I put Elixers on it the first time I had a guy work on it. The guy who set it up said they were good and last a long time. They did. I've put D'addario J74s on as well. Given what others have said about the cheaper mando necks warping, you may want to stay a little lighter than the J-74s... Strings are cheap. Changing them occasionally draws blood and barbaric yawps of frustrsation but this is a good skill as well.
A metronome is a good investment.
Otterly mentioned the classifieds mando that comes in a case for $70. You should give that guy an e-mail and see what's what with it. Ask about action and intonation. I don't know the person selling it...
Sage advice from everyone on the main things being straight neck and tuners that hold. My Johnson's tuners will hold up for early on learning. This is an oval hole mandolin so I really didn't beat it hard to make chop sounds. I could fake chop just rest my fingers on the strings mid to upper neck to get a percussive sound when people played chords I didn't know and just keep rythm.
There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946
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