The Mandolin

Types Structure Composers How to Play

The mandolin is a string instrument relative to the lute that has found its way into many different styles of bands.



The mandolin usually consists of eight metal strings tuned in unison, though mandolins with ten or six strings do exist as well. It is still, however, not as common as instruments such as the piano and the violin; that is, the mandolin is still growing in popularity.

The mandolin is relative to the lute, both of which are chordophones. The main differences in appearance are that the mandolin has a shorter neck and that its soundbox is rounder than that of the lute.

As opposed to previous instruments from earlier eras, the mandolin's soundboard is strong enough to withstand the pressure exerted from the three to five courses of metal strings.

Types and Variations:

There are multiple types of mandolins, such as the bowlback, A-style, F-style, F5, A5, and many more.

Some variations of the mandolin include the piccolo mandolin, which maintains only a soprano pitch, and the mandola and mandolone, which maintain only an alto pitch.
- The piccolo mandolin is tuned a quarter of an octave above the regular Neopolitan mandolin, and has a scale length of about 240 mm.
- The mandola is tuned a fifth below the regular Neapolitan mandolin, and has a scale length of about 420 mm.
- The mandolone is tuned an octave plus a fifth below the regular Neapolitan mandolin, and has a scale length of about 712 mm.


Some of the most common mandolin composers of the twentieth century are Raffaele Calace and Giuseppe Anedda, both from Italy.

The mandolin is still growing in popularity, and is gradually finding its way into more and more musical genres.

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