FAQs

Violin

The adult violin comes in 2 sizes: the 4/4 (full-size) which is is 14″ wide and 23″-23.5″ long. while 7/8 is 13.5″ wide and 23.5″ long.

You can learn more about the different size violins here.

Category: Violin

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Getting the right size violin is important to ensure the comfort of the student playing the violin. If the a violin is too big, it can lead to strain and fatigue. The same can be said for if the violin is too small. Therefore, you need to take the right measurements to find a violin that will fit your student.

How do you measure the proper violin size?

You will need to measure the length between your neck and the middle of your left-hand palm or left wrist. To take the measurements, you will need to ensure your left hand is held upright and perpendicular to your body, with no bend in your elbow or wrist.

Most teachers prefer to use the neck to wrist measurement as that will be the size that is more comfortable for the student to hold. The neck to mid-palm measurement will be the largest size the student should use.

Violin size          Arm length

1/16                   35.5 cm or 14in

1/10                   38 cm or 15in

1/8                     42 cm or 16in

1/4                     47cm or 18.5in

1/2                     51cm or 20in

3/4                     56in or 22in

4/4                     58.5cm or 23in

How do I know if the size of the violin is correct?

You will know if the violin fits if you can reach the notes using your left hands comfortably when holding up the violin. You should be able to wrap your left hand comfortably around the scroll with your arm still able to bend a little bit.

Why is it important to choose the correct size?

Playing a violin of incorrect size will make your student’s arms tired and sore. It may even hurt your student’s neck or back and you may lose interest in playing the violin.

What size violin should an adult be using?

Most adults will require a full-sized 4/4 violin. But of course, it depends on the length of your arms and do you feel comfortable holding the violin. It should not feel too heavy and you should be able to grip the top of the fingerboard with your hand, while still bending your arm easily at the elbow. If an adult feels more comfortable using the 7/8 which is slightly smaller than a 4/4, then it is fine for them to play a violin of this size.

Do I need to match the size of the violin with the bow?

Yes, the violin, bow and case come in matching sizes and usually stores sell the violin together with the matching bow and case. To save you having to worry about the sizes, you should look to buy a complete outfit which usually includes a violin, bow, rosin and case.

Category: Violin

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There are 8 main sizes for the violin. The size refers to the length of the body of the violin, excluding the neck and scroll.

Violin sizes begin at 1/32 and go to 4/4 (full size).

The most common violin sizes are as follows: 1/32, 1/16, 1/10, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8 to 4/4 or full size.

1/32, generally used by very small children, is the smallest and 4/4 (full size) is the largest, generally used by adults.

You can learn more about how to measure which violin size is right for you here.

Category: Violin

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Our favorite violin string set of a single brand is Thomastik-Infeld – Dominant.

However, we highly recommend mixing multiple string brands to get the best sound since different string brands bring out different quality sound from each string on a violin. Our favorite violin string combination is a Jargar E, Dominant A, Dominant D, and Dominant G.

You can read more about our favorite violin string brands in our violin string recommendations article.

 

Category: Violin
Tag: violin

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You call someone who plays violin a violinist or a violin player.

Category: Violin
Tag: violin

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Finding the right violin for a beginner that sounds decent, but is affordable, can be challenging. Fortunately for you, we have curated our recommended beginner violins in our guide on the best beginner violins.

Our favorite violin brand for beginners is Stentor because they look and sound better than their price range.

Beginner violins typically sell for between $100 and $500.

Category: Violin

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Deciding whether to buy or rent a violin is an important question that many beginner violin students face. There is no straight-forward answer to this question since it depends on your individual circumstances, but there are distinct benefits to both options.

The main benefit of buying a violin instead of renting it is that it generally retains its value throughout its life which makes trading it in for a larger size or higher quality violin very viable.

The main benefit of renting a violin is that you don’t own the instrument, so if it’s damaged or your student wants to quit, you can just return it to the music store. No need to pay a repair bill or find a buyer.

To read more about the differences and see examples, read our guide on renting vs buying.

Category: Violin

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The violin bow price can vary widely from less than $50 to well over $5000 depending on the material, the craftsmanship, and weight. In general, you should look for a violin bow that costs between 20-25% of the violin price.

Typically, the following violin bow prices apply depending on the material used:

  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass violin bows tend to be on the low-end of the violin bow price spectrum and are typically used by beginner violin students. Expect to spend less than $100 on a fiberglass violin bow.
  • Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber violin bows are usually priced in the middle between fiberglass and wooden. They are known to be extremely durable so they are a great all-purpose violin bow material. You should expect to spend between $50 to $300 for a carbon fiber violin bow.
  • Wooden: Wooden violin bows are typically made from Pernambuco wood from Brazil. Depending on what part of the tree was used to make the bow, wooden violin bow prices can range from around $50 to well into the $1000s.

