What You Should Know About String Instruments

String instruments, also known as chordophones produce a sound when the strings are played in some way. They can be played by using a bow to rub the strings or using fingers to pluck on the strings.

Some performers like to use a plectrum instead of fingers. It is a flat tool used to strum or pluck stringed instruments. The guitar, violin, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, harp, double bass, and electric bass are some of the most common string instruments. String instruments can be classified according to their:

  • Playing techniques
  • Construction

Playing Techniques

String instruments produce sound when the strings vibrate. Read more about how they function before buying one. They can be categorized by the technique used to create vibrations on the strings. The common techniques are:

  • Bowing

This method is used in instruments such as the violin, cello, double bass, and viola.

The bow is made up of a stick containing many hairs that are stretched between its ends. When an instrument’s string is bowed, it causes a phenomenon known as stick-slip to occur. It is a jerking motion that happens when two objects slide over each other.

  • Plucking

This is the only method of playing the guitar, harp, mandolin, lute, and sitar.  A plectrum, thumb, or finger is used to pluck the strings of the instruments and produce sound.

  • Striking

In this method, players strike the string to cause vibrations that produce sound. Those who play instruments in the violin family may use the side of the bow to strike the string in a technique known as col legno. It creates both pitch and sound.

How They Are Constructed

  • Lutes

These are instruments where the neck and the bout support the strings. At the end of the neck, the strings of the lute are attached to pegs which have a turning mechanism that enables a player to tighten or loosen the tension on strings. It can lower or raise the pitch of a specific string. Examples of such instruments include guitars, saz, and violins.

  • Zithers

With these instruments, the strings are placed on the top of the body. They are played by plucking the strings using fingers or a plectrum.  Zithers, however, do not have a separate neck assembly like guitars and lutes. Instruments under this category include the cimbalom, autoharp, and piano.

  • Harps

The strings in harps are inside a frame. Different-sized strings are running at different angles within the frame. The strings are plucked using fingers.

Different types of harps use different types of materials for the string. They may be made from metal, nylon, catgut, or a combination of the materials. All harps have a resonator, neck, and strings. At their long end, triangular harps have a pillar to support the string.

 In an orchestra, string instruments are the largest family of instruments. They come in four sizes with the double bass being the biggest and violin being the smallest. There is also the cello and the viola.

 The double bass and the cello produce sounds that are low and rich while the viola and the violin produce high-pitched sounds.

Interesting Facts About Instruments In The String Family

  • More than 70 types of wood are used to make the modern violin
  • There are seven main violin sizes because it is common for string players to start playing at a young age. Violins are, therefore, scaled down to suit the needs of different players.
  • If you have an antique violin, you may need to have a longer neck grafted on it. Grafting will improve the stability of the instrument
  • String instruments are resistant to variations in temperature but not to sudden shifts in humidity.
  • The traditional spiral of the scroll in the violin occurs in nature such as in a flower, hurricane, a sea shell, and the human ear.
  • The most expensive violin is valued at about 18 million dollars.
  •  The modern design of the violin was first designed in the 16th century.
  • All string instruments fall in the violin family except the Bass

In conclusion, string instruments are some of the most interesting instruments to play. They are the biggest family in the orchestra. String instruments are great for both kids and adults. There are many options to try out but the violin is the most popular one.

Whether you are an aspiring player or simply looking for a new hobby, there is no right or wrong string instrument. Try out a few options and settle for whichever you like best.

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