Topic: mandolin tuning help

I just got a mandolin to learn on. Took it out of the box got my tuner then next thing ya know I bust all 4 of my top strings. Apparently you cant use a guitar tuner to tune a mandolin? I cant tune by ear so does any one have suggestion? Do they make an electric tuner for mandolin? Or am I an idiot who did something wrong?

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Re: mandolin tuning help

when i got my mandolin it was an inexpensive korean made and all the strings strings and probably old... E,A,D,G also this is a good site:     if i were you I'd find light gauge strings tune to your guitar if it is in tune and start lower than higher....Russel is a good one to ask questions to..have fun its a tight little bugger

I thought ; If I had one idea,
and took it from beginning to end.
I would try another.

Re: mandolin tuning help

selso the way I remember what strings are what and also a useful guide for some chords

the mandolin strings are the same as a guitar but upside down, lol.

top string ( thickest) G
down to (thinnest string) E

this is also the same for the violin.

The chord F is not too easy to do so I imagine the F chord on a guitar and place my fingers where they would be on a guitar but upside down.

And you can use a guitar tuner, or I do. I also use my guitar tuner for my wife's violin and my Uke and mandolin.


ye get some that are cut out for the job and others just get by from pretending

Re: mandolin tuning help

Your mando is upside down tuned.

your top guitar strings are E A D and G

Your mando is G D A and E

Were you trying to tune the G to E?

That might be why it broke.

Someday we'll win this thing...


Re: mandolin tuning help

If you have a chromatic tuner you should be able to tune it. Most of the clip-ons will work. I'm deaf, so I depend on my tuner.

It sound's like you may just need to replace the strings. Doing that can be difficult, depending on the style of your mandolin's tailpiece. I have an old mando-banjo that is nearly impossible to string with the d and g string.

And when you do get it strung, don't just stick with the chords. Your guitar playing will benefit most from playing melody. The mandolin forces you to use your pinky till it hurts. The mandolin tuning is also much easier to play melody on than the guitar because of the tuning system.

"What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understandin' ."    Elvis Costello

Re: mandolin tuning help

Selso---another thing that might help, the open G string on the mando is the same note in the same octave as the open G on the guitar. the open D on the mando is the same as the 3rd fret 2nd string on the guitar, open A on the mando=5th fret 1st string on guitar and the open E on mando =12th fret 1st string of guitar. You will have to use your ear to get close. Most chromatic tuners will take you the rest of the way up, with no problems.



Re: mandolin tuning help

I am just a beginner on mandolin, and I am still tuning to my boyfriend's guitar so we are playing in tune.  Maybe I need a better set of strings, if anyone has a preferred brand that they can recommend, please...  We just replaced mine a few weeks ago, and they already go out of tune faster than I expected. 

BTW, I had a really tough time remembering which string was which, esp. because I had learned most of the guitar strings and how to tune them - I could not keep the mandolin strings' order straight in my mind...  So, a friend helped me out by telling me to remember G-D-A-E; he pronounces it in a semi-Australian accent as if he is saying "G'day" (i.e. g'day mate!)  Anyway, all I have to do is say g'dae and I have my strings in order.

Re: mandolin tuning help

Good Dogs Are Everywhere   GDAE from top to bottom...I use a guitar tuner and just start slowing and carefully tune to pitch...  as suggested by marcalan is an excellent site...

Middleaged Redneck sorta guy who refuses to grow up...passion for music, especially Southern Rock but like bout everything cept Gangsta/Hip Hop. Collect guitars, mandolins, and love to ride Harleys.

Re: mandolin tuning help

From the thickest to the thinnest GDAE. I use a multipurpose chromatic tuner to tune 5 string banjo, mandolin, octave mandolin and guitar; but you can buy a dedicated violin tuner (try eBay) that does the job.

Re: mandolin tuning help

My guitar tuner (clip on vibration type) has a method for switching to mando tuning (also violin, etc). I've just purchased a Fender mando but not yet received it... so I haven't tried tuning one yet. I bet new strings (Martin, light gauge?) would help. I know I use extra lights on my Martin D-1 and it's a huge improvement over low-end strings.

Re: mandolin tuning help

Hey Selso! I play the mandolin and I use a Snark SN-2 tuner. It works really well, it's chromatic, and it tunes all instruments. It's not to expensive and a great device. I play about 12 different instruments and for every one that is stringed I use the Snark's the best tuner I've ever had and is really popular. If you want to check it out, it's the second one on this link.

Mine wasn't that expensive; I bought it at my local music store.

A guitar is tuned differently (EBGDAE) than a mandolin (EADG) so no, it wouldn't work. But you're not an idiot who did something wrong!

Good luck!!

Re: mandolin tuning help

When restringing my Mandolin I rub soap in the slots in the nut so the strings won't drag and cause excess tension while tuning. At least one of the grooves on my E strings is tighter than it should be. Soap is cheaper than strings or a trip to the luthier. Oh oh! No offence folks.

When the Power of Love overcomes The Love of Power the world will be a better place.

Re: mandolin tuning help

I would rather use bees wax  good for a lot of things tat are a little tight such as cabinet drawers  I use a zip 1000 tuner on guitar banjo mandolin fiddle work great on all string inst. now if I could just learn how to play need chords an lyrics for mandolin  thanks  brown1937    hand