We will address the basic difference between the A-Style and F-style and the common question “which is best’’. When faced with a choice of which to buy, first understand that they are similar in tone when constructed of like materials. Also note that while one style may be more prevalent in one genre, they are tuned played the same. You will see many A-styles, commonly called “Tear Drop mandolins “ because of their shape, are widely used in Classical, Celtic and Folk music but you will also see F-Styles as well. Conversely, the F-Style, sometimes referred to as a “Florentine Mandolin” is the favorite among Bluegrass musicians and is common in Country and Americana Roots music as well. Again, you will also see both styles cross pollinating all genres. The term “Florentine” is a reference to a geographic area in Italy where a lot of mandolin characteristics evolved. Today’s mandolins are based on the Gibson mandolins of the early 1900s.
Generally most manufactures will offer similar models in both Styles with the A-Style being less expensive as it is easier to build. Consider the Morgan Monroe MM-550A A-style and the MM-550F F-style. The F-Style is more labor intensive because of the lavish scroll work and is usually more expensive. F-styles, are also more comfortable when playing seated as the point at the bottom will rest on your leg. While you should consider all of this information, ultimately you should play as many different mandolins of both styles in your price range until you find one that speaks to you personally.