mandolin (Italianmandolino pronounced [mandoˈliːno]; literally “small mandola“) is a stringed musical instrument in the lute family and is generally plucked with a plectrum. It most commonly has four courses of doubled metal strings tuned in unison, thus giving a total of 8 strings, although five (10 strings) and six (12 strings) course versions also exist. The courses are typically tuned in a interval of perfect fifths, with the same tuning as a violin (G3, D4, A4, E5). Also like the violin, it is the soprano member of a family that includes the mandolaoctave mandolinmandocello and mandobass.

There are many styles of mandolin, but the three most common types are the Neapolitan or round-backed mandolin, the archtop mandolin and the flat-backed mandolin. The round-backed version has a deep bottom, constructed of strips of wood, glued together into a bowl. The archtop, also known as the carved-top mandolin has an arched top and a shallower, arched back both carved out of wood. The flat-backed mandolin uses thin sheets of wood for the body, braced on the inside for strength in a similar manner to a guitar. Each style of instrument has its own sound quality and is associated with particular forms of music. Neapolitan mandolins feature prominently in European classical music and traditional music. Archtop instruments are common in American folk music and bluegrass music. Flat-backed instruments are commonly used in Irish, British, and Brazilian folk music.

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