5 Types Of String Instruments From Common String Family (2023)

There is various kind of instrument all over the world. But we all know that the string instrument is one of the most popular types of instrument. String instruments are usually in line with instruments with keys or drums for a beginner to learn to play music.

The basic definition of a string instrument or the basic working would be providing sound through the vibration made by strings on the instrument when plucked or strummed.

Now let’s introduce you to some of the most popular string instruments in detail:

Table of Contents

Structure of String Instruments

There are certain rules that need to be in place for us to call an instrument a ‘stringed instrument’ – some compulsory structure to call it string instruments.

Most of the stringed instruments have a head-first, then there is a neck. After that, there is a hole in most of the string instruments that help to make the sound.

Most string instruments have a wooden body, some have metal or mixed elements. There have strings on the neck. Strings are made of nylon or steel materials.

They’re played using your arms and fingers and most of them are played by plucking/ strumming the strings. Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s dive into the specific instruments!

How Many Types of String Instruments are There?

The number of family members under string instruments is quite large than any other type of instrument family. This is because stringed instruments come in all shapes and sizes, from the large and imposing double bass to the smaller and most delicate mandolin.

(Video) STRINGS FAMILY | INSTRUMENTS OF THE ORCHESTRA | LESSON #3 | LEARNING MUSIC HUB | ORCHESTRA

There are more than 300 members of the traditional string instrument family. Since string instruments were born in different parts of the world at various times and cultures, there is a wide range of string instruments available today.

Broadly, different types of string instruments can be classified into four categories:

Bowed strings:The player creates the sound by drawing a bow across the string. Examples of modern bowed string instruments are violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

Plucked strings:The player produces sound by plucking the string with their fingers or a pick. Examples of plucked string instruments are the Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, and Ukulele.

Struck strings:The player creates the sound by striking the string with a hard object. Examples of such instruments are the Piano, Celesta, and Glockenspiel.

Hammered strings:The player creates the sound by striking the string with a hammer or beater. Examples of hammered instruments are Hammered Dulcimer and Cimbalom.

Most Popular Types of String Instruments

1. Guitar

It’s the most popular form of a stringed instrument to the point that it is probably used in your favorite song.

5 Types Of String Instruments From Common String Family (1)

The guitar comes in acoustic and electric varieties, and in most cases, it features 6 strings (there are other types of guitars that feature 7 & 8 strings, but those are for intermediate or professional string instrument players).

It is most known in popular culture as the principal instrument in the musical genres of blues, country, jazz, pop, and rock. The guitar is widespread in today’s popular music scene, and its dominance in popular culture since the 1950s has been the highest.

Acoustic Guitar:

Acoustic guitars are the most popular and commonly seen string instruments. They have hollow bodies, and their strings are made of steel or nylon. The sound is produced from string vibration and amplified by the hollow body.

Acoustic guitars are used in various genres of music such as country, folk, rock, and pop and can be played solo or in a band setting. The nylon-stringed acoustic guitar is also known as a classical guitar.

(Video) The String Family - Listen to the instruments of the strings family! - Orchestra for Kids

Electric Guitar:

Electric guitars are similar to acoustic guitars, but they are electronically amplified instruments with a solid body, and their strings are made of metal. An electric guitar is known for its distinct, bright sound.

In the case of electric guitar, the strings vibrate to produce sound and amplify it through an amplifier. These steel stringed instruments are typically played in a band setting accompanied by other musical instruments such as drums and bass.

2. Bass guitar

The bass guitar is usually a little bigger than an electric or acoustic guitar. It has four strings and is remarkably similar to the guitar, and just like the guitar, you get a different type of bass guitar. The exception with the bass is that its notes are roughly an octave lower.

5 Types Of String Instruments From Common String Family (2)

As a result, it is commonly used as a supporting instrument in bands. The bass serves as an excellent foundation for the guitar. The bass and the drums go hand-in-hand and complement each other when in action.

Because of the bass’s size, it may be difficult for younger children to grip and play (the strings are also thicker, making it more difficult to push down) – at least until they become older. For novices, the guitar may be a better alternative.

Also Read: Electric-Acoustic Bass Guitar Review

3. Banjo

Banjo is another one of the stringed instruments that is most commonly heard in bluegrass and country-western music. It has 4 to 5 strings typically but in some cases, the number of strings can go up to 6 as well.

5 Types Of String Instruments From Common String Family (3)

The instrument has a body that is rounded and a long and thin neck. The sound of a banjo is very distinct and unique to this instrument. Compared to a guitar, the body of a banjo is smaller, and instead of an all-wooden body, the banjo is made out of vellum, plastic, or skin.

