Learning to play the Mandolin
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Learning to play the Mandolin

The mandolin is a stringed plucked musical instrument. She takes her origin from the Italian lute, only her strings are smaller and the sizes are much inferior to her progenitor. However, today the mandolin has surpassed the lute in popularity, as it was loved in many countries of the world.

There are several varieties of this instrument, but the most used of them is the Neapolitan one, which acquired its modern look at the end of the 19th century.

It is the Neapolitan type of instrument that is considered the classic type of mandolin . How to tune and learn how to play the Neapolitan mandolin is discussed in the article.


To competently learn to play the mandolin, like any other musical instrument, you need to prepare. This means not only acquiring an instrument for practical exercises, but also finding out all the most important details about the mandolin itself, its strings, tuning, playing methods, musical possibilities, and so on. In other words, you should learn everything about the instrument and learning on it.

Since the mandolin has a rather short scale, the sound of the strings decays quickly. Therefore, the main method of sound extraction here is tremolo, that is, the rapid repetition of the same sound of a melody within its duration . And to make the sound loud and bright, the game is performed by a mediator.

Learning to play the Mandolin

The fingers of the right hand are rarely used to extract sounds from the strings – and the sound is not so bright, and their duration is short. When purchasing a mandolin for training, you need to stock up on mediators. A novice musician should choose from several types and sizes of mediators the one that seems most convenient.

The mandolin is considered a musical instrument that can be played solo or accompanied . These instruments sound great in a duet, trio and the whole ensemble. Even well-known rock bands and guitarists often used the sounds of the mandolin in their compositions and improvisations. For example: guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Led Zeppelin.

Learning to play the Mandolin


The mandolin has 4 pairs of double strings. Each string in a pair is tuned in unison with the other. The classical tuning of the instrument is similar to the violin one:

  • G (salt of a small octave);
  • D (re of the first octave);
  • A (for the first octave);
  • E (mi of the second octave).

Mandolin tuning can be done in several ways, but for most beginners it will be safer to do it with a tuner, which has the ability to set the sounds you need for the instrument’s tuning.

Suitable, for example, a chromatic device. With a developed ear, it is not difficult to do this with another tuned musical instrument (piano, guitar).

Learning to play the Mandolin

Having gained experience, it will be possible to tune the instrument according to the following algorithm.

  1. According to the standard tuning fork, which emits the note “la” of the first octave, the 2nd open string of the mandolin is tuned (in unison).
  2. Next, the 1st (thinnest) open string is infused, which should sound the same as the second, clamped at the 7th fret (note “mi” of the second octave).
  3. Then the 3rd string, clamped at the 7th fret, is tuned to the same sound with the second open one.
  4. The 4th string is tuned in the same way, also clamped at the 7th fret, in unison with the third open one.

Basic tricks of the game

Mandolin lessons for beginners from scratch do not represent any particularly difficult task . Almost everyone will be able to learn how to play simple melodies and accompaniment in a fairly short time.

It is recommended to purchase a game tutorial, take a few lessons from an experienced mandolin teacher, listen to the game of professional musicians. All this will help to master the mandolin.

The training takes place in the following order.

  • Landing with an instrument is being mastered with the implementation of the rules for setting hands. To make it convenient to use the mandolin, it is located either on the thigh of the right leg, thrown over to the left, or on the knees of the legs standing next to each other. The neck is raised to the level of the left shoulder, its neck is clasped by the fingers of the left hand: the thumb is located on top of the neck, the rest are below. At this stage, the skills of holding the mediator between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand are also practiced.
  • Practicing sound extraction with a plectrum on open strings: first, with a stroke “from top to bottom” counting by four, then with an alternating stroke “down-up” to the count with “and” (one and, two and, three and, four and). At the expense of “and” the strike of the mediator is always “from the bottom up.” At the same time, you should study reading notes and tablature, the structure of chords.
  • Exercises for the development of the fingers of the left hand. Chord skills: G, C, D, Am, E7 and others. Initial exercises for mastering the accompaniment.

The development of more complex playing techniques (legato, glissando, tremolo, trills, vibrato) using examples and exercises is carried out after mastering these basics.

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