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Best (Free & Paid) Beginner Mandolin Lessons In 2024

It can be a little tricky finding the perfect beginner mandolin lessons offered by a skilled instructor capable of equipping you with the proper knowledge, skills, and technique.

With so many options out there, how do you decide which is the best course option for you?

Well, it is actually pretty easy to filter through the different course options, and in this comprehensive guide, I will help you do just that.

Quick Summary

Best Beginner Mandolin Lessons

1. Classical Mandolin Course with Caterina Lichtenberg Review

Being a mandolin virtuoso, Caterina is a comprehensive and knowledgeable mandolin instructor, and this particular course is just as thorough.

It covers everything from pick angle to executing hammer-ons and pull-offs.

However, the best part of this course is that students can submit a video for review. Caterina herself reviews each submission then records a video response with relevant feedback to the student.

And that’s not all. All students can access these videos, watching each other’s interaction with Caterina and similarly benefiting from the various feedback provided.

Additionally, this course offers plenty of tracks to play along to.

  • Allows video submissions to the teacher.
  • It covers music theory.
  • Clear and detailed explanations and illustrations.
  • Hundreds of lessons at your disposal.
  • The number of video submissions is limited to 5.

2. Mandolin Lessons with Mike Marshall Review

Students are bound to love how supportive and upbeat Mike Marshall is while teaching this course. But, of course, that is exactly what anyone wants from a great mandolin teacher, right?

In addition to his lovable personality, Mike is very knowledgeable, and the curriculum of this particular course is exceptionally well thought out to ensure the students enjoy a steady progression.

Like the classical mandolin course, this one also offers the option for students to submit a video of them playing and get relevant feedback and tips in return.

  • Well-structured course curriculum.
  • Personable and upbeat teacher.
  • Plenty of mandolin tabs and chordal exercises.
  • It covers music theory as well.
  • Focuses more on the traditional bluegrass tune.

3. Beginner Mandolin Course: Start Mandolin From Scratch Review

From learning how to work with a pick to learning the D major scale and D major pentatonic scales, this course comprehensively covers everything students would need to know if starting on the mandolin from scratch.

This is quite possibly the most in-depth beginner mandolin course you will find online.

It best suits players who are complete beginners at the mandolin or any musical instrument for that matter.

  • The teaching style is straightforward and clear.
  • Very detailed, thorough, and informative.
  • The pace is easy to follow.
  • Has plenty of tips and tricks.
  • It might be too basic for more advanced players.

4. MandoLessons: Beginner Mandolin Lessons Series Review

These particular mandolin lessons are free, but Baron covers everything elaborately, in a detailed yet simple manner.

The online video lessons cover everything from basic techniques and fundamentals to advanced techniques, including lessons that cover various music genres.

Taking these lessons will equip you sufficiently to get started on the mandolin.

Additionally, starting with free lessons would be an excellent way to gauge whether you are ready and willing to commit to paid lessons online.

  • Free mandolin lessons.
  • Comprehensive and detailed.
  • Interactive curriculum.
  • None.

5. OAIM: Learn Mandolin Online Review

These online lessons belong to the Online Academy of Irish Music, and they focus purely on Irish mandolin music and techniques.

Paddy Cummins – the resident instructor in this course, is very knowledgeable, and he has a pleasantly relaxed demeanor while instructing these lessons.

This course follows the traditional way of learning Irish music, so you get the authentic Irish music learning experience from wherever you may be on the globe.

  • Offers a free 14-day trial.
  • Perfect for multi-instrumentalists.
  • Has some excellent video play-along sessions.
  • Does not offer video submissions.

6. Bradley Laird: Play The Mandolin Review

These mandolin lessons by Bradley Laird offer an assortment of lessons, from free video lessons to ones that you will need to purchase.

Whatever choice you go for, beginners are sure to learn a lot from Bradley Laird, who is a true master of the craft, as is evidenced by his great quality lessons.

It would serve you best, however, to buy the packages because these are much better arranged and contain more information than the free lessons.

