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Violins

The violin is a musical instrument in the string family. It is a popular instrument in orchestras and has been played by famous musicians such as Vanessa Mae. 

Its history starts at around the 16th century though stringed instruments similar to the violin go back even further in time.

Violins can be used to play a wide variety of music including classical, country, jazz, folk and even punk. It is sometimes also called a ‘fiddle’. 

A violin is a great starter instrument for a child or adult and the violin is widely taught in schools and through private tuition.

A violin comprises four strings and is played by drawing a bow across one or more strings with one hand whilst holding down a combination of the strings with the other.

Materials

The main features of a violin comprise a main hourglass-shaped body, a fingerboard with neck, four strings, and a chinrest. 

These can be made from various materials – the main body is traditionally made of wood, and the strings from catgut (though synthetic materials such as steel are more common these days).

Sizes

  • Typically violins are produced in full sizes, ¾, ½ and ¼, though other sizes such as 7/8ths , 1/10th and even 1/64th are in existence
  • The sizes are not literate – a ½ size violin is not actually half the size of a standard violin; a full-sized violin is approximately 356cm in length, whilst a ½ size violin is around 310cm for example
  • Smaller sizes are made for those who are not big enough to play a full sized violin comfortably – for example children who are learning to play

Caring for a violin

  • Violins are finely-tuned musical instruments which can suffer if dropped or knocked. A hard back carry case with secure handle can help transport both the violin and one or two bows safely
  • Violins need tuning before every performance or practice as they can easily get out of tune. Strings may need replacing occasionally due to wear and tear
  • Bows need replacing due to wear and tear more often than violin strings. Rosin is used to improve the sound of the bow hairs
  •  A violin can be cleaned carefully with a little water and a cloth and also with cleaning fluid or varnish, depending on what material the violin is made from
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