(Another one of "those" threads. I hope I'm posting it in the right place.)
So up to this point, I've played piano as my main instrument, and as far as fretted instruments are concerned I have some experience on guitar and dulcimer, although I'm nothing to write home about. I enjoy the sound of the mandolin and would like to learn how to play, but I need to decide which mandolin to get on a budget of only ~$300, give or take a bit.
I like the look of F-style mandolins, but I've heard that A-style is better value at this price point. I also am not a fan of burst finishes at all, so I'd much prefer to get a natural finish, which I'm aware limits my options considerably.
I was thinking about buying from http://themandolinhut.com/ but am open to suggestions. I see that this place does a setup on mandolins, which I'm guessing is very important on an instrument with string tension as high as mandolins seem to have. How reputable is this place, and is their setup good enough to get a beginner like me in business or is it basically worthless? Their prices seem all right (especially if the setup is decent), but is there anywhere better?
The three that seemed most interesting to me are the Kentucky KM162, Mastercraft MAS/MFS300, and the Savannah SA120 mandolins. I like the look of the wood on the Mastercraft, and the F style is not that much more expensive than my budget. I've heard nothing but good things about Kentucky in what research I have done, and the Savannah while being by far the drabbest is the least expensive and is still made of all solid woods. Although I'm not expecting to get a quality instrument, and am OK with that since I won't sound too great as a beginner anyway, I'd prefer decent sound to not decent sound, and I especially want to get something very playable. Of the three, what would you all suggest?
Or, is there another option (or another place to buy from that I should consider) that I haven't considered? I'm very open to other suggestions.