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Teach me History: number of strings in string instruments

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by kiwlm, Mar 26, 2004.

  1. hmmm, was just wondering why they are 4 strings in violin, 6 strings in guitar, and stuffs like that.

    If I were to make a wild guess, violin and other classical instruments have 4 strings, because we have 4 fingers, one finger will cover one string.

    Guitars have 6 strings to sound good in chords?

    One of the most famous chinese instrument, the Er-Hu, have only two strings, and the bow is actually in between the two strings, so you can't separate the bow from the instrument, have totally no idea where's the origin of those.


    Anyone can give me some history lessons?
  2. Wild indeed ;) - I don't know why they do have 4 strings, but I know that's not the answer. You don't play each string with a separate finger. Think about how you play a 4 string bass. It's the same with the viol family of instruments. Sometimes you go up the string, sometimes you cross the strings, mostly it's a combination, but all fingers are available for all the strings. You might have one finger per string in some 4-note chords (although they'd be rolled as you can't get the bow in contact with all 4 strings at once) but that's a very small percentage of what you'd be playing on such an instrument.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The predecessors of guitars were lutes which had many more strings than 6 and the violin family come from Viols, which more commonly had 3 strings and sometimes 5!

    In those days - each instrument was a one-off and I imagine it has only been standardised since the advent of some sort of mass-production?

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