In our exclusive guide, find out what a string quartet will do at your event, what type of music they'll play, how long they'll play for, how much space they will require, how much it costs to hire a string quartet and much more. Check out all our string quartets and trios here. For our classical musicians page click here!
Click here to view our entire roster of String Quartets.
(Video of Calithea String Quartet performing on Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me' music video)
What is a String Quartet and what do they do?
A string quartet comprises of two violins, a viola and a cello. Traditionally a string quartet gives recitals of works by the classical masters, but most quartets working at private parties and weddings also include a more modern repertoire which can include jazz, swing, pop, folk, Bollywood and film themes.
String quartets are most often booked to play background music at weddings, particularly during the pre-ceremony, ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast. Because they generally perform unamplified, they are able to change locations relatively easily, which helps if you're having a church ceremony followed by a drinks reception elsewhere.
A string quartet will add a touch of class to any event.
What should I look for to ensure a good quality string quartet?
All of the string quartets on the Alive Network's website have already been carefully pre-vetted so they represent the very best of what's available in the UK. We have selected our artist roster from literally thousands of applications so in order to ensure quality all you need to do is choose one from our website. Its risk free and you have peace of mind that we've already done the hard work for you.
If you do choose to look around elsewhere, here's what you should look for:
1. A great demo recording
The music should be in time, in tune, and be well produced (it should sound like a high quality recording).
2. Great photos
The band members should be well presented, and their photographs well produced.
3. Customer reviews and testimonials
Make sure you can read genuine recent reviews and quotes from previous customers. You'll find loads readily available here on the Alive Network website.
They should use high quality instruments.
5. Experience and background
Read the string quartet's biography, and if possible the a little background of each individual member of the quartet. Most string quartets are professional full-time musicians with a music college background. Look at how long the string quartet has been established. A diverse repertoire list will indicate experience and flexibility. Check that they have a strong track record of playing at prestigious events or at high quality wedding venues.
6. The backing of a reliable agency
No agent = no backup if anything goes wrong. Look for an agency that responds quickly, efficiently, and takes the time to listen to your individual requirements. They will be your point of contact so you need to be happy that they're providing a high quality service too.
You get what you pay for, so don't cut corners unless you don't mind risking the success of your event. Alive Network represent hundreds of artists, all of whom define their own fees, so our prices are a good indicator of what's usual to pay.
What exactly will a String Quartet do at my event? What will the format be?
For a wedding, the string quartet will usually arrive 1 hour prior to their performance to set up and get in tune.
String quartets can play for guests as they gather before the ceremony, promoting a relaxed and elegant atmosphere. During the ceremony, the string quartet will play for the bride's entrance, the signing of the register, and the exit of the married couple.
Outside of wedding ceremony bookings, standard performance times are usually 45 minutes to 1 hour long, with short breaks in between - up to 3 hours total performance time.
The music played is agreed with you in advance of the event. A member of the string quartet will contact you 3 weeks before the event to check the format and discuss finer details. Most string quartets will be willing to accommodate special requests (so long as the request suits the string quartet format and they have at least three weeks notice) and will be happy to recommend appropriate repertoire for each element of the day. The repertoire is generally mixed styles of music from the classical genre, through to jazz, rock, pop and west end shows.
What equipment will they provide?
The string quartet will provide all of their own instruments, music stands, and lights for their music stands (if required). If a PA system is needed, this will normally be provided by the client. Please ask your Alive Network co-ordinator if you need help with this.
The string quartet will need 4 armless chairs in their performance area.
How much space will they need?
They will require enough space for 4 musicians to sit in a semi-circle with their instruments and music stands, and with room to bow. Allow approximately 3 meters wide by 2 meters deep.
How long will the performance last?
This is dependent on the event and the client’s requirements, but string quartets usually perform 45 minute to 1 hour sets followed by a short break. They are most often booked to perform between 3 - 4 sets.
Are there any options or variations available to me?
