instruments for a higher price tag with a worse sound and overall quality.

✅ Hand carved
✅ Comfortable neck
✅ Beautiful design
❌ The thick neck makes it sometimes hard to play for the beginners

Why I Recommend It

With a smooth, easy, and consistent action all around the neck, Kentucky KM-272 F-style is a well-balanced instrument that’s perfect for bluegrass or blues. The high-grade construction and finish won’t disappoint any player, from intermediate to the most professional ones.



5. Washburn M118SWK

  • Size: 31.4 x 15.7 x 6.5 inches
  • Weight: 9.85 pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, vintage natural finish
  • Sound: Bright and clean
  • Best for: Professionals

The Washburn M118SWK is a high-quality instrument with a bright and powerful sound. This F-style mandolin has a beautiful sunburst finish and a solid body construction made of spruce and maple.

You might need some setup and adjustments, and might even need to replace some parts, but after all that, you’ll have a professional mandolin that can compete with any high-level ones that might go for much more than $1000.

✅ Great sound volume
✅ Solid body
✅ Beautiful finish
✅ Solid tailpiece
❌ Need set up to play

Why I Recommend It

This mandolin is a great option if you’re looking for something on the high-end tier. The construction is sturdy and the overall tone and projection are great, which makes this mandolin a great competitor to any professional instruments at this price.



6. Ibanez M700 AVS F-Style

  • Size: 35 x 14.1 x 7.3 inches
  • Weight: 5.15 pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, antique violin sunburst
  • Sound: Loud and clean
  • Best for: Intermediate

The Ibanez M700 AVS F-style is a top selling model in this Ibanez series. The antique violin sunburst finish is quite beautiful, and the overall tone and projection are top notch as well. This F-Style mandolin is perfect for any intermediate or beginner player.

✅ Solid maple
✅ Bright tone
✅ Loud volume
❌ Requires setup

Why I Recommend It

This instrument is a solid powerhouse mandolin made with the best quality wood and materials. I was able to try this mandolin in a music store once, and it’s quite loud and clean for the price.



7. Kentucky KM-150

  • Size: 29 x 13 x 4 inches
  • Weight: Three pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides, high gloss sunburst finish
  • Sound: Bright and crisp
  • Best for: Beginners

The Kentucky KM-150 is a very popular mandolin. Made of solid spruce and durable materials, this instrument is a well-proven veteran when it comes to mid-level mandolins. You can find thousands of five-star reviews all around the internet, and this instrument always has high-end materials and overall tone quality.

✅ Bright sound
✅ Comfortable neck
✅ Beautiful finish
✅ Good sustain
❌ Requires some setup to play

Why I Recommend It

Great tone, projection, finish, and accessibility make this instrument an easy decision when you’re choosing a perfect beginner mandolin. I highly recommend this mandolin to beginners or even intermediate and professional players,  as you won’t find anything better for this price.



8. Eastman MD305 A-Style

  • Size: 31 x 20 x 6.5 inches
  • Weight: Four pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce body, maple back and sides, classic finish
  • Sound: Warm and punchy
  • Best for: Beginners

The Eastman MD-305 A-style is a classical inspired mandolin through and through. Made with traditional materials, hand-built, and with a beautiful classic finish, this instrument is a perfect match for any beginner or intermediate musician that needs some classic smoothness to their music.

✅ Solid body
✅ Easy to play
✅ Great tonality
✅ Durable materials
❌ Might take time to set up

Why I Recommend It

This mandolin is one of the best beginner mandolins out there. Even at this price range, this mandolin sounds very professional and could easily compete with any high-grade instruments.

I heard this mandolin once at a live show, and it sounds just incredibly loud and clean. The tone has a unique warmth to it, which you can only find on this Eastman mandolin series.



9. Kentucky KM-500 Artist A-Model

  • Size: 26.25 x 10.25 x 3.25 inches
  • Weight: Five pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, maple back and sides, amberhurst finish
  • Sound: Deep and rich
  • Best for: Professionals

The Kentucky KM-500 Artist A-Model is a foundation for the great 500 series of Kentucky mandolins. This particular mandolin offers a sound that blends oval and F-style soundhole sounds. This mandolin has the perfect tone for a punchy bluegrass tune, as well as warm and rich harmonics that are ideal for folk music.

✅ High-grade materials
✅ Simple but elegant design
✅ Rich tone
✅ Easy to play
❌ Needs setup to play

Why I Recommend It

This particular model of Kentucky’s 500 series is a well-balanced instrument capable of playing almost every style of music. It will add a unique and rich sound and harmonics to each tune and song you perform. This is one of my favorites, and I played it for several years and enjoyed the unique rich sound every time I plucked those double strings.



