What is the String Family?

Beginning Music Guide: All About the Strings 

What is the string family? What are the characteristics of the string family?


While the band is made up entirely of woodwind brass, and percussion instruments, the orchestra is made up mostly of string instruments and includes some wind and percussion instruments.

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. Read on below to learn more about each of these string instruments


violin studentThe Violin

  • 1.) The violin is one of the most recognizable instruments in the orchestra.


  • 2.) The violin creates the highest notes in the string family and often plays the melody

3.) The violin is played by placing the chin rest on the player’s chin.


4.) The four strings on the violin play the notes G, D, A and E






The Viola

1.) The viola looks very similar to the violin


2.) Upon closer inspection, you will see that the viola is slightly larger and heavier than the violin.


3.) The viola creates a lower sound than the violin.


4.) The four strings on the viola play the notes C, G, D and A.



cello student

The Cello

  • 1.) The cello is noticeably larger than both the violin and the viola. 


  • 2.) The cello rests on the floor with an end pin.


  • 3.) The cello creates a deep low tone.


  • 4.) The four strings on the cello play the notes C, G, D and A.




string bassThe String Bass

  • The string bass is the largest of this series of string instruments. 


  • The four strings of the bass play the notes E, A, D and G


  • The player must stand to play the bass due to the instrument’s height.


Try listening to the sounds of these different string instruments to see which one you like the best. The string family may be right for you if you plan to play in an orchestra or if you prefer an instrument that is not part of the wind family

String instruments also differ from wind instruments because they come in different sizes. Violins, cellos, and string basses range in size from about 1/4 to 4/4. Violas range from about 10” to 15.5” or 16”. As a child grows, they will change sizes based on their arm span and height.

Now that you have learned about the string family, read the rest of the beginning music guide posts to help you jumpstart your journey with music!


Other Beginning Music Guide Posts:

What is the Woodwind Family?


What is the woodwind family of instruments? How does the woodwind family produce sound? Many of the instruments in the woodwind family are no longer made of wood, but they form an important instrument family with a wide range of tone colors. 

What is the Percussion Family?

Yamaha drum

What is the percussion family? Like brass and woodwind instruments, percussion instruments create sound through vibration