How to transition from a 4-string to a 5-string violin?

4-string vs 5-string electricviolin

This is one of the questions we asked ourselves at 3Dvarius, as we were all quite used to 4-string violins. It should be noted that in Europe, 4-string violin is “King” and we had no fiddler in our family or circle of friends who had ever felt the need to use a 5-string violin.
Therefore, in order to fully meet fiddlers’ requirements when creating the 5-string 3Dvarius, we had to initiate ourselves to this new practice and gather dozens of recommendations from experts and non-professionals.

1 – What is the difference between a 4-string violin and a 5-string violin?

1.1 – One more string: the C string

As the name suggests, the difference lies in the additional string of the 5-string electric violin. Indeed, a fifth string comes in addition to the first four. This is the same C string (or “Do”) string we can find on violas.
On a 5-string violin, the C string (Do) enables us to have a lower string.

1.2 – A different spacing between strings

When adding one more string to a violin, the spacing between strings gets necessarily narrower at the neck. It is impossible to use the same fingerboard size as you would on a 4-string violin. Therefore, you must proceed to some adjustments, for optimal comfort when playing.
Actually, the spacing between strings must be big enough so the fiddler does not accidentally hit two strings with one finger.
For our 5-string 3Dvarius, we have been running several tests with different string spacing and neck width. In the end, after deep testing with fiddlers, we ended up selecting the most comfortable option for the instrumentalist.
Of course, this spacing can be adjusted to suit your specific needs, or if you have very big fingers ;-). Actually, this is one of the main features of the 3Dvarius: it can adapt to your morphology, and therefore to your needs! 🙂

2 – Why should I buy myself a 5-string violin?

5-string 3DvariusFirst of all, it is important to note that a 5-string violin is aimed not only at fiddlers but also at the most curious violists (they will be able to get this much-vaunted C string they also have on violas).
With a 5-string violin, you could:

  • Expand your playing range by adding one more string to your violin or viola 🙂
  • Explore the possibilities of an extensive playing style (with an additional string, you have a new tone, thus a larger playing style).
  • Be able to use the same instrument as violin and viola (and why not?!)

3 – How much time do I need to get used to a 5-string violin?

This question is quite similar to the one “classical” violinists ask themselves about electric violin. When playing an electric violin, they always feel disconcerted by the origin of the sound, not coming anymore from their shoulder (resonance chamber on a standard violin) but from an exterior environment (speakers, headphones or amplifier). This weird feeling simply disappears after some minutes of practice.

For a 5-string violin, there will also be this small and necessary adaptation period during which your mind will mentally transition from 4 to 5 strings. This adaptation period exists when transitioning from 4-string to 5-string violin, and vice versa. In both cases, your mind will need a few minutes to get used to the violin you have in hands. No need to worry, as it is more or less the same as switching from a car to a van: you need an adaptation period so your mind can interpret the differences in terms of size, power, etc. between both vehicles.

Be careful though, it does not mean that you would have a good command of all the possibilities of your 5-string 3Dvarius immediately. Actually, as for every musical instrument, you will need some practice in order to tame the possibilities offered by the 5-string electric violin, and feel perfectly at ease.