Good solo strings soundfont; combining soundfonts?

• Apr 4, 2019 - 13:39

I use the GeneralUser GS soundfont because it's the best free one that I've found online. It works fairly well for orchestral scores, but I think the solo violin, solo viola and solo cello all sound bad. There's too much vibrato that it makes it difficult to listen to. There's also this weird fade-in that makes it sound a split-second late when played with other non-string instruments. The fade-in also makes shorter notes sound shorter than they really are. The tutti strings in this soundfont also have a fade-in, but it's not as annoying as this. Do you guys have any recommendations for good solo strings soundfonts?

BTW I heard that it's possible to use sounds from multiple soundfonts in MuseScore. Does anyone know how to do that?


You can try the Aegean Symphony Orchestra, the download link is hidden in the text after all of the bullet points.

Unzip it and save the .sf2 file in the path pointed to by your edit->preferences->soundfont. Next in the synthesizer (View->Synthesizer) click add and choose the Aegean symphony orchestra (or whichever soundfont you want). If you click Set default, this list of soundfonts will load with MuseScore every time. Finally, when you open the mixer (F10) all of the sounds from the first soundfont shown in the synthesizer followed by all of the sounds for the next and so forth. MuseScore will use the first listed soundfont to assign all sounds to your instruments. Any instruments it cannot find in the first soundfont will default to the first sound in the first font, which is often the Grand Piano. You may want to avoid having the Aegean listed first because it is not a GM standard sound font and some instruments will default to grand piano rather than the expected sound.

Versilian Studios has an exquisite free non-vibrato solo contrabass (sfz):

I don't know how you'd like it as a violin, but it plays Bach cello suites quite convincingly.

I used this non-vibrato solo cello a few years back and it was pretty good as I recall:

You may find these non-vibrato solo violin samples helpful, but they're not packaged into a soundfont so you'll need to do a bit of setup work:

You might find the viols helpful from Bate (but I believe they use A4 = 415 hz by default, I don't know if you're into that sort of thing ):

TL;DR: For non-vibrato solo strings, the best things I've found are Versilian Studios solo contrabass and bowed psaltery. If anyone finds something better, I'm all ears.

If you do actually want some vibrato (just maybe a more convincing vibrato than General User (? I don't use General User, it's supposed to be much improved in Musescore 3)), Versilian Studios also has vibrato solo contrabass and solo violin.

I don't know if there is a physical limit.

Up to my limited knowledge, we can use whatever soundfont files we want (3, 5, 10...).

If you want to get a sound from more than one soundfont at a time (let's say, to use 3 different violin sounds from 3 different soundfont files), you have to create 2 new instruments (two new violin staves) and copy and paste the same melodic line into the new staves.

Then you go to the Mixer and, in the violin channels, you put your violin sound, from the separate soundfont files (theorically, the violins should be list in sequence, in the same order you have the soundfont files into the "Synthesizer").

In reply to by jotape1960

If you don't want to use the instruments at the same time, you can do a couple of things besides create multiple instruments and hide empty staves.

  1. Every string instrument in the default instruments.xml file has 3 channels assigned. You can use the mixer to assign any sound to any mixer channel. I often use the Tremolo channel for Solo violin since I don't use it for tremolo.

  2. If you run out of mixer channels, you can do an instrument change to the exact same violin you already have (or even change from violins to violin so it's easier to see in the mixer) and assign the sounds you need to the "new" instrument. You have to keep track of what you've done. If you use Tremolo on the first instrument for Solo, you have to remember which sound you used for Tremolo after the instrument change. Perhaps you have a con sordino sound you've found that you want to use. Note, that with the exception of tempos, changing the text never does anything to playback. You always have to do something else to affect playback, like assign channels in the mixer to voices for playback.

  3. You can create a new instruments.xml file and add channels to the violins (or any other strings) so you can have more options simply using staff text.

I would do anything but add another instrument and hide empty staves if I can avoid it.

I combine three -- Symphonic, Sonatina and Aegian I've created a new custom score template that uses the correct sound fonts, so this is helpful for new compositions and arrangements. My challenge is figuring out a way to create and instrument list "style" or "template" that can be loaded onto existing files and updating the sound fonts. It is a chore to reset the instruments to my desired sound each time I modify an existing file.

In reply to by emailly

Unfortunately you cannot create instrument templates or styles or even instruments.xml that says Flute uses soundfont A, Trombone uses B and Strings use C.

The only thing you can do is make sure the sound fonts are set up as the default (or saved to the score so you can load them later). Create a score and set up the sounds in the mixer. Save the score and never overwrite it. You can lock the score using your operating system to prevent accidentally overwriting it. If you go this route, when you want a new score, open this score and immediately Save as... to give it a new name so you don't forget and autosave will take this into account.

In reply to by emailly

There is no plan to enable assigning a sound from a specific sound font to an instrument retroactively. This would be quite a difficult problem to solve. I'm in a similar situation and I change the sounds on my symphonic pieces when I open them to listen to them, then save the new settings so I don't have to do it again.

There might be a way someone could write a python script (I've never used python) that could automate this change in a saved file but I won't guarantee it.

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