Traditional music ensembles of Transylvania mainly consist of three instruments - violin, viola and double bass. The viola/bass combination provides a strong rhythm for the predominantly dance orientated music. The Transylvanian chord viola (kontra) is a modified version of its classical cousin with three distinct differences:
- Three strings, tuned G-D-A, with the last being a G-string tuned one octave lower than a classical viola's A.
- The bridge has been cut straight enabling all three strings to be played in unison creating triad chords.
- There are no chin or shoulder rests, as they are not needed.
- The öreges hangolású kontra uses a C-string in place of the D and is tuned one octave lower than a classical viola's D.
- The prímkontra, done on both violas an violins, uses an A-string for the A with the classical viola's tuning.
- The Sajó-menti kontra has 4 strings using a C-string for the D and a G-string for the A.
- In some areas of Transylvania, as well as most of Hungary, the classical 4-stringed viola (brácsa) is used.