The mandolin is a small, eight-stringed musical instrument. Like the guitar, the mandolin has a fretted neck. The eight strings are divided into four pairs of strings called courses, thus a typical mandolin is a 4 course instrument. Each course is tuned one fifth apart, the lowest (in terms of sound) is most often tuned to G. The next lowest (physically below the G strings when held in playing position) is tuned to D, then A, and then E for the smallest strings. It is used in various music such as bluegrass, classical, celtic, jazz, and even some rock/blues. The mandolin also has much smaller frets that allows those with smaller hands to enjoy a fretted instrument.

The mandolin is similar to other instruments including the Mandola, Octave Mandolin, Octave Mandola, Irish Bouzouki, as well as others.

Playing the Mandolin

When playing the mandolin both strings in each course are typically fretted (pressed down) together. The mandolin may be strummed or picked. Strumming involves playing multiple courses of strings together in a rhythmic fashion, while picking usually means playing individual courses of strings to play out a melodic rhythm. These playing methods are combined in many songs to take advantage of the versatility of the instrument.