It is almost inevitable when trying to tune your mandolin, to come across jargon. Is it mandatory for you to learn it ? Well, no, but if you don’t, you will sometimes feel like everybody else speaks a different language.
So, the mandolin parts that play a role in mandolin tuning are strings, tuning pegs and the bridge. You need to be able to identify them and understand their role in mandolin sound and intonation in order to successfully tune your mandolin and hear the beautiful sound a mandolin can create.
Read below to understand how to use them when tuning your mandolin.
Tune your mandolin – Mandolin Strings
Mandolins feature string pairs that need to be tuned in unison, meaning they must be tuned to the same note. This is important, as the eight strings of the mandolin are played as if they were only four.
This unique feature of the mandolin, makes tuning even more important, as an out-of-tune string pair can be really annoying, while a fine-tuned mandolin is so beautiful to hear.
Remember, the mandolin features four pairs of strings, normally tuned to G, D, A, E.
Tuning Strings Relevance
As with every instrument, the strings must be in tune with each other. You can check that by playing the same note on two different string pairs.
For example, you can play an open (or unfretted) D note on the D-string and also a D note on the 7th fret of the G-string. These two should sound the same.
The same applies to all strings, i.e.:
- 7th fret of G-string with open D-string
- 7th fret of D-string with open A string
- 7th fret of A string with open E string
Tune Your Mandolin – Using the Tuning Pegs
Now that you have understood the strings setup, it’s time to identify the mechanism that allows you to tune the mandolin.
The pitch of the strings depends directly to their tension. You can change the tension by turning the tuning pegs that are located on the headstock of the mandolin.
The mandolin features eight tuning pegs, one for each string, and by turning the button one way the string tension is increased, making the pitch higher. Obviously, by turning the button the other way, the string tension is decreased, making it lower in pitch.
One thing to remember is to turn the correct button. The difficulty lays in the fact that we have string pairs, so it is very common to turn the wrong button, sometimes resulting to broken strings.
Tune Your Mandolin – The Mandolin Bridge
The bridge is a wooden piece that lies approximately in the middle of the mandolin body and functions as a guide for lining up the strings. Apparently it has another important role, as it transfers vibrations from the string to the top.
Amazingly, the bridge is held in place only by the strings pressure, meaning that if you remove all the strings, the bridge will fall off.
Ok, now that you have understood the basics of tuning, its time to go ahead and tune your mandolin. To help you, I have created an Online Mandolin Tuner that works with every browser and device.
If you think you need mode help, you can also check the Online Mandolin Tuner with step-by-step Instructions, also available for free here at The mandolin Tuner.
Don’t waste any time, it’s time for action!