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Stringed instruments are musical instruments that we play with a bow, causing the strings to oscillate. The strings create sound with the help of a resonant body, which is why stringed instruments are classified into a group of cordophone instruments. In addition to playing with bow, we can use fingers to play the strings (a technique called pizzicato), and recently rhythmic beats with hands on the stringed instruments have been performed several times in the modern song arrangements.
The group of stringed instruments includes the following musical instruments:
- Violins - are the smallest stringed instruments and, of all the stringed instruments, are most often used as a solo instrument;
- Violas - they are slightly larger than violins and in orchestras nicely complement smaller violins with their slightly warmer sound;
- Cellos - here is a major leap in size, we hold them in an upright position and play sitting;
- Double Bass - they are the largest stringed instruments, we hold them in an upright position and play standing.
When you first decide to play a stringed instrument, you probably won’t know exactly which one to choose. Otherwise the most famous orchestral stringed instrument is the violin, but you may prefer to have a deeper viola voice or play in even lower registers with cello or double bass. If you have the opportunity to try each one in a music school program, this is definitely worth exploring.
Whatever the situation is, there is really one thing: there are no right or wrong decisions for instruments. Read basic information about violins, violas, cellos and bass, along with a brief history of each and some details on how to play them. With this information, you and / or your child, who is just entering the world of music, will be better prepared to make an informed decision about choosing a stringed instrument.
The violin, as the smallest of the four basic groups of stringed instruments, produces a distinctive sound that is very suitable for playing a melody. Because of this, it is the leading instrument in any orchestra, ensemble or duet and is a popular solo instrument. The violin is more numerous in a classical orchestra than any other instrument, where its role is divided into two parts: the first violin (plays the primary melody) and the second violin (plays harmony).
You may be surprised that the earliest versions of the violin were actually three-stringed instruments. The fourth string was added in 1555 by the Italian maker Andrea Amati to increase the range of the instrument.
Due to the unique dynamics of the violin, it has earned the reputation as the "queen of the orchestra", which can play a variety of melodies, from extremely soft to strong and dramatic. It is known for its exceptional dynamic capabilities and for its distinctive sound. All these qualities contributed to the remarkable success of the violin.
While it is true that violins are the smallest instrument in the family of orchestral strings, this does not mean that they are all the same size. In fact, the violins come in quite a few sizes, from the smallest “1/32” models to full-size instruments (often called “4/4”). The reason for this is very simple: the violin has to adapt closely to the performer for proper playing, so different sizes allow musicians to start learning as early as at the most young age and change instruments as they grow.
All violins are played by holding them to the left shoulder and chin, while the left hand supports the neck of the instrument and controls the notes and vibrato. By pulling the bow along the strings (or by strumming, a technique known as “pizzicato”), they vibrate, producing sound.
Many professional musicians choose to play the violin, but it is not mandatory to reach a professional level. You can play the violin for entertainment or perform in your free time, for example at church or school. It is important to extract from the instrument what satisfies you, which can be as simple as simply enjoying the sound, or as subjective as the feeling of satisfaction at your own progress. Because of this, the violin can be a good choice.
The viola is an instrument derived from the violin, which explains why it usually appears in orchestras as a complement to it. But don't be fooled: the viola can certainly be independent as a solo instrument, or it can even take the place of the violin in an ensemble if the music allows it. The viola is slightly larger than the violin, with a deeper, more resonant tone that greatly enriches the overall sound of the string section in the upper register.
Thanks to its full sound, the viola is indispensable for the formation of a string ensemble. It provides a nice contrast to the sound created by the slightly smaller violins, and adds a counterpoint that can occasionally take the lead for a more dynamic track - a feature used by many composers. If you’re interested in adding depth and character to your music viola may be the instrument for you.
Compared to the violin and the viola, the cello is a larger leap in the size of those instruments. It is the second largest stringed instrument after the double bass and produces sound in a much lower register than the violin or viola. The cello also more often uses “pizzicato” (strumming) technique, still playing with bow most often. Most music written for cello will require one or the other playing technique, but some songs also require switching between the two playing techniques.
The role of the cello in an orchestra can include accompaniment, harmony, or a leading melody — sometimes it can alternate between these three roles within a single composition. Acoustically, it occupies the middle sound spectrum, and if necessary, it can also jump to a higher or lower register. The cello can be a versatile solo instrument, and is also crucial in string sections and quartets, thanks to its ability to produce a fairly wide range of different sounds and melodies.
The double bass is the largest member of the stringed instruments family. With its rich, deep and soft tone, it is more versatile than it seems at first glance - just think how often jazz musicians use it in the lead role. In this case, the double bass is usually played with the “pizzicato” technique. In an orchestral setting, it can be played with a bow or “pizzicato,” depending on the music piece being performed.
Symphony orchestras and other string ensembles are still the most common environments where you will see double bass at work and more of them, while smaller groups typically include only one bassist. Due to its great dynamics, the double bass is a fantastic accompanying instrument and is usually overlooked in solo playing, although good bassists are also capable of very virtuoso solo inserts. And because good bassists are always sought after in the music community, bass is a smart choice for ambitious musicians.
In the Stringed instruments category you will also find a wide selection of bows and strings for stringed instruments and various accessories such as shouder rests, chin rests, cleaners and rosins, tuning pegs, bridges, tailpieces and fine tuners, mutes, cellos and double bass footers, pickups for strings instruments, stringed instruments stands, cases and bags for stringed instruments and miscellaneous accessories and spare parts.