Encore Blog

Duo, Trio, or Quartet? — 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 considers the most important factors to consider 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

Popular repertoire:

  • 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 here & browse available violinists here

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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

Popular repertoire:

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

Most popular repertoire:

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

Browse available string trios here

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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

Most popular repertoire:

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

Check out our string quartet booking guide here & browse available string quartets here

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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

Most popular repertoire:

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

How do I book a string ensemble?

At Encore, we have all these string ensembles (and more) available for hire all throughout the UK; they’re just waiting to hear from you! Start an enquiry via the Encore website, and receive quotes from available string ensembles within minutes.

It’s that easy.

Harry Burgess

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