Consider it like this: beginners start out on the free lessons, and if you like what you see, you then pay for the purchasable package.

  • Highly detailed and insightful videos.
  • You can download the premium lessons for offline access.
  • Students can email him anytime they have a query.
  • None.

7. Banjo Ben Clark’s Beginner Mandolin Lessons Review

Ben is a stellar teacher who does an excellent job of explaining a good cross-section of topics regarding how to play mandolin.

These video lessons are pretty detailed, covering all the huge topics like the G major scale to everything in between, such as pick strokes and song tempos.

Ben’s arrangements are another thing that will have beginners excited to sign up for these lessons.

This would be another great option for multi-instrumentalists because, besides the mandolin, Ben also teaches the guitar and the banjo. As long as you have signed up for his lessons, you aren’t restricted to just the mandolin.

  • The tutor is pleasantly engaging.
  • Excellent choice for multi-instrumentalists.
  • Excellent arrangements that are playable and cover all techniques.
  • There’s no video submission option.

How To Choose The Right Mandolin Lesson Or Course For You

Musical Style Or Genre

The right mandolin teacher should customize your lesson plans accordingly, focusing on the relevant techniques for a particular playing style or musical genre.

Over the years, the mandolin has been used to play a wide array of music, including classical music, blues, Irish music, folk, country, and bluegrass. All these different musical stylings call for different playing styles and techniques.

Beginners are always advised to listen to and familiarize themselves with all musical genres you can play on the mandolin before they decide to settle for just one that best suits their musical preferences.

In the beginning, it would be helpful to find a mandolin teacher that is well versed with a variety of musical genres and different playing styles. As you advance, however, the better option would be to specialize in a genre you are particularly inclined towards.

Learning Comfort

The mandolin course arrangement should be favorable for you in terms of the pace of the lessons. You shouldn’t feel too rushed as you learn how to play, and neither should you feel like the mandolin lessons are progressing too slowly for your liking.

The structure of the courses is another thing to take into consideration. For example, what’s the duration of the lessons? Does it work with your schedule such that you can attend the classes every day?

If you find that you might struggle to find the time to fit in a mandolin lesson within your daily schedule, then perhaps that is not the right mandolin course for you.


Interactivity simply means that you can get some instant feedback providing guidance, critique, or praise on your playing style and technique.

Whether you are taking your mandolin lessons online or in person, it is always great to have some interactivity with your tutor.

The beauty of interactivity is that the tutor can correct any bad habits in good time, helping you hone the correct posture and technique while playing.

At the same time, interactive sessions mean that your mandolin teacher can customize lesson plans to your individual needs, giving you that much more value for the money you are spending on these lessons.

Interactivity is pretty straightforward when talking about in-person lessons, but how exactly does it work with online video lessons?

Well, online lessons that have interactivity will allow you to record yourself while performing, and
You can send this to your teacher so they can evaluate your technique and provide relevant feedback.

Additionally, the best video lessons should allow you to ask your online mandolin instructor questions if you need any clarifications or advice.


Different mandolin lessons might cover various aspects of learning to play the instrument. Make sure the scope of the lesson you are interested in is wide enough to give you a steady foundation to progress from.

For instance, free lessons might give you some handy tips and tricks to make you a better mandolin player. However, these lessons might not be in-depth enough to cover chord and scale theory for instruments tuned in fifths.

While analyzing the scope of a course, try and find out whether the course includes extra learning material apart from the basic material the teacher shares with you.

Music Theory

Music theory is all about understanding how music works and holds together, thereby equipping you with the basic principles to make music.

Learning how to play the mandolin isn’t just about correct posture and technique; understanding music theory is just as critical. This can be a deep field, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating, and familiarizing yourself with this will make you a far better mandolin player in the long run.

The symmetrical nature of the mandolin means that scales and chords form specific shapes on the fretboard. As such, you can get some fretboard patterns for major scales and major and minor pentatonic scales.

