I play the mandolin. Not as well by a long way as I play the flute, but I do play well enough.
I’m also a big guy. I’m six-five and though my hands aren’t huge, they’re big enough. Moreover, in the last several years I’ve had some inflammation in my arms and wrists that have made my hands hurt a bit when doing some things. One of those is turning mandolin tuners. I use a speed-winder made for guitars, and I’m about to get one more suitable for the smaller mandolin tuners, but I think there is a better way.
Recently, when looking at pictures of the old and famous Rickenbacher 12 string favoured by the likes of Jim McGuinn of the Byrds, I noticed that the tuners on that guitar are put on alternately on the side and on the bottom of the head of the instrument. Now, if one did this sort of thing for the mandolin, the keys or buttons used to turn the pegs could be larger and would be farther apart, making it easier to get one’s fingers on them. The best thing here would be for someone to manufacture tuners that could be retrofitted. I’ve been exploring the idea of alternating guitar and banjo (planetary) machines, but I’m not satisfied that this would be the best approach.
This alternating approach that I’m proposing would certainly mean a different look to the mandolin, or mandola, for that matter, but it would make it an easier instrument to tune and play.