Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Buying a new Mandolin advice

Hi! I’m currently a college student at Texas A&M (gig 'em) and I’m looking to buy my own mandolin! I’ve been using one of my friends old one for a some time now and I picked it up pretty fast, but unfortunately this mandolin I’ve been using is so old (100+ years, its an antique) that its falling apart. I’m wanting to buy my own thats good quality but I can’t afford anything crazy. What mandolins would you suggest thats good quality but also not crazy expensive?

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Christi, welcome to the board! Anything in Ben’s store might be of good quality. Loar LM-310F F-Style Mandolin is what I bought for my daughter from Ben’s store with some discount.


Honestly, Ben and Jake have a great selection of the brands that I recommended before the store even opened. As far as which one, it depends on your budget. Define crazy :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I have been really impressed with every Eastman I have played, the value is consistently impressive. An Eastman 305 is about $500, and it is a great sounding, great playing instrument. I have played Kentucky and Loars that I liked very much.

I haven’t played one, but the Northfield flat-top is interesting to me. Flat-tops have a different sound (not the prototype 'grass sound), but I do like flat tops as well. You are looking at the right time. 20 years ago, finding a decent mandolin was much more difficult. Happy hunting!!!


Hi @christi_krikorian I would encourage you to email @BanjoBen I am confident he will pull all the stops out to help you find a mandolin to fit your budget.


All good advice so far, I’ll add a recommendation for a Kentucky KM150, it’s what I got, and it’s great for the price (slightly cheaper than the Eastman 305)



WELCOME to the site.

You probably already know… But you will want to decide on the Mandolin style you want: A-Style OR F-Style. All things being equal, the A-Style is said to be cheaper - dollar for dollar… because the F-Style has more intricate carvings with the scrolls.

I wanted an F-Style (Bluegrass with violin-type holes and generally brighter sound).

I purchased an Eastman MD-315 from @Jake who took EXCELLENT CARE of me - even long distance - as I live far away from the physical store.

Here is the store link:

Here’s a picture of the same type of Eastman I bought:

My instrument, case and Strap arrived all set up and with the items I needed (plus a few extra complimentary but NICE picks and a BanjoBen sticker to boot!)

The Eastman isn’t really inexpensive (at least $800 isn’t exactly “change” for me) - but the quality and value exceeded my every expectation!

Therefore, my advice is to call @Jake at @BanjoBen 's General Store TODAY and start a conversation.

I am confident you will be very happy with the results! I know I am!

AND NO… I am not paid for this endorsement but offer it freely and eagerly as I suspect most other BanjoBen General Store customers would be happy to do! :wink:


Hi Christi,
I found a great deal on Ebay for a used mandolin from a custom builder for 33% of the new cost
Lots of good A style mandolins out there cheap
Ibanez, epiphone, fender, kentucky, Alvarez, washburn, Loar
are all pretty solid manufactures
do not know much about Rogue, Rover, etc. but there are a lot of them
I would guess they are all cheaper asian made that probably use a bit cheaper hardware but you can probably find good reviews of most brands (not to suggest no good instruments come from asia but some are dirt cheap)

I bought a Will Parsons A style for my wife and it has a great tone



My wife plays in a mandolin group in College Station and it could be that the group leader might have one to sell. My wife just bought an Octave Mandolin from her. She collects instruments and is trying to get rid of excess.

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Thats incredible thank you! If she does I would love to see what she has, is there any way I could reach out to her?

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I just checked out those Northfields and they seem super cool, and you got me interested in an Eastman 305. Thank you for the direction I really appreciate it!


I just bought the Eastman 305, I mean I like it fine but I have no experience with mandolins so I know little to nothing in comparing playing and tonal differences. I’m a couch/porch picker now I didn’t figure I really needed an Ellis, Gilchrist etc. or rather not that I didn’t need one but couldn’t afford one.

That Fstyle WillCoop has sure is real real purty and I thought about an Fstyle but then I was afraid that if someone saw me with one they may think I was a seriously good player…and boy would they be disappointed.


Aww… Don’t think thaddaway @charlie_burt!

You are way better at guitar than I am on Mando… and the conversion over would be Flat (pickin’)-out easier for you!

My guess is you will have that 305 singin’ in no time.

Sunburst high-gloss are real nice… but I really like the rustic matte finish on mine!

Thanks for the compliment… as I also find beauty in the F-Style… and rarely are seen in public so nobody mistakenly thinks that I can play! :wink:

Only my fam and a few friends have heard me grind out a Christmas Carol or two…


I sent you an email, Christi.

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Oh sorry I forgot to follow up. yes I will get you her contact.
It’s also a group you might enjoy participating with. My wife mostly plays fiddle but plays mandolin in that group and they do a lot of fiddle tunes and are mostly connected to Tamu so I am sure you would fit right in.

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