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The violin is a very delicate instrument known for its craftsmanship. It gives a rich, warm tone to any musical group so long as it is maintained well. Still, to truly understand how to maintain something, I advise you to understand how it works.
With different violin parts explained, you can better appreciate how they all work together and which parts influence the sound you are producing.
Having violin parts explained gives you a better understanding of how your instruments and all of their respective pieces work together to produce a beautiful sound.
For this guide, I will start with the violin parts explained in detail, including what they are made of, where they go on the instrument, and what purpose they serve. Similarly, I will conclude with a view of the violin bow parts, which is an integral part of playing the violin.
Why Do I Need the Violin Parts Explained?
There are many reasons that it’s good to learn the different parts of an instrument you plan to play. Having the violin part explained helps you locate the source of a problem with an existing instrument, identify good quality used instruments, or figure out which new model you like best.
If you need a violin, you can buy a constructed instrument. Alternatively, if you just need to replace a part on your violin, you can purchase individual parts.
- If your violin bridge is warped, you can order a replacement.
- If you need new strings, you can order replacements.
- You can also get a replacement part online if you want a new neck.
Violin Parts Explained: The Violin
I like to take a top-down approach when explaining instruments.
So, with the violin, at the very top, you have the pegbox. This is the part where your violin strings come to an end, and you manage the tuning for your violin strings. Within the pegbox, there are different pieces:
The scroll is the physical piece at the end of your violin, which looks like a spiral–or scroll. It is typically a piece of carved wood (except in the cases of very cheap violins or toy violins made of plastic). It is a decorative piece that does not impact the sound, only how ornate your instrument is at the top.
The scroll has always fascinated me because it is one of the rare opportunities for luthiers to show off their skill subtly. While it takes an experienced musician to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into overall construction or the materials used for a violin, anyone can appreciate a beautiful piece of hand-carved wood.
You might find antique violins whose scrolls have been carved into stunning shapes like animal faces. They stand alone as miniature works of art even if they don’t have much to do with the sound you make.
Inside the pegbox, you will also find the tuning pegs. These are located directly underneath the scroll. There are four of them for the corresponding strings on a modern violin. If you have a five-string violin, there will be five.
The pegs stick out, and the strings wrap around the pegs. So, as you turn the pegs one way or another, they adjust how loose or tight your strings are. This directly corresponds to the pitch of that string.
Turning your pegs clockwise tightens the string and makes the pitch sharper.
Turning your pegs counter-clockwise loosens the strings and makes the pitch flatter.
Note: Take your time when tightening or loosening a string. If you make big changes and tighten too far, you will snap your string. I have had more than one child take a stringed instrument and turn the tuning pegs too far and break a string in their haste to get to know how all the parts work.
After the pegbox, you have the neck. The neck is the long section that connects the body to the pegbox and represents one of the more delicate sections because of its size and placement.
The neck is typically made from maple, and it rests underneath the fingerboard. The neck is there to add stability to the smallest part of your instrument.
When you play the violin, you will probably rest your thumb on the neck as an anchor for moving your hands up and down the strings.
As mentioned, the fingerboard rests on top of the neck. This is a small piece of wood, usually ebony, and usually painted black. It rests below the strings and runs the length of the neck. Unlike a guitar, the fingerboard on a violin does not have frets unless you go out of your way to purchase a fretted violin.
The fingerboard is smooth with a slight arch so that you can bow one string at a time without accidentally hitting all of your strength. When you press your strings down, they are coming into direct contact with the fingerboard, which generates different pitches and notes.
I include the strings in this section of violin parts explained because they run the length of the neck.
A standard violin has four strings:
- G–the lowest
- E–the highest
All four strings are named for the note they are tuned to produce. As you go from the lowest to the highest, they rise by an interval of a fifth.
Violin strings are commonly made from nylon (and these are called synthetic strings) or from steel. When you move your pole across the strings, they make these sounds. The strings get attached, as mentioned, to the top of the pegbox and then find their way home at the tailpiece.
Professionals still play with gut strings, but given the modifications that exist for synthetic strings, it’s quite easy to replicate the sound of gut strings without the drawbacks.
You will probably have synthetic violin strings from companies like Dominant strings if you are a beginner. If you have an electric violin, then you will have steel strings.
