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You are here: Home > Violins > Violin Size Chart & FAQ's



Welcome to our Product Knowledge Center! Our team here at Instrumental Savings is excited to share with you all that we know about Violins. Making an informed decision is critical to any investment and this is no exception. We will aim to answer the questions given below in order to give you insight and recommendations on violins so that you can make a well-informed purchase.



What is a violin and what are its parts?

What are the specifications and accessories of a violin?

What are the different types and models of a violin?

What factors make a violin more expensive than others?

Which brands make good violins?

How do I take care of my violin once I have it?

How to apply Rosin on the Bow to make a sound?

How to tune the violin?








What is a violin and what are its parts?

Scroll – located at the top of the instrument, the scroll is a decorative piece that is usually hand-carved. The scroll can be used to hang up the violin but other than this, it has no real function and does not have any bearing on the sound of the instrument.

Pegs – the pegs are used to tune the violin by either tightening them (to raise the pitch) or loosening them (to lower the pitch). There are 4 pegs in a violin and each peg has a hole which a string goes through and runs to the other parts of the instrument (i.e. fingerboard, bridge, and tailpiece).

Neck – this part of the instrument is set at a slight angle from the body of the violin in order for the strings to sit above the fingerboard at a good distance.

Fingerboard – the fingerboard has a slight dip to it to let the strings vibrate freely without touching it. When the player presses down a string to the fingerboard, it changes the pitch of what is being played.

String – this is what vibrates in the violin and starts the process of sound production from the instrument. There are typically 4 strings on a violin and they are each tuned a fifth apart.

F-Hole – located at the middle of the instrument. There are two of them and they are holes where the sound comes out from. It allows the vibration of air inside the instrument to transmit outside. It is called the F-hole because its shape resembles the letter F in italics.

Bridge – this part of the violin holds the strings at the correct height they need to be in above the fingerboard. The bridge is mainly responsible for transmitting vibrations from the string to the body of the instrument. If the bridge is too high it would be difficult for the player to press the strings down to the fingerboard and if the bridge is too low, it makes the strings vibrate on the fingerboard. Thus, the height of the bridge must be just right in order for the violin to play properly.

Chin Rest – located at the bottom of the instrument, the chin rest allows the player to support the instrument by placing it between the chin and shoulder. In this way, the player’s left hand is free to play the instrument.

Sound Post – this part of the violin is a 6mm diameter cylindrical piece of wood (i.e. spruce wood) that sits inside the instrument between the front and back plates of the body. Its purpose is to support the pressure inside the violin and transfer the sound energy from the top plate to the back plate.

Bass Bar – a thin wooden strip glued to the interior of the front plate and helps transfer sound vibrations to a larger area across the front plate.

Tailpiece – the tailpiece holds the strings at the bottom of the instrument.

Fine Tuner – this is used to fine tune the strings (after the main tuning has been done with the pegs of the violin). It is located at the tailpiece and contains a metal screw which moves against a lever to tighten the strings.

Bow – Every violin needs a bow in order to be played. The bow is pulled across the strings of the violin to make them vibrate and emit sound. It consists of a long wooden rod with hair stretched tightly to it on both ends.



What are the specifications and accessories of a violin?


When looking at the features and specifications of a violin upon purchase, you will notice several terms that you may not be familiar with. It is important to familiarize yourself with these terms in order to know if the violin you are interested in is a good-quality instrument and worth your money. The following are some terms you may encounter:

Steel Core and Perlon Core Strings

Violin strings are often made of steel or perlon core (a material similar to nylon) that is wrapped in metal. A steel core string is cheaper than a perlon core string and is just as stable as the latter. Perlon core strings are more expensive as they produce a warmer tone and are thicker.


Guarneri and Kaufmann Styles

Guarneri and Kaufmann are two famous styles of chin rests. The Guarneri style is a very popular style that has the chin rest coming over the tailpiece of the instrument. On the other hand, the Kaufmann style which is less popular, has the chin rest to the left of the tailpiece of the instrument. With regards to which style is more comfortable to play with, it completely depends on the player’s preference. Most beginners and students however prefer to use a Guarneri chin rest.


Materials

The violin’s parts are made from different wood materials. You can spot a high-quality violin based on what its parts are made of. A high-quality violin will typically follow this design:

Spruce is the only material used for the front plate of the violin because it is the only material that is strong enough to manage the heavy tension of the strings while offering a resonant sound to emanate from the instrument. It enables the best acoustical properties for the front plate of the violin and has the ideal strength-to-weight ratio. Furthermore, older-aged spruce is a sought-after material for a violin because the more “aged” a wood is, the richer the tone it offers. The minimum preference for violin-makers is a 5-year aged spruce. In general, older-aged wood will cost more than younger-aged wood because it is a more scarce material.

Maple is the best material used for the violin’s neck, sides, and back. It strengthens the stability of these parts and offers excellent acoustical properties and good response. A technique used to enhance the beauty of the maple called “flaming” is preferred by many players. This technique adds to the cost of the instrument as it requires fine workmanship from violin-makers. Although flaming enhances the visual appeal of the violin, it does not affect its quality of sound.

Ebony is a great material used for the violin’s fingerboard, pegs, tailpiece, and chin rest. It is a dense and dark wood that is very strong but lightweight.

Rosewood and Boxwood are also used for the pegs, tailpiece, and chin rest as a substitute to ebony. Ebony is stronger than rosewood or boxwood but it is also a more expensive material. Cheaper violins will have rosewood or boxwood fittings while more expensive violins will have ebony fittings.

