How to Play the Mandolin for Beginners: 5 Steps to Get Started

Start by choosing a good mandolin, and then pick your favorite music style. You can then set the mandolin and start playing notes. Consider getting lessons from a good teacher or through resources like Youtube.

The mandolin is a unique musical instrument that is part of the lute family. Though it resembles the guitar, it is easier to play. Some mandolins come with eight strings, while others feature ten strings. This is a popular instrument that many musicians pluck to add a unique sound to their music.

The following can help you learn how to play it.

Get the right mandolin

The mandolin you choose can determine how easy it will be for you to learn. You should go for a mandolin that is easy to play. Go for an A-style mandolin since it is more user-friendly than an F-style mandolin. As you choose a mandolin, you should also pay attention to other crucial aspects, such as its features.

If, for instance, it does not have the best strings, you can replace them with light ones. This musical instrument features two strings that you must press down when playing a single note. Getting light strings can give you a comfortable experience as you play the mandolin. Such strings can also prevent you from experiencing too much pain in the fingers.

You should also choose a heavy pick since it will not bend as you play like a light pick. Choose heavy picks that have a thickness ranging between 0.85 and 1.20 mm. Such a pick can help you create better-sounding notes than a light pick.

Choose a music genre or style

The mandolin is a versatile musical instrument that is used to play different styles of music. Before you start playing it, you should try to find out which music genre you enjoy the most. You can use a mandolin to play songs such as blues, country, or folk.

If you don’t know your favorite music style, you can listen to musicians playing different genres using this musical instrument. This can help you identify the kind of music you enjoy the most. You can now select the music genre you want to focus on and start learning the techniques.

Once you have identified the music genre, you can start learning how to play various songs. Search online for you to find simple songs that you can start playing through the mandolin. Some of the simple songs that many beginners start with include children’s songs. You can begin with playing along with the music.

Set up the mandolin

Maintaining the right posture is important as you play the mandolin. Ensure that your back is straight and your shoulders are not tense as you play the mandolin. Place the body of this musical instrument on your legs and hold the neck. Press the back part of the mandolin against your stomach. Make use of the shoulder strap to keep it in place during playing.

Once you know how to hold the mandolin in a comfortable position, you can now tune it. Tuning the mandolin to the standard is not difficult, even for a beginner. You should tune it to the standard from low to high (G-G-D D-A-A-E-E). Tune each pair to the same tone.

Ensure that you utilize a standard tuner to tune the mandolin. The tuner should contain a needle that can show you the specific note that you play. You can also use a violin tuner to tune the mandolin. Adjust the strings of this musical instrument to low action. The strings should be lower off the fretboard to make it easy to create a good sound.

Start playing notes

Once you have set up the mandolin, you can now begin playing notes. You should learn how to strum the mandolin over different strings.  You can first strum basic chords before you try transitioning between the different chords.

Some of the major chords that you can play in a mandolin include the G major, the C chord, and the D chord. You can start learning different finger techniques with time.

Take lessons

Though you can learn how to play the mandolin on your own, a good teacher can make you a better mandolin player. Taking lessons from a good teacher can help you learn how to use the right techniques. A teacher is also important since they can tailor the lessons to your needs.

If you don’t have time to attend physical lessons, you can hire a teacher that offers musical lessons through video chat. Pick a teacher that offers mandolin playing lessons on different music styles since they can help you learn more.

Some beginners also learn how to play this musical instrument through resources such as books and Youtube videos. Such resources can help you learn and practice this musical instrument from the comfort of your home.

A summary of how to play the mandolin

Find the right mandolin Choose an A-style mandolin rather than an F-style one. Reading through customer reviews can help you identify an easy-to-play mandolin.
Discover your favorite style Focus on playing the music style that you enjoy the most
Set up the mandolin This can help you play the mandolin comfortably. You should also tune the mandolin with a standard tuner.
Start playing notes Learn the different techniques of playing this musical instrument
Get help A music teacher or resources such as books or Youtube can help you enhance your skills.


Learning how to play the mandolin is easier than other musical instruments since it has few strings. You only need passion and patience to learn. The more you practice, the better you can get better with time.


How can I take care of my mandolin?

You can clean it regularly using a lint-free cloth. This can help you wipe down finger marks on it. Also, keep the mandolin at a normal temperature.

Why should I learn the mandolin?

This instrument can boost your memory and concentration and help you create a unique sound.

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