Saturday, September 09, 2006

How to Buy a Violin

Violins, along with the rest of the String family, (violas, cellos and basses) are an integral part of the Symphony Orchestra.

The instrument is commonly associated with classical music, but there are other genres such as blue grass, folk and various styles of “fiddle music”. It’s also occasionally heard in blues, jazz and rock.

Contrary to some popular beliefs, the violin is not a particularly difficult instrument to play, and with consistent practice beginners usually make rapid progress, playing simple melodies relatively quickly.

The violin is particularly child-friendly in that it comes in a variety of sizes. As a student grows, the instrument can be traded for larger sizes. It’s critical that a student has the proper size instrument.

A violin that is too large in proportion to the size of the student can create a very uncomfortable situation. In extreme situations, this can lead to tendonitis leaving students discouraged and turned off to the instrument.

Student Level
These violins are produced for beginning students and are often produced by machine. Maple is sometimes used for high friction parts (pegs, fingerboard) and dyed to resemble the more expensive Ebony, which is found on most violins. These instruments are excellent for the early stages of development and are priced to easily fit into most budgets.

Intermediate Level
These instruments represent better quality wood and workmanship, most (if not all) of which is done by hand. The result is an instrument that sounds better and will accommodate a player to more advanced levels of play. Pegs and fingerboard are usually made of Ebony. Extensive hand graduation of the top and back of the violin result in a more refined sound. Some intermediate violins may approach the professional level of performance.

Pro Level
These are violins made from only the finest woods and built with a near fanatical devotion to every detail of the instruments construction and appearance. Because of the relatively low number of craftsman skilled at this level, and the number of hours required to produce an instrument of this caliber with a select piece of natural wood, the price of these instruments is considerably higher.

More Info

There are 2 basic areas of the violin:

* Body – The “box” part of the instrument. The top is generally made of a thinly and precisely shaved piece of spruce, the back and sides (ribs) are generally made of maple. The top and back may be made of a single piece of wood or a bookmatched piece.

* Neck Assembly – the structure that attaches to the top end of the violin body. It is generally made of maple and has at the top-end, the peg box (where the strings attach to the pegs) and the scroll. Applied to the top of the neck are the fingerboard (where the left-hand fingers press down to alter the pitch of the strings) and the nut (a small piece of wood that supports and separates the strings just as they pass into the “peg box”).

The Parts of a Violin

* Bridge - a specially shaped and fitted piece of hard maple that sits between the strings and body of the instrument and transmits the majority of the string vibrations to the body.

* Soundpost – a small cylindrical piece of wood that is fitted and wedged between the back and face of a stringed instrument. Its placement has a great effect of the sound of the instrument.

* F-Hole – Two holes precisely cut in the top of a stringed instrument to permit the sound to be projected from the interior of the instrument.

* Button – a small round piece of wood fitted by pressure into a hole in the bottom ribs of a stringed instrument. It serves as the anchoring point for the string adjuster (tailgut), which is attached to the tailpiece.

* Tailpiece – a long tapered piece of material suspended above the top of the violin by the ends of the strings at the bridge end, and the tailgut at the button end.

* Tailgut – the long strand of material that attaches through two holes in the bottom end of the tailpiece and then passes over the bottom edge of the instrument, looping around the button as its other anchoring point.

* String Adjuster (optional) – a small mechanical device attached to the tailpiece of a stringed instrument to make fine adjustments in string tension

Our site has a complete and varied selection of violins, in all sizes and playing levels