What Is A Mandolin? How to chose best Mandolin in 2021

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If you don’t know what is a mandolin and its difference with other instruments, I am here today to tell you about this. If you ever experienced a live folk performance of any band, I believe, you have seen a mandolin already and might have confused it with a guitar.

A mandolin is an instrument that is usually played in folk music. Generally, it has a total of eight strings. In other words, it comes with four courses of doubled metal strings which are tuned wonderfully in unison. If you love music, I bet you can’t deny the fantastic tune of a mandolin.

In this comprehensive article, I am going to discuss everything about mandolin for you. SO, without any further ado, let’s begin.

What Is A Mandolin

So, What Is A Mandolin?

Mandolin is a beautiful musical instrument that belongs to the lute family. There are many styles and shapes in which a mandolin is usually build up. But, in most cases, you’ll find three common types of mandolin styles. Some mandolins are round-backed, and some are carved-top, whereas you may find flat-backed mandolins as well. 

The most exciting part is every mandolin type is dedicated to specific music types and produces a unique sound. Although there are some similarities of the mandolin with a guitar, you’ll find many differences between them which I will discuss later in this article.

A mandolin can be tuned in four different notes with four different pairs of strings, and you may have a beautiful musical moment. While music is a language that everyone understands, a mandolin is an unavoidable part of that language. This fantastic instrument is one of the main reasons for the popularity of folk music.

A Brief History of the Mandolin

Without any doubt, the mandolin is an old musical instrument that has a proud history. They say, in 2000 BC, a tool that can be considered as the precursor of the mandolin appeared in Mesopotamia. This instrument has a lot of similarities with modern mandolin.

Eventually, this instrument is being called a lute over the years. From Europe to the Middle East, that instrument became so much popular at that time. Finally, in the 14th century, a painting became popular where an angel was playing a musical instrument.

The Latins called the instrument as a mandora. The fantastic part is, the Italian instead called that instrument as the mandola. Later the short version of the mandola became popular. Hence the name mandolin derived. The mandolin arrived in North America in the 19th century by the Europeans. The entry of the mandolin in North America brought a whole new musical taste to the entire continent.

Eventually, over the years, the mandolin has become one of the most popular musical instruments for middle-class Americans. The guitar may become most popular than a mandolin, but a mandolin is still contributing to the music industry with its unique tune.

Different Parts of a Mandolin

A mandolin has several parts. If you look carefully, you’ll find two main components in a mandolin. Strings and the main body together build a mandolin. Now, all of the two parts are essential for producing amazing unique music. Let me explain it further.


Indeed, the string of a mandolin is a combination of art and science. You’ll be amazed to see the beauty of the strings. If you observe, you’ll find the headstock at the neck area of the mandolin. Now, if you wish to see the strings of a mandolin, you have to check for the tuning pegs.

From the headstock to the tailpiece, you will see an artistic connection of the strings. If you know how a guitar works, then you already know that it can work on low pressure as well. However, when it comes to playing the mandolin, it can take tremendous pressures comparing to a guitar. 

Therefore, all of the essential parts which are associated with the strings should be of high quality, and your musical journey will be more beautiful. The neck and tailpiece of the mandolin should be strong enough to take all of the pressures while playing the mandolins.

To know how is a mandolin tuned check this out

Main Body:

Here comes another part of the mandolin, which is equally important as the strings. There are three regions of the main body-top, sides, and back. The top part of the main body is also called the soundboard, which plays the most significant role in producing sound. 

Wouldn’t this be awesome if you can play the mandolin without taking any stress regarding its durability? Of course, it is. You may find some mandolins which are not well constructed and trust me; that mandolin with a weak body will not take you further. But, it is undoubtedly an okay thing for the beginners. 

However, if you want to experience the right mandolin music, you should go for the one that comes with a substantial wooden body part. From my experience, I can tell you that a mandolin made from spruce or maple wood will produce optimum sound, and nothing will stop you in the musical journey.

I believe, a mandolin is the perfect combination of aesthetic beauty and quality sound. Therefore, if you ever want to own a mandolin for your check both the artistic appeal and the sound quality as well.

How a Mandolin Differs From Other Musical Instruments

There is no point to disagree about the similarities between a mandolin and a guitar; however, if you look or analyze carefully, you’ll find several dissimilarities between them as well. It also has some similarities with a ukulele. But, you can always find some differences between a ukulele and a mandolin as well.

Mandolin vs. Ukulele:

First of all, let’s compare the mandolin with the ukulele. You’ll find that the number of strings in both of the instruments is quite different. In many cases, a ukulele has only four strings, whereas you’ll find at least eight strings in a mandolin.

Besides, the shapes are also different for both of the musical instruments. On top of that, if you think about the type of music, genres, or the playing process of the tools are different in both of the instruments. You can play the mandolin just with a pick. But, the ukulele is performed in a completely different way. 

Generally, it’s strummed. However, if you want to strum a mandolin, without any doubt, you can do that as well. Now, if you think about shape, the ukulele comes in an 8 form, however, you will find a mandolin in three standard types. If you love classical music, you may have already experienced the tune of the mandolin.

However, when it comes to ukulele, it’s widely used in Hawaiian music. As I mentioned earlier, a mandolin is quite an old instrument. However, a ukulele is quite a new edition of the musical industry. Therefore, you can see that both of the devices have a lot of differences, although they have some similarities. 

Mandolin Vs Guitar:

If you think about the mandolin shape, it is so evident that you may end up thinking about a guitar. Because in many ways a mandolin looks like an acoustic guitar. However, there are many differences between these two popular musical instruments.

The first difference lies in their size. Of course, a mandolin is quite smaller than a guitar. On top of that, both instruments produce different types of sounds. You can easily differ a mandolin’s tune from a tune that comes from a guitar. The science behind this is pretty much pure here. As the mandolin is smaller, its strings will make higher-pitched notes.

As you already know, there are four pairs of strings in a mandolin; each pair produces different sounds. So, the music is quite louder here as they come from a pair of strings. On the other hand, six different sounds are produced from six single strings of a guitar.

Therefore, mandolin’s tunes stay longer than the guitar’s. Just like a violin, mandolin tunes from lower to higher, which is a significant difference between a guitar and a mandolin.

When it comes to playing the mandolin, you have to play it in a little bit different way than a guitar. But, trust me; playing the mandolin is real fun when you know how to tune it in the right direction.

Final Words

A mandolin is a popular musical instrument, especially for folk music. This beautiful instrument belongs to the lute family. Although it has some similarities with a guitar or a ukulele, especially in shape, all of the tools are different in so many ways.

A mandolin tuned in some unique notes. As the four pairs of strings produce four individual tunes, you can think about a beautiful musical journey with a mandolin. In this comprehensive article, I tried to gather all pieces of information about a mandolin for you.

Given that all of the excellent and unique features it has, a mandolin can become an outstanding company for you in your musical journey.

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