Fiddle chords

Fiddle chords DEFAULT

MandoFrogBy Wayne Erbsen

One of my students recently asked me to give him a sheet with all the fiddles chords he would need to play most any bluegrass song. I certainly wanted to help him out, but I decided that I wouldn’t be doing him any big favors by handing him the chords on a sheet of paper. Instead, I needed to help him understand how to make up his own chords. That way, if a big gust of wind blew his sheet away, he wouldn’t be up the creek without a paddle, so to speak.

As you already know, fiddles and mandolins are tuned the same, so what I’m going to say applies to both, with one exception. On a mandolin, you can strum all strings, but on a fiddle you can only play two notes at a time. As you might guess, those two notes have to be on adjacent strings.

Here’s what I do plan to give him. I’ve drawn the fret marks in there, but that will also be useful to the fiddlers trying to orient themselves.

mando chords

You may be asking, “what kind of chord is that? How do I make that with four fingers?

Of course, this is not an illustration of a chord, but instead it contains the raw materials out of which you can construct many chords. Just like constructing anything, there’s a few simple principles that you need to know.

How to construct a chord: A major chord is made up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of a scale. Let’s call this the “1, 3, 5 rule.”

Here are some common scales:

C: C, D, E, F, G, A, G, C, D.

D: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D.

G: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G.

A: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G# A.

In addition to letters, scales can be given numbers. A “C” scale, for example, would be C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5, A=6, B=7.

If we apply the “1, 3, 5 rule” to the C scale, we can easily see that 1 is C, 3 is E and 5 is G. That means that a C chord consists of a C, an E and a G. That’s it!

To make a chord on a fiddle, you just have to find any two of those three notes that are on adjacient strings. Here are some of your options for playing a C chord.

C on G string and E on D string.

E on D string and G on G string.

E on D string and C on A string.

C on A string and E string open.

C on A string and G on D string.

C on A string and G on E string.

Of course, you can use two finger chords on a mandolin too. I frequently use two finger chords when I play rhythm, but you can also use two finger chords to play harmony with melody notes you’re planing.

Marcus Martin +For example, let’s say you’re playing the song “I’ll Fly Away” in the lady’s key of C. The first note on the mandolin or fiddle would be an E. (“Some glad morning…”). If you play that E note on the D string at the 2nd fret (or the equivelant if you’re a fiddler), you’ve got several choices of other notes of the C chord you can play with that E note. You could play the G string open, you could play a C note on the G string, or you could play a C note on the A string. Whether you’re playing harmony or chords, your goal is to play at least two notes of the C chord: C, G, and E.

You can now take the “1, 3, 5 rule” and apply it to D, G, or A scale the same way. Actually, it would apply to any scale, but I’m trying to keep things down to earth here.

7 Violin Chord Chart Diagrams for Beginners (with Photos)

Although the violin is traditionally a solo, melodic instrument, you might wonder whether it’s possible to play accompanying, chordal patterns in the same way you play chords on guitar or piano.

The answer is, of course, absolutely yes.

Chord shapes on violins can be highly effective and exactly what you might need to take an accompanying role in a gypsy-jazz, jazz-swing, or folk music.

In this article, we show you how to play the 7 most popular violin chords.

Table of Contents

How to Play Violin Chords

Violin chords are three or more notes simultaneously, as you see below.

However, you can play each note separately to create arpeggios, or play strings in pairs as ‘double stops’. What you’ll achieve will still be a chord-based, rhythmic accompaniment.

As you can see, each finger is given a number (we’ve labeled the thumb, but it isn’t used in violin playing).

Finger names

Note: in some of the diagrams, you’ll see we mention ‘low 1’ and ‘1’. This simply refers to how stretched out your finger is.

  • If it’s a ‘low 1’ your finger should hardly be stretched at all
  • If you’re asked to use ‘1’, it should be a little further down, achieving a whole tone higher than your open string.

If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, check out our violin fingering guide.

Violin Chord Chart Diagrams

A Major

a major violin chord

For the A Major shape, use your first finger on the G and D string to play A and E, then use your middle finger for the C# on the A string and your third finger for the high A on the E string.

a major violin chord photo

D Major

D Major has finger 1 on the G string to play an A, finger 2 playing F# on the D string, and your third finger playing D on the A string and A on the E string. You could choose to use your third finger for the D and your pinky for the A; whichever suits you best.

d major violin chord diagram

D Major has finger 1 on the G string to play an A, finger 2 playing F# on the D string and your third finger playing D on the A string and A on the E string. You could choose to use your third finger for the D and your pinky for the A; whichever suits you best.

d major violin chord photo

G Major

g major violin chord diagram

G Major sees just two fingers: your first finger on B on the A string and your second finger on G on the E string. You can play the G and D strings openly, making this one of the easier shapes to manage.

g major violin chord photo

F Major

f major violin chord diagram

F Major has finger 1 on the E string in the low 1, finger 2 playing F on the D string and finger 3 playing C on the G string. You play the A string open, so make sure none of your other fingers are accidentally touching it.

f major violin chord

A Minor

a minor violin chord diagram

The A Minor shape is very similar to A Major. All that’s changed is the C# has been flattened to a C. So, finger 1 plays both A on the G string and E on the D string. Your middle finger plays C on the A string, and your third finger plays A on the E string.

a minor violin chord photo

E Minor

e minor chord

E Minor is another quite simple shape. Finger 1 plays E on the D string and B on the A string, whilst your middle finger holds down G on the E string. The G string can be played openly.

e minor violin chord photo

B Minor

b minor violin chord diagram

Finally, B Minor has finger 2 on B on the G string and F# on the D string, whilst your third finger plays D on the A string. Don’t play the E string.

