The mandolin is a stringed instrument that looks a lot like a teardrop-shaped guitar. Like the guitar, it is strummed or plucked with a pick in order to play the instrument, and the strings are placed over a bridge to let them vibrate freely. A member of the lute family, the mandolin was developed from the mandore which was tuned to a higher pitch than the mandolin. It was originally an acoustic instrument, though it can be electric these days as well and while the basic shape of the mandolin is oval, there are mandolins that have unique shapes for those who prefer to play something that looks a little different.
Modern mandolins have eight strings, which are divided into four pairs referred to as four courses and are played with plucks, though the mandolins in the past were played with the fingers. The instrument has also changed over time. In the past, they had three courses, while today there are a number of variations.
The common ones will have the eight strings, but others will have six strings, 12 strings or 16 strings. Even though there are electric mandolins, most are acoustic because the warm, natural sound is often preferred. Like the guitar, acoustic mandolins are constructed with a hollow body, which is round or oval-shaped and a neck that is usually fretted.
The mandolin is not always the first choice for someone who is looking to learn how to play an instrument. Common instruments that people will often choose will be the guitar, the saxophone or the piano. While those instruments can be fun to play, many would probably enjoy trying the mandolin more, especially those who are interested in string instruments in general.
The mandolin has a unique sound that is not duplicated by the acoustic or electric guitar. It is an instrument that would certainly make one stand out, because of its different design and its sound. People sometimes make the mistake in assuming that this instrument can only be used in folk music, but it can easily find its place in other music genres if one dared to try. It is not a very difficult instrument to learn. In fact, someone who is already familiar with the guitar may have an even easier time picking it up than someone who is starting from scratch because many of the basics are the same.
As is true with most musical instruments, it does take practice and patience to learn how to play an instrument well; however, the mandolin will not take someone too long before they start getting the idea. It is quite possible to find a cheaper mandolin from a used music store for someone who is looking to give the instrument a try. Buying new mandolins could be a little pricey, depending on the model that interests the musician. Finding the music for it would also not be too difficult of a task.
Kids who have an interest in learning how to play the mandolin may want to try doing so in school, but most public schools will not offer the instrument because it is more expensive than brass. Most people who have an interest in learning the instrument will most likely have to do so on their own time.
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