How to Tune an 8 String Mandolin – A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

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If you are a mandolin enthusiast and have recently acquired an 8-string mandolin, you are probably wondering how to tune it. Tuning a mandolin can be a daunting task, especially if you are new to the instrument. Don’t worry, though! In this article, I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to tune an 8 string mandolin so you can start playing in perfect tune.

Parts of a Mandolin

Parts Of A Mandolin
The mandolin is composed of several parts. The headstock holds the tuning keys, which are used to tune the strings. The neck or fretboard of the mandolin is a flat board with metal frets, which are used to hold the strings in place and create the different notes. The body is usually made of wood, and houses the bridge and soundboard. The bridge is the part of the mandolin that holds the strings in place, and the soundboard amplifies the vibrations from the strings. The strings are typically made of metal, and are tuned to a specific pitch. Finally, the tailpiece is the metal piece that is attached to the body and holds the strings in place.

Tuning Pegs

Tuning Pegs
Tuning pegs are the most common way to tune a mandolin. To use tuning pegs, start by identifying the strings. Each string should be labeled with a note and you can use the diagram of the mandolin to help. Once you’ve identified the strings, turn the tuning pegs until the string is in tune.

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Pitch Pipes

Pitch Pipes
Pitch pipes are another way to tune a mandolin. To use a pitch pipe, first identify the strings. Hold the pitch pipe at arm’s length and blow into the pipe until the desired note is heard. Then, turn the tuning peg until the string is in tune.

Electronic Tuners

Electronic Tuners
Electronic tuners are a convenient and accurate way to tune a mandolin. To use an electronic tuner, start by plugging the device into the mandolin. Then, select the string you want to tune and the device will display the note. Finally, turn the tuning peg until the string is in tune.

By Ear

By Ear
Tuning a mandolin by ear is a skill that requires practice. To tune a mandolin by ear, first identify the strings. Then, pick a reference note, such as A440, and pluck the string. Finally, turn the tuning peg until the string is in tune.

Step One: Tune the Low G String

Step One: Tune The Low G String

Tune the low G string to the E below middle C. This note is the same as the fourth string from the bottom of the mandolin. This is the lowest note that the mandolin is capable of producing.

Step Two: Tune the Low D String

Step Two: Tune The Low D String

Tune the low D string to the A one octave above the low G string. The A note is the same as the third string from the bottom of the mandolin.

Step Three: Tune the Low A String

Step Three: Tune The Low A String

Tune the low A string to the D one octave above the low D string. This note is the same as the second string from the bottom of the mandolin.

Step Four: Tune the Low E String

Step Four: Tune The Low E String

Tune the low E string to the G one octave above the low A string. This note is the same as the first string from the bottom of the mandolin.

Step Five: Tune the High G String

Step Five: Tune The High G String

Tune the high G string to the E above middle C. This note is the same as the fifth string from the top of the mandolin.

Step Six: Tune the High D String

Step Six: Tune The High D String

Tune the high D string to the A one octave above the high G string. This note is the same as the sixth string from the top of the mandolin.

Step Seven: Tune the High A String

Step Seven: Tune The High A String

Tune the high A string to the D one octave above the high D string. This note is the same as the seventh string from the top of the mandolin.

Step Eight: Tune the High E String

Step Eight: Tune The High E String

Tune the high E string to the G one octave above the high A string. This note is the same as the eighth string from the top of the mandolin.

3 String 3

3 String 3

StringTuningNote

3 G G3
4 D D4
5 A A4

Tune string 3 of the 8 string mandolin to G3, string 4 to D4, and string 5 to A4.

4 String 4

4 String 4
Tune the fourth string, or G-string, to the fourth fret of the fifth string. This G-string should be tuned to a perfect fourth interval above the fifth string. Once the fourth string is tuned to the fourth fret, the mandolin should be in tune.

5 String 5

5 String 5

  • Tune the fifth string to the second string, one octave higher.
  • Tune the fourth string to the third string, one octave higher.
  • Tune the third string to the first string, one octave higher.
  • Tune the second string to the same note as the first string.
  • Tune the first string to the desired note.

6 String 6

6 String 6
Tune the 6th string to the same note as the 1st string, but two octaves higher. This can be done by pressing down on the 12th fret of the 6th string while playing the open 1st string. Tune the 6th string until the two notes are in harmony. Repeat the same process for the remaining strings, but also match the octaves of the 4th, 5th and 8th strings with the 2nd, 3rd and 7th strings respectively.

7 String 7

7 String 7
The 7 string 7 tuning is a unique tuning of the 8 string mandolin. It is achieved by tuning the 8th string a full step lower than the 7th string. This tuning produces an extended range of notes and a deeper, richer sound. To tune the 8th string, use a guitar tuner to tune the string down to the 7th fret on the 2nd string. After tuning, the strings should be tuned from low to high as follows: C G D A E B F C.

8 String 8

8 String 8

String Note Tuning
1 E E2
2 B B1
3 G G1
4 D D2
5 A A1
6 E E1
7 B Bb1
8 F# F#1

The 8 string mandolin is tuned in an 8 string 8 tuning. The strings are numbered from 1 to 8 from the top down. Each string is tuned to a note. The notes are E2, B1, G1, D2, A1, E1, Bb1, and F#1. It is important to tune each string to the correct note to ensure a quality sound.

Maintenance

Maintenance

  • Keep the mandolin clean and dust-free. Wipe the instrument with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Store the mandolin in its case in a cool, dry place.
  • Avoid exposing the mandolin to extreme temperatures and humidity.
  • Have the mandolin professionally inspected and adjusted at least once a year.
  • Replace strings as needed.
  • Clean the strings with a soft cloth and clean the fretboard regularly with a fretboard conditioner.
  • Keep all moving parts lubricated and in good working order.