There is a small ridge at the top of your fingerboard, which controls where the strings go and how high they go; this is called the nut. The greater the distance between your strings and the fingerboard, the higher this is, and vice versa.
The nut plays an important role in ensuring the strings rest in the right grooves and don’t slip. If ever you are replacing a string, you can use the nut to determine where the new string goes.
The next section of the violin is referred to as the body. This section is curved to look somewhat like the curves of a body–or a figure eight.
The shape of the violin body is important; having a figure eight that gets smaller in the center allows you to move your violin bow across the strings without the violin bow getting caught on the edges of the body.
It has the largest surface area, is three-dimensional, and has a hollow interior. The violin’s body is the most delicate part because once it is put together, you cannot as easily replace something like a crushed rib (the sides) or a splintered back piece.
Three pieces comprise the body:
- The front piece, or belly
- The back piece
- The two side pieces, or ribs
Violin Parts Explained for Visual Learners
In the video below, you get to see a luthier build a violin from scratch, using all of the violin parts explained in this guide so far:
The front and the back pieces are connected with the sides, and the hollow interior space that they produce is responsible for amplifying the sound of your strings and projecting it outward for the audience to hear.
The bridge is a very small section of the violin made of wood. It takes on an arch shape and serves many roles, primarily with the production and quality of sound.
The bridge is directly centered in the body and, like a modern bridge, provides lifted support for the strings. The bridge keeps your strings in their respective grooves and maintains the tautness you choose (using your tuners in the pegbox).
When you play the violin strings, the bridge moves the vibrations into the body so that they can be projected out.
Note: Your E string usually comes with a plastic protector so that it doesn’t cut into the bridge; the E string is the thinnest, and a thin metal string can easily cut into the wood.
Bridges come in different degrees of curvature:
- The flatter your bridge curve, the easier it is to play more than one string simultaneously
- The more pronounced your bridge curve, the easier it is to play just one string at a time
Classical violins often use a curved bridge, while fiddles have a flatter bridge.
The bridge is a common source of problems or damage if you don’t get a violin case to protect your instrument or buy something used. It tends to break or fall too far forward or too far backward.
Even if it leans a little bit in one direction, it won’t keep your strings where they need to be. So if you are having trouble maintaining your pitch and your instrument isn’t working the way, it should check that your bridge is standing upright.
The tailpiece is on the body, and it secures the strings under the bridge, anchoring them opposite the pegbox. The tailpiece has slots for each string, and it should remain secured to the body of your violin at all times.
The F-Holes, sometimes called ‘soundholes,’ get their name because of their shape. They take on the shape of an ‘F’ and are cut into both sides of the body on either side of the bridge.
Once you run your bow across the strings, the vibrations travel back into the hollow body of your violin, and these holes release and project the sound. You get similar F-holes on a cello, double bass, or viola.
The soundpost is located under the bridge inside your violin. If you’ve never easily identified the soundpost when looking at a violin, don’t worry, it’s inside. You have to look through the F-holes to see the small sound post that connects the front plate and the backplate.
Like any post in construction, it adds physical support to the body of your violin and helps carry the vibrations into your violin and back through the F-holes. If your soundpost is damaged, the entire violin has to be taken apart to repair it or replace it.
Fine tuners are located on the tailpiece. They cannot change the pitch of your strings to the same degree as your tuning pegs, but they can make mine or corrections. Certain violins only have a fine tuner for the E string.
The chin rest gets its name because it’s where you rest your chin when you play. The chin rest lets you use your left hand and your right hand simultaneously.
You might also use a shoulder rest that clips onto the bottom of your violin to have a cushion between your shoulder and the bottom of the violin and a cushion between the top of the violin and your chin.
Violin Parts Explained: The Bow
A violin bow is a crucial tool that is not technically part of the violin, but you need it to play As a beginner. You can, of course, play the violin with just your fingers, and this technique is called pizzicato, but almost everyone learns to play with a violin bow, a technique called ‘arco.’
A violin bow is made with a long piece of wood at the base of which is called the frog. The frog is where you grip the bow. Along the length of the bow is either synthetic hair or horsehair. The average violin bow contains 170 individual hairs, all held taut between the ends of the bow.
