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8 Different Types of Violins

This is a close look at various violins on display at a store.

Did you know violins have represented orchestral music since the 16th century? Modern violins evolved from the fiddle string instruments. Violin makers Antonio Stradivari, The Amati family, The Guarneri Family, and Giovanni Battista Guadagnini are well recognized for perfecting and modifying the violin musical instrument.

Stringed-instrument makers are properly recognized as Luthiers. Traditional luthiers were keen on experimenting with a distinctive overall elegant shape that would allow beautiful violin resonation. Violin instruments are the smallest in the violin family but with the highest pitch.

Violins are wooden chordophones commonly played by drawing a bow across strings. Advanced innovation and perfection have led to the crafting of varying violin styles in the modern world, as outlined in the article. The violins are crafted to blend distinctive features of an hourglass-like shape. Generally, a violin consists of;

  • Spruce top: The soundboard, also termed as belly, top plate, or a table
  • Maple ribs and back
  • Two end blocks
  • A neck
  • A bridge
  • A sound post
  • Four strings
  • Chinrest fittings

Brief History of Violins

Luthiers developed violin musical instruments in Italy. The earliest pictures of violins, albeit, had three strings. The violin’s name is derived from the word vitula, meaning a stringed instrument. Violetta is considered the violins early ancestors. Since the 1500s, it took about two centuries to perfect the modern violin.

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Rabab string instruments evolved in the 1700s to develop a violin we are familiar with today. Ideally, between the 1500s and 1800s, violins were molded and modified to advance elegance and sound projection. Archetier Francois Xavier Tourte played a key role in the violin world when he designed a new violin bow.

The design entailed a stick curved gently towards the hair. The new bow was ideal in accomplishing a huge number of bow strokes. In the 1820s, Louis Spohr invented the chin-rest playing mode. Later in the 1900s, shoulder rests were invented. Violin makers initiated advancements such as consolidating metal strings to replace gut-made strings in the 19th century.

A violin can either be small, big or a bass violin. In this post, we will peruse different types of violins regarding their features. Remember, depending on the type of violin you want to purchase, consider;

  • The genre of music you intend to play
  • The sound you want to produce
  • The amount of money you intend to spend
  • Where you will be playing your instrument often
  • The right size of the violin


Electric Violin

A close look at a modern electric violin.

They have been around since the 1930s. Electronic violins are popular among bands. Just like an electric guitar, electric violins lack a hollow resonating sound. They are built in many styles and don’t require a sound box to create sound.

They are solid-bodied, lacking f-holes; thus fused with a pick-up of a small microphone on the bridge. The microphone is vital in detecting and collecting vibrations made from the strings.

The collected vibrations are transmitted to an amplifier that broadcasts the loud violin sound. They project a clear sound. Electric violin is essential when violinists want to project their sound to a larger audience at a greater distance. Additionally, electric violins allow the use of effects like phasing and distortion.

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Semi-Acoustic Violins

They are also referred to as electric-acoustic violins. The violin produces an acoustic sound. Basically, they are regular violins with a pick-up attachment on the bridge. Also, they may be crafted to amalgamate instruments with the electronic embedded body.

They can either equip internal electronics or be outfitted with external pick-ups like contact-mics. An example is the Feather violin pickup with flexible Micro-Gooseneck by Myers Pickups.

They are highly preferred because of their ability to maintain a smooth, well-rounded violin sound even under amplifiers. The semi-electric violin retains more acoustic tone than a fully electric violin.

The Stroh Violin

A close look at a stroh violin on a black surface.

Stroh violin is also referred to as the horn violin. It is a bright, brassy instrument developed by German engineer John Mathias Augustus Stroh in the 19th century. The violin is encompassing a combination of a trumpet and a violin. The Stroh violin lacks a soundbox rather than features a horn to create the notes.

Unlike conventional violins, the Stroh violin creates a louder trumpet blast sound. Thus, it is perfect for anyone who wants a volume edge in a vast space or for street performers. The sound is usually harsher and thinner.

Ideally, the Stroh violin was suitable for recording violinists as they could aim their sound more directly at the microphone. The violin lacks a hollow body; thus, the string vibrations are fed into the metal chamber connected to a horn. They are relatively expensive.