Banjos are usually amplified with a microphone when performing live, although electronic pickups can also be fitted.

4. Ukulele

The ukulele, nicknamed the ‘uke’, is a four-stringed musical instrument that looks like a tiny classical acoustic guitar and is made of wood.

5 Types Of String Instruments From Common String Family (4)

The ukulele is a basic instrument that can create happy-sounding music that is loved all around the world. The ukulele is a widely known string instrument like the others on this list that belongs to the lute family.

(Video) String instruments of the orchestra

Typically, it has four strings, but can sometimes have six or eight. The tone of a ukulele is determined by its size and manufacture, and just like a guitar type, it is available in four sizes: concert, tenor, soprano, and baritone.

5. Mandolin

The mandolin is another of the lute family’s musical instruments. It usually contains 4 courses of doubled metal strings, which means it has 8 strings in totality.

5 Types Of String Instruments From Common String Family (5)

You may have seen someone playing what seems to be a miniature guitar if you’ve ever watched a country music band perform live – chances are that that instrument’s a mandolin.

The carved top has a shallower, arched back and top than the round back, which has a deep bottom. The flat-backed mandolin is comparable to an acoustic guitar in construction.

5 Types Of String Instruments From Common String Family (6)

String Instruments from the West

From the Medieval and Renaissance era to the present day, string instruments have been some of the most popular types of instruments in the Western world. Here is a list of the string-related instruments that were either born in the west or designated as a part of western classical music.

  • Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Harpsichord, Zither, Lute, etc.

String Instruments from the East

The string instrument has a long and rich history in the eastern world, with many different types of instruments evolved. The sound of eastern string family instruments can be soothing and relaxing or fast and upbeat. One of the significant differences between the eastern and western string instruments is the tuning system.

Out of many, here are some string family instruments from the east:

  • Sitar, Sarod, Tabla, Tanpura, Shehnai, Sarangi, Bansuri, Shamisen, Koto, Erhu, Rebab, Zhonghu, Gaohu, Banhu, Jinghu, Liuqin, Pipa, Sanxian, Ruan, Yayli tanbur, Ikatze, Byzantine Lyra, and Morin khuur, etc.

Characteristics of String Instrument

  • String instruments are easy to play for any tune. It doesn’t need any keynotes.
  • There is no limitation when it comes to the pitch, it depends on the player’s limitation. Any player can create something new and amazing in every step.
  • Playing string instruments depends a lot on the strength of health. By that, I mean the strength of a player’s arms or fingers.
  • The player can become intermediate or professional through regular practice.
  • String instruments provide darker and warmer sounds in the low range but brighter and brilliant sounds in the high range. Range plays a vital role in a string instrument.
  • The string instrument must be tuned in the gap of certain time frames.

How do String Instruments Work & Produce Sound?

We have seen string instruments come in all shapes and sizes, from small handheld instruments to large floor-standing musical instruments. But how do they work?

All string instruments commonly work on the same basic principle. The string is plucked or strummed, causing it to vibrate. This vibration is then enhanced by the instrument’s body before being projected out as sound.

Different string instruments work in different ways to achieve this. For example, the violin uses a bow to make the string vibrate, while the guitar uses the player’s fingers (or a pick) to do so. The type of material the string is made from also affects the sound it produces – for example, metal strings will create a brighter, sharper sound than nylon strings.

(Video) INSTRUMENT OF THE ORCHESTRA: THE STRING FAMILY

The string’s length also affects the sound it produces. An instrument string that has stretched further will vibrate more slowly than a string that is under less tension and will create a lower note. This is why string instruments are often tuned – by tightening or loosening the strings. The player can raise or lower the string’s pitch to create the desired note.

Amplifying the string’s vibration is most commonly done using a resonating chamber. For example, the violin has a hollow body that amplifies the string’s vibrations, while the guitar has a solid body with a hole in the middle (the sound hole) that amplifies the string’s vibrations.

Once the string’s vibration has been amplified, it is thrown out as sound through the instrument’s soundboard. The soundboard is a thin piece of wood that vibrates along with the string, helping to project the string’s sound outwards. So, that’s how string instruments produce sound!

Playing Methods of a String Instrument

There are numerous ways in which you can play a string instrument but I’m going to mention the top 3 most used ways of making the instrument audible. Keep reading to learn more:

Bowing

Bowing is a method that is played using a bow and not hands. Hands are only used to control the movement of the bow across the instruments. It is slid across the strings of the instrument for creating vibrations and to make the instrument audible.

It’s used in instruments like violin, viola, cello, and other instruments in an orchestra. Typically, it takes a little time to get used to the bow.

