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The Anatomy of A Violin

Theater Costumes

The violin is a musical instrument that is a member of the string family. As a part of this instrument family, the violin relies on its strings to help create a musical sound. Other instruments in this family include the cello, the viola, and an instrument called the double bass. The violin is one of the smaller members of the string family. Violins are also a common instrument in orchestras. When learning how to play the violin, it is important to first learn its many parts. It is also important to know how those parts work. This will help make it easier to learn how to use the instrument.

Theater CostumesThe BowThe Scroll

At the top of the violin, attached to the very top of the neck, there is a stylish scroll. It is typically carved in a spiral shape; however, some scrolls may be carved into the shape of an animal's head. This is primarily decorative and won't affect the sound of the instrument.

Pegbox and Pegs

Just beneath the scroll leading into the neck of the violin is the pegbox. On the pegbox are pegs that are also called tuning pegs. The strings are attached to the upper part of the violin in this area. Because there are four strings, there are also four pegs. Turning the pegs can either loosen or tighten the strings.

The Neck

The neck is a long wooden piece that is attached to the body of the violin and plays a major role in supporting the strings. It holds much of the strings' tension. The neck also supports an important part of the violin called the fingerboard.

The Fingerboard

This is typically a smooth surface that has been painted black and that is beneath the instrument's strings. It does not touch the violin's belly, although it does extend over it. It is glued to the neck of the violin. It is used to change the pitch of the instrument, which occurs when the violinist presses the strings down onto its surface.

Nut

The nut on the violin does several things. For example, it connects the pegbox to the fingerboard. It also helps to control the height of the strings and keeps them off of the fingerboard. The grooved design of the nut also helps with keeping the strings correctly spaced.

The Body

The body of the violin is the largest part of the instrument. It is made of wood and has a belly, or top plate, and a bottom, or back plate. The belly and the back plate are connected by ribs that are located on the sides of the instrument. There are several important parts that can be found on the body.

Theater CostumesF-Holes (Sound Holes)

On the violin's belly are two openings called F-holes. The F-holes are also known as the sound holes. A person can identify the sound holes because they look like decorative scrollwork or a stylish "F." They are important because they help with the projection of sound waves.

Strings

There are four strings on the violin. These strings are stretched over the instrument's body running from the pegbox down to the tailpiece. Sound is created starting with the strings. They can be made of catgut, which is actually sheep intestines. This is the original method of making violin strings, and some violinists still use them today. There are other, more modern types of strings that are available today, like synthetic strings and metal strings.

Bridge

The bridge is important in terms of the violin's tone. It is located near the middle of the instrument between the F-holes. The strings of the violin are supported by the bridge. Depending on the desired sound, the bridge may be flatter or more curved.

Soloist violin player

Sound Post

Under the violin's bridge and inside the instrument's body is the sound post. This provides support to the violin's body against pressure. When the violinist plays the violin, the vibration of the strings causes both the bridge and the sound post to vibrate.

Chin Rest

When playing the violin, the violinist often uses their chin to support the instrument. By using the chin to hold one end of the violin, the user can move one hand freely. The chin rest may be made of plastic or wood, is located at the bottom of the instrument, and is a place for the user to rest their chin. There are various sizes, shapes, and types of chin rests that are available.

Tailpiece

The strings of the violin must attach at the bottom as well as the top. The area that secures them to the instrument at the bottom is called the tailpiece.

Fine Tuner(s)

Attached to the tailpiece of some violins are fine tuners. A violin may have a single fine tuner or four of them. These are used to aid in tuning the instrument. When a single fine tuner is used, it is typically on the E string.

Theater CostumesThe Bow

The piece used to play the violin is called the bow. It is a long wooden stick that may or may not have a metal core. Attached to the stick is the bow hair. The hair is the part of the bow that comes into contact with the strings. This may be horse hair or synthetic hair. Another part of the bow is the frog. The frog is the heel of the bow and is where the violinist holds the bow. At the end of the frog is where the screw is located to tighten the bow hair.

  • How a Violin is Made... and Violas, Cellos and Basses: Learn about how a violin is made by clicking on this article on the Shanahan Middle School website. The article includes information on parts of the violin, what they are made of, and what they do.
  • String Instruments: Check out a helpful worksheet of a violin that has its parts labeled. The document also includes a labeled image of a violin bow.
  • The Violin: An image of a violin found here identifies six parts of the violin. These parts are the tuning pegs, the fingerboard, the F-hole, the bridge, the chin rest, and the fine tuners.
  • Music Vocabulary: Definitions for parts of the violin can be found on this Web page. The page is from the L. Gilbert Carrol Middle School website and includes definitions for parts of the bow as well. Some of the parts on this page are for other string instruments as well, such as the cello, for example.
  • The Violin: The Art Behind the Sound: This is an article that teaches the history of the violin as well as the parts that make up the instrument. The history is at the top of the page, followed by a diagram and a section on the instrument's major components.
  • Top of a Violin's Body: Read about the parts that are found on the top of the violin body. The parts that the article talks about are labeled on the photo of the violin that is on the page.
  • Violin: An educational page about the history and construction of violins also discusses the main parts of the violin and the bow.
  • How the Build of a Violin Accommodates Sound: The anatomy of the violin, violin acoustics basics, and the history of the instrument are all parts of this PDF. Students who click on this link will also find violin images and diagrams.
  • Violin Construction: On this page, students can read what the parts of the violin are. It also tells what the approximate length of the instrument is. Also on this page, readers can learn more about the bridge of the violin.
  • Meet the Instruments of the Orchestra: Instruments of the orchestra, including string instruments, are the topic of this page. Readers learn about the type of strings used on violins and other instruments in this family. A drawing of a violin is included with the parts labeled.