Most string quartets offer wedding music packages which cover the ceremony, drinks reception and wedding breakfast. The options available for each quartet are shown on their profile page and are selectable when you make an online enquiry.
Some string quartets can offer a string trio option which is 2 violins and a cello, or an electric trio using electric instruments. These options can alter the repertoire and sound, but often suit smaller functions and can be an effective alternative if budget is limited.
Contact our Alive Network coordinators if you need help or advice.
How much will it cost to hire a String Quartet?
This depends greatly on the size, quality and experience of the string quartet. All Alive Network string quartets are carefully vetted and so therefore represent the top percentage of quality live acts in the UK. Our string quartets range from as little as £450 all the way up to £3400+ for a specialist show like Stringfever!
The average fee for a wedding string quartet is approximately £620
The best way to reduce costs is to try to find a string quartet who are based locally. The home town location of all Alive Network string quartets is shown on the roster pages and also on each artists profile page. You can also ask your coordinator to recommend the best string quartet local to your event.
Why is there a difference between what different String Quartets cost?
Generally, you pay more for a reputable string quartet with a high level of experience. The minimum standard of our string quartets is already very high as we carefully vet everyone we work with, but as with most things, you get what you pay for.
Also, when you search our website for string quartets available in your event location, those string quartets who are travelling from outside the area will add travel fees, and these are included in the prices you see on our website. Travel fees can sometimes be 50% extra on top of the string quartet’s normal price, so there can be a big difference in the cost of local string quartet’s compared to acts from outside the area.
What security will I get when booking?
When you book a string quartet through Alive Network you'll receive a legally binding contract which protects you against any foreseeable eventuality. This means that short of the string quartet being seriously injured or abducted by aliens, your booking is 100% safe.
You also get the full backing and support of Alive Network, the UK's largest live entertainment agency, as well as the assistance and advice of your personal Alive Network coordinator who will always be on hand to help if you have any questions or concerns.
You can think of Alive Network as your entertainment insurance.
What if the artist is ill?
It's very rare that problems occur, but if the unthinkable does happen, Alive Network will help you to source a replacement string quartet, even at very short notice. We work with hundreds of artists across the UK and have a huge database of contacts to fall back on in an emergency.
Given sufficient notice, you will always be fully informed and involved in agreeing a replacement artist. If you aren't happy with the replacement we suggest you can choose another of our acts, or else receive a full refund. If an emergency happens on the day of your event and we cannot contact you, we will liaise with your venue, and send the closest matching alternative artist so you are not left in the lurch.
If a member of the string quartet is ill, one of the other members will call upon a pool of experienced players to ensure that a full string quartet is available. A professional string quartet will have back-up musicians familiar with the repertoire, who are able to deputise should this occur.
Is there anything I'll need to provide for the String Quartet?
The string quartet will need a safe performance area or roughly 3x2 meters and 4 armless chairs. If they are required to play outside, the area will need to be weather proof, i.e., shaded from direct sunlight, shelter from wind etc. This is very important as the instruments are extremely sensitive to moisture and direct sunlight.
For string quartets performing in the afternoon, refreshments and sometimes food (depending on how long they’re at your event) will be required. Soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are usually sufficient. Please make sure you inform the bar staff that soft drinks should not be charged to the artists. Please ask your Alive Network coordinator to confirm whether your afternoon string quartet will require food.
For evening bookings, the quartet will usually require food and refreshments (preferably a hot meal). If you are unable to provide a hot meal, some of the evening buffet will usually be sufficient. As above, soft drinks should be available.
A changing room is very much appreciated including enough seats for all of the artists, and if possible, a mirror.
Once your agent sends you a quote and you are happy with the price, that agent will go through the logistics and timings, confirming the details of your booking. You will then be required to pay a deposit, usually over the phone by credit card, and then contracts and receipts will be emailed to you. The artists will also sign the same agreement. Once a booking has been made you will be put in contact with the artist 3 weeks before the event to double check the arrangements and make any changes necessary.
Thanks to The Rose String Quartet, Status Cymbal and Crystal Strings for their contributions to this article.