Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Violin Strings 101

Violin Strings are one of the most important parts of the whole instrument, if not the most. But there are so many different types of violin strings, how can you be sure of which ones to buy? Well, there can be 3 different types of strings. These are:


These were made of sheep gut, interestingly enough, and were the norm for many, many centuries. Gut strings are known for having a very warming tone, but the violin can easily fall out of tune if heat is applied to them. These strings are rarely sold in violin shops today, they are sold by individual violin string makers.


As technology developed, these strings became very popular for the beginner violinist. This is because the strings were a lot cheaper than other sets of strings and the pitch doesn’t change very easily – which means less hassle =). But, the sound quality is dampened, as these violin strings can sound a bit “thin” at times if coming to the end of their lifetime.


These were invented only about 30-40 years ago and consist of nylon and other composite materials. These are incredibly popular for classically trained violinists as they have the qualities that gut strings have but also have an incredible shelf life.

Now I’ve got that out of the way, the latter two are the main sets of strings that every violinist uses today. Only people that use specialist “Baroque” instruments use the gut strings as they to work better with the style of instrument. I’ll show you one of each type that I think is the best of its own standard.

Red Label Violin Strings

Now, these strings are made of the “Steel Core” material. They are incredibly good value for money and last for a long time. But I have found that these strings can hurt your fingers as they may have to be pressed down a little harder than other sets. The Red Label strings value at around £20 a whole set – for violin strings this cheap, I would recommend them to anyone for a spare set of strings if a beginner.

Dominant Violin Strings

Well, these set of strings are just incredible. Period. They are the classical violinists dream. These set of strings are made from the synthetic core and although being more expensive than all steel strings, they are definitely worth the extra price. These strings sound like gut strings and again, last for an incredibly long time. They do fall out of tune every now and then, but they do require “fine” tuning probably every time you practice.

How to fit the Violin Strings

Now, it’s a whole different ball park fitting these fiddly pieces of violin equipment! First of all, loosen the current violin strings using the peg to twist so it unwinds. When the string doesn’t seem tense, look at the fine tuners and see where the violin string ends. From there, pull that part of the string backwards and then simply pull up! The gold coil that you will see hooks inside the violin adjuster.

After you have got out the string, take out your new violin string and place the gold hook straight away into the adjuster slot. Once that’s done, it’ll be necessary if you don’t have nimble fingers (no offence intended :P) to collect a pair of tweezers. Stretch the string to the end of the fingerboard with the coloured material at the end. Try to guide the end of the string through the tiny hole of the violin peg! Push it through so it won’t fall out, and when done so, twist the violin peg several times until the violin string looks to have a similar tension to how the other violin string did before.

All that needs to be done is to do it for each of the other strings! It may get really frustrating, but it is so more rewarding and an interesting process rather than paying money for something unnecessary. But just beware, don’t tighten the string too much, or it’ll break and violin strings aren’t necessarily cheap ;). Now that I’ve told you all about violin strings, now go do it yourself!

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