ArtistWorks online music academy is the premiere Internet based instrument learning place. The site is bristling with innovative technique taught by award winners in the industry. Each artist/instructor has a long history of performing with some of the best in the genre. Mike Marshall is obviously no exception. ArtistWorks features a fine video on their feature article, "How to Tune a Mandolin".
The Mandolin is tuned like a fiddle but has double the strings called pairs. Tuning the instrument is obviously a lot more difficult because of the extra strings involved. "How to Tune a Mandolin" is a fantastic starting place for beginner and for those who have been playing a while.
"It's never perfect, but we do the best we can." - Mike Marshall on Mandolin Tuning
Mandolin tuning is so incredibly important, and something you'll definitely want to master before you even think about playing with anyone else. If your mandolin is not in tune, it's just not going to sound good. If you're new to learning mandolin, tuning a mandolin is not exactly an intuitive process… As Mike mentions, there's a saying that goes: if you've been playing mandolin for 30 years, you spend 15 of those years mandolin tuning and the other 15 years playing out of tune.
The truth is, it takes a lot to tune a mandolin and get it right, but the good news is that there's many who have come before you. So pay attention to this tutorial all about mandolin tuning from Mike Marshall's mandolin lessons and learn how to tune a mandolin from a master.
The mandolin is tuned the same as a violin or fiddle, except instead of 4 strings it has 4 pairs of strings (two E Strings, 2 A Strings, 2 D Strings, and 2 G Strings), making it twice as hard to get in tune. There are also several different methods of mandolin tuning, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Electronic tuners (D'addario's NS Micro Tuner for example) are popular, and are great because it keeps everything at 440 Hz (which is the general tuning standard for musical pitch). But as Mike mentions, they're not perfect - and it's not a great idea to rely on tuning a mandolin with your eyes rather than your ears. Remember, electronic tuners are a relatively recent invention (the original strobe tuners date back to 1936), and it is important to not forget the roots of mandolin tuning - which is with our ears.
Read more on this at the above link and check out ArtistWorks for more on the mandolin and other bluegrass instruments. There is a wealth of information available and the rates are quite reasonable for personalized instruction from one of the best in the biz.