Today we review the Ibanez model M510DVS mandolin, a perfectly beautiful mandolin that is ideal for beginners due to its price point.
The first thing you will notice about this mandolin is its colour. It is strikingly attractive with a dark violin sunburst on the front of the body. It is rare to find mandolins in this colour, evocative of woodland faerie music a la Simon and Garfunkel. It is deep and mysterious, and beckons you to play. The perimeter is of black that fades to a warm chestnut brown centre. You will take comfort in holding the instrument and playing it, feeling the notes swim and reverberate around inside the body.
This is an A style mandolin. There are two different types of mandolin: the A style and the F-style. A style is favoured among classical players and folk muscians, while F-style is favoured among bluegrass players. A style instrument are so named for their A-shape, or pear/tear-shaped body. They are simple in design and look more like early music instruments, such as the bowlback mandolin, from which contemporary models evolved. F-styles feature scrolls and curves. These extra design elements drive the cost up a little bit, so if you are looking to buy your first mandolin, we recommend starting with an A style.
The top of the body is composed of select spruce with mahogany back and sides. Throughout the mandolin you will find chrome hardware, and pearl dot inlay in the fretboard/neck.
From the manufacturer: “The sound of a driving mandolin solo brings to mind the Appalachians and the bittersweet melodies of generations past.”
Mandolins are nice instruments to play, for they are very lightweight and compact, but have powerful action, producing crisp and clear sound. The sound is amplified by the F holes in the body, similar to a violin. These instruments are, of course, from the same stringed family.
This mandolin comes assembled with strings, but you will want to reset the bridge. It is also highly likely you will need to tune the strings. You can visit your local music store or shop online for a beginner’s music book, or look for a video online that will teach you how to tune the strings properly.
Keep in mind that temperature conditions will affect the tuning. Extreme heat or extreme cold will detune the strings. However, should the environment stay consistent, this mandolin will hold its tune. It is always best to do a quick tuning check before you start playing, to ensure everything is perfect and in place. Even the slightest off-key string will affect the entire song writing procedure.
It is important to note this mandolin is designed for right hand players. You can technically restring it for left-handed use, but you will also have to move the pickguard. Your local music shop will be able to help you with this.
You may want to purchase a strap and a case. In fact, we highly recommend a hard shell case, in which to the store the mandolin when you are not playing it. This will keep the dust off it, and will aid in transportation, protecting it from getting bumped and scratched. The mandolin is designed to be played sitting down, so you do not necessarily need a strap. You can play it by setting it in your lap and holding the neck with your left hand. However, should you desire playing while standing, a strap will come in very handy and ease the strain on your hands and arms. In the meantime, you can use a shoestring as a strap.
This mandolin comes with a truss rod and the wrench needed for adjustments; however, it so well made that it is unlikely you will ever use it. As well, the mandolin is acoustic. It does not come with plug-ins or options for electric play. The mandolin is usually played acoustically, and in front of a microphone if on stage, rather than electrically.
It takes one back to the times of early music and the likes of Vivaldi, for example, who featured mandolin as the lead instrument in many of his compositions. Mandolin was quite popular in the 1700s, early 1900s, again in the 1960s and up to today. We see mandolin being used in many styles. Fans of early music are familiar with the instrument, as are bluegrass and folk fans.
The mandolin is beloved for its dual-string set up, with four pairs of strings. The second strings create a wonderful action whereby the music rings out like rays of new sun through a mountain range. Play it loud and see what happens! This instrument makes a lot of noise, and it can be quite fun learning to work with the reverb and ringing. You can choose to chop chords, producing a sharp, distinct note, or letting the strings ring like a harp.
The mandolin is rather a versatile instrument, lending to many different styles of music and playing. It is best played with a thick pick for chop chords and loud playing. Thinner picks are more flexible and will give more of a ringing to your songs. Finger picking is gentle and intimate. Have fun and play around! This model of mandolin is a great beginner’s instrument. It sells for around $175.