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A Beginner’s Guide to String Ensembles

With so many different string ensembles/variations out there, it can be hard to know what type of string ensemble would best suit your event. If you’re confused about where to begin, look no further.

To make your decision easier, we’ve put together this useful guide which takes a quick look at each string ensemble type! This guide to string ensembles considers the most important factors to think about when beginning to look for a string ensemble for your event, such as:

  • Common instrumentation
  • Pros & cons
  • Minimum/average starting price (London-based musician fees)
  • Best suited to (event type)
  • Popular repertoire

Solo musician

The humble solo musician—a perfect choice for those on a budget, but still after the magic of live music. Often, solo musicians will play with backing tracks to fill out their sound.

  • Common solo string instruments: violin; viola; cello; harp
  • Pros: versatile, doesn’t take up much space, cost-effective
  • Cons: least loud of all ensembles, may require amplification to fill larger venues, may sound somewhat empty without backing tracks
  • Minimum starting price: £160
  • Average starting price: £190
  • Best suited to: small weddings, garden parties, christenings, funeral/memorial services

What is the most popular repertoire for a solo string player?

  • Chaconne, Partita No. 2 – Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Canon and Gigue in D Major – Johann Pachelbel
  • A Thousand Years – Christina Perri

Check out our Violinist booking guide & take a look at the profiles/videos of over 490 talented violinists available to book in the UK

Jessica Boyd playing the violin
Violinist Jessica Boyd: available to book on Encore

String duo

String duos are a great ensemble for those looking to get the most from their budget—string duos will tend to be loud enough for most small/medium-sized venues, and rarely use backing tracks (self-contained and versatile)

  • Common string duo instrumentation: 2x violin; violin & viola; violin & cello; 2x cello
  • Pros: versatile, doesn’t take up much space, cost-effective, more repertoire available, louder than solo musician
  • Cons: a bit quiet for larger events
  • Minimum starting price: £320
  • Average starting price: £330
  • Best suited to: small/medium-sized weddings, garden parties, christenings, funeral/memorial services, corporate events

What is the most popular repertoire for a string duo?

  • Flower Duet – Léo Delibes
  • Royal Fireworks Music – George Frideric Handel
  • Rolling In The Deep – Adele

If you’re interested in seeing more of this kind of thing, we have over 150 string duos available to book right here on Encore.

Giardino Strings duo
Giardino Strings; available to book as a duo on Encore

String trio

Hard to beat ensemble in terms of perfect volume/texture for a weddings—they provide a nicely balanced sound and come at a smaller cost when compared to a quartet

  • Common string trio instrumentation: violin, viola & cello; 2x violin & cello
  • Pros: well-rounded sound and semi-loud, even more repertoire available
  • Cons: take up a fair bit of space
  • Minimum starting price: £480
  • Average starting price: £500
  • Best suited to: medium-sized weddings, garden parties, corporate events

What is the most popular repertoire for a string trio?

  • Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Ave Maria – Franz Schubert
  • Halo – Beyoncé

You can see over 120 professional string trios ready to hire on our dedicated category page.

The Element String Trio playing in a church
The Element String Trio; available on Encore to book for your event

String quartet

The most common string ensemble, and there’s a reason for it! The most perfectly balanced of all string ensembles, they have a vast repertoire and suit most event types, from weddings to corporate events—many would say the extra cost is well worth it

  • Common string quartet instrumentation: 2x violin, viola & cello; cello quartet
  • Pros: very balanced sound and loud, vast repertoire, very common (easier to book and find a local group)
  • Cons: take up a fair bit of space, not as cost-effective
  • Minimum starting price: £640
  • Average starting price: £700
  • Best suited to: medium/large weddings, garden parties, corporate events, large functions

What is the most popular repertoire for a string quartet?

  • The Four Seasons – Antonio Vivaldi
  • Paradise – Coldplay
  • Summertime – George Gershwin

Interested in knowing a bit more? Check out our string quartet booking guide or browse over 165 amazing string quartets.

Toscana strings performing in a manor house
Toscana Strings: string quartet available for hire on Encore

String quintet, sextet, septet, or octet

Far less common ensemble type—very effective for large events, and where budget isn’t a limitation. The grand sound of these ensembles will certainly wow your guests!

  • Common large string ensemble instrumentation: 30% violin, 25% viola, 25% cello, & 20% double bass (or thereabouts)
  • Pros: very balanced sound and extra loud, not as common (hence more interesting)
  • Cons: take up a lot of space, expensive, harder to find
  • Minimum starting price: £800+
  • Best suited to: large weddings, corporate events, large functions, opening ceremonies

What is the most popular repertoire for a large string ensemble?

  • Adagio for Strings – Samuel Barber
  • String Sextet No. 1 – Johannes Brahms
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
City String Ensemble Septet outside St Pauls
City String Ensemble; available to book as a quintet, sextet, septet, or octet on Encore

How do I book a string ensemble?

At Encore, as this string ensembles guide has demonstrated, we have all these string ensembles (and more) available for hire all throughout the UK; they’re just waiting to hear from you! You can view over 100 incredible string ensembles available to book in UK right here (or click on any of the specific links above!).

It’s that easy.

If you had any questions at all about these types of ensembles, or are simply looking for some advice in your search for the perfect group—get in touch! Our friendly and knowledgeable bookings team are available to help you out with any and all queries you might have: [email protected]


Cover image courtesy of Quartet Voluté

Harry Burgess

Our Bookings Specialist, Harry, composes strange sounds and has a well-developed instrument acquisition syndrome.

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