View Full Version : Has anyone tune their mandolin a half step down?

Dec-08-2009, 2:54pm
Just a thought. I tune my guitars a half step down to match my singing voice.Has anyone done this with a mandolin? Just wondering here.

Dec-08-2009, 3:13pm
that's F# C# G# D# .. why not ..Though, unless you are a solo act, you have to transpose in your head ..
and not watch another player's hands without thinking 'I have to play a different chord because I see the other guy / gal is playing in G'. compensate for thee detuning .. G#/Ab
you can drop a whole step to FCGD, too ..

I have to do something similar though It's because I pick up the mandola , so have to play D mandolin chord form in order to have G chord come out.

If you play with others it may be more straight forward to call out the key your voice range works best in, and go with standard tuning on your instrument.

Mandolin Mick
Dec-08-2009, 3:50pm
Well, I do when I play My Last Days on Earth by Bill Monroe; sort of.

The tuning is:G#G#/C#C#/G#B/C#E

But, I don't know anybody who plays a 1/2 tone down like some guitarists. The purpose of that is to make the guitar resonate more or to make it easier to sing along. I don't see that as an issue in Bluegrass, anyway.

Dec-08-2009, 7:20pm
When I play with others,I'll clamp on a capo on the 1st fret so I'll be in tune. I guess you clamp on a capo on a mandolin.:))

Dec-08-2009, 8:16pm
I tune my guitars a half step down to match my singing voice.Has anyone done this with a mandolin?

The 1/2 step down tuned guitar is really not that unusual, at least among the electric players. Hendrix and SRV were two examples. But, it was their "show", and the bass players tuned down similarly as well.

Yank Rachell tuned his mando down a m3rd to E.

If you were playing in a lot of flat keys with horn players (though I don't know how you'd be able to cut through with an acoustic) getting comfortable with tuning to F-C-G-D could make life easier.
BTW, a lot of Cajun fiddlers tune to F so that they can play with C-tuned accordions using the open strings as if fingered it in D. Mike Doucet of Beausoleil does this (he's probably got a second fiddle tuned standard), and I think he's done the same with his mando (F4).

In the past, if I got stranded at a jam/party where the playing level was fairly 'basic', I would often retune down a 1/2 step to make it more interesting for myself and spend some time practicing in Db, Ab, Gb etc. fingerings (rather than D, A, G...). Later on, I started to take the LH-mando along and if things turned out to be a slow jam, that's the mando case that would get opened. (Or take some other intrument that I'm not that proficient on).

Some mandolins may actually sound better tuned higher, or lower, than standard. If you've got one of those, you should let the mando choose the tuning that suits it best sonically.


Keith Erickson
Dec-08-2009, 8:48pm
Mostly on guitar but hardly on the mandolin.

I wanted to play along on my mandolin to "Patience" by Gun's and Roses. That is a step down.

Pete Martin
Dec-08-2009, 11:49pm
Not on mandolin, but I have played around with mandola tuned up 1/2, whole 1 1/2 steps to get a horn like "transposing" instrument. Works well sometimes, noit so well on others.