String Instruments & Accessories


March 17, 2017

Caswells Strings Privilege Card

Heritage_Privilege Card 2

The Caswells Strings Privilege Card is available to String teachers and Education establishments. The Privilege Card entitles the holder to an overriding discount:

Schools and Education establishments: As a holder of the card you can quote the card number in conjunction with your order and a discount will be applied. The code can also be used for online purchases – please see below. For larger bulk purchases, please call for a bespoke quote.

String Teachers: We recognise the teacher’s role in promoting, nurturing and encouraging more string players and also the fact that many teachers spend a lot of time buying on behalf of students. The privilege card will entitle you to a discount on almost all of what we sell.

How can I use my Privilege card online: Each privilege card has a unique number. This number is linked to your log-in when you register on our website. The card will not work unless you have registered online. You need to inform us when this is done so we can link the two. Thereafter you can shop 24/7 and be assured of getting your discount.

How do I apply for a Privilege card: We would need just one form of proof that you are a teacher. There are many ways of proving this but the most common would be proof of being an ESTA member.

There are many hundreds of cards already in use – join us now and never pay full price again. Email with your name, address and one proof of teaching (if a private teacher) and we will get one on its way to you.

March 09, 2017

Codabow Marquise GS Violin Bow

Now in stock at Caswells Strings, the new Codabow Marquise GS Violin Bow has years of history behind it!

For nearly 10 years, CodaBow, together with master bowmaker Roger Zabinski, has crafted bespoke carbon-fiber bows for private musicians. Some of these exclusive bows emulated historically revered bows (Tourte, Peccatte, Pajeot, Voirin, etc.), some matched the performance of much-beloved bows the player already owned, and some were entirely original in their nature. All offered their owners tailored playing characteristics and personalized styling. All delivered a refined and sophisticated experience beyond even the best selling Codabow Diamond series.

Codabow referred to these bespoke bows as their MARQUISE bows, evocative of the distinctive cut of diamond prized for its elegance and sophistication.

The birth of the Codabow Marquise GS Violin Bow

After years of crafting bespoke MARQUISE bows, it became obvious that one design in particular was the most requested. Its optimum balance, flexibility, and weight providing exquisite handling. Its breakthrough organic-fiber architecture expressing a warm, rich, powerful sound.

High-sensitivity carbon fibers extending continuously from button to tip plate bestow in it a natural response and beauty. Referred to inside the workshop as the ‘Gold Standard’, this MARQUISE design appeals to discerning players more than any other and is the clear choice as the standard-bearer of the MARQUISE Experience!

Be one of the first in the country to try it out!

January 09, 2017

Thomastik Versum Cello strings

Thomastik-Infeld are delighted to report their Versum cello strings are proving popular with leading cellists since their launch at the beginning of 2016.

Versum strings feature steel core and multialloy wound A and D strings and spiral core, tungsten/chrome wound G and C strings. In keeping with the complete Thomastik-Infeld string range, they are handmade in Vienna.

Versum strings are noted for their striking tonal balance that comprises a sweet high end and a warm lower end. Their focused sound and powerful and precise intonation afford cellos a unique personality and versatile expression. Such sonic benefits and versatility have subsequently seen notable Thomastik cello artists Elisaveta Sharakhovskaya and Martin Rummel use them in conjunction with other Thomastik Cello strings to achieve new and exciting sounds. Elisaveta Sharakhovskaya uses them alongside Thomastik Spirocore strings, stating, “I love this string combination, because of their warm, powerful, colourful and rich sound palette”.

Martin Rummel plays a mixture of Spirit, Belcanto, Spirocore and Versum strings. Martin comments, “For a very long time, I have used Thomastik Tungsten Spirocore C and G strings on all my instruments… Currently I am playing the new Versum A and a strong Tungsten Spirocore C, while we are experimenting on new D and G strings… Thomastik-Infeld continuously impress and inspire me, and I always feel that all their strings enable me to use my instruments to their maximum range of expression.”

Versum strings have gained notoriety for their stand-alone qualities as well as their ability to be used in conjunction with other leading cello string types to add richness, warmth and power to instruments.