If you want to learn more about what to look for in violin bow, you can read our guide on buying violin bows.

Category: Violin

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Viola

A clef is a musical symbol that is used to indicate the pitch of written notes. When it’s placed on a stave, the clef indicates the name and pitch of the notes on one of the notes. It is essential in order for the musician to be able to read the music, as it tells him which lines or spaces indicate every note.

There are many types of clefs but the most frequently used are: Bass, Treble, Alto, and Tenor. Most musicians learn Bass and Treble clefs since these are used by popular instruments such as piano, violin, cello, and others. Today we’re going to focus on the alto clef.

What is the alto clef?

The Alto clef, also known as C clef because it’s center staff line is the note C, is one of the lesser-known clefs used in music. The symbol of an alto clef is a thick vertical bar, followed by a thin bar just to its right and then a curly figure that resembles the number 3.

Clefs

So when the C clef it’s centered on the third line of the staff it’s called an Alto Clef. It’s usually called the viola clef since violists play from this clef. However, it is also used by viola da gamba, mandola, bassoons, and trombone on certain occasions since these instruments are on the medium range.

The viola is the primary instrument that uses Alto clef in modern orchestras. The viola is quite similar to the violin, but it’s a little bit larger, richer and lower in tone, and has different strings. It appears often in string quartets, which require two violins, a viola, and a cello and also in classical orchestras.

Trombone players are required to also read Alto clef. Lead trombone parts, also known as first trombone parts since they carry the melodies, are written frequently in alto clef.

The bassoons are used for the rich, dark tones at the bottom of their range. They have to use alto clef when the music requires the top of the instrument’s range, which produces the thinnest tone.

The alto clef is an important clef used in modern music. It’s worth learning, especially if you play a medium-range instrument such as viola, mandola, bassoon or trombone.

We hope you learned what the Alto clef is an best of luck trying to learn it!

Category: Viola

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The violin family is large, with a slight difference between each member. This makes it hard to figure out which instrument is which exactly. And it is only natural to ask oneself what is a viola? It looks a lot like a violin. What is really the difference between the two?

Much like the violin, a viola is a stringed instrument, most often played with a bow. But the main difference is in the size between the two instruments. The viola is slightly larger than the violin. The sound that it produces is slightly lower and deeper than the sound of the violin. Its forms and sizes have varied a bit over the years, but since the middle of the 18th century, it has become the alto voice of the violin family. But now, the average viola is between an inch and four inches longer than the violin. This makes its average length around 16 inches. This is the first big difference between it and the violin. While the violin has a standard size, the viola might vary.

violin vs viola size
Source: WikiHow

History of the Viola

Throughout its history, it has seen many name changes in the countries that had a tradition of developing and making bowed instruments in the violin family. Those countries were Italy, Germany, and France. The word viola itself is Italian and means of the arm. They also used to call it Brazzo. This lead to the German nickname for the viola Bratsche.

On the other hand, the French had two different types of violas, each with its very own name. The Cinquisme was a smaller version of the viola and the Haute Conte was a larger iteration of this stringed instrument. Nowadays the French just call it alto, similar to its place in the violin family and the sound it produces.

One of the most famous violas was constructed in Germany in the 18 century. Hermann ritter produces a very special, and unusually large viola (19 inches) for the productions of many of Wagner’s operas. Another big creator or maker of violas was A.E. Smith, who worked during the 20th century. Some even hailed him as the Stradivari of the viola. The majority of his violas now reside in Australia and are being used by the Sydney philharmonic.

But the experimentations with the viola and its size, and the tone it produces didn’t end there. Even today, there are many people who try to create a lighter version of the instrument while keeping its tonal range the same.

This instrument reached the height of its popularity in the 18th century. It was a core instrument in a five-part harmony set up, popular during the age of the Enlightenment.

The Viola Player

The violist is what you call a viola player. Since it is longer than the violin, the tones are more spread out. This means that if you want to play the viola, you will need slightly different fingering compared to the violin. The bowing of the instrument is also quite different. The strings of the viola are less responsive, which means that the bow will be heavier. The bow is also used in a different way than with the violin.

The Music and Clef

Music written for the viola is very different from other instruments for one big reason. unlike other instruments, the music for the viola is written in alto clef. The only other instrument that uses the alto clef is the trombone, but it doesn’t use it all the time, just in some instances. Because of the way it is tuned and for its use of alto clef, many cello musical pieces can easily be transcribed for the viola as well.

The violin is a staple of both modern and classical music, but the viola is not far behind. Numerous modern bands use the sound of the viola for their music. Some notable examples include. The Velvet Underground, in a song like Venus in Fur, Imagine dragons, The Gorillaz in their smash hit Dirty Harry, Van Morrison, Nick Cave, and the Bad Seeds, Brian Eno, The Doobie Brothers and many more.

The viola might not be as popular as its sister the violin. But slowly, with time, it is becoming more and more popular, both with those who play classical, but also modern music.

Category: Viola
Tags: viola, what is

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Our favorite portable viola tuner is the Korg TM50 because it offers a lot of features including a metronome and tuner, plus the battery lasts a really long time.

To learn more about other viola tuners we recommend, check out our review of the best viola tuners.

Category: Viola
Tag: viola

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Someone who plays viola is called a viola player or a violist.

Category: Viola

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Deciding whether to buy or rent a cello is an important question that many beginner viola students face. The answer depends on your individual circumstances so we cannot provide a definitive answer, but there are distinct benefits to both options.

The advantage of buying a viola instead of renting it is that it generally retains its value throughout its life which makes trading it in for a larger size or higher quality violin very viable.

The advantage of renting a viola is that you don’t own the instrument, so if it’s damaged or your student wants to quit, you can just return it to the music store. No need to pay a repair bill or find a buyer.

To read more about the differences and see examples, read our guide on renting vs buying.

Category: Viola

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Cello

Cellos generally weigh about 5 to 7 pounds depending on the type of wood used and the size of the cello.  However, if you add a hard case, bow, and other accessories, the weight can easily begin to add up and exceed 20 pounds. In this case, you may want to get straps for your cello case so that you can wear it like a backpack.

Category: Cello

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Cellos come in several different sizes and it can be challenging to find the right-sized cello for you or your student. There are some general guidelines you can follow below, but the best way to find the right-sized cello is to try them out in a music shop.

How to Measure the Right Cello Size with a Cello

If you are able to try out different cello sizes in a music shop, you should follow the below steps to find a cello that fits you or your student.

  1. Sit with your knees at a 90-degree angle and rest the cello against your cello.
  2. The upper rim of the cello should rest on the sternum (breast bone)
  3. The lower bout (the c-shaped outline of the cello) corner should be touching the left knee.
  4. The neck of the cello should be a few inches away from the left shoulder.
  5. The C string (thickest string) peg should be near the left ear.

Recommend Cello Sizes by Age

A cello will have several sizes depending on the age of the person who will play it, are the following:

  • 1/10: recommended for children who are 4-5 years old.
  • 1/8: recommended for children who are 5-6.
  • 1/4: recommended for children between 6-8.
  • 1/2: recommended for kids with an age ranging from 8 to 14 years.
  • 3/4: it is usually used by people over 14 and women.
  • 4/4: experts recommend it to people over 16 years old.

Related FAQs:

Category: Cello

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Cellos are one of the most common musical instruments which means that they can be bought in many places. Below you’ll find a list of the most common places to buy a cello.

Buying a Cello Online

Buying online is becoming a more common way of buying a cello. You can find some great beginner cellos on Amazon or eBay. However, make sure that you read the reviews of the cellos before you buy them though since you want to make sure that the cello brand is quality. To make things simpler, we’ve outlined the best beginner cellos available for purchase online in this article.

Buying a Cello from Music Shops

Buying a cello from a music shop is one of the traditional ways to buy a cello. You can walk into most music shops that sell string and band instruments and ask to see their cellos available for sale or rent. Many shops will have a large selection of beginner cellos that you can try to find the best fit.

Buying a Cello from Classifieds

You could always buy a cello from a classifieds article. Whether in a newspaper or online, classifieds are a great way to buy a used cello from someone who no longer needs it. In fact, I got my first viola from a classifieds ad.

Related FAQs:

Category: Cello

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Our favorite portable cello tuner is the Korg TM50 because it offers a lot of features including a metronome and tuner, plus the battery lasts a really long time.

To learn more about other cello tuners we recommend, check out our review of the best cello tuners. If instead, you’re looking for a cello tuner app to use on your phone, we also have a review of the best cello tuner apps.

Category: Cello
Tag: cello

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You call someone who plays cello a cellist or a cello player.

Category: Cello

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Our favorite cello string set of a single brand is Evah Pirazzi Gold/Regular.

However, we highly recommend mixing multiple string brands to get the best sound since different string brands bring out different quality sound from each string on a cello. Our favorite cello string combination is a Larsen A, Larsen D, Spirocore Tungsten G, and Spirocore Tungsten C.

You can read more about our favorite cello string brands in our cello string recommendations article.

