Getting Started with Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass

Almost anyone can instantly recognize the violin, but how well do you know the other members of the string family? There are four main members of the string family, violin, viola, cello, and bass, and each of them has their own unique voice.

The String Family

The string family is comprised of the violin, viola, cello, and bass. These instruments all share a few common characteristics. Every instrument in the string family, in general, has four strings that are tuned in fifths and made from nylon, steel, or sometimes gut. The strings are most commonly played by dragging a bow across them. The hair on the bow is made from the hair of horses’ tails. The player may also play the strings by plucking them in a technique known as pizzicato. The left hand holds the neck of the instrument and presses the strings against the fingerboard in order to change the pitch, while the right hand is used to bow the instrument. All classical string instruments are made from wood and have a hollow body to allow the sound to resonate inside of them. String instruments are an integral part of the orchestra and play more than any other instrument group.

The string family is an incredibly versatile family of instruments with a member of the family to cover every range. While some of the some string instruments, such as violin and cello, have a much larger and more famous repertoire, every string instrument can sound great as solo instrument or in an ensemble.