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The courses are normally tuned in a succession of perfect fifths.
It is the soprano member of a family that includes the mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and mandobass.
The modern soundboard is designed to withstand the pressure of metal strings that would break earlier instruments.
The soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections.
The line of short lutes was further developed to the east of Mesopotamia, in Bactria, Gandhara, and Northwest India, and shown in sculpture from the 2nd century BC through the 4th or 5th centuries AD.
Bactria and Gandhara became part of the Sasanian Empire (224–651 AD).
Under the Sasanians, a short almond shaped lute from Bactria came to be called the barbat or barbud, which was developed into the later Islamic world's oud or ud.
There are many styles of mandolin, but three are common, the Neapolitan or round-backed mandolin, the carved-top mandolin and the flat-backed mandolin.
The round-back has a deep bottom, constructed of strips of wood, glued together into a bowl.