What to Know About a Mandolin

While you are listening to a country music band, you may end up spotting a strange musical instrument that you have never seen before. It looks like a cross between a banjo and a guitar. It has strings but a very wide and round guitar body. What you are looking at is actually a mandolin.

What is a Mandolin?

A mandolin is actually a stringed instrument that is part of the lute family. You may have seen a lute in pictures of jesters performing to the king and high court or in medieval-style movies where the traveling musicians are going from kingdom to kingdom as one of them will be strumming a lute. Some of the most common types of mandolins that are crafted are the carved-top mandolin, the round-backed mandolin and the flat-backed mandolin.

This mandolin is crafted with 8 metal strings, or four courses that are doubled. The mandolin can be strummed or plucked with a pick. It is made to have a hollow chamber where the sound is produced along with a soundboard attached to the top of the mandolin’s body. There is a tailpiece where the strings are attached as well as bridge that is not actually fixed to the body of the mandolin.

Music Played on a Mandolin

There are a wide range of musical genres where you may see a mandolin being played. Bluegrass as well as folk music will typically have a carved-top mandolin, while European classical music will have musicians playing with a rounded-back mandolin. The flat-backed mandolin is often used to produce Brazilian, British and Irish folk music. Flat-backed mandolins are also the norm in the United States as they are normally played in country music bands, bluegrass festivals and when producing American folk music. You can even find rock musicians incorporating mandolins into their musical styles.

Mandolins have been around since 2000 BC. They are still being played today as these string instruments are producing amazing sounds that are wonderful to listen to. So take the time to hear a mandolin being played, or take the plunge and learn how to play one for yourself.

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