How To Play A Mandolin For Beginners? – 5 Easy Steps To Start!

Mandolin is an instrument quite familiar to music lovers. You will surely need clarification when owning a Mandolin in your hand as a beginner. How to play Mandolin for beginners? Read this article, and you will have 5 easy steps to play Mandolin!

What is the Mandolin?

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A mandolin is a stringed musical instrument plucked with a pick and belongs to the lute family. It typically features 4 courses of doubled metal strings tuned in unison for eight strings. 

However, five (10 strings) and six (12 strings) course variants are also available. The courses are often tuned in an interval of perfect fifths, similar to how a violin is tuned (G3, D4, A4, E5). The soprano family members include the Mandolin, octave mandolin, mandocello, and mandobass.

Is learning to play the Mandolin hard or easy?

For those new to playing an instrument, the Mandolin is an excellent place to begin.

The Mandolin is a relatively easy instrument to learn to play. It has several advantages, including the fact that it is tiny, compact, and lightweight, making it simple to transport wherever you want to practice.

Furthermore, the Mandolin has fewer strings than other instruments. It’s simple to read tablature and sheet music, and there aren’t many technical subtleties to learn. 

Many people believe that playing songs on the Mandolin is significantly simpler than learning to play guitar since you don’t have to master sophisticated methods such as strumming, fingerpicking, string-bending, and plucking.

How to play a Mandolin for beginners

As a novice in playing instruments such as the Mandolin, it is essential to chart a musical route. To grasp this, listening to a wide range of musical genres is necessary. This will assist you in picking your favorites among them as well as the specific genre on which you choose to work.

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1. Choose a Favorite Style or Genre

The Mandolin has appeared on records from various musical styles throughout the years. Classical composers have produced significant works for the Mandolin.

The Mandolin has been employed extensively by Irish artists in traditional folk melodies. Last but not least, country and bluegrass mandolinists have built a name for themselves on the instrument.

As a novice mandolinist, you should listen to music from these genres. This will let you select which one best suits your musical tastes.

2. Choose the Right Mandolin to Purchase

The sort of music you elect to study will determine several facets of the Mandolin you should buy. Even though it is fitting that you can play any music genre on any mandolin, some designs are more befitting for specific genres.

 Are you planning to play bluegrass music? It would be the best entry level mandolin if you considered purchasing an F-style or an A-style mandolin. F-style mandolins have an object resembling a curl at the top of the body close to the neck. A-Style mandolins are designed more like teardrops. 

 If you want to play classical or folk genres, a bowl-backed (AKA “potato bug”) shaped Mandolin will be more advantageous. Lastly, if you are set on playing Irish music, think about a giant A-style mandolin or maybe even a mandola.

3. Position Yourself to Play the Mandolin 

If you are a right-handed player, hold the Mandolin so that the headstock points up at an angle between nine and ten o’clock. Place your left foot on a footstool, which may help you relax the instrument on your knee by relaxing your neck and shoulder.

The playing hang is usually placed behind the bridge to make sure that no part of the hand touches the strings. Playing Mandolin can be challenging for beginners in other ways, too. The pair of steel strings can be painful during beginner mandolin lessons. Light gauge strings can help reduce that.

4. Discover More About Mandolin Strings

Without its strings, the Mandolin is incomplete. As a result, you must learn how to choose the finest strings for your instruments. Before selecting mandolin strings, consider the following factors:

String gauge, string materials, and string construction are all critical considerations. Heavy mandolin strings are challenging to play. More power is required to achieve both speed and balance. 

Even experienced gamers will find this problematic. Heavy strings may be easily utilized on current kinds of mandolins, which are often built in the United States. However, if you use the same in an ancient bowl-back instrument, it will quickly be damaged.

Best Mandolin resources for beginners

A variety of materials might help you grasp beginning mandolin lessons. Several sites on YouTube teach novices how to play a Mandolin for beginners. 

  • Youtube: The MandolinTabs YouTube channel has a variety of videos and tabs for mandolin players.

  • Book instruction: Irish mandolin playing – Philip John Berthoud wrote this book. It is available in Kindle and print formats and focuses on teaching how to play the Mandolin.

  • App: The chord app walks you through all chords and fingerings, composes and imports songs, and allows you to share them with your peers.

  • Free website: Bank ben Clarke’s website is chock-full of free Mandolin lessons. Individual mandolin instruction may also be purchased at a lesser price.

How long to learn Mandolin?

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The most popular query among beginners is How Long Does It Take to Master the Mandolin? Actually, a few different variables play a role in this. Beginners will need less time to learn the Mandolin if they are already familiar with instruments of the same family, such as violins, guitars, and fiddles. 

The answer to this question hinges on how often a student practices and how much effort he puts into learning these instruments.

If a student learns to play Mandolin practice conscientiously for 30 to 60 minutes each day, it will only take them three months to learn and master the instrument. 

More practice allows students to develop their proficiency and repertoire organically, as well as their ability to play the Mandolin with confidence and consistency. Any instrument requires patience and time in the early stages to become an expert.


  1. Can you teach yourself to play the mandolin?

You could watch hours of YouTube videos and attempt to improve on your own if you wanted to learn how to play the mandolin. However, novices should exercise caution since it is difficult to detect whether you are or are not receiving reliable information when you are new to the instrument.

  1. Is mandolin easier to play than guitar?

There are features of the mandolin that are simpler to learn, such as the strings being tuned in pairs for easier left-hand usage, but there are other aspects of the mandolin that are more difficult to master, such as plucking strings with your right hand.

  1. Can you play mandolin without a pick?

Yes, it is possible, but why would you want to? There’s a difficult technique called duo-style, which simulates classical guitar finger picking arpeggios while playing the melody with tremolo but that actually involves 2 picks. Evan Marshall is considered to be the master of duo-style.

Author: Rosario Beltran Jr

I am Rosario Beltran Jr. After more than five years of playing classical piano, I now aggregate musical instruments for Most people have dreams of owning a musical instrument, but it is not easy to achieve this dream. That is why I am here to help you, and I believe my reviews will be helpful for you.

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