How Many Strings Does a Mandolin Have?

The mandolin is a stringed instrument that has become a favorite of many musicians, both professional and amateur alike. This small but powerful instrument can be found in many musical genres, including bluegrass, classical, and folk. One of the common questions asked by those new to the mandolin is how many strings does a Mandolin have?

In this blog post, we will answer that question and provide some additional information about the mandolin and its strings.

Number of Strings on a Mandolin:

  • The mandolin is a stringed instrument that has been around for centuries, and its design and construction have evolved over time. One of the defining characteristics of the mandolin is the number of strings it has. Depending on the type of mandolin, the instrument can range from four to eight strings.

  • Traditional mandolins typically have four courses of two strings each, and are referred to as four-course mandolins. The courses are usually tuned in fifths (g, d, a, and e), but some players tune their four-course mandolins differently, such as in fourths (c, f, bb, and e).

  • Eight-string mandolins are also quite popular and are often referred to as octave mandolins. These instruments have four pairs of strings that are tuned an octave apart, with the lower-pitched strings providing a richer, fuller sound. Octave mandolins are most commonly tuned in fifths (g, d, a, and e).

  • Regardless of whether you’re playing a four- or eight-string mandolin, it’s important to understand the instrument’s tuning. Knowing the number of strings a mandolin has and how to tune it correctly will ensure you get the most out of your playing experience.

Different Types of Mandolins:

The mandolin is a versatile stringed instrument with roots in both Italian and American folk music. Depending on the type of mandolin, it can have between four and eight strings. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of mandolins and the number of strings each one has.

  • Four-String Mandolins: The most common type of mandolin is the four-string mandolin, also known as the Neapolitan mandolin. This type of mandolin is often used in traditional Italian folk music and has a bright and jangly sound. The four strings are tuned to G-D-A-E, which is the same tuning as a violin.

  • Eight-String Mandolins: Eight-string mandolins are also popular and can be found in various forms around the world. This type of mandolin has two pairs of four strings tuned in unison, which creates a fuller, richer sound. It is commonly used in classical or flamenco music and is often tuned to G-D-A-E-G-D-A-E.

  • F-Style Mandolins: Another popular type of mandolin is the F-style mandolin, which is characterized by its hourglass-shaped body. It has eight strings, typically tuned to G-D-A-E-G-D-A-E. This type of mandolin is popular in both bluegrass and Celtic music.

  • Octave Mandolins: Lastly, there are octave mandolins, which have eight strings tuned in octaves. This type of mandolin is often used in traditional Irish and Scottish music. Its strings are typically tuned to G-G-D-D-A-A-E-E.

No matter which type of mandolin you prefer, each one has its own unique sound that adds to the overall atmosphere of the music you’re playing. So, how many strings does a mandolin have? It all depends on the type of mandolin you choose!

How to Choose the Right Mandolin for You?

Choosing the right mandolin can be a daunting task. With so many varieties and styles of mandolins available, it’s important to understand the basic features of each type and how they will best suit your needs. One of the first considerations is the number of strings that your mandolin has.

  • The traditional style of mandolin has 8 strings, with 4 courses of double strings tuned in fifths (from lowest to highest: G-D-A-E). This is the most common configuration, used for both classical and folk music. Many players find this the best option for a variety of musical styles.

  • If you prefer a more traditional sound, there are also 6-stringed instruments available. These have 3 courses of double strings, again tuned in fifths (G-D-A). While these are sometimes used for classical music, they are more often associated with traditional Irish or American folk music.

  • The less common 10-stringed mandolins have 5 courses of double strings, tuned in unison (C-G-D-A-E). This tuning produces a thicker, fuller sound and is often used for louder styles of music such as bluegrass.

No matter which type of mandolin you choose, it’s important to make sure that it is set up properly. The strings should be at the correct tension, and the bridge should be adjusted to the correct height. By taking the time to ensure that your instrument is well-maintained and adjusted, you can enjoy the best possible sound quality.


The answer to the question, How many strings does a mandolin have? is eight. Mandolins usually have four pairs of strings, with each pair tuned an octave apart. This allows players to create complex and interesting sounds and play in different keys. Each pair of strings is tuned in unison, meaning that the two strings are played together to create a single note.

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