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Fiddle Lessons: First, Second, Third, Half and Fourth

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It's time to talk about positions,
positions in the sense of where our left
hand is on the fingerboard.
We're gonna get our nomenclature together
of so that we'll be able to talk about
where we are on the finger board in terms
that everybody understands.
So this comes somewhat from classical
violin study but it applies
to any kind of fiddle playing because it's
just a good way of, figuriing out
where you are and being really systematic
about what notes you're playing.
So, first position,
second position, third position, fourth
position, half position.
Now, these are all places that we move to
on the fingerboard with our left hand.
And then we might stay there or we might
move through them.
But places to play notes that we might not
be able to get.
Now, first position's, obviously,
the position that we are in almost all of
the time.
And certainly what people start with, you
know, they start with that position where,
[SOUND] and it sort of refers to your
first finger being where,
[SOUND] your first finger would normally
Which sounds kind of self reflexive but
it's just that very useful position that
we all use.
It's the place where everyone start.
So, first, first position.
Now I'm very comfortable with that.
Now, second position, if we that's where
the first finger moves to where.
The second finger would normally be, if we
were in the first position, so.
We, we could go up to.
Let's move that whole thing.
So again, let's go to the A string.
Play the B note.
With our first finger.
And then let's play the C note.
With our second finger.
This is all, all this is normal.
And then we take our hand and move it up.
And instead of playing the C note with our
second finger, all of a sudden we're
playing it with our first finger.
And then we would.
so we have this place that all of a sudden
we moved.
And if we were playing mandolin, this
wouldn't seem so
scary because we'd still have all those
Now we have our imaginary frets, and we
know what those notes sound like,
so we can kinda just.
[SOUND] Hone in this.
Play a little.
C major scale.
We know that all the relationships in that
C major scale are going to be the same
as if we were playing an E major scale.
Let's go back down and play an E major
scale for a second.
Find the E note as your first finger on
the D string and then we play E.
All right, so we have a wide,
a wide, a narrow, and then we switch over
to the next string.
Wide, wide, narrow, so we got this nice
little symmetrical
Go ahead and play that.
So, now we're gonna go back.
We're gonna find that B note and
then we're gonna play the C note with our
second finger.
then we're gonna move the first finger up
to where our second finger was.
All, now we're in second position.
And then we're gonna play a C Major scale
and we're gonna use that same finger
spacing, exact same finger spacing.
All the relationships remain the same and
it might sound a little out of tune of
You're going to have to get used to where
exactly those notes are but
it's the same general idea.
[SOUND] So we get a wide.
[SOUND] A wide [SOUND].
Next string.
Wide, wide and narrow.
If we come back down.
I love
second position, because for just reasons
like this.
C, the key of C.
If you're playing around in C.
[NOISE] What do you do there?
Do you stretch up and grab that high C?
It's just, it's tantalizing.
It's right in, it's, it's almost in reach.
But, you have to.
You have to, ss, just stretch A.
Or jump up with some other finger.
How about,
just spend a little quality time in second
And you can just grab that C.
[SOUND] Without having to stretch or do
It's very useful.
Let's look at third position.
Third position is the very next position
after first position.
The most classical violinists learn if you
have had a background in classical violin.
You may already know third position.
Second position is kind of funny because,
people don't always learn it that soon,
and, and people get a little nervous about
because it's a in sort of weird place
between first and third positions.
If you have never played third position
the nice thing about third position,
again, we're gonna play.
On the A string,
let's play a D note on the A string with
our third finger.
And third position is where our,
where our first finger goes if it takes
the place of our third finger.
So, we jump up there to the D.
Find a D with a first finger,
go back to third, again with the first.
the nice thing about third position as I
was saying is that.
Now, and when you slide up there.
the heel of your hand kind of slams into
the body of the violin just at the right
point to give you kind of a depth gauge,
feeler gauge, to let you know where
you are so that you kind of have a, you
know, kind of stop for yourself.
you don't wind up in third position again.
That would put us playing a D-major scale
right there in third position, and
of course even though the distance between
the notes are a little narrower.
It's still all the same general
So those are the very most useful
positions for
what we're gonna be doing in bluegrass and
you know,
any kind of improvising in traditional and
string band music in general.
But of course there are other positions.
Fourth obviously is
where your first finger takes over where
our fourth finger would normally be if we
play on the A string an E note.
And we come all the way up
and find that note.
Here's our first finger,
then we're playing the fourth position.
So that's pretty obvious then we just keep
going up fifth position sixth seventh all
those crazy positions.
That we may not use in the near future but
you never know.
Something might come up, you might have to
go up there, up in
the snow and find some lost St. Bernard up
there or something like that.
Now what about this half position
This is a position that comes in handy if
you're playing in sharp keys.
And this is really useful for Bluegrass
because you do wind up playing in keys
like B, and keys like that a lot because
of where people are singing.
So it's kinda obvious on the top two
string what you're gonna do in B, right?
You're gonna just do that same.
Again, it's like playing in E.
But what happens when you get down?
All of a sudden,
you're kind of in this weird place where
there's all these sharp notes and they're,
and if you play an open string, it's bad.
It doesn't sound right.
So what, there's two
different ways of doing this playing down
on the bottom strings in B.
And one of them is to go down to half
So you would slide down a half step.
There's the major seventh of a B.
And then,
and then you play a G sharp with your
fourth finger.
Which is interesting.
And then, the F sharp with your third
finger which is, feels very weird,
very different.
And then the, eh, e note which your
normally play with your first finger gets
played with your second finger.
then you have a nice place to put that d
sharp, that pesky d sharp.
That's your first and
then again the same thing.
So that is one way to get around that
awkward B major scale problem.
Playing in, what's known as half position
you just move everything down a half step.
There's also other ways to do that.
You could go, if you were playing a B you
could go like.
You could just grin and
bear it, stretch it very far.
Play like that.
But that's another subject for another
So, those are our positions, and that kind
of calls into mind well okay yeah
these relationships again.
These physical relationships between the
that stay the same no matter were we are
on the finger board.
If we play the
first finger [SOUND] second finger,
[SOUND] third finger.
We have one, [SOUND] two, [SOUND] three.
[SOUND] It's also one, [SOUND] two,
[SOUND] major three, [SOUND] four.
Perfectly matches up with
our finger numbers.
One, two, three, four.
And then of course.
Now we don't have eight fingers so
it's actually one, two, three, four,
But four plus four equals eight.
Now if we move it up into different
positions even though we don't have frets,
we can move around.
Pretend like we have frets.
We use our imaginary frets.
No matter where we are if we kind of call
out a play.
Well play a C sharp, major scale.
That would be, okay, what, where, okay.
How about, just go up, find the C-sharp on
your A string
with your second finger,mmm and then.
Find, just jump up and find that same
match that same note with your first
finger, right?
And then pretend like you're in E or in B.
Again it's like one, two, three major
Four, five, six, sev-
So we have all those same relationships.
That's what's great about the way this
instrument is tuned.
You can move that stuff around anywhere,
you will have the same finger
Moving around, second, third position, all
that kind of stuff and that's gonna.
Really be a great tool to use when you're
improvising or making up new melodies or
trying to hear somebody else's playing.
Trying to quickly learn a melody.
Gotta use those finger relationships and
positions in order to very quickly learn
and play music back.