The first thing to do, as they say, is to choose a tuning, and to choose the string used, the one from which you use all your other strings. If you pick a cheap string (say a $1,000 one), you aren’t making up for any possible mistakes, and that will only make your playing bad.
The good news is that the strings used are usually all made of one material–wood.
Some makers of stringed toys, however, use different materials for the strings and other bits, and thus have some tuning problems. Some players will have more trouble tuning a $100 violin if it has a nylon string, a $50 violin if it has a bamboo string, rather than a $100 violin with a wood string:
The good news, you’d think, is that the strings you are used to tuning will do you no harm, and will probably be more or less forgiving. The bad news is, you won’t know. For a violin made by a company with a reputation for tuning excellence, you might be in for a surprise.
The first thing you have to do is find out what materials they are using. If you are playing a string of plastic (or, more likely, a plastic bow) then your strings are probably not made of wood; instead they are some kind of plastic.
If you are playing a string of wood, on the other hand, then there are almost certainly wood strings. For instance, I had to go back and read a review of a violin with maple strings and steel strings before I decided that my old set of gold maple strings, used all my other strings, would work fine for me. You, of course, do the same.
If you have problems tuning a string made from plastic, then the same is true:
You should make sure, whenever possible, that only the best materials are used.
Some manufacturers, such as Yamaha, use carbon fiber, aluminum, and other non-wood materials–and indeed, the string seems to work fine on all of these.
This is a common problem with stringed toys:
But that’s not a reason to stop using it. You can, however, make your strings stronger by using thicker or denser plastic.
When it comes to stringed toys, I think one of the most important aspects of learning is choosing a set of strings that are suitable for you. Because playing with any particular string, or any
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