A violin, referred to as a fiddle at times, is a wooden string instrument that is played mostly by drawing the bow hair across the strings (bowing) to produce sounds that are powerful enough to evoke almost any emotion from the listeners. The strings can also be plucked by the fingers (pizzicato) or struck by the wooden part of the bow (col legno).
- Typical Violin = 4 Strings
- Special Types of Violin = 5 – 8 Strings
- Electric Violin = 5 – 7 Strings
- Electric Violin Built by Luthier Yuri Landman = 12 Strings
Although it is the smallest in the violin family, it is considered the highest‑pitched instrument among them. There are 4 strings for typical violin tuned from highest to lowest in the notes of E-A-D-G in the interval of perfect fifths, which are essentially all you will need to play this musical instrument. However, there are those that come with more than that.
In the early 16th century, when the violin was crafted, the strings are made from animal intestines, particularly that of catgut or sheep intestine, which are stretched, dried, and then twisted to create a resonant tone.
String production has evolved through the years as their other new materials been used to produce new types of string such as steel and nylon that are also resonant and flexible enough to vibrate. The core of the string can be synthetic polymers, gut, or steel, then wound in layers of different types of metal depending on the sound preference and the manufacturer.
How Many Strings Does A Violin Have?
All violin strings almost looked identical if you merely observe its outside appearance. The size, shape, and dimension are the major criteria that distinguish every string.
The number of a violin used on a violin might be varied based on the violin’s types of sizes. Do you know that certain types of violin use four, five, or even eight strings? But, the most common type is the four-strings violin. Let’s explore them all in more detail.
In scientific pitch notation, it is tuned in E5 with a pitch range that can go as high as E7, two octaves above E5, although it is not that well defined. For right‑handed players, it is on the right side of the violin when you are facing it. It is the thinnest string measuring at 0.25mm, and it produces the highest pitched note. You usually use the index finger to press the E string.
Tuned at A4, it is one of the two strings on the inside located next to the E string. It is the second thinnest measuring at 0.50mm. The middle finger is used when pressing the A string.
Tuned at D4, it is one of the two strings on the inside and lies between String A and String G. It measures 0.75mm. You usually use the ring finger to press the D string.
It is tuned at G3, the lowest in the pitch of the violin as it is the G below middle C. It is the thickest string, measuring at about 0.83mm. A thick string vibrates at a slower rate than a thin one, which means that it would have a low-frequency sound. For right‑handed players, it is on the left side of the violin when you are facing it.
It is tuned at C3, but it is not normally found in a standard violin. You will find it in a five-string violin as the fifth string, and it is tuned at a pitch lower than the normal range of the violin, allowing more versatility, which makes it ideal for improvisations. It is mostly used for jazz, swing, folk, and rock genres. This variant of the violin is deeper and wider in size to accommodate the String C and enable more resonance. However, it is still smaller than the viola.
Numbers of Strings of Other Violins Have
A typical violin has four strings, but there are violins with strings that are less than four and more than five. These are mostly if not only, played by professional violinists.
Pochette, an odd variant of the violin, also known as a pocket fiddle, has three strings that are tuned one octave higher than the regular violin. It is used by dance masters and street musicians dating back to the 15th century and was quite popular in the 19th century. The body is narrow, but the fingerboard is long. It comes in different shapes such as pear-shaped, a boat-shaped one called Sandino, and the one that resembles the violin called a “kit violin”. The famous Italian luthier, Antonio Stradivari, had made quite a few of this instrument with one said to be on display at a museum in Paris.
With the acoustic five-string violin, the solid body of the instrument accommodates the increased tension created by the addition of the extra string without putting too much stress on it.
Electric violins are known to have 5 – 7 strings to encompass the cello’s range, with the fifth string tuned to a low C, the sixth one to a low F, and the seventh one to a Bb. Some said that the maximum number of strings should be seven because more than that would pose a problem in playing the inner strings individually using the bow.
However, man’s ingenuity knows no bounds as the Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle or hardingfele in Norway has eight or nine strings. This is a transposing instrument or a D instrument. Tuning for this is dependent upon the region in Norway in which it is played or whatever is the requirement for a particular tune. The four main strings are played in the same manner as the standard violin, while the sympathetic strings or those under the main strings would resonate when the main ones are bowed.
A 12-string electric violin was built by luthier Yuri Landman for a Belgian band. The strings are grouped in threes, creating a chorus as they are tuned in unison.