Summary: Knowing how to find the best five-string violins will help you find a high quality instrument and the right design for the music you want to create.
A lot of people joke that any instrument with more than four strings isn’t legitimate, but five string violins exist, and they can be quite cool.
My top pick is the Fiddlerman Master 5-string Violin Outfit because it has a great design. As an acoustic model, it gives you high-quality accessories and a beautiful sound. What’s more, it’s from a well-known manufacturer with great quality control.
My selection criteria focused primarily on the type (electric, hybrid, or acoustic), the quality of the instrument, and the accessories (if any).
So, what sounds do five string violins make? A lot of people wonder whether the fifth string is higher or lower. I assure you violins are high enough, and nobody wants to hear notes beyond that high E, so the fifth string is always on the bottom, rounding out the sound with a lower note. It is a C from the viola.
However, it is not a viola string. It is the correct length and size for a violin, so don’t mistakenly try to save money by purchasing a viola string and just adding it to your violin. A viola C string on a violin won’t intonate the right way.
Who Should Consider Using a Five String Violin?
There are many distinct situations where you might consider learning how to find the best five string violins:
- Those who improvise appreciate the extended range. You can come down and add a lot of new sounds to your music. You can vibrato your G string, which you can’t do with four strings. I, personally, think this gives you a better sound. When I play, I can feel the resonation of the C string through the chin rest, and I truly believe you get a bolder, richer sound by adding that extra string.
- If you perform with a church group, it is quite common for the band to change keys on you, especially if there are multiple back-to-back services and the singer’s voice gets worn out near the end. You can capo down one if you have the lower register.
- If you perform classical sheet music, you can play violin and viola parts. You can cover the viola part (if you can read alto clef) with an acoustic (or hybrid) five string violin. This gives you higher chances of securing more jobs.
Who Should Not Consider Using a Five String Violin?
There are also a few situations where you might not want to learn how to find the best five string violins:
- The neck is a bit wider, and the string spacing is tighter. If different angles, neck size, and string spacing are problematic for you, then it might not be the right time to learn. However, these are all things that you can choose to overcome with enough practice, so you just have to decide if it’s worth the time you invest in that practice, given the benefits.
For example: If you are accustomed to diving right into your G string, you might find that if you add the lower C string, it is always in your way, and you end up getting both of them. This can take some time to adjust so that you don’t dive straight in for the G string, knowing there is another string underneath, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the change.
- It might be a challenge to adjust to the tighter string spacing on a five-string violin if you have larger fingers.
How to Find the Best 5 String Violins: Types of Five String Violins
Five string violins come in two main forms:
- Electric violins – more common
- Acoustic violins – less common
You can also find hybrids which, as their name suggests, function as electric and acoustic depending on the accessories you use.
The electric five string violin is a good pick for people who are part of a jazz, blues, metal, or rock group and want an electric instrument’s metallic, brassy sound. The electric five string violin requires electrical accessories like an amp or a pickup to convert your vibrations into sound and project it to your audience.
The spacing is slightly different than a four string violin (of either kind). Playing a 5-string electric violin gives you the ability to cover a lot of parts written for guitars, so if you are part of a band, you can cover more than one musical part if necessary.
This also makes it possible for you to record music at home where you play more than one part and then lay the tracks on top of one another.
You might be able to transition to this directly from playing the guitar. You can transition after learning a 4-string violin but give yourself time to accommodate the extra spacing.
This is the second most expensive out of all three types because you have to buy the instrument and accessories like an amp.
The acoustic five string violin has similar spacing to an electric violin, so the strings are slightly farther apart than a traditional violin.
You don’t need any extra accessories or components to projector sound because it functions in the same way as a traditional four string violin; The design of the body picks up the vibrations of your strings, amplifies them, and projects them out of the F-holes.
An acoustic five string violin is better for people who want to play chamber music, classical music or perform with an ensemble or orchestra. Playing the 5-string acoustic violin allows you to play musical parts written for a viola, so you can cover other parts in the ensemble if necessary.
You should learn how to play a four string violin first after. After that, you can jump into the five string violin and give yourself some time to get acquainted with the different spacing for the strings.
Out of all three models, this will cost the least because it doesn’t have any electrical accessories that you have to invest in and the instrument.
The hybrid is a model that has the look and feel of an acoustic violin, but it has five strings and the ability to plug-in accessories to convert it to an electric violin.
This is the same spacing as you get with either of the models above, the body of an acoustic, the accessories of an electric, and the sound of either, depending on how you choose to play. This is beneficial for people who need the freedom to switch back and forth.
It also means you can cover parts for a guitar as well as parts for a viola or a violin. If you regularly perform with different groups, having the ability to switch between a Christian rock sound and the elegance of classical chamber music might be just what you need.
If you already have experience playing a 4-string violin, this might be an easier transition than jumping straight into an electric violin.
This model will cost the most because it has the greatest flexibility. However, it’s going to be cheaper than buying both an electric violin and a five string acoustic violin individually.
With any of these models, you always have the option of customizing your violin if you are willing to invest the time and money. This video explains a bit more about customization and what it can sound like:
New, Used, or Rented
When you are looking for a violin, you can choose to invest in a new or used instrument. Brand new instruments come with the benefits of accessories, and the knowledge that they haven’t been played, tampered with or potentially broken.
