Mandolin Lessons

  • Bluegrass
  • American Old-time
  • Celtic
  • Classical
  • Accompaniment
  • Improvisation
  • The basics

Private Lessons
Workshops • Performances

It hardly matters what direction you want to go—bluegrass, country, old-time, Celtic, gypsy swing, jazz, ethic styles, classical or baroque—mandolin will prove to be an extraordinary capable instrument.

Its tuning is the cornerstone of its versatility

Mandolin's GDAE tuning is the same as the violin and makes it first cousin to the fiddle. Mandolin can easily go wherever you hear violin or fiddle ... with exceptions where certain pieces are essentially "unmandolinable" due to fingering or strings crossings.

The GDAE tuning is symmetrical pure 5ths making it particuilarly suitable for melodies, extremely logical in improvisation, and amenable for making certain transpositions.

Mandolin as a second instrument

Mandolin is a great second instrument. If you play violin or fiddle your left hand already knows what to do. You'll just need to make some minor adjustments to your left hand technique, learn chord fingerings, and how to use a pick.

And mandolin is a delightful and praczical second instrument. Sometimes when violinists want to play or practice they don't want to hear seventy decibels right under their ear; or when in the evening they don't their violin practice to disturb household members or neighbors. But with the mandolin one can "whisper away" musically into the wee hours, and no one's the wiser.

If you're a guitarist you're probably pretty comfortable with the pick. You'll need to learn new chord positions, scale fingerings. And if you read standard standard guitar notation you'll find that treble clef notation applies differently to the mandolin; however if you read tablature you're ready to jump right in.

Mandolin as an introduction to violin & fiddle

If you're interested in playing the violin or fiddle, but aren't ready to take the plunge, try the mandolin. The left hand logic applies directly to fiddle or violin, though you'll need to master playing notes in tune, plus bowing techniques and the intricacies.

Mandolin chords and percussion

Mandolin frequently serves as the snare drum of bluegrass music and "new acoustic" music. No other instrument surpasses the mandolin's ability to contribute the combination of strong percussive hit plus a sweet, woody chordal accompaniment. (In the early 1900s the tenor banjo was popular due to it's volume and chordal versatility, but there were two issues with the tenor banjo: 1) its scale length required "cello" sized fingerings. 2) it's tone was metallic and strident.) Since the advent of arch-top f-hole mandolins in the 1920s we have a much sweeter was of delivering high impact high pitched chords.


Pitched roughly an octave higher than guitar, the mandolin can't match the deep, rich, long-ringing chords of a guitar accompaniment, leaving the guitar as the favored instrument for vocal accompaniment. Still many artists like Tim O'Brien use it effectively as the sole back-up for vocals.

Mandolin accompaniment provides a perfect rhythmic compliment to guitar; the two instruments work wonderfully together in many styles of music.


Private Lessons
Workshops • Performances

Mandolin lessons, Group Instruction,
Workshops & Introductory Classes.

In Walnut Creek, California.

Near Danville, Alamo, Blackhawk, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Concord, Clayton, Brentwood, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Oakland, Piedmont, Alameda, Castro Valley, Hayward, Fremont, San Leandro, Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Kensington, Pinole, Hercules, Crockett, Benicia, Napa, Novato, Vallejo, Vacaville, Livermore, Stockton, Modesto, and San Francisco.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area,
Contra Costa County and Alameda County, CA