Taken from UK distributors websites – Barnes and Mullins

November 08, 2016

Airlines and Instruments

I’ve just been reading the latest horror story about Airlines and their seeming inability to accommodate string players on board. This appears to be an ongoing vendetta against Cello players especially, but also Violin and Viola. On the one hand it is understandable that airline security can easily be spooked by a violin case resembling an AK47 or sawn-off shotgun, but a simple physical examination would surely suffice? I remember well in the dark days of the Apartheid regime when a member of the Soweto Quartet was stopped by the police, who obviously suspected the shaped case was something sinister. Thankfully a rather more cultured senior man stepped in and the poor Violinist was instructed to play there and then to prove his bone fides. This, of course he did and was allowed to pass on.

We once had an Armenian violinist working for us and he recounted many stories of how his violin playing eased off many a tense situation in the army. Especially, he told us, the Russians were enthralled by virtuoso violin playing, which apparently stood him in good stead on many an occasion.

So why are we so neurotic in the West? Why can something not be worked out simply by Airlines to transport valuable instruments. They must surely know that an 18th century instrument is not only a very expensive tool, but also an invaluable work of art which would be a tragedy to lose, affecting future generations. We read of a Cellist who even booked a separate seat for her Cello under the name (tongue in cheek) of ‘Chuck Cello’. She cleared this with the booking office and the Airline but was refused at the check in as it needed a ‘ESTA visa’. While this may very well be so, surely there are clear guidelines and a firm policy which can be adhered to by all the main Airline carriers?

On the Violin front there are the ‘Cabin’ cases by Bam which fit into the carry-on dimensions for the overhead locker, but even then we hear of players being refused. Valuable bows can also be a nightmare – who wants to be separated from their precious Bazin! The answer here is of course the bow cases by Pedi or similar, which can be kept by you as you board. Lightweight Cello cases at 2.9Kg containing a precious instrument are simply not an option to be thrown into the luggage compartment.

It would be good to have comments on this subject with real time experiences of Airlines both good and bad. We can then highlight them here and also be in a position to advise the many frustrated callers we get.

August 25, 2016

Bow Maintenance and Repair

The Stick

It is important to loosen the hair on your bow after each session – left tensioned, the bow will over time tend to lose its bounce (camber) and possibly warp. Regular use may also affect the bow, but if the bow is worth repairing this can be done by a qualified bowman. Keep the stick clean and free of buildup of rosin

The Hair

Bows require regular re-hairing with good quality, unbleached horse hair, possibly every six months depending how much playing is done. Hair stretches and falls out with use and if the hair does stretch, the screw may eventually cease to tighten. Never over-tighten as this may crack the stick. Also, avoid touching the hair.

The Tip

The tip is the most fragile part of a bow so treat it with respect and care. From time to time it may need a service from a qualified bowman and especially if any tiny cracks develop.

The Screw and eyelet

Inside the frog of your bow the screw fits into an Eyelet. As the screw turns in the eyelet it tightens the bow, and also holds the frog securely to the stick. If over time the threads on the eyelet become worn, the screw will not tighten and the eyelet needs replacing. At infrequent intervals you may take out the screw and put a tiny drop of thin oil such as sewing machine oil, on the shank.

July 14, 2016

Playing an Instrument can improve your life

Playing an Instrument can improve your life

The BBC iWonder has a very enlightening article on How Playing an instrument can improve your life.

As they say ‘No matter what your age, playing an instrument can have a positive impact on your brain and body’, as well as improve your health. Share this post or the BBC article as far as you can and lets get Britain playing for a better, healthier life!

June 08, 2016

How to choose your child’s first instrument

How to choose your child’s first instrument

Choosing your son or daughter’s first musical instrument ought to be easy – but sadly that isn’t the case. These notes, which have been prepared for parents by two companies that specialise in supplying instruments for children and teenagers, might, hopefully, make life a little easier.

The most important first point is that you need to find a balance in what you buy.  You don’t want to spend a lot of money on an instrument that your child might not continue to learn after a while, but equally you don’t want to buy an instrument that is so poorly manufactured that it is almost impossible to play. That really is a false economy.

The key point here is that as your child grows or their playing advances so will his/her needs.  As time goes by all youngsters may need a bigger or better instrument.

But if this sounds like a long-term project of buying new instruments all the time, please don’t worry: if you buy an appropriate instrument of reasonable quality, you should always be able to sell it on if your son or daughter decides to move on.

Violins, Violas and Cellos

Just as with a car, a computer, or a garden table, “You get what you pay for”.  And sadly there are many low cost instruments around that are actually unplayable.

For a starter violin you should expect to pay around £75 to £99.  A cello will cost from around £310, in each case including a reasonable bow and basic case.

It is a better idea, though, to pay a bit more and get an instrument that will take your child through all the grades. If, for example, you’re finally buying a full size violin – buy the best you can afford.