The downside to buying a brand new instrument is that it will cost you much more.
You can also find a used version. If you have a brand in mind and you know what type you want and maybe what manufacturer, you can look for a used instrument from a music store, music school, or online.
There are plenty of retailers that sell new and used instruments. If you buy directly from a retailer, they usually undergo certain checks, so a music school or online retailer will check the instrument to make sure it’s not physically damaged and that it has all the parts, and they will usually play it just to see that everything is working the way it should.
If you are getting a new violin for one of your children or for yourself and you don’t have a lot of money to spend upfront, I recommend renting. This is especially great if you’re unsure about a five-string violin. Maybe you don’t know whether you’ll stick with it or whether you’ll like it.
Renting an instrument lets you test it and see how you feel. If you really like it, you can continue renting it, or you can buy a new one.
This is something I highly recommend for people who don’t know whether they want to jump into an electric violin because they can rent an electric violin or a hybrid and play it for a few months before they decide whether the electric is acceptable or whether they should go back to an acoustic.
I mentioned that new instruments might have accessories. This is usually the case with brand new instruments, especially beginner or student models. The more professional the design, the more accessories you get.
However, if you are considering an electric violin or a hybrid model, be cognizant of the fact that you will need electrical components, including an auxiliary cable and an amp.
Some kits will come with all of the components you need to plug in your electric violin and start playing, while others only have things like a pickup.
It’s not the end of the world if the violin you choose doesn’t have all of the accessories you need; it just means you have to make a few extra purchases before you can start practicing.
My selection criteria were the type of violin, the quality of the design, and the quality of the accessories. Not every model comes with accessories, and even those that do might not come with high-quality accessories. For me, good quality accessories accompanying a well-made instrument are very important.
How to Find the Best 5 String Violins: My Top Picks
There aren’t as many five string violins out there as there are four strings, but I still have my favorites.
Electric Pick Five String Violin
The Yinfente 4/4 violin 5 string Electric violin full size is my pick for a plain, electric five string violin. It is a student model, but it is great for its metallic sound. I have played this once, and even though the manufacturer claims you can play it as an acoustic model, don’t be fooled; you will not hear your music without an amp of some sort.
- It has a lot of student accessories, including a cleaning cloth, bow, rosin, and case
- It comes with a natural wood finish
- Great student model
- Only an electric violin
Acoustic Five String Violin
The Fiddlerman Master 5-string Violin Outfit is a 5 string acoustic violin. I love this model because of how well constructed the body is. It is one of the more expensive models, but that is because the aged tonewoods are premium quality. This means the instrument produces a better sound for professionals and lasts longer.
You can see the hand-carved design on the body with a natural wood finish. Professional-grade Thomastik strings are installed on the instrument, Holstein premium rosin, and other great accessories.
- You get a carbon fiber bow
- It comes with a hard case, rosin, cleaning cloth, mute, and tuner
- The construction is done with aged tonewoods
- It has a rich sound
- Only available in an acoustic model
Hybrid Five String Violin
The Glasser Carbon Composite Acoustic is my recommendation for anyone who wants a hybrid model. This hybrid model is made with a beautiful composite material that helps you transition easily between acoustic and electric. You can find a variety of colors. It comes with a wide range of accessories, which I love.
Not all of the accessories are top of the line, but I assure you the construction of the instrument is a top-of-the-line pick for those who can afford the investment. Firstly, the accessories that come with it aren’t the highest quality, and I would replace them.
However, this brand is a leader in using composite material, so this violin is built to last if you are comfortable with a composite body. It provides durability and beautiful tonal quality. It comes with a fiberglass bow, tuner, rosin, polishing cloth, and carrying case.
- This is an acoustic-electric model
- It has a carbon composite body
- You get a fiberglass bow, rosin, tuner, cleaning cloth, and hard case
- You can pick from many colors
- It doesn’t have any of the electric accessories you need to play the electric violin
Answer: It will take about six to eight hours of solid practice to make the final adjustments. This might be just a few days of practice depending on your skill and schedule.
Answer: No. A beginner should not start with a five string violin. Beginners should learn how to play a four string acoustic violin first because this lays the foundation for proper bow movements and how to hold the violin.
After you have learned the basics and can play a four string violin, you can transition to any type of five string violin.
Answer: The strings used on your five string violin will vary depending on your model. If you have an acoustic model and are an intermediate, you might stick with synthetic strings, but if you are more professional, you can still find gut strings suitable for a five-string violin.
You should invest in steel core strings if you have an electric violin. You can choose a variety of wrappings for your steel core string depending on the tone you want.
Answer: You must rosin the bow for any violin, even an acoustic, electric, or hybrid model. The type of rosin you choose should complement the strings you have on your five string violin. If you have steel core strings for electric or hybrid models, you might find rosin with metal flakes designed for a more metallic sound.
My top pick is the Fiddlerman Master 5-string Violin Outfit. I love the design and the high-quality structure of the body. I also love that what accessories you get are very durable and reliable.
You won’t have to purchase this instrument and then immediately go out and buy replacement accessories. However, every item on this list is good quality and worth considering, especially now that you know how to find the best five string violins.
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