Mandolin Chords Every Beginner Should Know

When you set out to learn the mandolin, there are some basic chords you need to know. Keep reading to learn about chord symmetry as well as how to make major, minor, and seventh chords. 

How to Read a Mandolin Chord Diagram

Open mandolin chords are formed utilizing a mix of fretted notes and open strings.

how to read a mandolin chord diagram

The good thing about the mandolin is that standard tuning is done symmetrically (in open 5ths). This means that you can use the same chord shapes across all the strings.

So, for example, try playing the 2nd string, 2nd fret, and the 1st string, 3rd fret. That gives you a G major. Now if you play the same chord shape on the 2nd and 3rd strings, you get a C major.

Major Chords

Let’s take a look at the must-know open chords to help your playing.

Here are the major open chords:

Mandolin Major Chords

Minor and Seventh Chords

To find the minor chords, you just have to change one note to change the chord quality to minor. 

Here is how you play minor and dominant seventh open chords:

Mandolin Minor and Seventh Chords

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Ged is editor-in-chief and founder of Zing Instruments. He's a multi-instrumentalist and loves researching, writing, and geeking out about music. He's also got an unhealthy obsession with vintage VW Campervans.