This upgrade means paying between £200 to £400 or more for a violin with bow and case, and perhaps three times this amount for a cello.  The upside is that your son or daughter will be making an enhanced sound, which is enjoyable and encouraging for the player and parent, and has an instrument which is worth something and which will last them a lifetime.

Flutes and Clarinets

Much the same applies to Woodwind instruments, where the problem can be the engineering.  Although the instrument may be playable first off, it can become increasingly hard to assemble.  The keys can bend, the pads leak and, of course, the child becomes discouraged.   This results in a visit to the repairman where the cost of repair will be as much as the instrument cost in the first place.  So paying a bit more at the start is again advisable.

If at all possible look out for known brands; a reasonable flute from a known name should cost from £139 to £300 and a clarinet £175 to £350 – including a decent case and the usual cleaning materials.

One word about buying on-line, however. The internet is where most of the more dubious instruments lurk, and although you might find an instrument advertised as being a particular brand, what turns up might simply be a fake.

So the best bet is to buy from a recognised supplier and get a free one-year service, which is important since problems can arise with instruments.

This advice note was prepared by Caswells Strings in association with Brass and Woodwind specialist Heritage Music. You are, of course, free to consult with any musical instrument retailer, but if you would like to have free advice on brands and models please do email

You might also find the information on these two websites to be helpful in your search for your son or daughter’s first instrument…

In Blog
April 12, 2016

Alphayue violin strings now available in fractional sizes

Alphayue violin strings now available in fractional sizes

The Thomastik Alphayue violin strings which combine an unbeatable price with Thomastik-Infeld quality means you no longer have to settle for solid-steel strings to assure durability. These strings, yes at this price, have an advanced synthetic core which delivers a rich, colourful sound impossible to achieve with solid steel core strings. They live a long life and are unaffected by temperature and humidity changes.

Until now they have only been available in full size but they are now also available in fractional sizes opening up an excellent choice of string to improve the sound of any student instrument

Available in 4/4, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8 size




April 07, 2016

Are musicians super bright?

Having music lessons is the way to learn to play a musical instrument.  But does the process also make you more intelligent?

It has long been thought that children who learn to play an instrument increase their intellectual, perceptual, and cognitive skills.  Which in short suggests that such children may well be able to raise their own IQs through this work.

But, unfortunately, more recent research suggests that this isn’t true.

However, this same research also revealed that music lessons in childhood do something else that is ultimately far more beneficial.

Firstly, it appears that people who learn to play an instrument reduce their chances of memory loss and mental decline as they get older.  Better still these benefits continue even with people who played musical instruments for a while in childhood but then stopped.

Second, learning to play an instrument has a profound impact on the way the brain works, adding neural connections that last throughout life and help the individual retain the ability to do multiple things at once – which is part of the essence of all musical instruments.

Thus all the work of learning to play the piano two-handed, mastering the simultaneous bowing and fingering of string players, the blowing, breathing and fingering of the wind players, the multiple rhythm activities of the percussionist – all these skills have a profound effect on those who practise them.

Learning a musical instrument changes which part of the brain handles different activities and leads to improvements in both motor and auditory skills.

Musicians are shown to have larger volumes of both grey and white matter than non-­musicians – almost certainly because musical performance requires several regions of the brain (in each hemisphere) to work simultaneously.

In short, it seems that playing music stimulates the brain, expands the brain, and changes the brain to make it better at handling a wide range of activities and eventualities.

It is true that the biggest benefits accrue to those who start learning music before the age of nine, and although the benefits do stay with all children who have studied an instrument for a while, those who study for longer get the greatest benefits.

But here’s the best news of all: once in place those benefits remain, irrespective of other education.  Indeed, the hearing and communication benefits tend to last a lifetime, counteracting some of the decline in hearing that many suffer in old age.

Musicians seem to be better at hearing in noisy environments and tend to have better memories when it comes to recalling what has been said by whom to whom.

So although starting early is a benefit, recent studies have emphasized that even starting to learn a musical instrument in retirement does give benefits in terms of memory gains, the speed of processing information, the ability to plan, and a whole range of other functions.

There is finally one other benefit which, although not established scientifically, may well be significant.  We seem to live in a world of instant gratification, with information available at the click of a button.  Learning to play an instrument is a challenge, requires commitment, and can only be achieved over time.   Learning, or being reminded, that application to a task is itself a great benefit is never a bad thing.

In Blog