Russian Guitar

Published by Robert Coldwell on

After recently acquiring a Russian guitar I’ve gone through a number of pedagogic resources to find those that might help others interested in learning this instrument.

The Russian guitar has little exposure outside of Russia, but here are some of the best players and resources in English:

Oleg Timofeyev

John Schneiderman

Mårten Falk

Stefan Wester

Rob MacKillop – Sarenko and Co

In Russian there are quite a few resources but the language barrier can be quite immense. The Russian national libraries contain a large amount of digitized music (and surprisingly so do the Rischel and Boije collections in Europe). The most comprehensive site for music and methods is Sheet music for Russian Guitar.

There are many methods for the Russian guitar and I focused on the 19th century publications rather than the Soviet ones, although most follow similar patterns starting with many pages basic music reading and diagrams where the notes fall on the 7-string neck. I chose the V. Morkov School for Guitar (Jurgenson, Moscow 1886) because it moves more directly to short pieces which are musically interesting. The Soviet methods seem to be heavier on fingering and take more care to introduce different techniques with simple examples and appropriate musical pieces, but would require more time in translation. For now I will present the works from Morkov and will expand to others if there seems to be some interest.

For this process, I engraved a few pieces of similar style for each file, converted the finger numbering to modern pima format, corrected mistakes and added tablature. There are places where Morkov was more specific than others so Oleg Timofeyev has graciously reviewed my work where Morkov made no clear indications to ensure the positions and fingering are idiomatically accurate. There are versions with and without tab so you can start with tab to understand positions and fingering, then switch to the non-tab PDF or disable tab in Soundslice. Moving away from tab will make the rest of the Russian guitar repertoire more easily accessible to you.

  1. Pages 13-14, Exercises for Both Hands PDF Soundslice
  2. Pages 14-15, Exercises with Double Notes PDF Soundslice
  3. Page 15, Exercise in Chords PDF Soundslice
  4. Page 18, Exercises PDF Soundslice
  5. Pages 19-20, Preludes PDF Soundslice
  6. Page 21, Preludes PDF Soundslice
  7. Pages 22-23, Etudes PDF Soundslice
  8. Pages 23-26, Etudes PDF Soundslice
  9. Pages 27-28, Caprice and God Save the King
  10. Pages 28-29, Songs by Yavkovlev
  11. Pages 29-30, Songs by Pashkov and Gurilev
Russian guitar fretboard layout influenced by 19th century method formats.

Suggested Recordings

Categories: Russia


Elias Gale · May 6, 2020 at 1:03 pm

THANK YOU!! I’m a 2nd year Russian language student that’s been diving deep into Russian music to help motivate my learning. I’ve fallen in love with the guitar stylings of Andrei Krylov and began learning about Russian Guitar. There’s so few English language resources on learning the 7 string and I began to despair because I’m not familiar enough with Open G to learn things by ear like I can with Standard or Drop D. This is extremely helpful 🙂

    Brian Jarrell · March 14, 2024 at 5:16 pm

    Just came across this and I want to say thank you for posting the pdf’s with tabular from this book. I don’t speak or read Russian so figuring that method book out is… difficult… I appreciate the work you out into this, again. THANK YOU!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.