The Best Violin Strings for Beginners

When new to playing the violin, you are not just learning to read and play music, you are also learning the instrument itself. To start with, you will gain a basic understanding about how to properly hold the bow and violin, how to tune it and what accessories to have on hand. Violins themselves are small and easily portable, but they do require extra gear, like a case to protect the instrument from temperature changes and extra strings in case of breakage.

There are quite a few different strings on the market, which are designed to have differing effects on the tone and sound quality of the instrument. Of course you’re not expected to be knowledgeable about all of the details right from the start. You will pick up the information as you progress, and in the meantime, don’t hesitate to ask for help from the music community. Folks like experienced musicians, luthiers, and teachers can provide valuable insight into what are the best violin strings for beginners.

There are a LOT of options

Violin strings vary based on the core material. The three main types are gut, steel and synthetic. Gut strings, made from sheep intestines and some metal, are the original type. Steel strings are all metal and therefore the most stable, and synthetic, made from perlon or nylon are the most popular.

Musical preference, or the genre of music you favor, will influence the type of string you choose because each produces a different quality of sound. For example, steel strings produce the brilliant tones associated with jazz or country music and synthetic strings are ideal for classical music. Two other factors that will influence your choice of strings for beginners are gauge and tension.

Finding what works best for you

Taking into account the factors we discussed above, choosing the best violin strings for a beginner will take some time and experimentation. Teachers and qualified professionals like the friendly customer service team at Johnson String Instrument are both great resources to tap for questions as you go.

Shop for violin strings online at Johnson String Instrument and get the benefit of choosing from a comprehensive selection, while getting the best value and enjoying the convenience of having them shipped right to your door.


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What Are the Cello Strings in Order?

As a beginning cellist, properly tuning a cello is one of the most important skills you’ll need to learn early on. If your cello is out of tune, it is practically impossible to practice or improve your playing. In order to learn how to tune your cello, you’ll first need to become familiar with the pieces of your instrument and how they function together as a unit.

The cello has four strings which are tuned in perfect fifths like a violin. The notes are: C, G, D, A, in a descending order of thickness. The low C on your cello corresponds to two octaves below the middle C on a piano.

Cellos have four tuning pegs, one for each string, that are located on the scroll of the instrument. Some cellos have four fine tuners affixed to the base of the strings on the tailpiece and allow for more minute and precise tuning adjustments with the use of a lever.

C, G, D, A

When you’re first learning to play the cello, one good mnemonic that can help you remember the order of the strings is “Cats Go Down Alleys.” It’s also beneficial to learn the “circle of fifths,” a diagram that’s used in music theory in order to understand the major and minor keys in music. Using C as the starting point, the circle starts with C, G, D, A.

Most students first learning to play the cello use a tuning device. Digital turners that clip on to the peg box are reasonably priced and very convenient to use. Once your intonation becomes more developed, using a tuning fork and harmonics to keep your cello in tune will work just as well. Regardless of whether you decide to tune with or without the use of a digital tune, you start tuning with your A string; the standard tuning for A is 440 Hz.

When learning about the cello it’s vital to know that, just like other instruments crafted from wood, it’s susceptible to changes in humidity, temperature, and atmospheric pressure. Not only can these types of conditions result in severe damage to your cello, they can also affect how frequently you’ll need to tune your strings.

All the strings you could need

Choosing the right strings for your instrument and playing style is important as well. The three factors to take into consideration when choosing your strings are:

  • Type
  • Gauge or thickness
  • Brand

Over time and as you become more proficient on your cello, you’ll choose the type of string, the gauge, and the brands that produce the best sounds from your instrument.

There are many different brands of cello string, and each brand has its different makes. Some of the most popular cello strings include: Larsen, Jargar, Thomastik-Infeld, and Pirastro. When you need to buy cello strings, whether it’s an individual string or a set, JSI has a wide selection of both.


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Helping Kids Develop a Practice Routine Isn’t Always Easy

Learning to play music is an incredibly enriching experience for young children, but getting kids to practice their instrument can be a difficult proposition. Like homework or any other compulsory activity, there may be days where they’re tired or simply not in the mood. Sticking to a set schedule, with specific parameters like what time and how long the daily session will be helps by setting their expectations.

When your children are very young, it’s up to you to provide the structure and routine surrounding practice sessions. By doing so, you’re teaching them discipline, time management, and self-motivation, qualities that will in turn help them be successful in all areas of their lives. Keeping them motivated to be productive rather than waste time is something with which most parents struggle. Making it fun through the use of some creative tools is an excellent way to keep them on track.

It’s good to make mistakes

Rather than attempting to learn new songs all the way through, some parents encourage their child to pick a manageable number of bars. They can feel good about mastering a certain portion of the music while practicing every day. Setting and achieving mini-goals provides a sense of accomplishment, and you can even have ‘Friday concerts,’ where they string together the bars they’ve mastered during the week.

