On violin there are (at least) two ways to play double stop octaves.

The 'regular' way: using fingers 1+4 1+4 1+4 etc.

or 'fingered': using fingers 1+3 2+4 1+3 2+4 etc.

I remember seeing somewhere something similar for the cello. Fingered thirds.

I can't remember where, and I can't find anything on google. So was that my imagination?

or is 'fingered thirds' referring to playing thirds using fingers

3+1 4+1 3+1 4+2 etc. as in thumb position?

vs the 'regular' way, using fingers

4+1 4+1 4+1 4+1 etc.

Also if 'fingered thirds' isn't the right name, then what is it?

  • just curious what is the notation being used here? what does the 1+4 mean? is that a finger and string or a string and position marking?
    – b3ko
    May 29, 2018 at 18:25
  • I'm referring to the fingers here. so 1+4 would mean first finger and 4th finger. I edited the question to reflect that. May 29, 2018 at 18:27
  • one more question, sorry, i am not sure if your question is not clear or if this is just that is just too different from guitar for me to get what you mean. What are you trying to play, two notes a 3rd apart from each other at the same time, a series of notes like c, e, then d, f, then e, g...going up the scale with jumps of thirds, or something else all together?
    – b3ko
    May 29, 2018 at 18:41
  • It's fine, I'll be able to clear up my question if things are unclear. When we say double stops on the violin and cello (guitar too I think) we mean playing two pitches on two different strings at once. So C+E, D+F, E+G etc. would be double stop thirds. Double stop octaves would be C+C, D+D, E+E etc. When you say, jumps of thirds it sounds like you are describing scales in thirds which is a different thing. The notes would be separate and would generally have different fingerings. May 29, 2018 at 19:02
  • 1
    Unless you have extremely large hands, any fingering but 4+1 is impractical for thirds in neck positions; at least it's basically impossible for minor thirds. I do occasionally play major thirds with 3+1, but only in the context of a larger strummed chord – I doubt this has any name cellists would be familiar with. May 29, 2018 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


for octave doublestops

Obviously above 4th or 5th position you can do whatever's comfortable (or better, whatever pairing lets you get into and outof the double-stops to the remainder of the notes in the passage) . In the lower positions, folks like me with big hands have no difficulty playing thumb + 3 or even a fully extended 1+4 . Smaller hands probably require thumb+3 (and some stretching exercises :-) ) .

for thirds doublestops

lower positions: 1+3 followed by 2+4 or vice versa. Upper positions: same if you're comfortable, but preferable, usually is thumb+2 followed by 1+3 .
That said, there's no reason not to use thumb+2; 1+3 in lower positions if you wish, especially if the passage moves, with double stops, into higher positions.

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