Take Your Music to the Next Level With Mandolins

A-style and F-style mandolins are classic stringed instruments that are typically crafted from wood. Although most frequently heard in country and bluegrass music, these instruments are also appropriate for classical pieces, and they have seen creative use in rock 'n' roll. eBay offers a wide selection of new, used, and pre-owned mandolins.

What are the common styles of mandolin?

Mandolins are broken into two common style types. They include:

  • A-style: These symmetrical mandolins have a neck and a teardrop shape at the bottom. They look like the classic lute from which the instrument was derived.
  • F-style: These instruments offer an asymmetrical body at the top. F-style mandolins have an embellishment on one side of the body as it attaches to the neck. They have scrolled sound holes on the side for a deep tone.

There are different arguments as to whether the two styles of mandolin differ in tone. The strings and fingering are identical. It is more common to see the F-style in bluegrass music, and they are often referred to as bluegrass mandolins.

What factors can you consider when buying mandolins?

Mandolins, like other stringed instruments, have a few factors you should consider when buying a refurbished or secondhand mandolin. They include:

  • Wood type: Different woods offer different tones. It's rare to have non-wood mandolins.
  • Sound holes: Oval, central sound holes are common in A-style while F-style will offer a pair of S-shaped sound holes on either side of the body.
  • Construction: Dovetailed, fitted instruments offer a different tone than glued wood instruments
  • Finish: Some believe the type of finish on the wood can impact the sound.
  • Points: Mandolins may have two-point or three-point designs. These don't affect tone, but some musicians may have preferences as to which style is easier for them to play. For many, it is simply a matter of preference.
What are some high-end mandolin brands?

For a more experienced player looking to trade in for a newer or more eye-catching instrument, Loar and Kentucky are two major brands that offer multiple models. Both Kentucky and Loar design both A-style and F-style instruments. Kentucky brand has a wide assortment of each style of instrument with a vast range of features for each, ensuring that you can find the right look and features to fit your performance style. Rogue and Ibanez also offer a number of quality mandolin options.