How to Play Violin Chords – Which Asks the Age-Old Question "Are There Chords on the Violin?"

I’ve been a guitar player since I was 14 years old, so chords have always been the backbone of my playing knowledge. I was interested in broadening my musical horizons and picked up a violin at a pawn shop for $180.00, a stradivarius copy, but a nice violin with case and bow. It was broken on the inside, so I took it to my brother, the only violin player in our family, and asked him to fix it. It was well worth the $180.00 I spent after he repaired it.

Now came the fun part…learning. Imagine my surprise at picking up my new violin and, for one thing, there were no frets! This was challenging, and yet…how was I going to play it? I could have asked my brother, but there are 1350 miles separating us, so that proved to be difficult.

I spent some time doing some research about how to play violin chords. There was not as much information available as I thought there would be, but there was some.

Here is what I learned:

The violin is mainly used to play continuous notes by drawing the bow across the strings in a continuous motion. You can create combination notes by changing up your fingers on the fretboard to create “slurs”. These are notes that are to be played without separation.

The chords that have been used on the violin are actually the ones for the mandolin, another instrument tuned to the G, D, A, E sequence, but played with a pick. Somewhere in history, someone experimented while playing the violin and used the mandolin chords to create music.

What a great opportunity this was to use the violin in a different venue, to create a different sound entirely!

These chords are simple fretting which only requires the holding down of 2 strings and strumming of all or only a couple. What a fascinating variety of sound you can achieve by changing things up a bit.

So, in essence, to play an A “chord”, you hold down the D string on the second fret area and strum both the A and D strings.

The only problem that arises is for the new violinist who is not familiar with his fretboard. Without knowing what notes are actually played on the fretboard, the chording patterns will be useless to the new violin player.

So, it makes sense to learn the fretboard before you try to learn how to play violin chords.