Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Mandolin lesson: How to Tune Your Mandolin

Check out the mp3’s for a quick tune, or watch this in-depth lesson teaching how the mandolin is tuned, how to actually tune it, the tools of the trade, and possible pitfalls!

Hey Ben, thanks for the troubleshooting tips! I posted on the forum a while back and your video answered many of my questions. Also have you ever heard that you can use a landline phone to tune to A? Back when I was a kid, fiddling around with the guitar, I’d use that method to tune my A string on the guitar.

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Here is another way to tune your Mandolin should your batteries run out. There are tuners for other instruments here including Banjo & Guitar

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I never thought of that. I had to give it a try :+1::smiley: Here (Texas) I am getting something close to an F. I wonder if it varies regionally


I just looked this up. Dial tones in the U.S. are apparently a combination of the frequencies of 350 and 440. F (349.23) and A (440).

Now that’s something I never knew!

That is pretty cool. I didn’t hear the A at all. Now that I know what I am listening for, I can pick it up. Thanks!

There are a couple of tuning aids that weren’t mentioned. There are apps for Android tablets. I have a clip on tuner which I mostly use for tuning my guitar but I also use the PitchLab app on my Android tablet when tuning my mandolin. Another older method of tuning an instrument is the use of a set of pitch pipes. I used those about 30 some years ago to tune a guitar.

I don’t have a great “ear”, so the clip on tuners are a must for me. If you are just starting, get a clip on tuner so that your ears are hearing correct notes when you play. Your “ear” will improve significantly faster than if you are hearing slightly out of tune notes over and over.

When I first started playing and trying to tune, I read somewhere that mandolin players spend 1/2 their time with the mandolin tuning it, and the other 1/2 of that time playing an out of tune mandolin!

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Precise mando tuning is difficult. As you said, your ear gets better… which can be a blessing and a curse.


Do you have any videos on how to change mandolin strings?

I don’t remember, but if so, it would be in the beginner section. If there isn’t one there, it is pretty straight forward and a google search should get you to a serviceable method. I like Bryan Kimsey’s method of wrapping strings at the tuner. One tip… the bridge is not attached, so unless you really want to position again (I do when I am doing a good cleaning job), replace a string or couple at a time to prevent the bridge from moving.

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I don’t have one yet, sorry about that! But check out this post by Jake showing how to wrap the string ends…the same will be true for mando:

Also, heed Mike’s advice about one or two strings at a time…don’t make the mistake of having the bridge move.