How to Buy the Correct Strings for Your Violin

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How to Buy the Correct Strings for Your Violin


Choosing the right violin string depends on the desired tone and the type of violin used. The tone of a violin is influenced greatly by the instrument’s string. Steel produces a distinct sound when compared to gut or synthetic strings. Violin strings may be found in a variety of materials and styles. Each string’s core may be solid metal or made from synthetic filaments or twisted metal filaments. Plating may also be used to enhance a string’s function, such as using gold to help delay corrosion of a steel string and to help reduce whistling.

About Violin Strings

Violins use four strings that run from the tailpiece at the base of the instrument to the violin's neck. Strings cross a wooden bridge along the length of the instrument and they run parallel to the fingerboard. They are also attached to a pegbox at the top of the violin, where strings are wound around tuning pegs. Pegs maintain the tension of the string, which helps produce vibration and sound while playing the violin.

Early violin strings were made of sheep gut, which was also known as catgut or gut. Sheep gut (intestine) would be stretched, dried, and twisted to make violin strings. Today, gut violin string is typically only used for instruments used to play music from historical periods, such as early Classical, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.
Modern violin strings generally are made from non-organic materials. Most violin strings can be found in stranded steel and synthetic materials. Many modern strings feature a stranded core made from synthetic material that is wound with different types of metal. Alternatively, they may be made of a steel core that is solid or stranded. Steel cores can also be wound with other metals, such as aluminum. Wound materials are also known as windings. Strings may also be plated with metal, such as silver. E-strings are generally unwound and made of steel and may be gold-plated, while G, D and A strings are typically stranded or wound. Of the four strings found on a violin, the E-string is the thinnest.

Choosing Violin Strings

Since violin strings have a limited lifespan, strings must be replaced from time to time. The lifespan of a violin string depends on a variety of factors, including how the instrument is played and the quality of the string itself. More affordable strings tend to be prone to damage, while more expensive strings tend to feature higher-quality craftsmanship and are more durable. Strings can break, become unwound or undone from wear as a result of regular use. A musician’s perspiration and how it interacts with the string material may also affect longevity. Players may also change violin strings when the desired tone is no longer achieved.

Choosing violin strings depends on a variety of factors, including price, material, and desired sound or tone. The size and type of the violin itself will also influence the choice of strings.

Core Material

The sound produced by the strings of a violin is greatly affected by the material of the string, particularly the core of the string. The table below summarises the three types of materials commonly used for violin strings.

Gut

Gut core strings tend to have the best tone, and deliver a warm or rich sound with complex overtones. They require regular tuning and are susceptible to the surrounding environment, particularly temperature and moisture changes. Wound gut strings typically produce a mellow sound and are often used by soloist and orchestral musicians, generally with a steel E-string. Plain gut strings are similar to steel strings and produce bright tones. Plain gut strings are generally found on instruments used to play early Classical and baroque period pieces. Artificial gut strings, also known as perlon core, are also produced by violin string manufacturers.

Steel

Generally produces bright sounds or a tone full of overtones. Steel or all-metal strings are generally found on non-classical violins used for specialised uses, such as folk or country fiddling. Steel core strings offer a stable pitch and last longer than gut strings. Windings are typically added to reinforce thin steel strings. Steel strings are often found is smaller violins, as well as beginner instruments.

Synthetic

Also known as artificial strings, these strings are manufactured to produce a specific sound or tone. Introduced in the 1970s, synthetic violin strings are thicker than steel and gut strings. They combine the rich and warm sound of gut strings with the stable pitch of steel strings. Although many tend to produce a mellow sound, some synthetic strings are manufactured to produce brighter sounds with overtones. Synthetic core strings are popular since they are more stable than gut strings. They are typically made from nylon perlon, high-tech nylons, or composite materials.

String Gauge

Most strings are available in varying thickness, which is also known as the string gauge. The thickness and tension of the string have significant influence on the tone and sound of a violin. Thicker strings offer more volume and centre to the tone, while a thin string delivers a brighter or warmer sound with less power.
Typically, strings are available in thin, medium, and thick gauges. Thinner strings require less tension, providing players with a faster response. They also offer less volume than thicker strings, delivering a more focused sound. Thick strings require more tension and are usually used if more power or fullness of sound is required. Thick strings may also make sound dull. Most violinists use medium strings, particularly if there is no preference for either thin or thick strings.

String Length

Strings are available in a variety of lengths. Each string length corresponds to the size of the violin. When purchasing violin string, strings should be long enough to suit the instrument and not too long that excessive amounts of string are left around the peg. For example, string for a 1/2 size violin should not be used on a 4/4 (full size) violin.

Price

The price of violin strings varies depending on the material used and the maker of the string. A set of strings (that is, G, D, A and E strings) will cost more than buying an individual string. Whether or not the entire set of strings is replaced when only one string has broken or become worn is often an individual choice.
Gut and gut-core strings are generally the most expensive type of violin string. High-quality synthetic core strings are also relatively expensive. The most affordable violin strings are typically steel strings, particularly ones used for entry-level or beginner violins. Other affordable strings include natural gut strings without metal windings.

Changing Violin Strings

When changing violin strings, remove one string at a time. Removing all the strings at once could cause the bridge or the sound post to fall out of place. Keep tension on the top of the instrument while removing each string. To help reduce the chance of string breakage, use a soft pencil on the groove in the nut and bridge of the violin before placing the new string. The graphite in the pencil will help lubricate the string at the nut and bridge point. Once in place, secure and tighten the string. Pegs can then be used to achieve the desired tone.

Find Violin Strings on eBay

To buy violin strings, visit the eBay home page. Under the All Categories tab, select the Musical Instruments link. Select the String link from the Musical Instruments page. To find violin strings, narrow the search results by selection options on the left-side bar or entering specific terms in the search field found on the page. For example, enter “new steel violin strings” if looking for unused steel core strings.
Knowing the brand and type of string currently on the violin can assist a search for new strings. If known, enter the brand or maker of the string in search fields found on any eBay page. If additional details are known, such as the thickness of the string or type of string (for example, E, G, D or A if searching for one string), include these in search terms or keywords.

Conclusion

Price, string material, tone, and the type of violin will greatly influence the choice of violin string. The type of string often depends on the style of music and instrument. Trying different types of strings on an instrument will help determine which string is best suited. Often, the choice of violin strings is influenced by personal preferences. As musicians play use different strings, they develop preferences for particular types of strings and specific strings. When replacing strings from an instrument that has been played for a long period of time, it is important for a buyer to look at the existing brand and type of string in order to find an exact or approximate replacement.

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