I bought myself a balalaika and started to play with it. As I watched my first video here:

it tells that I have to use my index finger for stroking it.

But that is the only video or explaination I saw that is telling to use the index finger. The others all seem to use their thumb but I am unsure mybe it just looks like that.

Can anybody tell me how it is done properly?

Also the guy who sold it to me told me to tune it to H-E-A. But everywhere I look it says E-E-A.

What is the right tuning?

  • 1
    Please note that in English it's called "B", not "H" as in German :) Regarding the tuning: B-E-A seems to be the standard tuning for a piccolo-balalaika, whereas other balalaika types are tuned E-E-A . Can you tell us, what type of balalaika you've bought?
    – Arsak
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 16:44
  • actually not but the size looks like the one in the video if that helps?
    – xetra11
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 17:23

1 Answer 1


I did a quick literature search for you:

Complete Balalaika Book, Bibs Ekkel says "This consists of striking all three strings simultaneously with the extended index finger in a combination of down- and up-strokes" on page 10

Elementary Method for the Balalaika, Alexander Dorozhkin says "The strumming style of playing Strumming is the basic style of balalaika playing. This manner of playing consists of down and up strokes by the index finger of the right hand" on page 7

And the Encyclopedia of Russian History, James R. Millar, explains a lot about the balalaika, e.g. "and a playing technique based on rapid strumming with the index finger" on page 115 of volume 1

So taking into account that these seem to be basically trustworthy sources it would seem appropriate to treat the claim of the guy in your video for granted. Strumming is done with the index finger.

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