These chords where you cover more than one string with one finger can feel a bit odd to begin with, but it’s worth persevering as it ensures your fingers stay in the correct position, which makes it easier to move to the next chord.

b minor violin chord photo


So, there are have 7 violin chords to work into your practice routine.

Once you have memorized the shapes and have got used to playing them as arpeggios, why not experiment with double-stops and even triple-stops?

Playing multiple strings simultaneously can really bring these shapes to life. Remember, as it’s an accompanying part, focus on the rhythm. If you’re in time, and your fingers are in the right shapes, you can’t go wrong.

Have fun!


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As a fiddler or a violinist, you won’t always be playing chords while playing with a band. If you are echoing the band’s melodies you very well may be playing chords, so a normal place to start learning is fiddle chords for beginners. This gives you a solid base and allows you to start playing songs early.

Just like most instruments, there is a multitude of ways to play each chord. In this article, we’ll only be going over basic chords in the first positions, or high up on the neck. As you learn the neck and you’re bowing improves you can move down the neck, but to start, stay high! 

This article is aimed at helping absolute beginners, we want to help you learn to play basic chords on the fiddle. Once you have these five beginner fiddle chords memorized and you’re able to play them effortlessly, you’ll be able to play enough songs to let you work on more advanced things like bowing technique and playing double stops!


5 Fiddle Chords for Beginners​

The first thing you need to know before you start learning is a basic understanding of the neck, or at least a notation chart. We’ve included our basic chart below for reference. By knowing the notes of the chord you are trying to play you’ll be able to adjust your left hand to finger chords correctly when you find your hand placement slightly off. 

1st Position Fiddle Notes

Because of the lack of frets on the neck of a fiddle, it is important that you become familiar with the different positions and notes before attempting to play any chords. Once you can accurately position your fingers you are ready to start to attempt playing basic chords. 

Before you even attempt to play easy fiddle chords you should spend time each day placing your finger on each note. Using a electric tuner while you play is a great visual way to have feedback for what you’re playing.

Fiddle technique, both with your left hand and with your bowing arm, only comes with dedicated practice. Make sure you’re practicing playing the chord the way it’s supposed to sound. If your bow strokes are resulting in choppy, broken chords go back and reposition everything until it sounds perfect. 

The Gmajor Chord 

Gmajor for Violin

The G major chord is played by having your first finger goes on the B note of the A string and the 2nd finger on the G of the E string. Both the D and G strings are open. This is the easiest of the basic chords and a great place for beginners to start! 

The Dmajor Chord

D Major for Violin

Your first finger goes on the A note of the G string, 2nd finger on the F# of the D string, 3rd finger on the D# of the A string, and the 4th finger on the A# note of the E string. 


The Fmajor Chord

Fmajor Chord for Violin

Your first finger goes on the C note of the G string, 2nd finger on the F of the D string, 3rd finger on the F of the E string. Make sure that the A string is not being impeded or brushed by your 2nd or 3rd fingers or it will sound as if you are not playing in tune! 

The Amajor Chord

Amajor chord for Violin

Your first finger goes on the A note of the G string, 2nd finger on the E of the D string, 3rd finger on the C# of the A string, and the 4th finger on the A note of the E string. Because of the adjacent strings both being fretted in the 1st position many players like to position thier left hand so the index finger can hold both the A and E notes. 

The Eminor Chord

E minor chord for Violin

Your first finger goes on the E note of the D string, 2nd finger on the B note of the A string, and the 3rd finger on the G of the E string.

These five chords are a great start for any Fiddler or Violinist. These beginner fiddle chords are a great start, and once you want to expand your basic chord set Nikolas Efthymiou has a nice article with the next two chords to learn.

It also might be a good idea to get your hands on a fiddle or violin chord chart, and to start learning to read sheet music. While bluegrass songs and oldtime fiddle is often played with chords, classical music will still be played off of sheet music. 

Basic Bowing Technique for Chords

Bowing any of the chords that involve more than the thinnest two strings can be difficult. Each string bowed is described as a “stop”. Therefore, a chord in which you bow three strings is a “triple stop”. The correct technique is to bow the strings in pairs and to spend most of the time in contact with the thinner strings, not the thicker ones.

There is a basic explanation of this on ViolinMasterClass and in the video below. Bowing technique lessons are some of the most helpful to a beginner to the fiddle, and if you have the money to invest can be a great help. 

The Final Note

One of the first lessons that absolute beginners normally receive is how to play the easy chords on the fiddle, which can be complicated since you don’t have the benefit of frets. Before you can play solos, play-along tracks, harmonies, or even playing backup for a group you’ll need to know the beginner chords and notes!

Interesting in more fiddle content? Good news… we have you covered! 

Faded Love Chords for Beginner Fiddle

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At some point, I felt that people in the carriage arrived and people stood even tighter.

Faded Love Chords for Beginner Fiddle

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