Plucking

Plucking is also another method of playing string instruments. Plucked instruments like ukelele, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and other members of the lute family – all can be played by plucking using a finger or thumb.

A plastic plectrum is also available to pluck strings and it’s most commonly used with a guitar.

Striking

Strike the string is the third common method of sound production in string instruments. Many instruments (the most common example is a bass guitar) are played by hitting the strings into vibrational movement.

Bowed instruments can also be played with a strike, thanks to a bowing method known as col legno, which uses the rear of the bow as the striker.

Final Words

And that brings us to the end, I hope you all know much more about the string family after carefully going through this article. These are just the most common string instruments but you can find a ton of unique instruments if you go by genre.

(Video) String instruments for kids - Musical Instruments

If you’re a beginner looking for your first instrument, my recommendation would be either a guitar or a bass. Either way, you can’t go wrong because they’ll help you get the foundation just right for playing a string instrument. All the best for your musical journey!

Also Read:

  • Acoustic Guitar String Guide
  • How Much Does It Cost To Restring A Guitar?
  • How Often Should You Change Guitar Strings?

FAQs

What is a 5 stringed instrument? ›

What is a 5-string violin? It is a violin, with added viola range. It's that simple. Five strings in descending 5ths: E, A, D, G, C.

What are the different instruments in the string family? ›

The strings are the largest family of instruments in the orchestra and they come in four sizes: the violin, which is the smallest, viola, cello, and the biggest, the double bass, sometimes called the contrabass.

How many instruments are in the string family? ›

Worldwide, there are more than 300 different instruments that are considered part of the string family. These range from the single-stringed diddly bow, which originated here in the United States and contributed to blues music, to the 88-stringed piano, which is considered both a string and a percussion instrument.

What is a 10 string instrument? ›

The 10-string beganna (which corresponds to the ancient Greek kithara) is a large, heavy, rectangular instrument that is considered by the Christian Ethiopians to be a God-given instrument that came to them from King David; it is used, of course, for sacred music.

What is an 8 string instrument? ›

The mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family. It generally has four courses of doubled metal strings, for a total of eight strings, that are tuned in unison. While there are many styles of mandolin, only three are common: the round-backed mandolin, the carved-top mandolin, and the flat-backed mandolin.

Is there a 5 string guitar? ›

Washburn AB5K-A 5-String Acoustic Guitar.

What is a 5 string viola? ›

A 5-string viola is a viola that has a C, G, D, A, and E string. This means it is a viola but with the 5 strings of a violin.

What is a 5 string cello called? ›

– Bach owned and occasionally composed for a five string, arm-held instrument, called viola pomposa4, which he himself used to call violoncello piccolo5. It featured the usual low tonal range of a cello but the fifth string gave access to an additional tonal range almost as high as a violin's.

What does the string family have in common? ›

They can play any note imaginable within their range. This is because string instruments have no frets, or pre-defined keys like you find on a guitar or piano.

What do all string instruments have in common? ›

All string instruments produce sound from one or more vibrating strings, transferred to the air by the body of the instrument (or by a pickup in the case of electronically amplified instruments).

How are the instruments in the string family played? ›

String instruments are different from the members of the brass and woodwind families because they create sound through bowing and plucking a set of strings. The main instruments in the orchestra string family are the violin, the viola, the cello, and the string bass.

What is a 4 string instrument called? ›

The four-string bass, by far the most common, is usually tuned the same as the double bass, (E, A, D, and G). The bass guitar is a transposing instrument, as it is notated in bass clef an octave higher than it sounds (as is the double bass) to avoid excessive ledger lines being required below the staff.

What is a six string instrument? ›

Guitars typically have six strings.

What is a 3 string instrument called? ›

The balalaika (Russian: балала́йка, pronounced [bəɫɐˈɫajkə]) is a Russian stringed musical instrument with a characteristic triangular wooden, hollow body, fretted neck and three strings.
...
Balalaika.
String instrument
ClassificationPlucked string instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.321 (Composite chordophone)
8 more rows

Is there a 14 string guitar? ›

The YouTube musician and record producer recently posted a video of them playing a 14-string guitar. Yes, you heard that correctly. A 14-string guitar! And you know what's even more amazing?

What is an 11 string guitar called? ›

The eleven-string alto guitar (also known as altgitarr, archguitar, or Bolin guitar) is an extended-range classical guitar developed by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin in the 1960s.

What's a 10 string guitar called? ›

The viola guitar is a guitar with ten light steel strings in five courses, played with the fingers rather than with a plectrum.

