If you’ve ever been interested in learning how to play a string instrument, you’ve probably wondered which one is the right fit for you. There’s the entire selection of orchestra strings, including violin, cello, and bass; but there’s also other string instruments that are popular with students like ukuleles, guitars, banjos, etc.

Here at Rockley, we’re committed to helping guide you through the diverse aspects of deciding which string instrument is a good fit for you and help you navigate your decision making. The most important thing you need to understand is that there is not necessarily a “right” or “wrong” choice of instrument. It’s more about which instrument and music style will keep you interested for the longest period of time.

First, you’ll want to narrow down your decision

Decide if your selected instrument has a bow, or whether you’ll play the strings directly with your hands. Bowed instruments are a little harder to learn, but can be used for more applications than instruments that don’t use bows. 

Then, go look at examples

For this part of the assignment, YouTube will be your friend. Look up videos of all the different string instruments you’re interested in and watch the instrument being played. Remember to include several different genres of music, so you can see the full potential of the instruments you’re interested in.

If you skip this step and decide to just pick an instrument randomly, you might become discouraged from learning and/or practicing if you were to discover the sounds are not interesting to you.

Other things you should consider when selecting which string instrument to learn

Depending on your age, and size, some instruments might be a better fit for you than others.

The violin

A super versatile instrument for players of any height. It produces lovely, vibrant sounds and is highly recognizable; regardless of whether you’re part of an orchestra, a solo player or a band. The violin has been incredibly popular for centuries and adapts greatly from the classics, all the way to bluegrass. 

The viola

A great choice if you ever want to make money from your music, the viola is always in high demand. It is a slightly larger instrument than a violin, so it’s a great choice for players with bigger hands. The viola has a lot in common with its smaller sibling, the violin.

The cello

A rich, pleasing instrument with an extremely unique sound. It  carries an amazing range, and is a great choice for students who want the choice of either sitting up or standing down when they play. However, if you have short fingers or small hands, it might not be the right instrument for you. It is a big leap in instrument size and produces a lower register than the viola and the violin. It can be played with or without a bow.

The double bass

Also in high demand, the bass is a little bit more cumbersome to transport and store, but it is used in most musical genres.  It provides a support role in most orchestras and is another big leap in size from the cello.