Is Mandolin Hard to Learn? [Reality Explained!]

Learning a new instrument is fun but how hard is it to learn mandolin? It is fine to have questions when learning a new instrument.

Luckily, the mandolin is not a troublesome instrument hence it is easy to be able to play the mandolin.

is mandolin hard to learn

It’s compact and lightweight so you can practice it anywhere you want. It has fewer strings than most other instruments such as the electric guitar so you can easily read the tablature.

If you do not know a lot about the mandolin and how it sounds or thinking if the mandolin is a good first instrument, then this article is just for you! The mandolin is an incredible instrument and easy to learn if you learn it the proper way.

Is the Mandolin Easier to Learn than Other Instruments?

The mandolin is a simple instrument to learn. Some instruments require a lot of effort whereas the mandolin player needs the least amount of effort (not that it does not require any effort). It has fewer strings than other stringed instruments, for example, the guitar and violin, so reading tablature is easier.

For the most part, stringed instruments with frets like the guitar, banjo, and mandolin are easier to learn than those that don’t have them, for example, the violin family.

If you are wondering if learning mandolin easier than guitar or not, then do not worry. Both the banjo and mandolin are easier than the guitar due to their lighter gauge strings. In case, you have a decent teacher and you are willing to rehearse 30-60 minutes daily, it will take around 3 months to master the instrument, and one year to be proficient at it.

But for people who have not played any instrument yet? Probably not. The process can become quite difficult but trusting yourself and learning it the proper way is the key to making it easier.

How to Avoid the Problems While Learning? 

The mandolin player will feel it easier to learn in case you’re thinking if the mandolin is hard to play. However, you may find some obstacles in your journey to playing the mandolin. In this article, we will tell you some of the problems and tell you how to avoid them.

how hard is it to learn the mandolin

The mandolin is smaller than your normal acoustic guitar when comparing sizes. This can be difficult if you have a big height or large hands since both the body and the fingerboard on the mandolin are smaller as opposed to their size on the guitar.  

The mandolin is unique in terms of the methods that are required to play the instrument. You should learn both right-hand and left-hand techniques but it should not be an issue in case you have played a stringed instrument previously.

It’s usual for a mandolin player getting into playing the mandolin to discover techniques like chops, tremolo, along with cross-picking. These are normal mandolin methods so you have to ace them if you are thinking of getting into learning a ton of mandolin music. 

Another struggle which learning the mandolin brings is that you should get your fingers used to play double strings. Your fingers will need to become accustomed to holding double strings, which is not a simple thing to do as the frets on a mandolin are very small. This can be a huge issue for people with larger hands and fingers.

Now, is the mandolin hard to learn for people with very small fingers? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. You are going to need to hold two strings simultaneously with the mandolin, which can be difficult to do if your fingers are too can’t reach them. 

In case, you have big hands, you may need to squish your fingers to get the right notes. So regardless of whether you have a lot of experience from learning guitar, it might take you some time to switch to mandolin and produce quality sound if you are somebody who has bigger hands and does not have experience playing a smaller fretboard. 

As the strings have more tension on them because of the short neck, you may struggle to push the strings of the mandolin down. This will make your fingers hurt, and it will feel like you are learning the guitar again.

Also, check our latest article on Seagull S8 mandolin Review.

Tips to become a Better Mandolin Player:

Keep your mandolin nearby

Getting at your mandolin should be easy. Everybody is occupied with their lives and the most ideal approach to add another thing into your schedule is to make doing so simple. So get a decent mandolin stand and leave your instrument on it.

If you find it difficult because you have kids in the house, use a different room. However, remember to make easy access to your mandolin as simple as you can. Then practice whenever you get spare time.  

how hard is it to play the mandolin

Play your mandolin regularly

Music is a language, and to be familiar with any language, you need to speak it frequently. So it’s better to try playing the mandolin regularly, whether it be structured practice time or playing your favorite tunes for fun Any time you play the mandolin in your hands develops your playability. 

Practice with a metronome 

Timing is the hardest part of figuring out how to play the mandolin. Metronomes are absolutely unforgiving and can be frustrating initially, but never give up!