What instruments have 12 strings? ›

The origin of the modern 12-string guitar is not clear, but it arose in the closing years of the 19th Century. The most likely ancestors using courses of doubled strings are some Mexican instruments of Spanish ancestry such as the bandolón, the guitarra séptima, the guitarra quinta huapanguera, and the bajo sexto .

What was the first 7 string guitar? ›

The first mass-produced seven-string was the Ibanez UV7 as a signature model for Steve Vai. It was also used by John Petrucci, Reb Beach and Korn amongst others. Vai was drawn to the idea for much of the same reasons seven-string classical and jazz players were—the extended range the additional string offered.

What is the 7th string on a guitar? ›

It's the same as E standard, but the 7th string is tuned a fourth down from the low E, making it a low B. This 7-string guitar tuning is so popular because the intervals between the lowest strings are the same as on a six-string guitar. It also allows you to play in E standard as if the guitar has 6 strings.

What is a 5 string bass? ›

Five-string basses are normally tuned B-E-A-D-G, with a lower B string in addition to the four strings of a normal bass guitar. Some musicians such as jazz bassist Steve Swallow tune the five-string bass to E-A-D-G-C, with a high C-string instead of the low B-string.

What is a 5 string ukulele? ›

The five string ukulele is a modern variation that gives you both G-string options. That means it's tuned with a low-G AND a high-g in a doubled course. The high-g is usually on the top. So all together: gG C E A .

Who plays 5 string guitar? ›

But one thing, besides stories, that Richards is known for is his use of a five-string guitar and "open G" tuning, which gives every Rolling Stones song that signature sound.

Does a fiddle have 5 strings? ›

John Silakowski 5-String Fiddle Demo from Peghead Nation - YouTube

What is a 6 string violin called? ›

6-String Violin (Fadolin)

What is a 6 string violin? ›

What is a 6th and/or 7th string for? These extra strings allow a violinist instant access to cello, guitar, and even bass range right on their instrument without the use of pitch shifters and octave pedals.

Why do electric violins have 5 strings? ›

The five-string violin was created to combine the pitch ranges of the violin and viola. Bobby Hicks, a noted bluegrass fiddler, popularized the five-string violin in 1963, first showcasing his modification during a performance in Las Vegas.

Is cello a bass instrument? ›

Double bass

As a solo instrument, the cello uses its whole range, from bass to soprano, and in chamber music such as string quartets and the orchestra's string section, it often plays the bass part, where it may be reinforced an octave lower by the double basses.

How many strings does a cello have? ›

The Cello has four strings, tuned in 5ths to C, G, D and A.

Is guitar a string instrument? ›

The most common string instruments in the string family are guitar, electric bass, violin, viola, cello, double bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and harp.

Is piano a string instrument? ›

On a piano, however, those vibrations are initiated by hammers hitting the strings rather than by plucking or by moving a bow across them. So, the piano also falls into the realm of percussion instruments. As a result, today the piano is generally considered to be both a stringed and a percussion instrument.

What is the largest instrument in the string family? ›

At over 6 feet long, the double bass is the biggest member of the string family, with the longest strings, which allow it to play very low notes. Basses are so big that you have to stand up or sit on a very tall stool to play them, and it helps if you have long arms and big hands.

What is the most popular string instrument in the world? ›

Not only string instrument, but guitar is undoubtedly the king of all the musical instruments! It provides the peace of mind like no other; it's easy to use and with its great variety it can make any kind of song...from classical to rock and roll to hip hop! It represents the word 'music'.

What instrument has only 2 strings? ›

The erhu has only two strings while violin has four.

What do the instruments have in common? ›

Despite their diversity, however, musical instruments share certain similarities. All musical instruments create sound by causing matter to vibrate. The vibrations start sound waves moving through the air. Most musical instruments use resonance to amplify the sound waves and make the sounds louder.

What other instruments in the string family have four strings? ›

The violin, also known as a fiddle, is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola, and the cello.

What is the first string instrument? ›

The earliest surviving stringed instruments to date are the Lyres of Ur, plucked chordophones, which currently exist in fragments that date back to 4,500 years ago. The first bowed chordophones were probably developed in central Asia and were the forerunners of an Indian folk instrument known as the ravanastron.

What are the 5 wind instruments? ›

Wind instruments are typically grouped into two families: Brass instruments (horns, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, and tubas) Woodwind instruments (recorders, flutes, oboes, clarinets, saxophones, and bassoons)

What instrument has 15 strings? ›

The bandolin is a 15-stringed musical instrument in Ecuador. It is used as a rhythm and melody instrument in the Andean region of Ecuador during festivals where dancing and music are involved. It has a flat back and 15 strings in triple courses.

