How to Play Mandolin | Mandolin Beginners Guide

The most adventurous and enthusiastic part of a music lover’s life is understanding different musical instruments, playing them and composing music. The growth from a beginner to an expert is always accompanied by some challenges. One of the key challenges is separating each tool from the other. In this article, we are going to discuss in depth about one of the very common musical instruments, the mandolin.

If you choose this instrument, you can play all different types of melodies from different genres. If you are a person who likes to listen to different tunes, then mandolin would be a great option to pick up some relaxing tunes. This is why it has been widely used in many recordings and concerts over the years. Musicians have tried their own new and creative experiments in folk and blue jam using the mandolin. It is very important for beginners to understand how to play the mandolin.

What is Mandolin?

A mandolin is a very prominent stringed musical instrument in the lute family and is usually tied with a plectrum. Lutes were initially used in the Middle East, about 2000 years ago. The Mandolin is believed to be a descendant of Mandalore. It also has some connection with the Spanish musical instrument “banduria”.

The mandolin has a long history and was used even 300 years ago. Four courses of double metal strings are tuned together to give a total of 8 strings. It is very important to understand how the mandolin is played as it has a unique sound.

Difference Between Mandolin Body Sizes

According to body shape, mandolines can be classified into three types. They are the F Style, A Style and the Bowl-Back Mandolin.

The F-style mandolin is considered the best for playing traditional European folk music. A-style mandolins are commonly used by Celtic musicians and bow-back mandolins are primarily used by classical musicians.

how to play mandolin for beginners

Identifying a musical path is important as you are just starting out in playing an instrument like the mandolin. To understand this it is necessary to listen to all kinds of music genres. This will help you identify the favorite among them and the specific style you want to work on.

Choose the Right Mandolin for You

After you’ve decided on the style of music you want to play, the next step is to choose the right mandolin to suit your prerequisites. According to the musical style, you will need to choose a specific design of the mandolin. If you want to play classical tunes you can try a bowtie-backed mandolin. Some of the mandolins in this family include the tenor/octave mandola, bass mandolin, and soprano mandolin.

Flatback mandolins are commonly used by American artists in jazz playing bluegrass music because it has a smooth flowing curve around the neck.

The A-style mandolin appears with an arch-top and is commonly used by affluent music lovers. For an intermediate or advanced mandolin player, you can choose an instrument made of cedar or mahogany for a richer sound. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to choose a mandolin made from a lamination of several layers of wood.

learn to tune

Learning to tune requires knowledge of chord pairings. The pair closest to your knee is the first string and should be tuned to E. The second should match A, the third to D and the fourth to G.

The four strings of a mandolin are connected to the same notes as the four strings of a violin. You can tune the strings of your mandolin by adjusting them to match the four notes of the violin’s pitch pipe.

You can also tune both G unison strings of the mandolin by pushing the string down and plucking it in the space between the sixth and seventh metal bars.

mandolin playing position for beginners

If you’re a right-handed player, hold the mandolin so that the headstock is pointing upward at an angle between nine and ten o’clock. Place your left foot on a footstool and it helps to rest the device on your knee by relaxing your neck and shoulder.

The playing hang is usually placed behind the bridge to ensure that no part of the hand makes any contact with the strings. Playing the mandolin for beginners also comes with a set of challenges. The pairing of steel strings can be an inconvenience during early mandolin lessons. Light gauge wires can help reduce this.

Learn About Mandolin Strings

The mandolin is incomplete without its strings. Therefore, it is essential to understand how to select the best strings for your instruments. Before choosing mandolin strings, you should check for special criteria:

String gauge, string material, string construction. Heavy mandolin strings are difficult to play. More force is needed to achieve speed and balance at the same time. It is even more challenging for expert players. The heavier strings can be easily used in newer models of mandolin, which are usually made in the US but, if you use it in an older bowl back instrument, it will be easily destroyed.

  • Nectar strings are impressively ultra-thin due to their unique nanoweb coating.
  • The D’Addario EJ74 Phosphor Bronze Mandolin Strings are also among the most competitive in the market, within their range.
  • Martin M400 bronze wire is made from a bronze wound and is durable over time. These strings are beginner friendly.

Best resources for learning mandolin for beginners

Many resources help beginners understand mandolin lessons. YouTube has tons of resources that give you lessons on how to play the mandolin for beginners. MandolinTabs is one such YouTube channel that has tons of videos and tabs for mandolin artists.

  • Playing the Irish Mandolin: A Complete Guide: This book is written by Philip John Berthoud. It has both Kindle and hardcopy versions and emphasizes teaching how to play the mandolin.
  • Mandolin Cafe is the website that gives you all the information about mandolin if you have any concerns.
  • chord app Brings you through all the chords and fingers, enables you to compose and import melodies, and share them with your peers.
  • It works perfectly with many string instruments like ukulele, ukulele and mandolin.
  • Bank Ben Clark’s website are full free mandolin lessons Led by Ben. If you want to buy mandolin tutorials individually, you can do so at a reduced cost as well.

Is mandolin easy to learn?

  1. There are some technical things you need to keep in mind while playing mandolin.
  2. The challenge appears when you have to press two strings on the mandolin to play a note.
  3. The mandolin isn’t very popular, so it’s relatively demanding to get a mentor who will instruct you in one-on-one beginner mandolin lessons.

Both right and left hand techniques are necessary to play the mandolin. It has a unique pick holding. Beginners should keep their right hand extremely loose otherwise they will have to face pain in wrist for hours. Some notes are difficult to play because the size of the mandolin is small.

Read also: how to play banjo


In this article, we discussed in detail how to play mandolin for beginners. If one wants to become that expert in playing mandolin, one must initially identify their style and choose the right instrument according to the style, and use many accessible online resources and video tutorials to make learning mandolin more effective. will have to use.

Before playing mandolin, it is very essential to have a deep thought about mandolin strings. There are a few key techniques you can use to make the mandolin easier to play. To play quality music, you need to choose better quality mandolin which is also budget friendly.


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