10. Eastman MD504 A-style

  • Size: 28 x 12 x 5 inches
  • Weight: 6.98 pounds
  • Material & finish: Solid spruce top, maple back and sides, sunburst finish
  • Sound: Warm and woody
  • Best for: Intermediate

The Eastman MD504 A-style is a unique mandolin made with old traditional methods and great attention to detail. A simple but elegant design comes with a warm and smooth sound that’s perfect for folk and  Celtic music.

✅ Solid body
✅ Handcrafted
✅ Versatile sound
✅ Includes hardshell case
❌ Low clarity on the high range tones

Why I Recommend It

If you’re looking to add some richness and warmth to your folk tunes, look no further. This mandolin is a well-balanced and overall smooth sounding instrument that will surprise you every time you play it. It’s one of the best A-style mandolins in this price range, hands down.



Best Brands for Mandolins Under $1000

Nowadays there are many different brands to choose from when it comes to mandolins. Some offer better bundles and accessories, and some will give you a unique hand-crafted instrument for a good price.

Each brand has its own methods of fabrication, which means that each model might have a different sound and tone, as well as a different size and finish style.

one of the best cheap mandolins on the market

The overall quality of materials and wood selection will certainly define the quality of the mandolin, as every company varies in this matter.

Some brands lack the knowledge or funds necessary to create a high-grade instrument, even more so when it comes to mandolins under $1000. Here are some of the best brands you can find in this price range.


Based in San Francisco, California, the Kentucky brand provides the most authentic American bluegrass sound with their mandolins. With mandolins made of high-grade wood and materials, the Kentucky company is one of the best known and most valued mandolin brands in the world.


Founded in 1992 in the US, the Eastman began as a violin brand and later expanded into other string instruments. Famous for pioneering new materials and construction methods, the Eastman brand always brings us their unique craftsmanship and attention to detail in each instrument they produce.


Washburn is one of the most important mandolin companies in the world. Founded in 1883 in Chicago, Illinois, Washburn is a renowned leader in string instrument fabrication. This company is well-known for its hand-carved and hand-crafted instruments made of the best materials available.

The Loar

This brand is inspired by the instruments of the ’20s and ’30s, and they use a more classic approach to the design and finish of their mandolins. The Loar brand offers you a great price-quality ratio on their instruments, making them a perfect match for any beginner or intermediate player.


Founded in Japan in 1908, Ibanez is a world leader in guitars, basses, banjos, and mandolins. The Ibanez company began as the musical instrument sales division of a bookstore chain. In 1935 the owner decided to make Spanish-style acoustic guitars.

The name came from Ibanez Salvador, a Spanish luthier, whose classic guitars inspired this company to create their own. Several decades later, Ibanez became one of the most important string instrument companies in the world.

What Comes with Mandolins Under $1000?

There are plenty of accessories and items you can find in a box when you’re buying a new mandolin. Which and how many of them will arrive at your home depends on the offer, bundle, and the brand itself.


This is an essential accessory for any mandolin player. By now you must at least suspect that those double strings of the mandolin are not so easy to tune. Here’s where the tuner comes in, as it will make the long process much easier. A chromatic tuner is the best friend of any mandolin player.

HardShell Case/Soft Bag

The mandolin is quite a delicate instrument and needs all kinds of care and attention. It’s like a baby. But it’s your baby!

That’s why a hard case is an important factor for the well-being of your mandolin. This accessory will help protect your baby for years to come, making possible its growth in sound and tone in the future.

Mandolin Strap

This is a necessary accessory if you’re planning to play while standing or performing live. A good and study one will prevent any falls and unnecessary accidents with your precious mandolin.

Set of Strings

Some models and bundles might have a default set of basic strings included. Most of the time, and in my personal experience, they aren’t of the best quality. You might consider buying better ones – if you want your mandolin to be happy, of course.

Mandolin Capo

This simple accessory will help you achieve different tonalities and sounds. It’s quite useful for any mandolin player.


Some mandolins might need nut and bridge adjustments, and some might need the whole thing changed. It’s certainly annoying when you order a high-end mandolin and some parts are not of the best quality. Then, you’ll need to buy a new part to have the perfect setup.

The strings are one of those things you might need to change right away, as the basic ones are quite low quality most of the time.

Mandolin Build and Materials

The most important part of any string instrument is the wood it’s made of. The quality of the wood defines the overall sound and tone. The fabrication methods influence how robust your instrument will be.


Most mandolins are made of spruce on the top and maple on the back and sides. But this varies depending on the model and brand of the instrument. Each wood type has its own characteristics. Spruce, for example, has a bright tone, and maple, on the other hand, has a warmer and smoother tone. Some models might have mahogany, basswood, and rosewood, the latter being the traditional wood to use for the mandolin.


