How Is A Mandolin Tuned? Best ways in 2021

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Mandolin is a great musical instrument with an excellent capability to give you a whole new level of music experience. Now, if you want to know how is a mandolin tuned in the right way, I am here today to tell you about this.

Tuning a mandolin can be tricky, given that it comes with short strings. However, knowing how to tune a mandolin accurately will surely boost up your confidence. Stay with me in this comprehensive guide to know everything about the tuning of a mandolin.

So, let’s not delay anymore and begin the guide. 

How is a Mandolin Tuned

How Is A Mandolin Tuned Accurately

If you are a novice mandolin player and love mandolin songs, you already know that tuning it is quite tricky. But, it’s not rocket science as well. If you know all the necessary steps and other information about the mandolin tuning, you can do it conveniently.

In this section of this article, I am going to give you all the necessary information about mandolin tuning. Let’s see how to tune it properly.

Step 1: Learn the Basic Mandolin Stuffs

In this step, I will discuss some basic things that you should know before tuning a mandolin. Therefore, you should learn the basic mandolin kinds of stuff first.

  • Tune The Mandolin As If It’s A Violin:Traditionally, a mandolin is tuned from low to high, G-D-A-E. And of course, here every string pair produces the same sound. If you hold the instrument correctly, you’ll find the most top pair of strings is located close to the floor.
  • Each String Needs a Correct Tuner:If you play mandolin so often, you must find the right tuner for each String. In most cases of both G and D strings, you will find the tuners on the closest headstock side for you.  On the other hand, when it comes to A and E strings, you’ll find the tuner on the headstock side closest to the floor. From my experience, I must say, when you tune the mandolin, typically, you do it in a clockwise pattern, and it’s useful for generating unique sound.
  • TuneUp Instead of Tuning Down:You should tune-up, not tune down while playing the mandolin. The stringed instrument should be tuned from flat to sharp. That is why you must tune the String up in pitch to get better sound.Because it is the best practice to settle the String’s tension toward the gear, tuning down may make the tension slip, and it may make the String to go flat. Especially if you are using new strings, it’s a common phenomenon.
  • Use Fresh Strings:It is always a good practice to use fresh strings from time to time. Strings can be affected by rusts, and it can be worn out. These kinds of strings will surely go out of the tune. That is why you should change the strings in the right way. However, to change them properly, you must know how to string a mandolin in the right way. Fresh strings will provide you with many benefits. So, start tuning with new strings.

Step 2: Tuning a Mandolin Using an Electronic Tuner

In this step, I will tell you about tuning a mandolin using an electric guitar. You have to follow the instructions carefully to tune a mandolin in the right way.

  • Get A Good Quality Electric Tuner:First of all, you have to buy a quality electric tuner. Always go for a tuner, which is specially designed for tuning a mandolin. If you are someone like me who used to tune regularly while playing the mandolin, you can go for the chromatic tuners.These kinds of tuners can be clipped onto the headstock of the mandolin. Immediately after clipping it onto the instrument, you are all set to go for the tuning. On the other hand, you may also find some online tuners which can be used as well for the tuning purpose. However, these tuners are less effective, and you may not get accurate results from them. If you have a budget problem, you can go for a tuning app that will give you a cheap yet right solution.
  • Turn On The Tuner Carefully:At this point, it’s time to turn on the tuner. You have to make sure that it’s getting the sound. If your tuner comes with different features for different instruments, you must set it for the mandolin or even a violin. And of course, a quiet and calm room will give you the best result as you will not be disturbed by any unexpected noise while tuning.
  • Play Each String separately: In this step, you have to play each String, of course, independently. You should try to get strings relatively close. In this case, you can tighten the related tuner carefully. However, don’t stick for an exact match by now. You have to fine-tune the strings as a trial and error basis. The steps are pretty much simple here. Tune each String, make the tuning peg tight, make the tension close, and notice the tuner with utmost care. You have to try these things for every String and try to find whether the String produces a sharp or flat tone.
  • Listen to The Tune Carefully:You have to listen carefully while tuning the mandolin. At this moment, you have to play the double strings again and must check whether its sound correctly. You have to pluck both of the G strings and listen carefully. You must use your ears properly in this step because it will tell you whether the sound is perfect.

Step 3: Tuning a Mandolin Using Alternate Methods

In this step, I will discuss other methods of tuning in a mandolin. Therefore, you have to follow the instructions carefully while tuning your mandolin.

  • Learn to Tune the Mandolin to Itself: It is true that if you want to produce great sound or tone from a mandolin, you must get each note in tune. But, it’s not necessary if you are not going to play the mandolin with others. It is good to tune the mandolin to itself so that it can produce the best sound for you. Knowing the mandolin tuning frequency will boost your confidence in this case because it is quite possible that you may not get any tuner every time.  That is why you have to learn how to tune a mandolin without a tuner. In this case, you can check the harmonics and the intervals while playing the instrument at 12th fret. You have to make sure that it’s in a perfect position.
  • The Seventh Fret Strategy: Using the 7th fret is another strategy for tuning a mandolin. You have to adjust both of the E strings and make sure that they are in perfect tuning position. Now, you have to fret the A string at a specific fret position.  You should fret it at the seventh fret. Make sure that the String is producing the sound as if the first String. You have to follow the same method with other strings as well.
  • Tune to Another Instrument:In this step, you have to practice tuning to other instruments. You can use a piano, banjo, or even a guitar. If you know every fact about mandolin vs guitar, it will be easier for you. Your partner should play each note separately, and you have to memorize those notes.The next step is you have to get them in tune. This skill will train up your ear. It will also help you to identify the flat and sharp sound. If you can identify sounds with ear, gradually playing skills will improve.
  • Go For Some Alternate Tuning Options:This is the last but not the least step you could try in this tuning a mandolin mission. You can always go for some alternate mandolin tuning options. If you want to differentiate a violin from a fiddle, you must check their tunings. Because both of the instruments come with different tuning options. In most of the case, mandolin players tune to GDAE as a beginner. Although most people do it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t go for other tuning options.You always have the freedom to go for alternative tuning options. If you can practice, adequately the alternate tuning will give you a whole new level of musical experience. If you search correctly, you’ll find some exclusive tuning options to provide you with a unique experience.For your instance, you can go for Sawmill tuning, which is GDGD. The open G tuning is also a good option for you, the sequence of which is GDGB. And also, the magic of Irish tuning (GDAD) can’t be ignored.

How is a Mandolin Tuned

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Final Words

Tuning a mandolin is a little bit tricky, but anybody can learn it with proper guidance. If you have the basic music idea, the entire tuning process will become much easier for you. You can easily tune a mandolin using an electric tuner.

In this comprehensive article, I tried to show you every method about how a mandolin is tuned. I believe now you can correctly tune your mandolin.

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