The Loar LM-220 is a beautiful A-style mandolin with a rich and warm tone. This is a great low-tier mandolin with an outstanding quality and sound. You won’t find any better A-style mandolin for the price, as it’s currently one of the lowest priced all-solid mandolins on the market.
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I’m a music composer and a mandolin enthusiast with several years of experience producing rock, folk and soundtrack music for various media. I try to use the mandolin as much as I can, as this instrument adds a unique flavor to any track or song.
Join me as we take a close look at this unique mandolin made by The Loar brand.
About The Loar LM-220
The Loar brand is famous for their stylish mandolins made in a classical vintage style. The Loar mandolins are somewhat similar to Eastman mandolins, but with an emphasis on recreating old-school mandolin designs similar to the Gibson F5, which became very popular in the 1920s.
The Loar LM-220 is part of the renowned LM-200 series, which brings high-quality mandolins to players who don’t want to spend too much on an instrument.
This mandolin is crafted in the same shops as mandolins from the most expensive series, such as the LM-400 or LM-700. This is a big bonus, and the build quality of these models is simply unbeatable. And as it happens with many low-tier mandolins made by The Loar, it’s a very inexpensive hand-carved and all-solid instrument.
Recently many players noticed that the LM-200 series have a more consistent quality compared to other The Loar series such as the LM-500. This consistent quality makes these instruments so popular with beginners and intermediate players all around the world.
The body of The Loar LM-220 is made of solid hand-carved spruce for the top and solid hand-carved maple for the back and sides. This mandolin has a very lightweight construction, which makes it so easy to play and transport.
The A-style body of the LM-220 is quite comfortable. It has the typical tear shaped form with an arched top. The mix of spruce and maple creates a unique warm tone with a quite decent projection and sustain.
The Loar LM-220 comes with a gloss vintage sunburst finish. This is a very classic and beautiful finish that works for most A-style mandolins.
Some LM-220 models have a unique dark red tone to them. I personally find this color much more interesting than the common sunburst, which feels too bland and typical for an A-style mandolin.
The polyurethane lacquer finish is quite thin, which provides little protection but conserves the natural tonality of the mandolin. This is a very common type of finish found on most A-style mandolins on the market.
It has a maple neck with a rounded “V” profile typical of most The Loar mandolins. This is a balanced and comfortable neck with a bound rosewood fretboard. This neck offers great playability and fast action all around the spectrum.
I find this neck a little too thin for my taste, but it certainly didn’t limit the instrument’s playability, and it took me very little time to get used to it.
The bridge of The Loar LM-220 is a common compensated adjustable ebony bridge. This is a typical bridge for low-tier mandolins. You might need to adjust it before playing, as many low-range mandolins come with an unfitted bridge.
The Loar LM-220 comes with low-quality Grover tuners. They’re decent enough to do the job. If you’re having issues with tuning your mandolin, I’d consider changing the tuners to higher quality ones.
Pros & Cons
My Experience With The Loar LM-220
I’ve played this mandolin only a couple of times but was pleasantly surprised by its quality every time. This mandolin can outgun other more expensive mandolins on the market. The sound quality is incredible for a low-tier mandolin, as well as the overall build quality.
The LM-220 I played had a beautiful reddish tone to it. It had “VS” in its name, which stands for “vintage sunburst.” I find this finish very appealing and rare for an A-style mandolin, as most of them have a classic sunburst color scheme.
As it happens with most cheap mandolins, the hardware is of low quality. You might consider spending a little extra on a professional setup and maybe a new bridge, as it will certainly avoid some problems in the future.
I personally really loved the sweet and warm sound of this mandolin. It might not be the best sounding model on the market, but it certainly has its own flavor and style.
The Loar LM-220 has a clean and warm tone with very good low end sound. This model is, without a doubt, one of the best sounding A-style mandolins for this price.
This model might lack a decent chop, but this is common for an A-style mandolin, as most mandolins of this type have a much mellower and warmer sound, perfect for folk and classical music.
Although the sound quality is pretty darn good, you might consider a professional setup, as it will certainly help to get most out of this mandolin.
Many low-tier mandolins can be upgraded to become almost mid-range ones if you know what you’re doing. If you lack the expertise to do so, it’s a good idea to find a professional luthier who can do it for you.
The Loar LM-220 Warranty
The Loar offers a full lifetime warranty with its instruments. But this may vary depending on a retailer or distributor.
Where to Buy The Loar LM-220
The Loar mandolins are quite popular nowadays and can be found in almost all online retailers or music stores. But some models might be a little tricky to track down. Let’s explore some of the options we have.
Amazon started as an online book retailer and rapidly grew to become one of the biggest companies in the world. Amazon developed a robust and easy-to-use system which helped this company to become so popular nowadays.
You can find a huge selection of products on Amazon, including electronics, clothes and musical instruments. Here you’ll find a quite decent selection of mandolins from famous brands like Kentucky, The Loar, Ibanez and Eastman.
One of my favorite features on Amazon is the customer reviews. Here is where you’ll find honest opinions on almost every product. I personally find them very useful when it comes to making a decision involving spending thousands of dollars.
Apart from huge retailers like Amazon, there are several online retailers that are trying to compete with this giant. Some of them chose a more specialized way of selling products, centering around a certain niche.
If you want to find a big selection of mandolins, I recommend checking out retailers that specialize in acoustic instruments such as violins or contrabass.
Your Local Store
You might find a limited selection of mandolins in your local music store, but you can always stay there for a while trying out several models to see which one suits you the most.
Going in person is the best way to choose the right instrument for you. Some mandolins might reveal unfortunate defects and cons only when played in person. This is why I highly recommend finding a local store near you if possible.
The Loar LM-220 is a well-balanced A-style mandolin, perfect for beginners and intermediate players who need a robust instrument for years to come. Although it might require some maintenance over the years, I think it has a very good value.
Most players I’ve met who bought this model have been very happy with the purchase, as it offers a lot for a very low cost. This is an easy choice to make, as it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Overall, The Loar LM-220 is an outstanding instrument with many more pros than cons. This mandolin has overwhelmingly positive reviews, as most players found this mandolin very useful and fun to play.
Thank you for reading this article until the end. I hope you enjoyed this read, and if you did feel, free to drop a comment about The Loar LM-220 or any other The Loar mandolins. If you found this article interesting, please share it on your favorite social media.
Stay safe, and as always, good luck with your sonic adventures!