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Tips for Musicians: What You Need to Know About Learning to Play the Mandolin.

December 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Entertainment, Music, News, Weekly Columns

( When it comes to which musical instrument we should learn, there is a vast choice. We can choose from ones that are played with strings, those blown with a mouthpiece, and keyboard instruments that can provide the full 8 octave range. Many musicians will play more than one instrument. This is particularly so with stringed instruments. For instance, those who own a guitar may own an acoustic and an electric, as well as perhaps a ukulele and a mandolin.

It is the beginner mandolin that we are going to focus on for this article. We will consider its origins, how easy an instrument it is for the beginner to learn, and what it can add to any performance.

What is a Mandolin?

A mandolin is a member of the lute family. It is a musical instrument that has four pairs of steel strings set on a pear-shaped body.

A mandolin will normally be plucked using a plectrum. It can also be strummed. As with a violin, it is a soprano member of a musical family that includes the mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello, and mandobass.

History of a Mandolin

The mandolin evolved during the 18th century in Italy and Germany, from a musical instrument known as a mandora. The modern mandolin was developed from the mandolino between 1750 and 1850.

Is a Mandolin Suited to Beginners?

A Celtic model is thought to be an ideal choice for mandolin beginners, or those transitioning from guitar to mandolin. This is because it is considered an approachable instrument. With essentially only one type of Celtic mandolin, the differences between them for a beginner will be minor. This makes them the perfect instrument to have lots of beginners playing, and comparing notes as they learn. It is personal taste choosing between the different sounds that the different types of mandolin will make.

The mandolin plays notations written in the treble clef, which we will be familiar to those who already play the guitar or piano. Many musicians will begin by learning the basics of the piano.


How is a Mandolin Tuned

A mandolin is tuned by tradition, from low to high, as G-D-A-E. Each pair of strings will be tuned to the same tone. This means that, overall, it is tuned to G-G-D-D-A-A-E-E, when we take into consideration each string that can be played.

What a Mandolin Adds to a Musical Performance

In terms of its sound, a mandolin is a melodic instrument. This differentiates it from the lute, that will play harmonically and melodically.

With eight strings in all, the mandolin makes a sound like no other string instrument and adds a tonal quality to a performance where stringed instruments are to feature. The strings create the perfect balance, to allow the mandolin player to accompany other instruments on many different types of songs.

Famous Mandolin Players

Bill Monroe, dubbed the Father of Bluegrass, is thought to be the best mandolin player ever known. Other famous players include Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, and Chris Thile – a few names to look up there.

A simulated mandolin was used on The Beatles track ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’. George Harrison would later use the instrument during his solo career from the 1970s onwards.

A mandolin is a special instrument to learn, and one that is manageable by a beginner as well as someone already playing a musical instrument. It is a distinct sound and a musical instrument that a player will be glad they picked up. As with all musical instruments, better tone comes with practice. Slightly different tones can be experienced from different models of mandolin. It is from this selection that you can consider choosing one that is easier to learn on, and then moving to a model that produces the performance you wish to create in public with lots of other musicians taking part.

Staff Writer; Terry Moore

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