September is just around the corner, so why not get ready for the next term with Normans – we have lots of great offers and advice on instruments as well as useful accessories for any string player! Check out our list of must-haves below followed by useful advice on choosing the right instrument for you. If you have any questions then please drop me a comment below or email me on nick@normans.co.uk – I would love to hear from you!

Spare strings

Having a set of spare strings is a must for every string player to escape the panic if, by accident, your strings might snap. Many experts also recommend upgrading to more superior strings when buying your instrument as it will make a real difference to your sound. We offer both spare string sets and individual strings – look out for brands like Astrea, Dogal and Forenza for the best value-for-money strings and opt for Dominant or Pirastro if you are looking for an impressive upgrade.

Strings are the most common accessory, and a necessity. You should carry spares with you at all times; they do break you know;

Normans Musical Instruments stock a large range of quality replacement strings, to suit all sizes of instrument, and all budgets.

At the student and intermediate level, we offer the amazing value-for-money Forenza Violin String Sets. Constructed from a steel core that is durable & not affected by changes in humidity & temperature, unlike gut core strings, they produce a warm sound and provide good bow response.

Also in this level, we have the popular Dogal V21A Green Series String Set, which have two or more separate windings over the steel core, which give them their unique qualities of tone and durability

In the ‘excellence’ level of strings, I strongly recommend the ever-popular, high quality, synthetic core string sets from Dominant, which give a reliable and consistent natural sound and feel, and a tone that is neither too rich nor too mellow, projecting well without sounding metallic and harsh!

Rosin

Without rosin your instrument would not produce any sound, so it is important to make sure you do not run out and always use a great quality product.

A much needed, yet inexpensive accessory; 1,935 customers are proof! Rosin will give your bow the correct level of adhesiveness to ensure accurate articulation and response. Our most popular brand, is the Forenza Rosin, due to its quality and price of under £5! Other options that we stock are the Hidersine Violin & Cello Rosin; both extremely competent and affordable accessories.

Again, catering for professional and dedicated string players, the Pirastro Rosin is the epitome of German engineering just like an Audi but cheaper, and sounds better with Einaudi!! This dark coloured rosin by Pirastro is generally of a softer nature, thus being more adhesive and providing greater grip for all string players.

Top-Tip; always sand down a little of any new rosin blocks to help adhesion, plus don’t press too hard and rip the hairs from your bow.

Bow

Here at Normans Musical Instruments, we realise that string players want replacement bows due to breakages and hair loss (like me!!). More often than not, re-hairing a bow is not financially viable  when it is cheaper to actually buy a new one from our extremely affordable replacement bow range. We can provide a good quality bow in any size required, for any instrument, from either Forenza or the excellent Stentor brand.

The Forenza Bows are a very popular, well made and hand-crafted model. Crafted from high quality Brazil wood, the bow features natural horsehair and ebony frog, making it very comfortable to hold and perform with.

This violin bow is perfect for the beginner/student who is used to the weight of a wooden bow and still wants great quality on a budget. The ebony frog, with double pearled eyes gives the bow a classic look as well as a reliable tensioning mechanism.  Natural horse hair has been used on the bow which has been specially selected to give just the right amount of resistance while playing.

At the higher level of bow manufacture, sits the Stentor Bow range with its seasoned wood and a full mounted ebony frog with Parisienne eye, and for the purists who do not want anything but the best, the Stentor Octagonal Bow, with a  full mounted ebony frog with abalone inlay, and simulated whalebone lapping, make this bow both great value and ideal for producing pure quality tones and articulation.

Even if you already have a bow it is always good to get a spare one just in case. There are plenty of bows available on our website for all budgets and you can read more about them here:

Case

A durable gig bag or hardcase is essential to ensure your instrument is not damaged during everyday use, transportation or storage.

Obviously, your beloved instrument came with a case, but sometimes they can be damaged or zips break etc. and you require a suitable replacement.  At Normans Musical Instruments we can guarantee to provide you with a strong, reliable case. We stock a wide range of cases, with each of our brands offering options on shape (square or violin-body shaped), padded gig-bag, solid and wheeled, colour, and size options.

The brands we offer, in price ascending order, are Forenza, without doubt, the best value for money offering, the ever reliable Stentor and the superb & colourful fun offering from Tom & Will.  All of these cases will give excellent protection, with solid designs and build quality, fur-lined interiors, double-stitched zips and seams, and handy carrying handles and straps.

Choose your size. Choose your shape. Do you want a stylish Pink case? We can do that as well!

Tuner/Metronome

Unless you play Bag Pipes or untuned percussion, being in tune is paramount to a great performance.

As you develop as a musician, your hearing and ability to tune your instrument will improve and benefit those around you, as well as your audience!  When you first start out, having a portable tuner is a great way to get a ‘Concert A’ easily (don’t get me started on be it 444 or 442!).

This TGI Chromatic Tuner makes the ideal purchase for any string player! Tuning is made easy and comfortable with its clip on mic, plus the advantage of a metronome as well for perfect practise. . It has a tuning accuracy feature that helps ensure you can tune your strings quickly and perfectly, and the string indicator allows you to tune each string to the note you need.

Also available is the ever-popular Stagg TUM-50 tuner revered for its speed and accuracy… unlike the trombone section!!

Shoulder Rest

The Forenza Shoulder Rest is our highly recommended model, due to its ergo dynamic design, comfortable padded area and the fact it retails at under £7, closely followed by the Antoni M54 Series, both available in 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 to 4/4 Sizes.

Our prestige shoulder rest is the Wolf 1782, which has rubber padded legs for protection, and is adjustable so that you can find the position that is most comfortable for you, crescent shaped and fully adjustable for height, width and pitch, and is foam padded for additional comfort.

If you are a violin/viola player, many teachers recommend using a shoulder rest at least at the beginning of your studies to help develop the correct posture. Even many professional musicians still choose to use a shoulder rest later on, whereas others prefer not to. You can read more about the pros and cons of this accessory and also the best shoulder rests we have available in the blog below:

Other accessories…

Of course, there are many more strings accessories you may want to consider such as mutes, humidifiers, floor stoppers and more, depending on which may be useful for your instrument. You can view more accessories in our Other String Accessories and Strings Care and Maintenance sections.

About the author

Diana was Normans Piano & Strings specialist for a number of years. She is a singer songwriter, plays piano and speaks 3 languages. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling as well as blogging about anything.

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