What instrument has 40 strings? ›

The European zither consists of a flat, shallow sound box across which some 30 or 40 gut or metal strings are stretched.

What instrument has only one string? ›

The duxianqin is a Chinese plucked string instrument with only one string; it is derived from the Vietnamese đàn bầu.
...
Duxianqin
Literal meaning"one string zither"
Transcriptions Standard Mandarin Hanyu Pinyin yīxiánqín
8 more rows

What is a 3 string guitar called? ›

If you've seen a 3 string guitar being played and wondered what it is, chances are it's a cigar box guitar. A cigar box guitar is traditionally handmade from a cigar box with a wooden through neck and 3 steel strings attached to tuning pegs.

What is a 2 string guitar called? ›

There's even a two-string guitar called a punk rod.

What are the 6 guitar strings? ›

Listed from low to high, the guitar string notes are: E, A, D, G, B, E. To help memorize these string names, there are a couple of sayings that we can use: Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good Bye Eddie or Eat A Dead Grasshopper Before Everything. The 1st string is the high E and the low string is the 6th string.

Is there a four string guitar? ›

The tenor guitar or four-string guitar is a slightly smaller, four-string relative of the steel-string acoustic guitar or electric guitar. The instrument was initially developed in its acoustic form by Gibson and C.F.

Which is not a string instrument? ›

The correct answer is Nag Phani.

Is harp a string instrument? ›

harp, stringed instrument in which the resonator, or belly, is perpendicular, or nearly so, to the plane of the strings. Each string produces one note, the gradation of string length from short to long corresponding to that from high to low pitch.

What are the 5 wind instruments? ›

Wind instruments are typically grouped into two families: Brass instruments (horns, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, and tubas) Woodwind instruments (recorders, flutes, oboes, clarinets, saxophones, and bassoons)

What is the most popular string instrument? ›

Guitar. At this point, the guitar is probably the most popular stringed instrument. However, the instrument comes in a lot of forms these days, with the main division being acoustic and electric guitars.

What are string instruments called? ›

In musicology, string instruments are known as chordophones. It is one of the five main divisions of instruments in the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification.

What is the largest instrument in the string family? ›

At over 6 feet long, the double bass is the biggest member of the string family, with the longest strings, which allow it to play very low notes. Basses are so big that you have to stand up or sit on a very tall stool to play them, and it helps if you have long arms and big hands.

Is piano a string instrument? ›

On a piano, however, those vibrations are initiated by hammers hitting the strings rather than by plucking or by moving a bow across them. So, the piano also falls into the realm of percussion instruments. As a result, today the piano is generally considered to be both a stringed and a percussion instrument.

What are the types of instruments? ›

There are five main instrument families: strings, woodwind, brass, keyboards, and percussion.

What family is the piano in? ›

Here, pianos fall squarely into the family of chordophones, instruments that produce sound by way of vibrating strings.

What instrument has only 2 strings? ›

The erhu has only two strings while violin has four.

What instrument has 40 strings? ›

The European zither consists of a flat, shallow sound box across which some 30 or 40 gut or metal strings are stretched.

Is guitar a string instrument? ›

The most common string instruments in the string family are guitar, electric bass, violin, viola, cello, double bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and harp.

What is a 3 string instrument? ›

The balalaika (Russian: балала́йка, pronounced [bəɫɐˈɫajkə]) is a Russian stringed musical instrument with a characteristic triangular wooden, hollow body, fretted neck and three strings. Two strings are usually tuned to the same note and the third string is a perfect fourth higher.

What instrument has 15 strings? ›

The bandolin is a 15-stringed musical instrument in Ecuador. It is used as a rhythm and melody instrument in the Andean region of Ecuador during festivals where dancing and music are involved. It has a flat back and 15 strings in triple courses.

What is the first string instrument? ›

The earliest surviving stringed instruments to date are the Lyres of Ur, plucked chordophones, which currently exist in fragments that date back to 4,500 years ago. The first bowed chordophones were probably developed in central Asia and were the forerunners of an Indian folk instrument known as the ravanastron.

What family is violin in? ›

The main instruments in the orchestra string family are the violin, the viola, the cello, and the string bass. Read on below to learn more about each of these string instruments.

What is the lowest instrument in the string family? ›

The double bass is the biggest and lowest pitched instrument in the string family. The deep, very low sounds of the double bass are often used to help hold together the harmonies and to help carry the rhythm. There are 6-8 double basses in an orchestra. A standard double bass is just over 6 feet in length.

Which six different instruments make up the string section? ›

The most common string instruments in the string family are guitar, electric bass, violin, viola, cello, double bass, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and harp.

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