Re: Levin Model 54 worth the money?
Is this the instrument you're considering? If so, $400 US is borderline, at least viewed from this side of the pond. Solid woods, birch back & sides, oval-hole flat-top. Soundboard "scrapes" are fixable, but there are mandolins like some of the Ashbury models sold by Hobgoblin, that are at least solid top for 100€ less.
Pamela's Music in the UK usually has a limited but interesting selection of used mandolins and banjos. The aforementioned Hobgoblin maintains an on-line list of "second-hand" instruments at various shop locations. Trevor at The Acoustic Music Co. in Brighton has an incredibly tantalizing list of used mandolins, but, based on where you are budget-wise, they may be a bit pricey. Still...
Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
Natl Triolian Dobro mando
Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
Stradolin Vega banjolin
Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
Flatiron 3K OM