The Shortcut for Learning Beginner Violin-Fiddle Tunes

Tablature or “tab” is a fun way to get a quick start on the violin.  Fiddle tab is a straightforward shorthand system of showing what notes to play.  Once you learn how to read tab, you will be amazed at how fast you can learn a few simple tunes and build your confidence.

Fiddle tab works in the first position where most traditional and Celtic fiddle tunes are played.  If you do not intend on learning Paganini then you should be fine with fiddle tab for a while, though as you progress you will eventually need to learn the “legit” way of reading music.


If you need to add tape marks to your violin, you will need a pencil, masking or pinstripe tape and an electronic tuner.


 How to Add Tape Marks on Your Fiddle/Violin

  1. Get the open strings on your fiddle perfectly in tune with your electronic tuner.
  2. Play the A on the 4th string (see G1 below) and mark the fingerboard with a pencil when the A is perfectly in tune.
  3. Repeat step 2, except on the 1st string playing the F# (E1), and marking with a pencil when the F# is in tune.
  4. Take the thinly cut tape strip and slid it under the strings connecting the two pencil markings made in step 2 and 3.
  5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th string attaching the tape on G2, G3 and G4.

How to Read Fiddle Tab

There are the three steps to learn fiddle tab:

1) You will need to learn the names of the open strings:


  • 1st string = E

  • 2nd string = A

  • 3rd string = D

  • 4th string = G

2)  Study the diagram below and learn the notes that have tape on them, for example, E1, E2, E3 and E4. Learn and play all the notes on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings with tape on them.

3) Now learn the “L” or low notes. Play the E2, then place your finger mid-way between the 1st and 2nd tape mark.  This note is called EL2 (or a G in notation)

How to Read Violin-Fiddle Tab

The diagram above shows where to play a D1 (E in notation) with Fiddle Tab and notation.  

D Major Scale in Fiddle Tab

Ok, let’s see if you can figure out how to play the D Major scale and arpeggio using fiddle tab.  Start on the D string open (D0) then play the D string, 1st tape mark (D1), and so on:

D Major Fiddle Tab Violin Tablature

C Major Scale in Fiddle Tab

Now let’s try the C Major scale and arpeggio.  You will see the fourth note is DL2 (F).  That means to play that note between the 2nd and 1st piece of tape:

C Major Fiddle Tab Violin Tablature

House of the Rising Sun with Fiddle Tab

Ok, let’s move on to the old classic tune “House of the Rising Sun.”  Listen to the audio below to get the rhythm and follow the fiddle tab below the notes.  There is also a 2nd audio track with a slower guitar backing track to play along with.  Click here for the free fiddle pdf.


For more Fiddle Tab tunes, check out the books below.    Please leave any comments or suggestions for more violin-fiddle lessons below.

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Fiddle Tab – Traditional Collection

Can’t read music? Try Fiddle Tab.  A fun and easy way to learn traditional fiddle tunes.

Fiddle Tab – Holiday Collection

“Fiddle Tab Holiday Classics” 30-holiday classics for violin/fiddle with big letter notes and easy read tablature. How to read tab and fingerboard charts included. Also, guitar chords and lyrics to sing along. Perfect for beginners and the visually impaired.

Fiddle Tab – Celtic Collection

Can’t read music? Try Fiddle Tab.  A fun and easy way to learn Celtic fiddle tunes with easy-to-read fiddle tablature with big notes with letters inside. 30 of the most requested Celtic session tunes – jigs, reels, hornpipes, and waltzes. Great for beginners and visually impaired. below.

30 Celtic Fiddle Tunes with Easy Read Tablature and Notes.

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