The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin

If you’re a professional musician, or even an advanced student, you’re probably looking for something a bit more sophisticated in its design than the entry-level models prevalent on sites like Amazon. But are you ready to spend thousands of dollars on a top of the line instrument? This model from The Loar is a great […]

Last updateJune 29, 2018
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The Loar LM-520-VS Performer F-Style Mandolin

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If you’re a professional musician, or even an advanced student, you’re probably looking for something a bit more sophisticated in its design than the entry-level models prevalent on sites like Amazon.

But are you ready to spend thousands of dollars on a top of the line instrument?

This model from The Loar is a great middle ground, offering professional details at a more widely affordable price point.

The Loar makes this instrument in the same workshop that produces their top of the line LM-700, and applies the same hand-carving techniques to the pieces of the LM-520. It uses a classic tonewood combination of maple for the back and sides and spruce for the top. The maple gives the sound a rich presence and tonal complexity, while the spruce used on the top adds brightness and punch to your notes, helping the sound project and keeping it from getting lost in the mix.

You can tell just from looking at the LM-520 that it’s a step up from entry-level mandolins. The finish is both gorgeous and impeccable, and the small aesthetic details make it a stunning instrument.

It uses the distinctive scrolled The Loar headstock, with a mother of pearl inlay for the logo that nicely complements the pearlized tuners.

It’s beautiful to say the least.

You’ll also see right away this model uses an asymmetrical F-style body shape, as opposed to the A-style instruments you might be used to seeing. While even small changes to the body of a mandolin can impact the sound, in this case it’s really more an aesthetic change than anything.

Still, this body style is a sign of a high-end instrument, largely because of the level of craftsmanship involved in the construction.

As if that’s not enough…

The difference in feel between this model and entry-level instrument is just as pronounced. The rounded “V” shape of the neck is designed to fit well into the player’s hand, and the bound, padauk fretboard is more comfortable on your fingertips, letting you really fly over the frets.

In terms of the hardware, it uses a combination of vintage Grover tuning machines with a full-adjustable, compensated ebony bridge. You’ll be able to tune more quickly and stay in tune longer thanks to these accoutrements.

There’s often a pretty big gap between the beginner’s version of an instrument and what the professionals use.

Both in terms of the price and how well the mandolin plays.

This can be frustrating for advanced students or experienced hobbyists, groups who want a higher quality level but aren’t ready to spend thousands of dollars. The Loar LM-520 fits nicely into this gap. It doesn’t have the full bells and whistles you’d find on a fully professional mandolin, but the quality is there in the sound and feel where it matters.

Features:

  • Top: Hand-carved spruce
  • Back and sides: Hand-carved maple
  • Neck: Maple, rounded “V” profile
  • Fretboard: Bound rosewood, 29 frets (13 29/32” scale)
  • Bridge: Ebony, fully adjustable
  • Finish: Sunburst
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