The right note played at the wrong time is still not right. The wrong note played at the right time may sound great. So timing is crucial than playing the right notes! 

Go to mandolin camps or workshops 

Mandolin camps are popping up everywhere on the world. These camps can be great for helping the mandolin players gain experience playing with others and study with some of their idols.

Mandolin camps, symposiums, and conferences are largely great ways to get a large portion of the mandolin in a small period. 

If a weekend-long camp is out of your comfort zone, you can try going to a mandolin workshop. These are frequently held in music shops that last jus few hours. Workshops may focus on a specific style and some are designed explicitly for amateurs. 

Practice Slowly using Good Technique

Rehearsing slowly with good left-and right-hand technique develops a decent foundation. When the time comes to play quickly, you have the technique needed to be fast and precise.

Playing slowly is harder than it seems, but some fastest mandolin players recommend that the key to playing fast is the capacity to play slowly. 

Related: Best Mandolin For Beginnrs

Build up a Musical Ear 

Making a decent musical ear is a key skill for a mandolin player. Do this by tuning in to mandolin records and trying to repeat what you hear. Even though this quality can appear to be hard to get initially, over time it ends up being one of your most important tools. 

Get familiar with some music hypothesis 

You don’t have to start analyzing the chord progressions in Bach chorales or trying to find why John Coltrane played what he did; for some types of music, a very basic understanding of scales and regular chord progressions can remove a secret from finding new tunes. You can browse lots of books and websites that clarify music theory. 

Record yourself 

Recording yourself playing is an important instrument that is simple and affordable with quality outcomes. You can make fair recordings on mobile phones. If you don’t find recordings, buy an easy recorder.

Recording yourself uncovers what you truly sound like, rather than what you might expect to sound like. And also it makes you better.

learning the mandolin

Is Mandolin Hard to Learn- FAQ

Is mandolin easy to learn?

  • Fortunately, the mandolin is not a hard instrument to learn. It also comes with fewer strings than the other stringed instruments, which makes reading tablature very easier.

Why does a mandolin have double strings?

  • Mandolins have double strings to offer stronger vibration in order to increase the tone quality and make it louder. The shape of your mandolin, size and placement of the sound hole will play a part in addition and resonance as well.

How long does it take to learn mandolin?

  • Learning an instrument needs daily practice for 30-60 minutes, it might take approximately 3 months to play the mandolin with confidence and firmness. As a beginner practices more, they will improve their skill set and playing will become natural to them. 

Can you play mandolin without a pick?

  • Since the mandolin is quiet without a pick, so you’d might have to mic it, have a pickup, or play the instrument in a small room for yourself.

Do you strum or pick a mandolin?

  • You can strum the mandolin without pressing down the strings. Take your pick in your right hand, between your thumb and index finger. Holding the pick too tightly will make a more metallic sound. 

What kind of music can you play on a mandolin?

  • Neapolitan mandolins come with European classical music and traditional music. Archtop instruments are traditional in American folk music and bluegrass music. Flat-backed mandolins are widely used in Irish, British, and Brazilian folk music. 

Which Led Zeppelin song features a mandolin?

  • “The Battle of Evermore” is a folk duet sung by Robert Plant and Sandy Denny, featured on Led Zeppelin’s untitled 1971 album. It’s widely known as Led Zeppelin IV. The song’s instrumentation emphasizes acoustic guitar and mandolin playing.  

Do you use a pick with a mandolin?

  • Your Mandolin may come with picks when you purchase it, especially if you buy a Mandolin that is designed for beginners. The truth is that just like strings, they play a vital role in the sound your mandolin will generate, the ease and speed of your playing, and the genuine feel of your mandolin.

Final Thoughts

The mandolin is an incredible choice of instrument for anybody that needs to improve their memory, increase their creativity levels as well as someone searching for a pleasant method to make money. The mandolin will have its sets of difficulties and might require a lot of training if playing instruments does not easily fall into place for you like any other instrument.

Regardless, the mandolin is an enriching instrument that will provide you with while having a ton of fun. If you are stuck on the topic of is mandolin easy to play, then do not worry yourself. You should trust yourself and believe that you can do it.

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