Five-string Violins

This is a close look at a black five-string violin.

The violins are designed to equip larger bodies than traditional fiddles. This type of violins gained popularity recently, especially with electric violinists. The five-string violin is ideal for bringing the powerful C string while maintaining the ease of the violin’s upper register.

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Unlike classical violins with four strings (G, D, A, and E), Five-strings have a fifth option C string. Thus, it is not suited for playing classical music. Violinists use the extra pitch to improvise their sound. It is ideal for jazz, western swing, country music, and the rock genre.

Do you know what it takes to play the violin? All it takes is a keen ear, practice and a bit of imagination! Violinists can tune violin playing ranges to fall between notes D3, D4, A4, E5, and E7.

The Fiddle

A close look at a fiddle violin in its case.

It is a modified violin used to play certain music styles. Violinists and musicians may use the term fiddle in violin to refer to a violin or a style of playing the violin. The fiddle playing style is associated with country music, the Celtic and Bluegrass genres.

They are crafted to coalesce flatter bridge and steel strings. On fiddle violins, the violinists improvise on top of traditional tunes and chord progressions. They integrate classical techniques while playing to lead or accompany a band.

Baroque Violin

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It is the forefather of the modern violin. They are structurally crafted similarly to modern violins, but they consolidate a slightly different set-up. It is built with lower string tension. The main variance is that baroque violin used gut strings made from animal intestines.

They had flatter bridges, more shallow neck angle and shorter fingerboards compared to modern violins. In terms of appearance, the traditional baroque bows looked more like something to launch an arrow. They were designed to equip curved outwards. The baroque playing style entails tuning the violin all the way down to A415 Hz.

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The Modern/ Classical Violin

The classical violin is one of the most iconic instruments of all time. The modern violin evolved from older string instruments like the Rebec. The initial classical violin was developed during the late 17th century and became popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The classical violin is known to stand out due to the sound projection and range of the instrument. They meld higher string tension, thinner neck, longer fingerboard, and chin rest. Additionally, they offer more comfortable fittings. Modern violins are modified to fuse better strings and rosins, thus producing a more classical sound.

Silent Violin

Cecilio CEVN-1Y Style 1 Silent Electric Solid Wood Violin with Ebony Fittings in Metallic Yellow Maple, Size 4/4 (Full Size)

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Contrary to the name, the violin produces the sound of the bow touching the string. The silent violin produces a similar sound to a regular violin on mute. It is best for beginners since it allows them to practice without much disturbance within the training area.

Although it can’t work on the amplifier, the silent violin is designed in a way that you can use earplugs to get its quality sound. If you seek to practice at ease while at home without disturbing your neighbors, this is the violin to go for.

Hardanger Fiddle or Hardingfele

A man holding up a hardanger fiddle violin.

It is a Norwegian instrument crafted with five strings underneath the bridge. It rings sympathetically when you play unison, octave, and perfect fifth notes. More so, the sympathetic strings create an exciting property of ringing independently when played well with your fingers.

Well, that’s a wrap up on today’s post on violin types. Remember, the quality of an instrument varies based on the wood types, brand, and country of origin. We hope you find the Post helpful as you engage in playing different genres of music via violin.

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Uses of Violin Musical instruments

Violin is used extensively in folk, fiddle, and country music.

They are used to a lesser degree in jazz, rock, and electronic music.

They are prominent in the western classical tradition for solo, orchestras and chamber music.

Types of Violins FAQs

What is a mini violin called?

The smallest type of violin is called a pochette. It is tiny such that it can fit well in your pocket. A pochette is a wood-like instrument.

What are the dimensions of the largest violin?

The full size of the largest violin measures about 14 inches.

What is the big violin called?

A double-glass is the biggest type of violin.

Why are classical violins marked with “Stradivarius”, “Guadagnini”, “Guarneri del Jesu” labels?

They are master-template labels. Modern luthiers pick templates from traditional violin makers to emulate when crafting.

Is the violin a bass, true or false?

True, a violin is a bass. Bass on violins can be pitched in fifths.

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