- Max Kuehn
If you’re wondering how many strings does a violin have, the answer is four, but 3-string and 5-string violins exist. Learn all about violins and how to change them with our comprehensive guide.
How Many Strings On A Violin
The bow’s motion on the strings is how a violin makes music. On the surface, all violin strings appear to be the same; however, they differ in shape, size, and dimension. The total number of strings on a violin varies depending on the instrument’s size.
A violin can have four, five, or eight strings. Basic and common violins, on the other hand, have four strings. Musicians have given these four strings their names. They are as follows:
This is the lowest violin string, which creates lower-pitched music. It will be on the leftmost side of the violin if you pick it up with the head pointed towards the chin. To make music, it is frequently pressed with the index finger.
String A is adjacent to string E, the violin’s second left string. It makes a sound that is slightly higher pitched than Sting E. To make music, it is usually pressed with the hand’s middle finger.
String D is the violin’s third left string, located next to String A. To make music, the ring finger is frequently placed against this string.
Last but not least, String G is the violin’s fourth basic string. A flat tone is also produced by string G.
The fifth string is the C string. It’s an optional feature that you won’t find on most basic violins. Professional violinists are the only ones who use this string.
Other Violins Have a Different Number of Strings
A violin has four strings by default, but there are violins with less than four and more than five strings. Professional violinists perform the most, if not all, of these pieces.
The pochette, often known as a pocket fiddle, is a strange violin variation with three strings tuned one octave higher than the ordinary violin. Dance masters and street musicians have been using it since the 15th century, and it was highly popular in the 19th century.
The fingerboard is extended, but the body is narrow. It comes in various shapes, including pear-shaped, a boat-shaped one known as Sandino, and one that mimics a violin known as a “kit violin.” Antonio Stradivari, a famous Italian luthier, is reported to have created many of these instruments, one of which is said to be on exhibit in a museum in Paris.
The sturdy body of the acoustic five-string violin absorbs the increased tension caused by adding the extra string without putting undue stress on it.
Electric violins are known to contain 5–7 strings, with the fifth string tuned to a low C, the sixth to a low F, and the seventh to a Bb, to cover the cello’s range. Some argue that the maximum number of strings should be seven since playing the inner strings separately with the bow would be difficult.
The Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle, also known as the hardingfele in Norway, has eight or nine strings, demonstrating man’s creativity. This is a D instrument or a transposing instrument.
The region determines the tuning for this tune in Norway, where it is played and the requirements for a specific tune. The four main strings are played on a regular violin, while the sympathetic strings, or those beneath the main strings, resound when the main strings are bowed.
For a Belgian band, craftsman Yuri Landman fashioned a 12-string electronic violin. The strings are grouped in threes and tuned in unison, forming a chorus.
What Are Violin Strings Made Of
A violin’s strings can be manufactured out of different materials. Violin strings were formerly manufactured from sheep’s gut or catgut as it was more widely called.
While some violin strings are still made of catgut, they are more often constructed of nylon or steel in recent years.
Catgut strings are still used by professional and advanced violinists, especially when playing baroque or other historical compositions. Catgut strings provide a deeper, richer tone than metal or polymer strings. On the other hand, Catgut strings decay quickly and are frequently more expensive than different string varieties. Metal and synthetic strings are significantly more reliable, and many violinists prefer them.
Violin strings typically include one of these three core materials: gut, steel, or synthetic polymers, coiled with various metals. This is done to get the tone that each string requires.
The strings’ mass, length, and tension govern the sound produced by a violin. To get the correct pitch, the thickness of the G, D, A, and E strings will vary.
What Method Is Used To Tune Violin Strings?
The four tuning pegs in the pegbox shown at the violin’s top are connected to each of the violin’s strings. These tuning pegs are held in place by friction in tightly spaced holes.
The E string is the sole one with a tuner, allowing it to be easily tuned. The tuning pegs are used more on the other three strings; however, electric violins may have an adjuster on all four strings.
A tailpiece with four built-in tuners may be found on some student violins. Most experienced musicians, on the other hand, will avoid using these instruments since the tailpiece can occasionally alter the overall tone of the violin.
Beginning with the A string, artists will tune the violin to concert pitch A, usually known as A440. Most violinists usually play the fifth interval on a separate string to tune their strings. Violinists can utilize this string to tune their other strings once tuned to concert pitch A.
To tune the E string, they can, for example, play the appropriate fifth on the A string and adjust the tuning peg on the E string accordingly.
Alternatively, play an A on the lower D string to match the note needed on the open A string. The tuning pegs can then be used to tune the strings to achieve the desired note.
How To Change Violin Strings
We wanted to reduce things to the point where even a total novice could understand it. This means there are a lot of steps but don’t worry; they aren’t as difficult as they appear.
You should already have a new set of strings when you begin this process.
Step 1: Get Rid of the Old String
If you’re replacing all four of them, loosen each string slightly before removing one at a time. Turn the peg slowly to release the tension while keeping one hand on the string. Make sure it doesn’t retaliate by snapping at you.
Pull the string out of the peg once it’s loose, then remove the other end – ball or loop. Save the old string coiled up in an envelope with the date you removed it. If you break a string and don’t have a new one, it can be used as a substitute.
Step 2: Use peg paste to lubricate the tuning peg.
