The Loar LM-520-VS is one of the best mid-range mandolins currently on the market. Robust, easy to play and with a great tonality, this model can easily outmatch any other mandolin at this price.
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If you’re looking for a decent instrument to start to learn to play, this mandolin is the perfect match for you, as it will provide hours of entertainment for a very low price.
I’m a music composer and mandolin enthusiast with several years of experience producing rock, folk and soundtrack music. I really enjoy playing and recording the mandolin, as this instrument adds a unique natural feel to any song or track.
Join me as we take a look at The Loar LM-520-VS with all its pros and cons.
About The Loar LM-520-VS
The Loar brand is famous for their classic designs and great attention to detail. Their mandolins have received a lot of praise from mandolin players, as most instruments made by The Loar have a very good price-value ratio.
Most mandolins made by this company have a very unique design inspired by the old mandolins of the 1920s. This style might not be for everyone, but for players who love the old classics, it might be a great option.
If you’re looking to buy something similar to the famous Gibson F5 mandolin you might consider this model, as it won’t cost too much compared to real Gibson models. Of course, the quality isn’t the same, but it’s still surprisingly good for what it is.
The Loar LM-520-VS is a pretty-looking mandolin with an emphasis on sound quality. The LM-520-VS has a hand-carved body, which provides a great tone and projection. It’s really hard to find a hand-carved mandolin for a lower price.
The body of The Loar LM-520-VS has a hand-carved solid spruce top and a hand-carved solid maple back and sides. This tonewood configuration offers a great sustain and rich tone.
The design of the LM-520-VS is a classic F-style with few ornaments. This model is, first of all, a workhorse, which is reflected in the simple but effective design.
The overall build feels reliable and high-quality. This is the best all-solid, hand-carved mandolin for the price, hands down.
The finish is very simple but beautiful. If you’re a fan of the classic sunburst color, you’ll really love this mandolin. The letters “VS” in the name stand for “vintage sunburst,” which is the classic finish of the old vintage mandolins of the 1920s like the Gibson F5.
The instrument has a maple neck with a thin “V” profile. This neck is probably the most comfortable neck I’ve ever played. This neck has a very smooth and fast action, although some players have problems with the low action of this model.
The bridge here is a common adjustable ebony bridge. Some models may come with an uninstalled bridge, which might be a minor problem for players unfamiliar with the mandolin and its setup.
Overall this is a solid bridge that does the job it needs to.
It has a low-end set of Grover tuners. This is quite common for an instrument at this price range. They certainly work and do the job, although I’ve seen some players having problems with them.
The tailpiece of The Loar LM-520-VS is a typical tailpiece you’ll find on most low and mid-tier mandolins. This is a very basic cheap tailpiece prone to popping off, which could be an inconvenience for some players.
As with most hardware, you can always upgrade it to a better one if needed.
Pros & Cons
My Experience With The Loar LM-520-VS
I’ve played this model a few times and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s a very impressive mandolin for its price. The first thing I noticed is the great playability. This is a very comfortable and easy-to-play instrument, which is a big plus when it comes to beginner and intermediate mandolins.
The second thing that caught my eye is the overall build. The Loar LM-520-VS is a solid and robust mandolin. The F-style body design is tasteful and has great attention to detail.
One of the biggest cons of this mandolin is the hardware quality. But this is nothing new, as most low-tier mandolins really cut the price with low-end tuners, tailpieces and bridges. But fear not, as most of the hardware can be upgraded, extending the lifetime and overall quality of this model.
The Loar LM-520-VS comes all set up, which is an important thing for a beginner, as it can be played straight out of the box. But you could always make some adjustments to get a better action and playability.
But the best thing about this model is certainly the sound quality, which will exceed your expectations for sure when it’s played.
The Loar LM-520-VS has a very rich and bright tone. It also has a clean and versatile sound and it could be used for almost any musical style.
This model has a decent chop and projection. Here is where the hand-carved nature shines the most, adding unique undertones and harmonics to the mix. I was really surprised when I learned that this mandolin is all-solid and hand-carved.
I think this is a perfect mandolin for beginners, as the clarity of the tone will help you to get better and learn what you’re doing wrong or right. It’s very hard to learn when your instrument has problems with intonation, as you will need to tune it almost every time you play.
Overall, this is a solid sounding mandolin, probably one the best low-range mandolins when it comes to sound. You won’t find any better sounding mandolin for this price.
The Loar LM-520-VS Warranty
The Loar offers a 5-year limited warranty for most of their instruments. This warranty covers fabrication and material defects but doesn’t cover wear and damages made by players after unpacking the mandolin.
This may vary depending on the website or distributor.
Where to Buy The Loar LM-520-VS
The Loar mandolins are very common nowadays and are easy to find on most websites and online retailers. Let’s check some of the most popular options we have here.
Amazon is a world leader when it comes to online retail. Amazon started as an online book retailer many years ago but soon successfully expanded into other types of products. Nowadays you can find almost anything on Amazon, such as electronics, books, cookware and of course, musical instruments.
On Amazon there’s a quite decent selection of mandolins, although some models can only be found on specialized websites.
One of the most useful features on Amazon are customer reviews. Here you’ll find some of the most honest opinions you can see on the internet. If the product is full of defects, the customer reviews will certainly inform you of that.
Nowadays there are numerous online retailers that are trying to compete with huge companies like Amazon and eBay. Most of them are quite successful in specializing in a particular niche, and here is where big companies can’t compete with them.
If you’re looking for a decent selection of mandolins, try out any retailer that specializes in acoustic instruments like violins or violas.
Your Local Store
In your town you might find a few music stores. In my personal experience they usually have a limited selection of instruments like the mandolin.
But if you’re lucky and you’re able to find a music store specializing in acoustic instruments like violins and ukuleles, you might be able to find some mandolin models there.
Going in person is always the best option, as this way you’ll know for sure if the instrument fits your playing style.
The Loar LM-520-VS is an easy choice for any beginner or even intermediate player. This model has the perfect combination of sound quality, robust build and pretty finish. It’s a well-rounded mandolin, if you will.
If you’re looking for a really good but inexpensive mandolin, The Loar LM-520-VS is the perfect instrument for you, as nowadays they’re sold for a ridiculously low price.
Thank you for reading this article about The Loar LM-520-VS. If you really liked this read, feel free to share it or leave a comment about this model or any other The Loar mandolin.
Stay safe, and as always, good luck with your sonic adventures!