With Bill Monroe being known as a mandolin player, it is an instrument that finds a welcome home in bluegrass jams.
It serves as both a melody instrument and as an important rhythmic instrument. There are many different types of mandolins but due to their style of construction, there are two main types that tend to be used in bluegrass music - A-style and F-style. If you're just starting out, an A-style mandolin will offer higher quality at a more affordable price-point. The main thing to seek in a mandolin is solid wood construction. The top should be hand-carved solid spruce while the backs and sides should be solid maple. Additionally, a bluegrass mandolin should have f-holes as these add to the traditional sound.
Left - Eastman MD605 - This model is several years old and there have been some cosmetic changes. It is made with a solid sprue top, solid maple back and sides, and ebony fittings as well as an internal pickup.
Right - Eastman MD305 - This is Eastman's most affordable model and is well-loved. Although it comes with a matte finish - which is a little "loud" when it rubs - it can be buffed to a semi-gloss.
*Not Pictured - Eastman MD315 - This is Eastman's most affordable F-style mandolin. Again, if money is a consideration, the A-style is the way to go. Other reputable entry brands are Kentucky, Gold Tone, and The Loar.