By Wayne Erbsen
Compared to the guitar, mandolin chords are EASY. In fact, most mandolin chords only use two fingers or sometimes only one.
In the mandolin chord charts below, each horizontal line represents a pair of mandolin strings. The E string is the one closest to the floor, as you hold your mandolin in playing position, and the G string is closest to the ceiling. The numbers represent the fret. Be sure to place your fingers between, not on, the fret. The letter to the left of each chord chart tells you the name of that chord. The letters on the strings tell you the name of the note where you put your fingers. Each chord chart also tells you what fingers to use. An “X” means you don’t play that string.
When you’re making a chord, it’s essential that you go to the chord with both fingers landing on the strings at exactly the same time.
In the key of G, for example, you’ll normally need these three chords: G, C, D.
In the key of D, you’ll need D, G and A.
And in the key of C, you’ll need C, F and G.
For more on this, check out my article Easy Two Chord Mandolin Songs.
Wayne Erbsen has been teaching banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin since dinosaurs roamed the earth (really, about 50 years). Originally from California, he now makes his home in Asheville, North Carolina. He has written 30 songbooks and instruction books for banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin.