Choosing your strings

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Choosing your strings.

Violin strings used to be made from catgut (an abbreviation of cattle gut), which is a material made from animal intestines, most commonly those of sheep, cows or goats.  Modern G, D and A strings are made from a metal, gut or synthetic core wound with fine wire, and E strings are made from unwound steel wire. The type of string you choose will affect the sound of your violin, and different strings suit different violins, so there can be a bit of trial and error involved in finding the ideal strings for your instrument.

Steel core strings: these are the cheapest option and have the advantage that they don’t stretch very much, so they tend to stay well in-tune. The disadvantages are that they can have a rather bright, harsh tone, and they are thin and don’t have much ‘give’, so they can feel less comfortable under the fingers.

Synthetic core strings: these are the most widely used strings, and are a good choice if you’re a beginner. The synthetic core is engineered so that it responds like a gut-core string, but without its disadvantages. They take a couple of days to settle after being replaced but their pitch then usually remains quite stable.

Gut-core strings: these are the most expensive option. They can have a warm, rich sound, but they stretch a lot so can take a long time to settle when replaced. They’re also sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, so tend to go out of tune easily.