The History Behind the Violin – Violin Pros

The History Behind the Violin

The violin is widely revered as the most complete, idealistic instrument, producing a sound closer to the human voice than any predecessor, and having an array of anatomical complexities. The shape of the neck, width of the waist and bout, the materials used, and even the intricacy of the scroll all factor into crafting the most beautiful violins. Here's the history behind the beloved violin.

The violin appeared suddenly around 1550.

A Cremonese luthier named Andrea Amati is credited with crafting the first violin. Originally a lute builder, he built at least two three-string violins in the 1540's before being commissioned by the wealthy Medici family in the 1550's to build a four-string violin. The two earliest examples of surviving violins were both built by Amati in the following decades.


Maple Leaf Strings "Cremonese"



Scott Cao 1715 Cremonese



Höfner Model 225 "Guadagnini"


Other instruments inspired the design.

Today's violin owes its origins to earlier instruments going back as far as the 9th century. You can see the influence of the European lira, the Viol, and the Arabian rabab and rebec in the modern violin. Like these instruments, the violin was originally used for popular and dancing music.

The master-period sparked innovation. 

While most instruments continually evolve, the classic design of the violin remains mostly untouched since the 18th century. This is due to the extensive early experimentation during the master-period of violin-making that stretched from the 16th to 18th centuries. Antonio Stradivari is one of these master-builders and actually studied as an apprentice of Nicolo Amati, a grandson of the original creator, Andrea Amati.


Höfner Model 225 "Stradivari"



Core Select CS5900S Stradivari



Anton Krutz Bench Violin


Today's violins are inspired by the masters. 

The craft of violin-making is honed to within millimeters of the perfection achieved by the early master-builders like Stradivari. Altering the shape, design, or even the materials used in construction generally yields a less-pleasing tone. In fact, high-end makers are incredibly picky about the wood they incorporate; not just the species of tree but even the age of the wood and the conditions that specific tree grew in. For instance, Scott Cao's famed Master Violins are made from the finest wood, aged for at least a century, for a truly authentic sound and feel.


Related Article:


When we're talking about great violins, two names that tend to come up are Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù. As some of history's most prominent violin makers, each made significant changes to the fundamental structure and sound of a violin. Here's what you should know when comparing Stradivari vs. Guarneri.  Continue Reading >>


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