Violin Bow Parts Explained for Visual Learners
This video explains how a violin bow is constructed and what it is worth the investment:
Having violin parts explained should make it easier for you to understand the design of violins. These are very sensitive and delicate instruments, and each of their parts has to be in the exact position, made in the exact size, and all have to fit together precisely.
The different materials used can change the way your violin resonates and therefore change the sound it produces. If you are interested in buying a violin, it’s good to test out a few different models and see the one you like best.
My Top Picks
Bunnel Pupil Violin Outfit 4/4 Full Size By Kennedy Violins
The Bunnel Pupil Violin Outfit 4/4 Full Size By Kennedy Violins is much more expensive than other models but higher quality. With this, you can choose from all eight standard sizes for the violin.
What’s more, this company has every instrument assembled by hand in America. In contrast, companies like Cecilio have their products assembled in China and subsequently inspected in America, which has led to many customer complaints about poor quality control.
With the Bunnel, you get a heavy-duty lightweight case, Prelude strings, a brazilwood bow, a shoulder rest, rosin, a cleaning cloth, and an instrument care guide that tells you how to maintain your violin.
I love the instrument care guide because having violin parts explained makes it much easier to use. It tells you the distance between the wood and the hair on your violin bow and how to fix it if there’s a problem. It explains how often you should apply the rosin. It includes links to videos on cleaning and storing your bow and violin.
You also get information on how often you should change your strings, what the placement of your bridge should be and how to fix it, and what to do if your pegs are slipping.
- It comes with a guide on how to maintain your violin
- Has a reliable Hardcase
- Handmade in America
- Great quality design, materials, and accessories
Cecilio 4/4 CVNAE-330 Ebony Fitted Acoustic/Electric Violin in Antique Varnish
The Cecilio 4/4 CVNAE-330 Ebony Fitted Acoustic/Electric Violin in Antique Varnish is a great option for adults–beginners or intermediates. Cecilio is a highly recommended brand. They provide the cables you need to purchase the electric violin in a metallic black finish.
They also have a pearl white finish juxtaposed with the black fingerboard and tailpiece. You can also buy the regular acoustic violin with antique varnish if you prefer. All three options come with similar accessories, including a storage case, high-quality brazilwood bow made with Mongolian horsehair, chin rest, and rosin for your bow.
- Hand card solid spruce for the top
- Solid maple for the back and sides
- Ebony pegs and fingerboard
- Brazilwood bow with horsehair
- Lots of accessories
- Antique varnish
- It comes in acoustic or electric
- It does not come in other sizes besides full size
Mendini by Cecilio Violin Instrument – MV400 Size 4/4
Cecilio owns Mendini. Both Mendini and Cecilio specialize in high-quality instruments that are affordable for beginners or students. Still, Mendini specializes in products specifically for those who have never played the violin before.
The Mendini by Cecilio Violin Instrument – MV400 Size 4/4 is meant for children and beginner adults.
- It comes with more accessories than the Cecilio model
- It is available in four sizes
- Has maple, spruce, and ebony wood
- Handcrafted, single pieces of wood for the body
- It only comes with a varnish finish
- Meant for beginners; the quality of the accessories is unsuitable to intermediate players
Answer: The violin bow is made of wood and hair, usually horsehair. The wood used for the bow is commonly brazilwood.
Answer: The top part of the violin is sometimes called the belly or the table. It takes on a convex shape and should be made from a single piece of wood. The most common wood for the top part of a violin is spruce.
Answer: A great deal of science goes into the structure of a violin. The shape of the body and how the parts come together to make a violin, well, a violin. They can look different where things like the scroll are concerned. Some violins might have uniquely carved scrolls, while others have a colored varnish.
Answer: The violin has a center waist that curves inward, making it easier for your bow to move across the strings without getting caught on the edges of the body. The middle is convex and helps you more easily project sound as you play.
Answer: Many different parts make up a violin, primarily the body, the neck, the strings, and various fittings that hold the instrument together.
The bottom line is having violin parts explained makes it easier to understand the description of different violins when you compare them side-by-side. Looking at the materials used and verifying that all parts fit together can help you make a sound investment.
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