How Hard Is It To Play The Mandolin?

Mandolin, like other stringed instruments, requires a lot of dedication to play it well. 

Several reasons make it hard for beginners to achieve the right tempo when playing the mandolin.

Age is a factor that most mandolin beginners ignore. The more a person advances in age, the more their concentration tends to go down, and this makes it hard to grasp the necessary skills. 

How hard or straightforward it is to learn mandolin depends on your experience on other stringed instruments, how much time and practice you want to put into it and some other varying factors. 

A guitar player will find learning mandolin very easy, unlike a violinist who will find it somewhat tricky. 

Masterly of the instrument can take decades or even a lifetime depending on the person. 

Although the tablature of the mandolin is more comfortable to learn due to its similarity with other stringed instruments, the fact that a single mandolin note is made up by pressing two strings down complicates the whole process. Other stringed instruments have one note for a single string.

Other factors that can help answer the question of how hard is it to learn the mandolin. Let dive deep into the details: 

Instrument Size 

As compared to a guitar, mandolins have a relatively smaller size, this is not much of a problem to everyone, but for people with massive bodies and hands, it becomes a hurdle. 

Getting the right notes on a smaller fretboard can be quite a challenge.

Find the best mandolin size for a beginner here.

Playing Techniques

The techniques of playing the mandolin are somehow hectic. This instrument requires the player to be able to use both hands effectively. 

For people who have never played another stringed instrument, it becomes hard to master. Getting your fingers used to holding double strings also poses a significant challenge. 

This hurdle is mainly for people with large fingers because the mandolin frets are narrow for large fingers to operate comfortably. On the other hand, too small fingers will also limit your capability of playing the mandolin. 

Too little fingers will not be able to hold two strings at once.

The Mandolin Design

The mandolin has a short neck which in turn adds tension on the strings. The tension makes your fingers feel some pain. The pain may kill your morale and make playing the instrument a hard struggle for you.

Having known the limitations that can kill your dream of being a mandolin expert, it is wise to understand how to counter the above constraints for you to succeed. 

The following factors can help you gradually improve your mandolin learning skills and become an expert.

Acknowledge That Learning Is Hard

Get prepared for a hard task before you start learning mandolin. You should bear in mind that talent contributes ten per cent of a person’s success, and the rest relies on hard work. 

The moment you know that you will brace yourself for a hard task. With this mindset, your level of patience goes up, and you rarely lose hope when you make mistakes or find yourself learning slower than others. 

It is possible to see yourself progressing on well initially and retarding later in the process. Just bear in mind that you undertook a hard task which requires more effort.

Know your Learning Ways

Knowing the tactics that suit you is one way to learn mandolin with ease. On the other, using methods that do not suit, you will only make learning hard for you. 

If you learn more by listening, use audios for your case. For those who are visual learners, an instructor would be the best option for them. 

Some other people would prefer written material before playing an instrument. Failure to know where you exactly fit makes your learning a sort of hell.

Do Not Overload Yourself

Mandolin playing comes with a combination of skills. Learn to memorize the different positions on the fretboard one at a time. Learn the skills slowly but increase your speed steadily. 

Trying to grasp everything at once will only make learning a nightmare. Set realistic goals that you can achieve. Just know that the best mandolin players were once like you.


Discipline determines how you spend your time. With precise control, you can plan your practice schedule without fail. Avoiding procrastination when it comes to practicing the mandolin is an aspect of the discipline. 

Some sacrifices will help you to achieve faster. Such sacrifices include missing your favorite television programs to attend mandolin practice. A low discipline level will only make mandolin learning another task of chasing the wind.

How To Make It Easier

To make the learning process easier you should try and get lessons either online or in person privately to make it not as hard and to make the learning process quicker.

The faster you start seeing results the more committed you’re to keeping learning and the more likely that you’re to stick to it.

Find out how long it takes to learn.

You can also watch Youtube videos which isn’t as great but still a solid solution.


Determining how hard it is to learn to play the mandolin is definitely key in the beginning stage but you really need to just jump in and start playing and practicing all the time.

If you really enjoy playing the mandolin it will come easily but not without handwork and dedication.

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