Tuesday, October 27, 2009



The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings usually tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest and highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola and cello

Construction and mechanics

A violin typically consists of a spruce top maple ribs and back, two endblocks, a neck, a bridge, a soundpost, four strings, and various fittings, optionally including a chinrest, which may attach directly over, or to the left of, the tailpiece. A distinctive feature of a violin body is its "hourglass" shape and the arching of its top and back. The hourglass shape comprises two upper bouts, two lower bouts, and two concave C-bouts at the "waist," providing clearance for the bow.
The "voice" of a violin depends on its shape, the wood it is made from, the graduation of both the top and back, and the varnish which coats its outside surface. The varnish and especially the wood continue to improve with age, making the fixed supply of old violins much sought-after.


Strings were first made of sheep gut, stretched, dried and twisted. Modern strings may be gut, solid steel, stranded steel, or various synthetic materials, wound with various metals, and sometimes plated with silver. Most E strings are unwound, either plain or gold-plated steel.

Pitch range

The compass of the violin is from G3 to C8. The top notes, however, are often produced by natural or artificial harmonics.


3D spectrum diagram of the overtones of a violin G string. Note that the pitch we hear is the peak around 200 Hz.
The arched shape, the thickness of the wood, and its physical qualities govern the sound of a violin. Patterns of the nodes made by sand or glitter sprinkled on the plates with the plate vibrated at certain frequencies, called "Chladni patterns," are occasionally used by luthiers to verify their work before assembling the instrument


Children typically use smaller string instruments than adults. Violins are made in so-called "fractional" sizes for young students: Apart from full-size (4/4) violins, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, and even 1/32-sized instruments exist. Extremely small sizes were developed, along with the Suzuki program, for violin students as young as 3. Finely-made fractional sized violins, especially smaller than 1/2 size, are extremely rare or nonexistent. Such small instruments are typically intended for beginners needing a rugged violin, and whose rudimentary technique does not justify the expense of a more carefully made one.