2000s Samick Greg Bennett A-Style Mandolin

Ah, the faithful Asian-import student mando. This type comes in many brand names, colors, and grades of blandness... but once they're properly setup they're usually perfectly-useful instruments to learn on or... take to the beach!

As usual, this is all-laminate construction in the body and has a normal two-tonebar bracing pattern. It's got a Gibson 13 7/8" scale length and generally feels the same as your average alternative A-style mando. What you do get with an instrument like this is a lot of crisp bark but you don't get the velvety mwah and choppy low-end that you'd expect from a carved or at least solid-top instrument.

You can't argue too much, though, because: it's affordable and gets the job done.

A medium-thickness gloss sunburst finish resides over a ply-spruce top and ply-maple back and sides. The neck is mahogany (interestingly) and the board and bridge are both rosewood.

There's no truss rod in this neck and when this came in (it's being consigned in-store) the neck had a tiny bit of relief. I replaced the medium gauge (40w-11) strings that were on it with lights (34w-10) and bingo, the neck snapped right back to perfectly straight.

During setup, the cheesy plastic nut split (grr) so I replaced it with a new bone one. I also recut the bridge a little so there was more adjustability range. It now plays spot-on with 1/16" action at the 12th fret and a quick feel.

The neck shape is a slim D profile and while this doesn't work for me (I like big mando necks), it's a preferred feel for many players -- which is why it's the norm, I suppose!

One nice surprise: the bridge was amazingly well-fit to begin with.

The mando is missing its tailpiece cover (par for the course) and also its original pickguard. It does have a gigbag, though -- fair enough.

Note the quickly-added rubberized bit on the tailpiece I've used to mute the string afterlength. Clear up them overtones!

A little adjustment to the cheesy tuners and they turn easily and work just fine...