Online Mandolin Lessons Vs. Offline In-Person Lessons

Online mandolin lessons vs offline in-person lessons

Online Lessons: Pros

Flexibility: as long as you have a device with an internet connection, you can access your lessons from virtually anywhere, even while on vacation!

Unlimited Options: when learning online, you can pick any mandolin teacher or course in the world. Would you like to study under the most legendary mandolinists in the world? Well, as long as you can afford it, you can!

Convenience: you can attend the classes at whichever time of the day that’s convenient for you. At the same time, location doesn’t matter, so you don’t need to fuss about transportation expenses. You can easily take your mandolin course right from the comfort of your home.

Budget-Friendly: online classes don’t require any transport expenses, and so in that sense, they are cheaper than offline in-person classes whereby you have to travel to where the tutor is.

Class Recordings: online mandolin lessons are recorded, and you can always access these recordings later for reference.

Online Lessons: Cons

Isolating: Human interaction is kept at a minimum when taking an online course. Although there may be student-teacher interaction in online classes, the students don’t really get to interact with one another. As such, they miss out on the social aspect of learning a new musical instrument.

Requires Self-Discipline: the downside to taking your lessons from anywhere is that there are bound to be plenty of distractions around you. When taking an online course, you require a great deal of discipline to keep up with your daily lessons and even stay focused and pay full attention during the lesson.

No Peer Competition: students taking mandolin lessons online would miss out on the inspiration and challenge one gets from in-person group lessons with fellow students.

Technical Issues: accessing an online course requires a reliable internet connection and electronic equipment such as computers, headphones, webcams, etc. Slow internet or lack of proper technical infrastructure could interfere with your learning and might even deter you from playing the mandolin.

Offline In-Person Lessons: Pros

Face-to-Face Interaction: with synchronous teaching, the students get to have active communication with their teachers, which is not something that’s always guaranteed with online lessons. The students can receive immediate feedback to any queries they may have or any observation the teacher may make.

Fewer Distractions: with a strict schedule to adhere to and students being confined within the walls of a room, there is little room for distraction in in-person lessons.

Sociability: in-person lessons often involve several students, which allows the student to develop interpersonal skills and enhance healthy competition.

Healthy Competition: when you learn how to play mandolin with fellow students, the experience becomes more inspiring and challenging. This allows you to progress faster, reaching advanced stages much sooner.

Offline In-Person Lessons: Cons

Rigidity: in-person classes involve a fixed location and a strictly fixed schedule regarding what time the classes take place.

No Recording: there is no recording available for students who may have missed a class or those who wish to make a later reference.

Limited Choice of Teachers: there are very few places where you can find plenty of mandolin teachers. As such, it is not very likely that there will be a mandolin teacher living just around the corner from your house or even in your city.

Transportation Expenses: offline classes require the students to travel to where their tutor is, and this can be expensive, not to mention inconvenient.

Mandolin Lessons FAQs

Can You Teach Yourself Mandolin?

Yes, you can teach yourself mandolin.

Of course, you will need some form of learning materials, be it books, YouTube videos, or an app. You could also consider getting good tuition videos online. It is worth mentioning that teaching yourself mandolin will be much easier if you have a solid musical foundation from playing other instruments such as piano, guitar, etc.

Should you choose to go down this route, find a supportive musical community, preferably fellow mandolinists who you can jam with and get critique from.

Self-teaching will make you a daily decent mandolin player. However, if you plan on being a virtuoso, you will have to take lessons from a qualified instructor.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Mandolin?

It takes about four moths to learn mandolin.

Assuming that you practice the mandolin for about an hour every day, seven days a week, it would take you about four months to play the instrument reasonably well with confidence and consistency.


Mandolin lessons are crucial for any beginner player because they will provide the ideal foundation to make you a skilled advanced player.

Learning how to play may feel grueling at first, but hang in there and give it time before you decide to quit your mandolin course.

It will all prove worthwhile in about six or so months, so hang tight and have fun!

Lee Cardwell
Owner and Chief Editor of Music Tech Hub. I play banjo, mandolin and I am currently learning how to play the harmonica.

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