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Which instruments sound best with the violin?

The violin is an unbelievably versatile instrument. Able to shine on the rock stage, studio and orchestra pit, it seems to defy boundaries. Creating its own distinctive range of sounds, the violin’s timbre is melodic and beautiful. However, due to those unique and powerful tonal qualities, it is not always easily harmonized with every instrument. When pairing the violin with other instruments in a group setting (such as an orchestra, chamber group, etc.) there are a few factors to keep in mind.

A set of toy instruments

Optimum combinations

Though a broad range of instruments may be played alongside the violin in various situations, none can rival the pairings produced with these four instruments and classes: viola, double bass (also called “standup” bass or acoustic bass), harp and woodwinds.

As a string instrument, violins are at their best accompanying other string instruments such as the viola. Known for producing a mellow and full sound, violas provide gentler undertones that perfectly support and enhance the violin’s dominant presence. Double-basses also beautifully complement violins, since the violin’s overtone structure can seem like a partial of the double-bass’.

Woodwinds suit the violin as well. The woodwinds have the ability to provide strings more volume and power, while the strings add a mellowness to the sound of the woodwinds. Moreover, violins and woodwinds can either dominate individually, or switch back and forth, which provides for endless combinations.

Harps, because of their staccato quality, blend especially well with violins when the violinists are playing pizzicato.

Which instruments don’t sound good with the violin?

Just as woodwinds can accentuate all the violin’s best qualities, other instruments can distract or even detract from the violin. The most prominent examples are brass instruments. Though some brass instruments can be manipulated to accompany strings through applying a mute (which produces a softer, gentler blend), some just don’t work with the violin.

Prime examples are the trumpet, trombone and tuba. Each of these have a very distinctive sound that competes with -- rather than complements -- the sound of the violin.

When selecting an instrument that goes with the violin, the secret is understanding the sound characteristics of both the individual instruments and the various combinations. Violins do best in harmony with other instruments when the blend of the two instruments brings out the strengths of each.

Create your own sound

Long revered both by appreciators and masters of music, the violin is an astounding instrument in almost any setting. Whether playing solo, with a group or as a member of an orchestra, you could not select a finer instrument.

Because of its distinctive tonal qualities, it is better paired with some instruments than others. However, the possibilities are virtually limitless. When creating your own sound, it is important to be open to any and all instruments that may help you meet your objective.

So, with it being such a valued part of the musical landscape, how much does a violin cost? Here at Johnson String Instrument, that is one question we can definitely answer for you! Explore our website today and discover for yourself the range of possibilities. Good luck in your quest to discover sounds that go best with the violin!

Additional Resources

Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

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Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in under-served communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

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