One violin is composed of 70 different pieces and various species of wood put together and the accompanying violin bow typically contains 150-200 horsehair strands. The type and quality of wood used is a contributing factor in the instrument’s sound and the price.
The violin is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the string instrument family. The modern violin has been around for roughly 500 years. It was said to have been designed in the 1500s by Andrea Amati.
Violins are very complex. Over 70 different pieces of wood are put together to form the modern violin and the accompanying violin bow typically contains 150–200 hairs. The craftsmanship that goes into creating these instruments has been admired for centuries. But how is a violin designed?
The scroll of the violin is purely decorative and provides no actual impact on the sound the violin will produce. In Baroque times, a beautiful or complex scroll was considered a mark of craftsmanship. In reality, it’s just an ornately carved curve of wood atop the pegbox. But it definitely lends to the violin’s signature look.
The tuning pegs are inserted on both sides of the pegbox and are used to tune the instrument, allowing the strings to be tightened to raise the pitch or loosened to lower the pitch of a string. While they need to move to tune the instrument, they also need to stay put once correctly tuned. There are four pegs, one for each string.
The long protruding parts along which the string run is referred to as the neck. It plays a major role in supporting the strings and holding their tension. The neck also supports the fingerboard. This will be the part of the violin that beginners handle while they struggle to sort their hold or fingering technique.
The length of the neck will change dependent on the size of the violin and should be accessible by your child’s hand easily if it is the correct size.
The strings are stretched over the fingerboard at the top of the violin body. This is where the violinist will press down on the strings as they play to create different notes.
There are four strings on a violin and they are tuned in fifths. From lowest to highest, the scientific pitch of the strings is G3, D4, A4, and E5.
The F-holes allow transmission of the vibration of the air inside the instrument to the outside. The role of the f-holes is to allow resonance and flow from inside the air cavity. The size typically correlates to the body and length of the violin.
The bridge arches up from the body of the violin and stretches the strings taut across them at high tension to produce the sound.
Below this is the tailpiece. The main function of the tailpiece is to connect the strings to your instrument. They also have a minor effect on the sound and playability. If a tailpiece is of good quality and installed in the proper position, it can make an instrument more responsive.
Tailpieces are available in one of the three common models: the ‘English’ (peaked, roof-like shape), the ‘French’ (elegant and rounded shape, and the ‘tulip’ (wineglass or tulip shape). These model differences don’t significantly impact the sound but the length of the tailpiece and its position does.
Fine tuners can be added to the tailpiece which allows the strings to be set at the proper distance between the bridge and end of the string. This difference has a subtle effect on the overtones. Student instruments always have tailpieces with built-in fine tuners.
The chinrest is placed next to the tailpiece. It allows the instrument to be supported between the chin and shoulder, leaving the left hand completely free to play.
A violin bow is consists of four main parts: the stick, the hair, the screw and the frog. The stick of the bow is traditionally made from wood but can also be manufactured from carbon fibre. The stick is the main structure of the bow and is attached to all other parts.
The bow hair is usually made from genuine horsehair. The hair is stretched between the bow tip and the frog which holds it in place. To create a good sound when the bow is moved across the strings, the hair must be under tension. This is controlled by the twistable screw at the base of the bow.
Modern electric violins are sometimes created from acrylic or kevlar. However, acoustic violins are always made from various species of wood.
The type and quality of wood used to construct a violin is the most important factor in creating an instrument’s sound. Most violins use similar types of tonewoods such as spruce tops and maple neck, back and sides. The quality of the wood can vary between instruments which is reflected in the price difference.
The top of the violin body (around the soundboard) is usually made from spruce. This is because it is naturally stiff and dense. The strength of the wood means that it can be carved delicately but keeps its shape and the denseness creates a better resonance.
There are several species of spruce used for violin tops and the quality of the spruce significantly determines the price of the instrument. Wood from trees grown in colder climates are denser, more resonant and more desirable and allowed to age for a long time, the is denser and stronger.
The fingerboard and pegs are usually made of ebony as they can withstand the constant were caused by the violinist’s fingers and the tuning process.
It may be kiddish, but I’m gonna say this anyways –