A VS F STYLE MANDOLIN
This is one of the most commonly asked questions when people first start shopping for mandolins. Should I buy an A-style or an F-style mandolin? And a great question it is! Especially when they look so different and most of the professional players that you see are playing F-style mandolins.
So which should you be looking at? An A or an F?
There is no clear cut answer here, but let us start by saying that given equal quality, there is no discernible difference in tone between an A vs F Style mandolin. Thats right! Despite the different look, these are very close to one another in all areas that determine the tone and playability. The differences between the two are cosmetic.
How can that be?
Take away the scroll and points, and the bodies are the same. Those points are solid and do not contribute to the sound chamber. The same for the the scroll. There is a solid block of wood that fills the majority of the scroll. What we end up with is a top and back, that for all intents and purposes, produce the same result.
Does an F Style play better than an A style mandolin?
In short no. Naturally there may be differences between various models of mandolins, but having an A vs an F style mandolin does not matter if no other factors are at play. An F does create a different balancing point with a strap around the scroll vs an A style with the strap tied around the headstock. Maybe this could fall under playability, but it is not something to be overly concerned with.
Do I need an F style for bluegrass?
There is a common misconception that you need an F-style for playing bluegrass. While this is not true as far as tone, among many players it is expected that you should have an F– style mandolin. Since traditions diehard, you will probably have trouble convincing people otherwise. The truth is, A–style mandolins sound exactly the same as F–Style mandolins. They simply look different. In the end, if you want peer recognition there is some benefit to purchasing the F-style mandolin. If you don't care what other people think and just want the best playing mandolin for the money, The A-style is the way to go.
Why does an F-style mandolin cost so much more than an A-style?
The scroll, points and headstock on an F-style require significantly more handwork to produce compared to an A-style. So much so, that an F-style can add as much as 30% to 50% to the price of an equal quality A–style mandolin. If this is the case, you may be wondering why anyone would pay so much more for F-style! To answer this, just take a look at the F-style mandolin. It is hard to deny the beauty of the instrument. Don't worry, you are not alone! Almost everyone prefers the look of the -Style mandolin and many are willing to pay the premium to own one.
Need help deciding?
As one of the world's leading mandolin dealers, we are happy to help you choose the perfect new instrument!
View all of our mandolins here: Mandolins
Comments will be approved before showing up.