Check to see if the peg is clean and, if required, wipe it down. After that, apply some peg paste to it. Peg soap, peg wax, or peg compound are some of the alternative names for this product. Peg paste is packaged in a tiny tube similar to lipstick. Before inserting the peg into the hole, rub it all over it. When tuning the violin, this will assist you in turning the peg.
W. E. Hill & Sons Original Hill Pegsoap is one that I frequently use.
Step 3: Lubricate the Nut and the Bridge (optional)
There is no special product for this, and it isn’t usually essential, but you can rub the lead of a pencil into the grooves of the bridge and the violin nut. The nut is a slightly elevated border between the fingerboard and the pegbox that includes grooves to keep each string in place.
The E-string may come with a bridge protector, a tiny plastic tube already attached to the string. If the tube exists, you can skip this step because it will protect the bridge while allowing movement. The nut can still be lubricated.
Step 4: Locate a suitable replacement string
Make sure you have the correct string with the same pitch as the one you just removed, for example, an A for an A. This may sound self-evident, but it’s easy to lose sight of things when learning a new skill.
Also, make sure you’re using fresh new strings, as strings can deteriorate even if they’ve never been used and have been stored in their original packaging. They have a three-month shelf life on average.
Step 5: Insert String Into Peg
From the outside, push the peg into the hole until the peg’s little hole is visible on the inside of the pegbox.
Push the end of the string through the peg’s little hole. Allow a modest portion to protrude from the other side, perhaps an inch (2 cm) or more. Once the string is tuned, the length of the string coming through will determine the angle of the peg.
You can unwind the string and vary how much of it hangs out later if you want to adjust the angle. All that matters is that the string does not slip out of the peg for the time being.
In the direction of the violin’s back, turn the peg.
Allow the newly wound string to go over the portion you left sticking out, holding it in place. Continue winding the string so that the subsequent sections are sandwiched between the initial loop and the pegbox’s wood. This will create tension, preventing the peg from unwinding and pulling away from the pegbox.
Step 6: Place the Ball End of the Ball Into the Tailpiece
Insert the ball end of the string into the tailpiece once you’ve wound enough string around the peg to make it secure but not too tight.
Strings can also have a hook end with its adjuster, but strings with a ball end are easier and less expensive for most users.
The ball hooks between the two prongs of the fine tuner if you’re using fine tuners. Otherwise, it will fall into the tailpiece’s hole. To press the end of the string into the hole, you might need to use the point of a pencil.
Step 7: Get Rid of the Slack
You should have a string attached at both ends but still hangs loosely on the violin’s body at this stage.
While slowly winding the string further to remove the slack, keep one finger on the loose string to keep it tight. This will ensure the ball end stays in place. Slowly do this to guide the thread into the right groove on both ends.
If your string has a bridge protector and this is the E-string, make sure this tube lands in the groove in the bridge. Tighten the string even more until there is no slacker and the string is secure.
Tune the string to a good pitch. You can use a tuner app, an internet tuner, an electric tuner, or play the right note on a piano or tuner fork to check this.
Step 8: Examine the Bridge for Straightness
We need to examine if the bridge is still straight once the string is more or less in tune. The bridge can still go out of alignment, no matter how carefully we fit the new strings. Ensure it’s securely and flatly on the wood and runs across the body, not diagonally, between the f-hole notches.
Step 9: Final Adjustments
If fine tuners are available, you can fine-tune the string to its right pitch. Strings can take anywhere from three to seven days to fully settle. They will sound odd and go out of tune frequently at this time. When necessary, adjust the tune.
What Is The Difference Between A Violin With 4 And 5 Strings?
As the name implies, a 5-string electric violin differs in containing an additional string. In addition to the first four strings, there is the fifth string. Violas have the same C string (or “Do”) as violins. On a 5-string violin, we can have a lower string since the C string (Do) allows us to do so.
Is A Violin Four-Stringed?
The violin has four strings, running from E to A to D, from high to low. Catgut (sheep’s intestine) and nylon are two materials used in their construction.
What Is The Name Of A Violin With Six Strings?
You can play the low F and low C strings on a 6-string violin.
When Did Violins Get Their Fourth String?
There are only three strings in Upper Italy: G3, D4, and A4. The violin is making its first appearance in Upper Italy. Amati’s first four-string violins were most likely built after 1550.
Which Ancient Violin Only Had Three Strings?
In the 10th century Middle East, the rebec is said to be the first violin carried under the chin. In the rebec, there were three strings. According to certain sources, the rebec was brought to Western Europe by the Muslim invasion of Spain.
Is Changing Violin Strings Difficult?
It’s not difficult once you’ve modified the strings a few times. It might appear that way at first. As a result, it could be beneficial to watch someone else do it first. If you’re not sure how to do it on your own, ask your teacher, the personnel at the music store, or a fellow string player to show you how.
Are You Able To Change Violin Strings On Your Own?
Yes, you can change the strings on your violin by yourself. All you have to do now is be cautious and follow the directions carefully. If it’s your first time, it’s also good to seek assistance from someone you know, such as your instructor. While you’re performing the steps, a professional can assist you.
While there are violins with various numbers of strings, the more classical violin that you’re familiar with has four strings. These strings are G, D, A, and E from lowest to highest. That concludes the discussion. You may now not only tell your family and friends that a typical violin has four strings, but you can also impress them with your extensive violin knowledge.