1 Cleaning

1 Cleaning

  • Unplug the mandolin from any power source.
  • Remove the strings, taking care to store them in a safe place.
  • Wipe the instrument with a soft cloth.
  • Polish with a wood cleaner and polish.
  • Clean the fretboard with a fretboard oil.
  • Remove any dirt or dust with a soft brush.
  • Wipe down the headstock, bridge and tailpiece with a clean cloth.

2 String Replacement

2 String Replacement

When replacing the strings of an 8 string mandolin, there are two main things to consider: string gauge and string material. The gauge of the strings will affect the tension of the strings, which will impact the sound of the instrument. The material of the strings will also affect the sound, as well as the feel when playing.

String Gauge (in mm) Material
1st 0.35 Steel
2nd 0.46 Steel
3rd 0.30 Nylon
4th 0.40 Nylon
5th 0.25 Steel
6th 0.35 Steel
7th 0.20 Nylon
8th 0.30 Nylon

When selecting strings, it is important to select the ones that will best suit the desired sound. For example, if a bright sound is desired, then steel strings may be a better choice than nylon strings. On the other hand, if a mellower sound is desired, then nylon strings may be a better choice than steel strings.

Practice

Practice

  • Use the 8 string mandolin to practice chords and tunes as much as possible.
  • Start with simple tunes and slowly increase in difficulty.
  • Practice different strumming patterns to enhance your skill level.
  • Listen to recordings of 8 string mandolinists to get an idea of the sound of the instrument.
  • Play along with recordings to practice playing in time with other instruments.
  • Work on improvisation and creating your own melodies.

Troubleshooting

Problem Solution
String won’t stay in tune Check the pegs and make sure they are securely fastened. Try a different set of strings if the problem persists.
Wrong notes being played Make sure you have the correct tuning for an 8 string mandolin. Check the frets for any irregularities and make sure the strings are not buzzing against them.
Machine Heads are loose Tighten the screws on the machine heads using a screwdriver. If the gear has worn out, replace it.
String won’t produce sound Check the string to make sure it is not broken. If it is, replace it. Also make sure the bridge is in the correct position.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Purpose of Tuning a Mandolin?

Tuning a mandolin is important to ensure that it produces the desired sound. By tuning each string to the correct note, the instrument produces the right pitch and tone. Tuning a mandolin also helps maintain the instrument’s structural integrity and prevents the strings from becoming loose or breaking. Properly tuning a mandolin also ensures that the instrument is in tune with other instruments for ensemble playing.

How do I know if my 8 string mandolin is in tune?

Once your 8 string mandolin has been tuned, you can check if it is in tune by playing a scale or a chord. Listen for any dissonance or buzzing in the notes. If there is any noticeable difference between the notes, you need to adjust the tuning pegs accordingly. Additionally, you can use a tuner or pitch pipe to check the accuracy of the instrument’s tuning.

What are the Steps Involved in Tuning an 8 String Mandolin?

1. Start by tuning the four courses of strings in unison. Tune the bottom-most course of strings (strings 1, 5, 9, and 13) an octave below the top-most course of strings (strings 2, 6, 10, and 14).

2. Once the four courses of strings are in tune, tune the remaining strings in pairs. Tune each pair of strings a perfect fourth apart. For example, string 1 should be tuned a perfect fourth higher than string 5, and string 6 should be tuned a perfect fourth higher than string 10.

3. Check the tuning of the mandolin. Strum the strings with your pick and listen for any notes that are out of tune. If there are any notes that are out of tune, adjust the tuning pegs to bring them back in tune.

4. Once the strings are in tune, you should check the intonation of the instrument. To do this, play a scale up and down the mandolin, starting with the lowest note and going up to the highest note. Listen for any notes that sound out of tune. If any notes sound out of tune, adjust the bridge of the mandolin to correct the intonation.

5. Finally, check the tuning one more time and make any necessary adjustments.

Are There Any Special Considerations When Tuning An 8 String Mandolin?

An 8 string mandolin can be challenging to tune due to the additional strings. It is important to use a chromatic tuner and to tune each string one at a time. Additionally, the octave strings should be tuned to the same pitch, while the unison strings should be tuned an octave apart. To keep the strings in tune, it is important to use new strings and to avoid using too much pressure when tuning. Lastly, the mandolin should be re-tuned regularly.

What tools are needed to tune an 8 string mandolin?

Tuning an 8 string mandolin requires an electronic tuner, tuning wrench, and extra strings. An electronic tuner allows the player to easily read the pitch of the strings and adjust accordingly. The tuning wrench is used to loosen and tighten the tuning pegs to reach the desired pitch. Extra strings should be kept on hand in case of breakage.

Conclusion

Tuning an 8 string mandolin isn’t too difficult when you use the right tools and follow the steps outlined in this guide. Start by ensuring your mandolin is in good condition and use a tuner to ensure the strings are in tune with each other. Then, use a bridge to adjust the intonation and use the tuning pegs to tune the strings. Lastly, use a capo to get the perfect sound and tune the strings with the tuner one last time. With a bit of practice, you’ll have your mandolin sounding perfect in no time.

References

About the author

Country Music Singer, Tayo Reed, grow up listening to Country Music as a child in sweet home, "Alabama". "I am authentically a true country girl at heart. I have only desired to sing one style of music. I have never wavered, in spite of disappointments, delays, rejections, and detours."

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