Home / Music / How to Tune a Mandolin

How to Tune a Mandolin

Many instruments require an expert to properly tune it.  This can be time consuming and sometimes pricey.  However, tuning a mandolin can be an at-home simple process even for the novice player. 

Comparable to a violin or guitar, mandolins contain steel strings and frets.  They have similar tuning procedures and are relatively simple for those who are familiar with tuning either or these instruments.  However, people who are unfamiliar with violins or guitars can easily tune their mandolins through a simple process.

The mandolin’s strings are stationed from low to high and have a standard G, D, A and E format.  It’s important to learn the basics of the mandolin parts before attempting to tune the instrument by yourself.  You can learn the basics of the mandolin with a free video on eHow.  There is a special segment that explains the headstock, tuning keys and fret board.

After learning the essential parts of the mandolin, using a reference point is the next step in the tuning process.  Popular references are pianos, guitars or electric tuners.

The tuning buttons should be used to match the reference point’s tone starting with the top string on the mandolin, low G.  Twisting the tuning button until it correlates with the reference point starts off the tuning process.

After matching up the first string, twist the tuning button for the second low G string until both of the strings match.

Continue to tune the D, A and E strings with the corresponding reference points to complete the process.

Now that the individual strings are tuned, you can double check the tune quality by matching up the frets.  The strum on the G and D strings combined should match the G string on the seventh fret of the mandolin.

Check the remaining strings by matching the seventh fret above each tuned string.  Strumming down the strings you are fretting can double check the tune quality and small adjustments can be made in the tuning buttons.

Tuning equipment can be purchased online at Planet Waves for electronic tuning or you can purchase one at almost any guitar or music shop.  Also piano or guitar references can be found online for free.  There is also a free video on how to tune the mandolin online at eHow.  The video has audio references of what a proper tune for each string should sound like and proper pitches for the string strums.  This can be compared to your own mandolin and be used as a reference point.