About 3 months ago I decided that I wanted to learn the mandolin. So, I set out to find a mandolin that sounds good and plays good, at a fairly good price just in case I wasn't into it. I ended up with the 520, but I have played a 500 as well. They are both wonderful instruments. Even though I'm not a mandolin expert, my untrained ear still knows that these things sound really good. I'm not just saying this because they are priced so well, even up against more expensive models by other makers, the Loars just stood out to me. If you end up buying one, make sure that you are buying it from a dealer that sets up their instruments. I've heard a lot of bad things about the way they are set up right out of the box. Anyway, I know you will be happy if you end up buying one! Hope this helps.