Today we review the A-style by Guitar Works, a high gloss mandolin that comes with a case and features beautiful F-scrolls in the body.
A-style mandolins have been around since the instrument was invented. Its “A-Style” refers to its shape, as this mandolin will have a tear/pear-shaped body. It is a model first introduced by Gibson in the early 1900s, which had evolved from the early bowlback.
A-style mandolins are easier to build than F-styles, which feature extra design work like scrolls and embellishments in the body. Since the A-style is easier to build, it tends to be cheaper than the F-style and is great when you are just starting out on the instrument. A-style mandolins are popular among classical players, as they have that classic/traditional mandolin sound. This mandolin is also favoured by folk artists. The F-style has different shapes in the body, giving it a different tone, and is more commonly found in bluegrass playing.
The body of this mandolin has two F-soundholes that not only add beauty to the instrument but provide a beautiful, balanced tone. You can strum and feel the notes lingering inside the body, vibrating against your belly.
The A-style by Guitar Works comes in a high gloss sunburst finish, with gold in the centre of the body fading to a deep sienna. It is constructed from laminated spruce (top) and laminated maple (back and sides). Laminated wood refers to the layering or sandwiching of wood pieces, rather than it being carved from one entire solid of wood. This drives the cost up exponentially.
This is a classic 8-string mandolin with four pairs of strings tuned to G, D, A and E. This is a great set as it comes with its own hard Featherlite case, made of durable nylon and built to last. A case is absolutely crucial to keeping your mandolin in tip-top shape. The case will of course keep it dust-free and make transportation very easy, acting as an exoskeleton to absorb bumps and blows. The case has a furry lining (made of fake fur, of course) so it is gentle and soft on the mandolin. As well, these cases feature a small secret nook in which you can hide pens, papers, and all kinds of picks.
Guitar Works has included this special $90 professional service for you: the mandolin is set up, adjusted and tuned for accuracy in pitch and playing, so that when you receive it, it is fully ready to play. The strings are wound and tuned and everything is ready to go. The strings themselves are D’addario EXP Professional Grade Long Lasting Strings, stretched over a hard maple neck. The neck/fretboard is composed of 20 frets.
This mandolin measures 27” total length, 10” wide and 2” deep. The nuts are 1 1/16”. The distance from nut to bridge is approximately 14”. It comes with a chrome-plated tailpiece and tailpiece cover. It has open back chrome plated tuning gears, and the bridge has two height adjustment wheels. Altogether the mandolin weighs 6 pounds.
Also included is a set of care instructions so you know what to do and what not to do, and this will save you time and money in the long run. It also comes with a strap that measures 34 to 59 inches long. This mandolin is not set up for electric play: it does not have the auxiliary plug-in for a cord. It can only be played as acoustic. It also includes picks, so this whole set is the perfect purchase or gift for the beginner mandolinist who needs all of the equipment.
Southpaws take note: if you wish to have this mandolin set up for left-handed playing, simply leave a note for the manufacturer and upon filling your order, they will set it up as such.
The sound is beautiful; you may need to retune the strings slightly as you pull it out of the box, but you can access any mandolin tuning tutorial through YouTube or other website. Other than that, it is set up ready to play right out of the box.
The mandolin comes with a 5-year warranty against defective workmanship or materials. It is perfectly packaged for shipping, so do not worry about it showing up damaged.
Keep in mind that if you are a beginner to the mandolin, you will have to develop callouses on your fingers. These come from constant exposure to the strings, which must be pressed fully down and held while playing the notes for a full sound. If you have not played mandolin or any stringed instrument before, it is important to note that your fingertips will be a little sore the first couple of times you play, but the more you practice, the thicker your skin will grow.