When it comes to orchestral-string instruments, the violin features the highest voice. While it is most frequently associated with classical music, the violin is also a popular instrument in a wide variety of other genres such as country, bluegrass, folk, and jazz. Even rock and blues bands make use of this versatile instrument. The violin is an instrument that is relatively simple to learn the basics of, but can continue to provide a challenge as you grow and enhance your skills, making it an instrument that will be enjoyed for many years.
One beauty of the violin is that since it comes in a variety of sizes, it is very much an instrument that is great for children. A child can start on a smaller violin, and as they grow and learn, they can upgrade to large instruments. Learning on an instrument that is the right size is imperative for any student. Learning on an instrument that is too large for one’s hands can lead to soreness and even damage tendons.
Violins can easily be broken down into three basic categories: student violins, intermediate violins, and professional violins.
Most violin tops are made from straight-grained spruce wood. Violin strings require a great deal of tension to ensure their sound properly resonates and spruce, being strong enough, is the material of choice.
Maple is the wood that in generally used in violin necks, sides, and backs. This is not only done to enhance the strength of the instrument, but also an aesthetic choice, as the maple wood will give your violin a captivating look.
Ebony is a dense, dark wood that is usually the material of choice for fingerboards, pegs, tailpieces and chinrests. Because it is strong, but also light, ebony wood is ideal for ensuring durability, without weighing down your instrument.
That is not to say these are the only materials used in the construction of violins, just the most common. Rosewood, boxwood and other exotic woods can also be used for pegs, tailpieces and chinrests. Often times these woods are chosen as much for their incredibly beautiful appearance as they are for their tonal characteristics.
Your choice of string can have a major impact on the sound of your instrument. There are different strings for different situations, so a great option for classical solo work may not sound as great for a country music performance. Cost, as well as the way your string sounds when paired with your instrument can also be factors, though in the end your choice will almost certainly come down to personal preference.
Knowing the different parts of a violin will increase your understanding of how the instrument produces its distinct sound.
Pegs allow you to adjust the tension of and tune your violin strings. They are often constructed of dense wood to ensure durability.
A peg box houses a violin peg securely to ensure easy tuning.
The neck of a violin is typically constructed from hard maple. This is to ensure the neck can stand up to the tension of a properly tuned violin.
A piece of wood that runs the length of the neck and assists in preventing warping.
Piece held against the body of a violin by string tension. Helps to ensure proper sound transmission.
Holes cut in the top of the violin that allow for sound to be better projected.
Located on the bottom of the violin, the button is responsible for holding the tail gut in place.
Helps to maintain the tension of the strings. Is held in place by the button.
A source of structural support that helps to transmit sound and is located within the body of the violin.
A piece of wood located inside the body, running directly under the lowest string that distributes sound throughout the violin.
A place to rest ones jaw to ensure comfort while performing.
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