Rewards are also an excellent motivational tool. Make learning new exercises fun by making up games with prizes that are awarded as they master each one. An example is a parent who used a bag of dried beans and “paid” their children in beans when they mastered a new exercise or stanza. Then at the end of the month, the kids could cash them in for a fun prize or a small deposit into their savings account.

Get them involved by brainstorming ideas together for a game that they’re excited about. Finding the right motivational tool takes time and thought, but it’s certainly worth it. Learning to play an instrument is an investment in their future. Finally, don’t forget to remind them often that making mistakes is part of the process. Demanding perfection is more likely to derail their musical career than encourage it.

Finding what works best for your child

If keeping kids in musical lessons is your goal, they’ll need a lot of support in the beginning. Getting kids to practice will be your responsibility at first, but the good news is you’re teaching them the skills they’ll need to take over for you as they grow. Even if you don’t have a music store near you, your child can still learn to play an instrument. JSI offers the ability to purchase a new instrument or rent stringed instruments online and have either delivered to your home. With our large selection of quality instruments, favorable terms and helpful staff, you’re sure to find what you need.


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Potential Problems You Can Find with Cheaper Violins

If you’re the parent of a young child who is interested in learning to play the violin or an adult beginner, you’re going to need to rent an instrument or purchase a starter violin. For some parents or adult beginners, purchasing an instrument is important, so they go online. Once there, they’re going to find a variety of inexpensive violin outfits on Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers — and they may be tempted to purchase one of these cheaper violins; after all, what if the student decides to quit?

However, as the saying goes, “Caveat emptor” or “to the buyer, beware.” Learning to play the violin is going to take a lot of practice and patience. Buying a cheap violin is only going to make the learning process more difficult and frustrating. The result? Many students are going to decide to throw in the towel. While a good violin is not inexpensive, it’s important to remember that a quality instrument is an investment, and, over the years, it will pay you back with music and the enjoyment that comes with playing it.  

From instrument to case

What should you look for in a beginner violin to determine whether or not it’s a quality instrument? There are four major differences between cheap violins and quality-made instruments:

    • Quality of the woods and components: The primary woods used in violin making are spruce and maple, and ebony for the fingerboard. If inferior components are used to make the violin, the sound, structural integrity, and playability will be compromised. The wood can be prone to warping, cracking, and going out of tune.
    • Quality of the set up: Correct bridge positioning between the inside F hole notches, fingerboard shape and curve, tailpiece and fine tuner adjustments, properly fitted pegs, and soundpost placement are just some of the details a craftsperson follows when they setup a new violin.
    • Quality of the case: The primary means of protecting a violin is its case. A case should be made of a solid material such as wood or carbon fiber with a handle that is solidly attached. Cheap violin cases, such as cloth-based cases, are leaky and offer little or no protection. A good case should have a way to secure the bow so that it doesn’t touch the violin when the case is closed.
    • Quality of the bow: A violin bow has a significant influence on the quality of sound and ease of bowing when playing the instrument. The hair should be uniform in length, without a lot of crossed hairs within the ribbon. Make sure the tip isn’t cracked and that the “button” turns smoothly, allowing the hair to tighten and loosen as needed.

It’s not just about the instrument

If inspiring your child to play an instrument is your goal, investing in a properly made and fitted violin will give them the best chance for a successful and rewarding learning experience. The same goes for the adult beginner. If you’re concerned about making such an investment for a beginning student, consider renting a violin online. At JSI, our rental instruments are professionally set up in our dedicated rental instrument workshop. We believe that beginners of all ages deserve to have the best experience possible learning to play the violin.


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Living Our Values

It often comes as a surprise to customers and friends of Johnson String Instrument when they find out that most of our employees are string players. Many studied at conservatory or majored in music in college and are now weekend gig players who appreciate a 9-5 weekday work schedule and the benefits it provides. Many others are amateur musicians who play for the sheer enjoyment of making music and the relaxation it can bring.

We have recently launched a new video campaign (below) entitled “Living Our Values,” where we highlight an employee each month who exemplifies one of our core values of:

  • Integrity
  • Passion
  • Teamwork
  • Accountability
  • Community
  • Quality
  • Customer Commitment

We are always looking for likeminded folks to join our team. Take a look at our current job postings to learn more.

 




 


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New Year, New Goals

A new year typically brings with it a desire to “wipe the slate clean,” and start the year fresh with a new set of goals, both personal and professional. Here at Johnson String Instrument, we’ve published a host of articles on various topics over the past few years, some of which you may find helpful in solving a longstanding problem, or even pointing you in a completely new direction. We’ve broken them down into two categories: Caring for Yourself and Caring for Your Instrument. Happy reading!


CARING FOR YOURSELF


CARING FOR YOUR INSTRUMENT


Here are some inspiring stories from our friends at Strings Magazine:
“Music Has Given Me the Chance to Share Its Glory With Others on Violin”
Am I Too Old to Learn Violin?
The Changing Role of Music Editors in Classical Music
Growth as a Musician Means Facing a Little Anxiety


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