There are two types of varnishes used in the production of the mandolin. The oil varnish has low protection with a thin layer of oil resins applied, but with no meddling with the tone and sound. The spirit varnish, on the other hand, gives more protection but might dampen the sound of your mandolin.


Sunburst is probably the most common color for the mandolin. But you can certainly find many variations or different color schemes too. Black, green, gloss and vintage sunburst, transparent brown, violin vintage sunburst, and classic are some of the many colors available for the mandolin.

Buying New vs Used

If you’re buying a new mandolin, you might get a warranty and some useful accessories with your instrument. Customer service is always a plus with a new mandolin.

On the other hand, if you decide to buy a used one, you might get an instrument with some or many defects, or a great one for a good price. It’s a gamble.

But as with all gambles, you can certainly win sometimes. In the case of used mandolin, you can not only get it for a good price but also get a well-adjusted and aged instrument with a unique and beautiful tone and harmonics.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How to Keep My Mandolin Tuned?

The best way to keep your mandolin tuned and in perfect shape is to keep it in a solid case when you’re not using it. A small difference in temperature could throw off the tuning quite easily.

How to Change the Strings on the Mandolin?

If your mandolin is losing its tuning more often than normal, it might be time to change your strings. To do that, follow these simple steps:

  • Remove the tailpiece
  • Remove the tension from the string by detuning them until they’re loose enough
  • Carefully remove the old strings
  • Replace the old string with the new ones following the way you removed them
  • Put back the tailpiece

Is the Mandolin Difficult to Learn and Master?

It’s certainly more difficult than a guitar, for example. But it’s far from impossible. When you get a grip and a feel for the correct pressure you need to apply on those double strings, you’ll get closer to mastering this instrument, as from this point the learning curve is quite similar to the guitar.

What Are the Best Mandolins Under $1000?

Here I’ll reiterate some of the best mandolins under $1000 I presented here so far.

Kentucky KM-150: Best for Beginners

Kentucky is a great mandolin for any beginner or intermediate players High-grade materials and a great sound make this mandolin a unique tool for a decent price.

Eastman MD315 F-Style: Best for Intermediate

This mandolin is inspired by the old classic instruments and has a top-notch construction and sound. Elegant and easy to play, this instrument is the best option for any intermediate player.

Kentucky KM-500 Artist A-Model: Best for Professionals

As always with the Kentucky brand, they deliver a unique and brilliant instrument with every model. Kentucky Km-500 is no different in this matter. Solid construction and high-grade materials make possible this beauty, which has a unique and personal voice and harmonics.

Where Are the Best Mandolins Under $1000 Made?

The best mandolins are created in the United States or Europe. But nowadays most of the big brands are moving their factories to China, Japan, or Korea. So don’t be discouraged if you see your expensive Kentucky with the label “made in China.”

The high standards of those brands are still well maintained in those offshore factories, and they still deliver high-grade instruments to this day.

What Is the Best Sounding Mandolin Under $1000?

Sound is quite a subjective matter. But in my personal opinion, the best sounding mandolin for this price is the Kentucky Km-500. The unique blend of an oval and F-style soundhole gives this instrument a unique voice with great versatility for any style of music.

But if you’re looking for something smooth and warm, try the Eastman MD504. This mandolin is the best friend of any folk or Celtic music player.

Where to Buy Mandolins Under $1000

There are many options when considering buying a new mandolin. An online store might offer fast delivery directly to your cozy home, with great offers, free returns, and many more useful services.

An up close of one of the best cheap mandolins

In-store, on the other hand, will give you the possibility of trying out many different instruments and ask any question. This way you can feel and hear the instrument, making your decision much easier.


Amazon is a very useful tool if you know how to use it. Not only you can find great offers and fast delivery, but you can also see some useful reviews from people who already bought the instrument.

Online Music Retailers

Sometimes it’s better to buy your mandolin from a specialized music store. Some online music retailers have a superb selection of instruments and great deals with high-end brands.

Here at Into Strings, we recommend Fiddlershop, Sweetwater, and Guitar Center.

Your Local Music Store

In your local music store, you can probably find a good selection of instruments and some good customer service. But it certainly depends on the country, province and the city you live in.

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In Conclusion

In this article, I hope I made it easier for you to decide which is the best mandolin under $1000. I presented many unique and interesting instruments in the mid-price range, and I learned a thing or two about this beautiful instrument.

If you have any doubts or questions feel free to comment on this article and share it if you liked it.

Godspeed fellow musicians, and don’t forget to have fun with your sonic adventures!