Rule 1: Get a good string instrument
String instrument produces sounds by amplifying vibrations transmitted from the string via the bridge. With quality strings installed on a quality instrument which can produce good and balanced sounds, these strings can make great differences in the sound. If the instrument is not good at projecting the sound of the strings, neither basic or professional strings will make much differences. You should never try to install good strings on a bad quality instrument in hope to enhance the sound.
Rule 2: Match strings with the instrument
Once you have secured a quality instrument, you are ready to look out for strings that match your instrument in terms of tone quality and playability.
– bright/dark, rich, warm, dry, etc.
Playability of the instrument:
– Too quick / slow to response?
– High or low bow resistance before producing sound?
– Uneven tone quality such as pop-out/dull tone across different strings?
Some strings can help to adjust or subdue undesirable qualities; therefore a good marriage of strings and instrument will definitely magnify the good qualities of both them.
Rule 3: Match strings with your personal technique level
When beginners struggle to produce steady and even notes, they probably would not recognize or even care much about the differences in the sounds a string can produce, let alone those of strings of different qualities. As the players’ skills and techniques advance, their ears gradually trained to differentiate different sounds, and the pieces becomes more demanding such as in expression, tone colour and dynamics, players will look for strings which are more responsive and able to translate their subtle touches and movements.
Rule 4: Know what sound you are looking for
The thicker the string, the more tension it requires to stretch it; therefore it will give more tone, volume, fullness and power but slower response. If the strings sound dull or choked, probably you will need strings with lower gauge. If the strings sound too bright or overly sensitive, you are likely to go for higher gauge strings. To strike a balance between the sound and response, medium gauge strings are the most common and popular choice amongst players.
It doesn’t matter if you are playing solo, all strings players will always look for strings with the richest and best resonance and quickest response. Also, depending on the performance, individual players may require strings with brighter or darker tone colour. Therefore, it is always useful to study the general characteristics of different brands and be open to mix and match strings (in terms of brand, gauge) for the most desirable result.
But make sure you try the strings yourself to determine what you will purchase because different manufacturers have different standards and definitions of tone, responsiveness and gauge. In conclusion, it is important that you know your instrument, ability and requirement when we choose our strings. When in doubt, you should always seek professional advice so that you can make the best out of your string instrument.
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