All about Violin

The violin is a 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. (The double bass's inclusion in the violin family is disputed.)

The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it. The word violin comes from the Middle Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument; this word is also believed to be the source of the Germanic "fiddle".

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Construction of Violin

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The NECK is usually maple with a flamed figure compatible with that of the ribs and back. It carries the FINGERBOARD, typically made of ebony, but often some other wood stained or painted black.

Some old violins (and some made to appear old) have a grafted SCROLL, evidenced by a glue joint between the pegbox and neck.

The BRIDGE is a precisely cut piece of maple that forms the lower anchor point of the vibrating length of the strings and transmits the vibration of the strings to the body of the instrument.

The TAILPIECE anchors the strings to the lower bout of the violin by means of the tailgut, which loops around an ebony button called the tailpin (sometimes confusingly called the endpin, like the cello's spike), which fits into a tapered hole in the bottom block.

Very often the E string will have a fine tuning lever worked by a small screw turned by the fingers. FINE TUNERS may also be applied to the other strings, especially on a student instrument, and are sometimes built into the tailpiece.

At the scroll end, the strings wind around the tuning pegs in the PEGBOX. Strings usually have a colored silk wrapping at both ends, for identification and to provide friction against the pegs. The tapered pegs allow friction to be increased or decreased by the player applying appropriate pressure along the axis of the peg while turning it.

Violin Bow

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A violin is usually played using a bow consisting of a stick with a ribbon of horsehair strung between the tip and frog (or nut, or heel) at opposite ends. A typical violin bow may be 75 cm (29 inches) overall, and weigh about 60 g (2.1 oz). Viola bows may be about 5 mm (0.20 in) shorter and 10 g (0.35 oz) heavier.

Violin Sizes

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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 non-existent. 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.

These fractional sizes have nothing to do with the actual dimensions of an instrument; in other words, a 3/4-sized instrument is not three-quarters the length of a full size instrument. The body length (not including the neck) of a full-size, or 4/4, violin is about 14 inches (35 cm), smaller in some 17th century models. A 3/4 violin is about 13 inches (33 cm), and a 1/2 size is approximately 12 inches (30 cm). With the violin's closest family member, the viola, size is specified as body length in inches or centimeters rather than fractional sizes. A full-size viola averages 16 inches (40 cm).