Why Do Mandolins Have Double Strings?

Why Do Mandolins Have Double Strings?

Double strings are used on mandolins to provide additional notes. Why do mandolins have double strings? Others believe it is to facilitate techniques such as tremolo picking. However, the actual reason lies in the science of sound. To increase the vibrational energy of the strings, mandolins have double strings. It produces tones with a stronger resonance and a fuller sound than a single string can produce. To increase the volume of an instrument, double strings were added.

A Short Course in String Courses

Why do mandolins have double strings? If you haven’t played a string instrument before, you may not be familiar with the term course. Courses consist of two or more strings that are spaced closely together and are meant to be played simultaneously. A coursed instrument has strings. On the other hand, unsourced instruments have strings plucked individually, such as a classical six-string guitar or a ukulele.

It is possible to refer to a single string as a course when it is set among coursed strings, but only in this case. The nine-string baroque guitar, for instance, has five courses: four 2-string courses and one 1-string course. You may also have heard of the eight-string bass guitar, the twelve-string guitar, the lute, and the piano.

String Courses on Mandolins

Mandolins usually have four two-string courses. As a result, the mandolin has 8 strings, but they are arranged in pairs, so it plays like a 4-string instrument. Why do mandolins have double strings?

Tuning a String Course

A set of strings may be tuned in one of three ways:

  • (In unison)
  • Different octaves of the same note
  • Pitch-based

Each choice has a different effect. Sheet music and songs may be written with a specific tuning in mind and may even recommend a specific tuning for the sounds the composer intended. We will discuss why mandolin courses are generally tuned to the same pitch in a moment. You decide how to tune your instrument and what sound you like best.

Tuning A Mandolin

In most cases, the mandolin is tuned like any other stringed instrument. A mandolin’s standard tuning is G-D-A-E, the same tuning as a violin’s. On the mandolin, you have to tune eight strings instead of four strings to tune. This image shows the standard tuning on a mandolin and the note each course should be tuned to.

How Double Strings Amplify the Mandolin

Before electric amps and electricity, multiple string courses were used to amplify instruments further. There is no doubt that the mandolin qualifies for volume assistance. The build of the instrument and its ability to project sound correlate with this. Why do mandolins have double strings?

As mentioned previously, mandolin strings are usually tuned to the same pitch. In addition, the same set of strings should be played simultaneously. When we pluck two strings that provide the same frequencies, we can infer that the vibrational energy is concentrated. This results in increased resonance, which allows the mandolin to projects with more volume.

Sound Holes

Sound holes are either behind the strings or off to the side near the body’s edge. Most mandolins on the market feature F-holes near the body’s edge, which are the most common soundholes. In addition to resonating from the instrument, these sound holes also amplified the sound. Plucking a string produces vibrations as well. The vibrations travel through the body as well as through the strings.

The instrument’s hollow body creates a chamber in which sound can resonate. Vibrations escape through the soundhole to the surrounding air. Vibrations would otherwise be trapped inside the instrument without a soundhole. The sound would still be heard if this were the case. There would be a much quieter tone coming from the string.

Pros Of Double Strings

  • Sound amplification. Two strings instead of one for each note amplify the instrument’s sound. Using this technique, mandolins and small instruments can project a louder sound.
  • Tone. Double strings provide a unique sound, which is one of their advantages. A mandolin’s unique choppy sound is a result of this.
  • Broken string, no problem. There is no need to panic if one of the strings on the mandolin breaks during a performance.

Cons Of Double Strings

  • More strings to mess with. Depending on how often you play, you may need to replace eight strings. There will also be more maintenance since there are more strings to break.
  • More strings to tune. Tuning a mandolin can be challenging. Keeping each course in tune may require constant fine-tuning adjustments. You’ll have to worry about eight strings.
  • More tension on your instrument. An instrument with eight steel strings can be very tense. Fortunately, a mandolin’s neck is short, so it shouldn’t bow as easily as a more extended instrument. If your mandolin doesn’t have a truss rod, you’ll need to be careful with the strings you use.
  • More difficult on your fingers. The process of pressing down two strings simultaneously is more complex than pressing down one string at a time. Starting as a mandolin player, I have noticed quite a difference in difficulty. To minimize difficulty, you must have your action set properly.


Why do mandolins have double strings? Mandolins have double strings to amplify and make the sound louder by creating a stronger vibration. Amplification and resonance are also affected by the shape and size of your instrument’s soundhole. Ultimately, the sound volume determines how vibrational waves are formed and act inside the instrument’s body.

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