Originally Posted by Steulen
How does it compare to playing the guitar? Is it basically the same?
It's not that different to playing a guitar, but guitarists generally find it quite frustrating at first. Basic chords are much easier on mandolin than on guitar so if you want to play that kind of thing it wouldn't take too long to get good. If you want to play tunes it's awkward and takes some getting used to. Tremolo is a new skill in itself.
In my experience, really good guitarists still start off as complete beginners on a mandolin, so loads of them just cbf. But if they start playing properly they learn waaaay faster than the people who don't play guitar.