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doc on balalaika

To see an explanation of how the fingering charts used on this website work,  CLICK HERE

Basic Balalaika Chords Listed By Key

1. Chords in the key of C 2. Chords in the key of G 3. Chords in the key of F
4. Chords in the key of D 5. Chords in the key of Bb 6. Chords in the key of A
7. Chords in the key of Eb 8. Chords in the key of E 9. Chords in the key of Ab
10. Chords in the key of B 11. Chords in the key of F# 12. Chords in the key of Db

About the Balalaika:

This portion of the website is designed to teach you basic balalaika chords by Key. It may also serve as an introduction to some who have little or no knowledge of the instrument.

The balalaika is an instrument that was popularized in Russia and Eastern Europe. The Prima Balalaika has three strings that are tuned E, E and A. Both E strings are tuned to the same pitch and are nylon strings. The A string is a steel string. Probably the most interesting feature of the instrument is the triangular shaped body.

The balalaika is plucked and strummed with the fingers instead of the use of a plectrum or pick. One of the most important techniques is the tremolo. This is done with the index finger and may be a bit difficult to master. The instrument also requires extensive use of the thumb on the fretting hand. Both the use of the fretting hand thumb and mastering of the tremolo are probably the two most difficult aspects of learning to play the instrument

Often a melody line is played on the steel string while the accompanying tones are played on the nylon strings. This creates a sound unique to the balalaika. A fast tremolo, however, is somewhat reminiscent of the tremolo technique used on a mandolin. However, a pick is most commonly used for the tremolo on the mandolin, whereas the tremolo is done with the index finger on the balalaika.

I bought a balalaika out of curiosity and was a bit skeptical as to what could be done on an instrument with only three strings, with two of them being tuned to the same pitch. I have come to realize that this instrument holds many possibilities and some very beautiful music can come from this instrument. I am a believer now and I am more than happy to recommend it to others. In fact, I would love to see the instrument become popularized in the United States. Even though I bought a lower price model, I love my balalaika and you'll have to pry it out of my cold dead fingers when I die.

Bob Craypoe


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