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Musical Instruments, including guitars, violins and drum kits - information and a buyer's guide

Gear4Music
- Discount prices on musical instruments with delivery to the UK and EU. Instruments sold include guitars (acoustic, electric and bass), keyboards and modules, drums, digital pianos, orchestral instruments, amps, PA's, studio equipment, FX and much more.

Orchestral Musical Instruments

There are four families of instruments that make up a standard orchestra. These families are:

  • The String Family
  • The Woodwind Family
  • The Brass Family, and
  • The Percussion Family.

The String Family

violinThese music resources are here to educate about orchestra instruments. There are four families of instruments that make up a standard orchestra. The four members of the string family that use bows are the violin, viola, cello and double bass. They range in size from the violin which is the smallest of the quartet and plays the highest notes, to the double bass which is the largest instrument and plays the lowest notes. All these instruments have four strings and are played either with a bow (arco) or by plucking the individual strings (pizzicato). Examples of pieces of music that use just these instruments include "Air on a G string" by Bach and "The Four Seasons" by Vivaldi which are often played by string quartets. However, it should be noted that string quartets usually contain two violins, one viola and one cello - that is to say, no double bass. The double bass when plucked, however, is very popular in Jazz music.

bass guitarOther string instruments that are not played with bows include the guitar, harp, sitar, mandolin and banjo. The piano is also a string instrument due to the fact the hammers strike the strings in order to produce notes. However, it can also be argued that the piano is a percussion instrument (see later) because of this very fact.

The Woodwind Family

The woodwind family consists of instruments including the flute, piccolo (half the size of a flute and plays an octave higher), oboe, clarinet, saxophone and bassoon. These instruments are called "woodwind" because they were originally of a wooden construction. However, now they can be made from more modern materials such as brass, which can lead to confusion with the brass family; and cheaper materials such as plastic (for beginners at any rate). However, all woodwind instruments fulfil one of the following criteria:

  • The blowing of air into the instrument vibrates the reed which makes a sound in the tube eg clarinet, saxophone.
  • The air is blown against an edge (eg recorder)
  • The air is blown across a hole (eg a flute)

The Brass Family

Instruments in the brass family include the trumpet, cornet, French horn, trombone, tuba, euphonium. Sound is produced by the player pursing his lips together and blowing into the mouth piece. The sound is transformed into a note as it resonates in the brass tubing.

Brass bands traditionally play in parades and "band stands" in parks, but the Brighouse and Rastrick brass band made pop notoriety in 1977 when they reached number two in the UK pop charts with "The Floral Dance". Sadly this record was rerecorded by Terry Wogan in 1978, where it reached number 27 in the UK pop charts, proving once and for all that there is no relationship between musical talent and chart success, (with the notable exception of Abba, of course. I like Abba).

The Percussion Family

drum kitsA percussion instrument is an instrument that is struck to produce a sound or a note. Percussion instruments are therefore divided into two sub categories - percussion instruments that produce a note, and percussion instruments that just produce a sound.

Instruments falling into the first category include a piano (arguably), glockenspiel, xylophone, chimes, timpani and steel drums. Instruments falling into the second category include the triangle, bass drum, cymbal, gong and tambourines.

Life is Music
- An extensive range covering music and entertainment including guitars, amps, drums, keyboards, audio equipment, lighting, karaoke, DJ, studio equipment and more.
Zings Music
Drum kits to recorders, electric guitars to bongos, this site has them all, together with amplifiers and PAs.

New Strings
- Guitar strings, bass strings, cables, capos, plectra and other accessories, direct from wholesaler to you, the guitarist.

Admira Guitars
- Classical and electro-classic guitars.
Riva Percussion
- A great selection of percussion instruments including xylophones, glockenspiels, chimes, drums and maracas.
Guitar Superstore
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