 

Category: Cello

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Deciding whether to buy or rent a cello is an important question that many beginner cello students face. The answer depends on your individual circumstances so we cannot provide a definitive answer, but there are distinct benefits to both options.

The advantage of buying a cello instead of renting it is that it generally retains its value throughout its life which makes trading it in for a larger size or higher quality violin very viable.

The advantage of renting a cello is that you don’t own the instrument, so if it’s damaged or your student wants to quit, you can just return it to the music store. No need to pay a repair bill or find a buyer.

To read more about the differences and see examples, read our guide on renting vs buying.

Category: Cello

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Cellos can be expensive instruments, but the costs vary widely depending on the quality of craftsmanship used to make the cello. A higher-quality cello, usually handmade, costs more since its tone and sound quality are usually much better than cheaper, machine-made cellos.

Beginner cellos, generally factory-made and meant for beginner cellists, are usually average around $300-$400 and can be bought in music shops or online. Higher-end, professional-level cellos, which are usually handcrafted by master luthiers, can cost well over $10,000. In between are intermediate cellos which cover then $500-$10,000 range.

Many students start out by renting cellos for practice until they are ready buy one. This ensures that a cellist is serious about the instrument before they invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into a new cello.

Essentially, cellos fall into three categories for pricing:

  • Student or Beginner Cellos: Student cellos are designed for cello players just starting out who have played generally less than 2-3 years. They are generally mass-produced in factories so the costs remain low for parents and students who aren’t sure how long the student will continue playing the cello. Unlike more advanced cellos, these cellos have fingerboards and pegs that are made from maple (dyed black to resemble ebony) since these areas tend to be exposed to more friction from students who haven’t learned the right amount of pressure to use. Student cello prices range from $200 – $2,500.
  • Intermediate to Advanced Cellos: Made with better craftsmanship, the sound of an intermediate cello is also much better. There are more dynamics and stronger projection. The pegs and fingerboards are usually crafted from ebony and the instruments are generally handmade. Intermediate and advanced cello prices range from $500 – $10,000.
  • Professional Cellos: Professional-quality cellos exude a rich tone and wide dynamics that comes from master craftsmanship. Luthiers who make professional cellos generally spend many years practicing the art of making wooden instruments so that they sound the best that they can. Masterpieces like these are expensive. Professional cello prices go from $10,000 onwards.

Typically, how much one pays for a cello is how much one can expect from the quality. A cello priced at the extremely low hundreds tends to be “unplayable” while the more expensive ones can balance both playability and sound production better.

Of course, the price is not always merely an indication of product quality. Sometimes, it also incorporates the name of the cello maker. As a cello maker’s fame increases, so does the value of the instruments he crafts. The question of how much is a cello worth often depends on a variety of characteristics of that cello.

Category: Cello

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Double Bass

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Piano

Pianos create beautiful music and have been used throughout the years to entertain and teach. Traditionally, children would learn to play tunes from strict teachers and weathered pianos. For some the sight of these lustrous black and white keys would evoke memories from childhood that were as precious as the melodies played from them. The glossy, black and white keys has often prompted people to wonder…

What are piano keys made out of?

Originally, piano keys were made from different kinds of wood with a lighter and darker color to differentiate between the natural notes (white keys) and the sharp and flat notes (black keys). The dark or black ones are from a hardwood material called ebony a hardwood that shines to perfection when polished. The texture and weight of the wood corresponded very well with the need for pianists when they played tunes on the piano.

Wooden piano keys
Traditional piano keys were made from wood.

The lighter colored keys made from light-colored peach wood were eventually covered with ivory for a more elegant look and so that they could be longer-lasting. Since the lighter colored keys were the ones that were usually struck or played, they tend to wear out faster than the ebony keys. Ivory lent a very elegant look to the keys and the black and white contrast is very pleasing to the eye. Ivory was sourced mainly from elephant tusks and animal teeth.

Awareness of the deplorable plight of elephants, the main source of ivory, led to the ban of the use of ivory for piano keys which in turn encouraged the piano makers to look for better alternatives. A durable and different kind of plastic was developed to suit the needs of pianists and manufacturers alike.

Ivorite was developed by Yamaha according to the needs of pianists, for better grip, texture and more lasting. Other piano makers also developed different kinds of acrylics and mineral plastics.

piano keys
Modern piano keys are made from acrylic or plastic

These days, piano keys’ materials are mainly made of durable plastics which are polished to look and feel the same as traditional ivory and ebony keys.

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Category: Piano

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Ukulele

Finding the write ukulele strings can be challenging since there are a lot of different ukulele strings available. We’ve reviewed many of the leading ukulele string brands to find you these best. Here are our favorites for each type of ukulele:

 

Category: Ukulele

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