Mandolin Tuning Guide
Tuning a mandolin might come off as an intimidating task at first, but it’s really quite straight forward. Each pair of strings is tuned to the same note/pitch so it’s not actually complicated, just slightly tedious. Like with guitar, there are many different tunings but by far the most common is the ‘GDAE’ tuning, which is considered the standard tuning for mandolin. Chances are that most songs you want to learn will be in the standard tuning, and almost all (if not all) chord charts will teach you how to play chords in standard. Of course there are exceptions, but this mandolin tuning guide will cover the foundations of what you need to know to get in tune and start playing!
Online Mandolin Tuner
This online mandolin tuner will help you get your mandolin tuned to the standard tuning. The only requirement is having decent ear, which means being able to compare two playing pitches and identify whether or not they’re the same. You can start by following these steps:
- Have your mandolin ready
- Press the black ‘G Strings’ button. A sound should start playing.
- Look at the mandolin schematic and find the corresponding strings (in this case ‘G’).
- Pluck the corresponding strings, one at a time
- Compare the sounds of the strings to the sound that is playing.
- Turn the mandolin’s corresponding tuning pegs whilst plucking.
- Get your mandolin’s strings to the same pitch as the sound.
- Repeat these steps for the rest of the string-pairs.
Note: If you’re still having trouble getting your mandolin in tune, then consider buying a physical tuner which will actually tell you when you got the right pitch. Scroll down to see some mandolin tuner recommendations.
This online mandolin tuner was developed and placed near the top of this webpage for convenience. Mandolin players can bookmark this page and use the free mandolin tuner whenever needed.
How to tune a Mandolin
If you followed the instructions above then you should have been able to get your mandolin in tune. The hardest part is being able to compare pitch. Another tip would be to memorize the fact that standard tuning for mandolins is ‘GDAE’ so that you could also just use a piano to help you get back in tune (assuming you know which keys on the piano correspond with those notes and are able to compare pitch). Just be careful not to accidently break your strings. This can happen when you pass the point you’re supposed to and keep turning the tuning peg, adding so much tension that the string snaps. If you’re a complete novice and require physical aid, then see if you can find an experienced mandolin player to help you the first time. Any stringed instrument player could probably give you a hand. If you don’t know any stringed instrument musicians then you can at least go to a guitar shop and ask for help there. But honestly, tuning a mandolin much like with most stringed instruments is pretty simple. If you just need some visual aid then search for a relevant youtube video to get an idea of how it’s done and use the online mandolin tuner that’s on this page for the correct pitch and then tune it yourself.
Best Mandolin tuner
- Brand: Snark
- Model: SN6X
- Type: Tuner
- Brand: Crescendo
- Model: ZenTuner
- Type: Tuner
- Brand: Fender
- Model: FT-004
- Type: Tuner
If you have trouble comparing pitch and can’t get your mandolin in tune by ear using the mandolin tuner at the top of this page, then consider getting one of these physical tuners. These 3 tuners are personal favorites and do their jobs brilliantly. They all have clips so you can just put them on the headstock of your mandolin. Then when you want to use them, just turn them on and pluck away. When you play a string, the tuner picks up the note and with incredible precision tells you exactly what note it is. This is an amazing tool for getting in tune, or simply for identifying pitch. If it tells you your G string is playing a different pitch, then just turn the tuning peg until you get back to the correct pitch. Simple!