Now that we’re finally flipping the calendar to 2021, we thought it would be fun to look back at what caught your attention in the stringed instrument world this year. Fine-tuning, re-stringing, virtual teaching, and a good sound system were high on the priority list in 2020, according to Strings‘ top 6 articles this year. Oh, and there was that fun, tongue-in-cheek article about the snarky instrument repairman that lit up social media.

1. Special Focus on Accessories: 5 Things You Should Know about Fine Tuners

This article asks—and answers—the important questions. Why do some instruments have one fine tuner, or two, while others have tuners on all four strings? What’s the advantage or disadvantage of using four? Are built-in tuners better than the ones that stick out? Will they hurt my instrument? Why does it seem like good violinists use only one? Aren’t fine tuners just “training wheels” for beginners who aren’t skillful enough to use pegs?

2. Trust Me, I’ve Heard It All Before: 4 Things That Make an Instrument Repair Person Sigh

“If you know what your repair person is really thinking when you call, you might be able to avoid ever having to make the call.” This piece was written in a snarky tone, tongue-in-cheek, to bring a little humor to the world of instrument repair. The intention here was to have a bit of fun with the writing, not to induce instrument-repair anxiety when you need a fix, so please don’t take any of it personally!


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3. A Guide to 2 New Hi-res Classical Streaming Services

Two recent European entries with strong classical-music content, Qobuz (pronounced co-buzz) from France—which streams classical along with 11 other genres—and IDAGIO (pronounced eye-dagio) from Germany—a solely classical enterprise—join what is becoming a crowded field that already includes Amazon Music HD, Tidal, Primephonic, and Deezer Elite. How do they stack up?

4. Sound Advice: The Audiophile Market Offers a Wide Range of Speakers for Music Enthusiasts

In recent years, the audiophile industry has grown exponentially, driven, in part, by the home-theater market and technological innovation in high-end audio equipment. One of the best investments you can make when upgrading a stereo system is a better pair of speakers. And some of the most noteworthy innovation—from design to electronics to construction material—has gone into the manufacture of stereo speakers. Here are just a few options that can improve your listening experience without breaking the bank (unless, you know, you want to break the bank).

5. The String Teacher’s Guide to Remote Studio Teaching

If you’ve only ever taught face-to-face, making the switch to virtual teaching can be daunting. Social media is abuzz with questions: “Do I need extra equipment?” “How much does teleconferencing cost?” “How can I teach effectively using a screen?” Fortunately, remote teaching can be both easy and cost-effective. You probably already have all the things you need to get started.

6. Restringing Your Instrument: A Refresher Course & Tips from the Pros

While the outline for changing strings is simple enough, each step can lead to the improvement or detriment of the playing experience depending on how it’s done. Here are some of the difference-making details, according to the luthiers who kindly permitted me to invade their workshops and quiz them.

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