How Difficult Would It Be to Learn Violin for a Guitarist?

Most often than not, mastering one instrument is the first step to learning a new one. 

For the majority of people, their first musical approach has been the guitar. 

This is because the guitar is not hard to understand. It takes a couple of days or weeks to make it sound relatively good. 

Therefore, many start with guitar and then move to other instruments. 

If you are a guitarist and you are reading this article, it means that your next goal is probably going to be the violin. 

Violins have been around since the early 16th Century, and their popularity in music is far from disappearing. 

Such a beautiful instrument requires a lot of hard work and dedication. 

This leads to a question: will I find it easier to transition to violin if I already play guitar? 

Learning the violin is harder than learning other instruments. It takes almost a year to start playing it properly, and even if you already know guitar, it doesn’t guarantee it will require less amount of time or effort. Both instruments have more differences than similarities. 

Please, don’t let this fact demotivate you from achieving your goals. 

Truth is, there are lots of concepts to consider before jumping to conclusions. 

For some people, it will be easier. For others, it will be harder. 

Either way, I encourage you to keep reading. You’ll find everything you need to know before switching from one to the other. 

Things that would be easier for a guitarist picking up a violin

Since both instruments are string instruments, it is not exactly rare to find certain similarities between the two of them. 

Some of the violin techniques or abilities that will be easier for guitarists are the following: 

  • Finger dexterity: both instruments develop finger dexterity, which is the ability to place, turn, and pick up small objects with the fingers. 
  • Fretting notes:  beginners may find it hard to fret notes. It could be painful at first to press the strings with the fingerprints against the fretboard. Guitarists are already used to this. In addition, violin strings are easier to press down than guitar strings. 
  • String tuning: It takes time to understand how to tune an instrument. Knowing to tune by ear, even more. If you are a guitarist, you are a few steps ahead. 
  • Interval ear training: An interval is a distance in pitch between two notes. These are learned by ear. 

Things that would be challenging for a guitarist picking up a violin

We started the article with the “easy” part because we don’t want to disappoint you. 

However, we must be realistic and stick with the two sides of the coin. 

Here are the difficulties you can expect when transitioning from guitar to violin: 

  • Playing with a bow: This is brand new! To play the violin, you need to use a bow in your right hand. This is far from resembling a pick. It might take a while until you get the hang out of it. 
  • No frets: There are no frets in violins. Nothing to indicate the limit between one note and the following. If you ever played with a fretless bass guitar, for instance, then it might result slightly easier for you. Also, years of practice lead to muscle memory regarding notes’ position. 
  • Fret’s length: Violins are smaller. Way smaller. This means that if the fingerboard is shorter, then there is less margin for error. 
  • Strings tuned in fifths: From the lowest to the highest, the violin strings are tuned G, D, A, and E. Just like a bass guitar, but backward. Getting used to it won’t be straightforward.  
  • Change of posture: the violin posture needs to be upright while remaining flexible. Guitars have an ideal posture too, but it is not impossible to change it and still be able to play.  

Is violin more difficult than guitar?

It is safe to say that violins are harder to learn than guitars

Not only because of the reasons mentioned before (no frets, violing tuning, the bow) but also because it takes a lot of time to make it sound pleasant. 

Compare it with guitars. 

A guitar can sound dirty and enjoyable simultaneously, especially if it’s an electric guitar. 

Even mistakes can be easily forgotten on guitars. 

Plus, with guitars, all it takes is some chords strummed together to make it acceptable. 

Practice non-stop for a few days and expect some improvement. 

A Violin is different, and it shouldn’t surprise you to find yourself struggling with it for months before making anything decent. 

What is more, both right and left hands require full attention, unlike guitars that at first need the focus on the fretting hand solely.  

Lastly, bear in mind no two musicians are alike. 

Maybe you find it easier than others to transition from one instrument to the other. 

Maybe, it takes more than a year before you get used to it. 

Don’t despair. If you practice, you are bound to master it in the long run. 

Just don’t compare yourself with others. Keep your own rhythm. 

How long would it take to learn the violin as a guitar player?

Playing basic melodies shouldn’t take more than a month. 

Of course, mastering the violing requires more than merely knowing to play root notes. 

As with any instrument, is a never-ending journey. You never stop learning, and this is something good. 

Now, for a broader amount of techniques, expect to practice for at least a year before noticing the results. 

The main issue is learning how to use the bow, how to move it properly, and how to get the sound you are expecting to get. 

Violins are time-consuming instruments. 

Sure, it is worth the time and effort, but you may be prone to frustration. 

It is understandable, but please, do not rush in. 

Be patient.      

Should you take violin lessons as a guitar player?

Violin classes are a must. 

Yes, there are many virtuous people who can learn to play on their own. However, those are just a minority. 

Knowing guitar beforehand could help you in the sense that you were already working in the music field. 

Other than that, you still need to know every technical aspect that comes with the violin. 

A teacher will guide you. He or she will warn you against the most common issues that emerge when learning to play the violin. 

He or she will provide practice exercises for you to learn both quicker and more efficiently. 

If you want to practice with Youtube lessons, then that’s fine. You’ll probably find interesting and useful advice. 

But for a more serious approach, always take private lessons.     

Can you play the violin like a guitar?

A violin is not played like a guitar at all. 

Now, it is true that both are string instruments, and that they share certain similarities, although them being rather small. 

Is there a way to approach a violin like a guitar, then? 

Well, the closest we can get is a technique called pizzicato

Pizzicato consists of plucking the violin strings with the fingers instead of the bow. 

Such a technique could help you at the very beginning, so you can familiarize yourself with the instrument. 

Are violin and guitar notes the same?

Instruments that use western tuning have the same 12 notes. 

However, the main difference is in their layout. 

The layout of the notes of the violin fretboard is different from the ones on a guitar. A violin is tuned in fifths instead of fourths. 

The lowest note on the violin is a G3. The rest of the air notes are like a regular guitar (except for B and high E), but the order is the opposite. Instead of being E, A, D, G, the order changes to G, D, A, E. 

To make a more clear comparison, the relationship is like those of the D string with the A string of a guitar but in drop D tuning. 

Can you play chords on a violin?

Violin chords are a possibility. The difference is that with guitars, it is possible to make chords with up to six strings simultaneously (for regular six-string guitars). 

On the contrary, it’s impossible to play more than three notes simultaneously on a violin. 

Also, violin chords are not common. Compare it to guitars, which main focus, for the most part, relies on playing chords. 

In violin music theory, there exists what is known as double stops

Double stops are not exactly chords because they require the use of only 2 notes. 

Real chords need a minimum of three. 

However, some people call this technique the easiest “violin chords”, so it applies to this case.  

Finally, let’s recap the pizzicato technique. 

Instead of using a bow, playing with the fingers will make violin chords easier. 

Pizzicato is great for having a better grasp of the instrument. That is until you master the use of the bow. 

Hope this information has clarified all your doubts. 

Good luck!