The family of string instruments consists of the violin, viola, cello and double bass, and is one of the oldest families. They are usually played with a bow but can also be plucked.
The strings are the backbone of the Western orchestra but can often play in small groups, the most popular being the string quartet, comprising of two violins, a viola and a cello.
The violin is one of the most popular instruments, and comes in small sizes for almost any age of beginner, though it is usual to start from the age of 7 upwards.
Interesting fact: the violin is a popular instrument for folk music throughout Europe, America and Asia and is often referred to as the fiddle.
The viola is slightly larger and deeper than the violin and is most often taken up by older violinists who are attracted to its distinctive tone quality and its role at the heart of the orchestra or ensemble.
Interesting fact: there is always a shortage of viola players, and a violinist who swaps to viola can be assured of a warm welcome in orchestras.
The cello can also be played by younger players as it comes in smaller sizes, all the way down to 1/8 size. The cello is equally at home playing the bass line and melodies.
Interesting fact: although it seems bulky it is quite light and with care a child is able to carry it quite easily.
The double bass plays a vital role, forming the rich foundation for the rest of the group. It is a particularly versatile instrument and has a prominent role in jazz.
Interesting fact: because of its size it is one of the Endangered Species instruments. There is always a shortage of double bassists, meaning they are sought-after within group playing.