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How to Choose the Right Violin Strings

choose the right violin string

Whether you're a beginner or an advanced player, you may have no idea what type of strings you're using on your violin. Don't worry, you're not alone. Most of us love learning new music, but strings? We just want our instrument to sound good.

Well, you're in luck! With a quick guide, let's talk about how to choose the right violin strings to keep your instrument sounding beautiful.

 

What Difference Do Strings Make?

Choosing the right types of strings makes a huge difference to your sound when you play the violin. Not only that, but it will also affect the way you play, the tension on the strings, how thick they are, and how to change the strings.

The age of your strings will also impact the sound. We won't sugarcoat it; old strings don't sound the best. Replacing strings is one of the major drags of playing string instruments, but hey, at least you don't have to tune a piano! Fortunately, strings are relatively affordable and you only have to do it every so often.

How Often Should I Change My Strings?

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While this depends on how often you use your violin, quality strings should generally last for 9 to 12 months with moderate use.If you buy cheap strings, you may need to replace them every 6 months or so. However, if you use your violin daily, you may need to replace even the best strings every 4 to 6 months.

Other factors will play a role in your strings' lifespan. If you keep your violin in a constantly changing climate, if you don't wipe the rosin off your strings after use, or if your strings are exposed to excess water or oil, they are likely to deteriorate faster.

A great way to judge for next time is to record yourself playing a basic tune on your violin with new strings. Then, when you're starting to question if your strings are sounding old, you can listen to that recording and play it and, if you hear a difference, know to change them.

Choosing the Right Violin Strings

First, let's quickly discuss the difference between ball-end and loop-end strings. The only string that matters is your E string, as the other 3 are always ball-end.

However, by looking at your violin's tailpiece, you'll notice that all 4 string ends either look the same or that one will have a hook sticking out. If you see the hook for the E string, then you need a loop end. If not, then you will need a ball-end E string.

Once you know that, you can begin determining the string type you need for your sound! Here's how.

Tension

Before we discuss any string brands or recommendations, let's first discuss how to choose the right tension. Violin strings typically come in soft, medium, and strong (also light, medium, heavy).

Lower tension will offer better pliability under your fingers, and gut core strings tend to offer the lowest tension. Steel strings tend to offer the highest tension at the same tuning.

While tension and gauge are strongly correlated, they aren't the same. A thicker gauge does not guarantee a stronger tension, so if you want thicker strings, you won't necessarily need to sacrifice pliability, especially with synthetic strings.

Of course, when in doubt, choose the medium option. If you're a beginner looking to develop your strength, then medium or light tension strings are highly recommended.

Choosing a Core

The core of the strings will affect the sound. Most often, you will find steel, synthetic, and gut cores. Gut cores are the original types of violin strings, going back several centuries. They are made from the lining of sheep intestines and offer the lowest tension. These are much more maneuverable with your fingers, allowing for more finesse, especially when playing classical music.

Generally speaking, steel strings offer a quick response and a clear, focused tone. However, you shouldn't expect a lot of depth or complexity from these. Also, ask any acoustic guitar player you know and they'll tell you; steel core strings are rough on the fingers, especially during long practice sessions.

Synthetic core strings use a strong type of nylon, similar to other string instruments, which are just as flexible as gut core with a much more stable pitch. While they don't sound just like classic gut core strings, they do produce incredible tonal sounds of their own.

All in all, there is no right answer when it comes to choosing a core. You just have to pick what's right for the style of music you enjoy playing.If you have multiple violins, you can use different strings for different music, but that's up to you!

Electric Violin

Electric violinists may choose any type of core, tension, or gauge that suits the sound they want. However, steel strings are the preferred choice for the best sound on electric violin, especially when playing more modern music.

Most violin pickups are best-equipped to pick up the sound of steel strings, and they will typically sound the best on an amplifier. Although, that isn't the case for all equipment, as a lot of violin electronics are specifically designed for gut core or synthetic core strings. For a great budget option that isn't too heavy on tension, try out Helicore's steel strings!

Acoustic Violin

Gut strings are the tried-and-true string core for violinists, dating back centuries.They offer the most quintessential violinist tone out of any other type of string.

Although, synthetic core strings really changed the game when they were created only 40 years ago, allowing for pliability, durability, and a unique tone.

For acoustic players, we recommend starting with synthetic core strings and trying out gut strings later on if you decide you want a more classic tone. Nylon is more widely available and easier to use for beginners.We highly recommend Larsen ball-end strings to start out!

What's With All This Tension?

Now that you know how to choose the right violin strings, pair them with the right violin bow and you'll be making beautiful music in no time! Stay tuned for more information and check out our price match policies when you order with us!


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