As promised, we’re following up our recent string FAQs post with a breakdown of the pros and cons of the most popular sets on the market. These are general characteristics that aren’t always true for individual instruments, but they should provide you with a starting place in your search to save you some time and money.
We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve had experienced players come into the shop and sing the praises of their favorite strings, only to have another, equally experienced player come in and say they would never let that type of string anywhere near their instrument. The truth is that different brands of strings can have very different characteristics.
A great instrument should be able to do it all. That means it shines no matter what style of music you play on it, whether that’s a slow romantic sonata movement or a fiery baroque concerto finale. When you head to a shop to try instruments, make sure you’ve prepared at least one lyrical excerpt and one fast, virtuosic excerpt. Or at the very least, make sure to pick an excerpt that contains both.
Violin shops feel very much like the wand shop in Harry Potter. But picking an instrument is not like picking a wand. While the wand chooses the wizard or witch, the instrument does NOT choose the player. That is because instruments are not magical. The magic is all within YOU, the musician! You must find the instrument or bow that allows you to express yourself and your voice. If you tell yourself the instrument will pick you, you may be disappointed when you one doesn’t.