Summerhays Music Center offers a large selection of orchestral stringed instruments from entry level quality to professional. We also carry a wide variety of bows, cases, strings, and other accessories for all your playing needs.
Our Professional Strings Department includes three full time string repair technicians and two professional string consultantsavailable to help you determine which instrument or item is right for you. From shoulder rest fittings, string selection, or upgraded instruments, our knowledgeable staff can turn a somewhat intimidating situation into an easy selection process! Stop in any time and we will be happy to assist you!
The violin, sometimes referred to as a fiddle, is the smallest instrument in the family of bowed string instruments and is the soprano or highest voice of an orchestra. The violin is played by holding it under the chin while in a standing or sitting position and using a bow to be played across the strings. It is one of the most important members of an orchestra and is often used as the lead or solo instrument.
Played under the chin, like the violin, the viola is slightly larger, both in width and length, and tuned a fifth lower. The viola is the alto voice of the string family, adding depth, richness, and warmth to the orchestra.
The cello represents the tenor voice of the string family and is generally played in the bass clef. Tuned a full octave lower than the viola, the cello produces deep lower registers and subdued higher tones. The cello is supported on the floor by an endpin and played in a sitting position.
Known also as the string bass or double bass, its deep voice provides the foundation or “bottom” to the orchestra. The string family’s largest instrument, the upright bass can be played either in a sitting or standing position.
CHOOSING A STRING INSTRUMENT
Choosing the right instrument is very important to guarantee success. Select an instrument that interests you and that has an appealing sound. Having a vested interest in mastering something you like is half the battle.
We feel strongly that a player’s first instrument is in many ways the most important one he or she will ever play. A well-made instrument is reliable, easy to play and maintain, and rewards a students efforts with excellent sound and response. Poor quality instruments can frustrate and discourage a student from playing by not staying in tune, breaking often, or having a poor quality of sound. The best way to ensure success for your student is to choose an instrument that comes from a reputable and reliable source. Some important questions to ask are:
- Who will back up or warranty my instrument?
- Does the store/company have an established repair shop to set up and maintain my instrument?
- Does the instrument conform to the teacher’s specifications or standards?
- Is the instrument set up to MENC National guidelines for instruments?
Asking yourself some of these questions, and getting answers to them from the manufacturer or seller will help guarantee a good quality instrument and a successful experience. This also helps differentiate between a true musical instrument and an expensive musical toy!
WHAT TO AVOID
Consumers today are faced with a large spectrum of choices for instrument purchase. Many internet companies and retail establishments offer instruments with the promise of unbeatable prices. Most are poorly set up and made from materials not commonly accepted by violin makers worldwide. Woods that are too green, improperly cured, and glued together with non-reversible glues lead to cracks, warping, and the inability to play the instrument. What may be appealing at first glance quickly becomes a hindrance to a student with a strong desire to succeed. Students who are struggling to learn a new instrument will often give up or blame themselves when the instrument itself may be to blame.
RENT OR BUY
Renting is a convenient way to use an instrument on a trial basis without the commitment of ownership. Most rental contracts are written as “rent-to-own” contracts, giving the renter the flexibility of renting and returning, or continuing payments until purchased. Buying an instrument has definite advantages as well. Ownership of an instrument creates ownership in developing a talent, and provides further incentive to work hard and be successful. Through Summerhays Music Center’s accommodating trade-up program, string instruments can generally be traded in for full value or near full value toward the purchase of larger or upgraded instruments. This program allows for growth in an instrument that complements the growth and development of the student.
MAKE SURE IT’S THE RIGHT SIZE
Although full size string instruments are generally a specific size and length, smaller versions of these instruments have been created to help younger or smaller players correctly play the instrument. It’s very important to have the right size for the best playing experience. Physical attributes are also of key importance when choosing the right instrument. Someone with small, skinny fingers may be successful at the violin, but would find a bass or cello rather difficult; while someone with larger fingers may not be able to play a violin or viola. Likewise, a taller person with longer arms may be better suited for a string bass. Our knowledgeable staff can help you find the right instrument for you.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING A STRING INSTRUMENT
- Ebony pegs/fittings
- Correctly planed ebony fingerboards
- Well cured / aged woods (3+ years)
- Properly fit bridges from quality Hard Rock Maple
- Quality strings (Dominant, Pirastro, D’Addario)
- Genuine Wittner tailpiece
- Bows with genuine horsehair
- Fiberglass, carbon fiber, Brazilwood or Pernambuco bows
- Local shop setup for this climate
- Setup to meet or exceed NAME standards
HIGH QUALITY WITTNER TAILPIECES
A Wittner tailpiece is designed with the fine tuners built into the body of the tailpiece. Unlike traditional fine-tuners, which simply sit on the string, fine tuners in a Wittner tailpiece enable the student to tune the instrument without major adjustments to the pegs. Teachers love them because the kids learn to tune their own instrument more quickly and fine adjustments are so much easier. Since the string fits comfortably into the tailpiece, there is no damage done to the winding of the string, as is sometimes the case with fine tuners that fit onto the string itself. Thus, expensive strings last longer –which saves you money in the long run. And because there is less hardware involved, there is less chance for one of those annoying “buzzes” that come from a traditional style fine-tuner. The tailpiece is precisely designed and manufactured in Germany using the highest quality light metal alloy. Try it, you and your teacher will love it.