There are 4 main instruments you will find in every orchestra: a violin, viola, cello, and bass. There are a few noticeable differences between these string instruments, but they also have a lot of similarities and recognizable features in common. Each is made of the same type of wood, all make a sound when a bow is draws against the strings, and they have tuning pegs along with a decorative head. Whether you are looking for the perfect instrument for your student to begin or hoping to widen your understanding of the string family, these instruments deserve special attention on their own. Let’s take a look at what they’ve got to offer!
Violins are a very popular choice for many young musicians hoping to pick up a new skill. Violins have a unique sound and belongs to the soprano family. You could consider the violin to be the baby of the string family; it is the smallest of the instruments outlined, it includes an E string, and delivers the highest pitch. The violin has a wide range of sounds it can produce – partly due to its small size - and has been a popular choice for composers looking to create more technically challenging pieces. If you are sensitive to high pitched sounds, you may want to consider another instrument.
Violas are the more mature, older sibling to the violin. They produce a middle range pitch between violins and cellos and uses the alto clef. The rich, warm sounds of the viola can be attributed to their wider strings and the use of a C string. In addition to wider strings, the neck and body of a viola is wider than a violin but is still held in the horizontal position under the chin and uses a bow. The repertoire of composed pieces lacks across many genres, and isn’t nearly as varied as its counterparts, but there is something undeniably beautiful about this instrument.
Cellos are twice the size of violas, three times the size of violins, and must be played in a vertical position. If you like the idea of sitting down to play your instrument, the cello may be for you. Cellos produce a low, haunting tone, and sounds a lot like a human voice. They can range from alto to soprano and are often used to maintain rhythm and harmony. The cello has a long and diverse past, with many famous musicians leaving their mark with this instrument. The repertoire is diverse with classical and modern pieces available.
Basses, otherwise known as a Double Bass or an Upright Bass, is the Barry White of the strings family. Like the name implies, the bass has the lowest range and is used for harmony in almost every orchestra. While you need to sit to play this instrument as well, a stool is needed since a standard bass is over 6 feet tall! A bass can be played by plucking the strings or with a bow like other string instruments.
There are a few key differences to keep in mind when selecting an instrument for you, or your child, to play, but understanding the options in front of you is important. It is never too late to begin playing an instrument and you may soon find you’ve got quite the talent! We are here to answer any questions you have, so contact us today.