Bow Material

A good-quality bow is made out of Pernambuco (which is a high-grade of Brazilwood) and strung with horse hair. Pernambuco is known for its strength, beauty, and resilience. Bows of lesser quality will use Brazilwood (but not a Pernambuco Brazilwood) and are strung with nylon or synthetic hair instead of horsehair.

Set-Up

Violin manufacturers employ technicians who “set-up” the instrument to prepare it for play when purchased. Set-up entails: shaping and shaving of the bridge, fitting the bridge, fitting the pegs, adjusting the bridge, and fine-tuning of the instrument. A set-up violin gives the player an instrument that is ready for play because all the necessary fittings and adjustments are already made by the manufacturer.


Inlaid Purfling
Purfling is a strip of laminated wood that is inlaid to the body of the violin. The inlaid purfling of the violin appears as lining on the rim of the instrument’s body. Its function is to provide resistance to wear and to cracks that may form at the edges of the instrument. Thus, inlaid purfling is a sought after feature by violinists because it protects the instrument. Cheaper violins will have painted instead of inlaid purfling.

Varnish

Varnish is a hard, clear, protective film used in the wood finishing of violins. The varnish of the instrument’s wood affects the way the wood vibrates and ultimately, how the instrument will sound. There are mainly two types of varnish used in violins:

Oil varnish – usually hand-applied, offers a smoother sound, and is more durable
Spirit varnish – usually applied with a brush, offers a brighter sound, looks more glossy, but not as durable as an oil varnish.

Rosin

Rosin is a sticky substance made from tree sap. It is regularly applied to the hair of the bow to help the strings vibrate and smoothly produce a tone by adding grip to the hair. D'Addario Piranito rosin is a well-known brand of rosin and is of great quality.



What are the different types and models of a violin?


Violins According to Size

Violins come in different sizes. The reach of a child’s arm is different from an adult’s or an older child’s arm reach, and so different sizes of violins are needed to accommodate different types of players. Here are the different sizes of violins:


1/16th – suitable for ages 3 to 5 with arm length of 14 to 15 inches
1/10th – suitable for ages 3 to 5 with arm length 15 to 17 inches
1/8th – suitable for ages 3 to 5 with arm length 17 to 17.5 inches
1/4th – suitable for ages 4 to 7 with arm length of 17.6 to 20 inches
1/2 - suitable for ages 6 to 10 with arm length of 20 to 22 inches
3/4 - suitable for ages 9 to 11 with arm length of 22 to 23.5 inches
4/4 or Full Size – suitable for ages 9 and up with arm length of 23.5 inches and above


How do I measure arm length?
With the arm fully extended (perpendicular to the body), measure the length between the neck and the center of the left palm.


Violins According to Type
Violins come in different types to suit the different needs of violinists. The following are types of violins

Acoustic or Non-electric Violin
• This is the traditional violin and is more suitable for beginners (as it is a “standard” violin)
• They are made of wood such as Spruce, Maple, Ebony, Rosewood, and Boxwood
• Does not require an electrical outlet to play
• Standard in the classical music repertoire and in school ensembles
Recommendations for acoustic violins:


Silent (Electric) Violin
• Very much like the electric violin with the exception that it can be connected to earphones, allowing the violinist to play without being heard by other people
• They are lightweight and easy to play
• Includes an auxiliary volume control
• It can run on batteries or AC power
• They have a warm, full-bodied tone
Recommendations for silent electric violins:

Yamaha SV-150 4/4 Silent Violin


Need a comparison of different models with different features?

Violin Featured Models Comparison Chart



What factors make a violin more expensive than others?


The cost of a violin depends on various reasons such as the material used on the instrument, the features of the instrument, and the level model of the instrument. Refer to the table below to understand the varying costs of violins better.

COST OF A VIOLIN
MATERIALS
(in terms of manufacturing cost)
PURFLING
LEVEL MODELS
(in terms of craftsmanship)
Less Expensive
Hardwood fittings
Plain Maple
Hardwood Bow
Wood aged 5 years
Painted Purfling
Student
→produced by machine
More Expensive
Ebony fittings
Flamed Maple
Brazilwood Bow
Wood aged more than 5 years
Inlaid Purfling
Intermediate
or
Professional
→hand-crafted

Violin prices also greatly vary based on the manufacturer or brand. These prices are relative, which is why it is best to compare different brands of violins based on their respective specifications and prices, to make a smart purchase.



Which brands make good violins?



All handmade in the USA and has the best price among all high quality instruments
• Tygenn violins will last for 10+ years and you can use any kind of strings
Recommendations for Tygenn violins:

Japanese company known for making instruments for over 50 years
• Popular brand in schools and make high-quality student instruments and some of the best electric violins
Recommendations for Yamaha violins:



• A great brand for student violins

Recommendations for Stagg violins:





How do I take care of my violin once I have it?


Taking care of your violin is crucial to keep it playing well and to last you a long time. The violin is an investment and should be taken care of as such. Below are some easy tips on how to care for your violin!

Polish your violin regularly. Use a clean instrument cloth and a small amount of polish and proceed to make small circular motions until the instrument appears shiny and has absorbed the polish.

Wipe the Rosin off your violin and bow with a clean cloth before and after every use of the instrument. Avoid using too much Rosin as it may drip to the instrument and cause staining.
Protect your violin from extreme temperatures and humidity. Do not leave your violin in places like the attic, basement, or your car.

If you see damage on your violin, bring it to an experienced violin-maker (also called a luthier). Neglected damages may lead to bigger problems in the future so it is important to stay on top of it early on with the help of a professional.