Violin Jargon 101

If you’re new to the violin world, here’s a quick overview of the parts of a violin along with some violin jargon to give you a better understanding of product descriptions while shopping for a violin.

Parts of a Violin
Bridge: a precisely cut piece of wood that acts as the lower anchor point for the strings. The bridge transmits the vibration of the strings to the body of the instrument and holds the strings at the proper height from the fingerboard, permitting each string to be played separately by the bow.
Parts of a Violin

Chinrest: This seems a bit self-explanatory, but a chinrest is a shaped piece of wood (or plastic) attached to the body of the violin to help with the positioning of the player's jaw or chin while playing.

Fingerboard: a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the violin’s neck. The strings run over the fingerboard, and the player presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the instrument’s pitch.

Finish: Finishing is the final step of the violin making process to protect your wood instrument. How a violin is finished makes a big difference in both tone and overall appearance.

Neck: The long thin portion of the violin that connects the instrument’s body to the scroll where the tuning pegs are located.

Soundpost: A dowel inside the instrument under the treble end of the bridge that spans the space between the top and back.

Tuning pegs: Tuning pegs are located at the end of the violin neck and function as the knobs that adjust the tension of the strings.

Other Terms
Bow: a tensioned stick with hair (usually horse-tail hair) coated in rosin (to facilitate friction) affixed to it. It is moved across the strings of the violin to cause vibration and thus, sound.

Luthier: a maker of stringed instruments such as violins or guitars

Outfit: an outfit is just a fancy way to say that the violin comes with a bow and a case (it’s a package deal, if you will)

Pernambuco: You’ll see this term thrown around when shopping for bows as it’s a great choice for bow making due to its hardness and density. Pernambuco wood comes from the northern and east-central parts of Brazil.

Rosin: That little container of waxy-looking stuff that you see some musicians carrying around is a solid form of resin. It facilitates friction between the bow hairs and the strings of the instrument.

Setup: Violin setup refers to the final adjustments made to the violin before it is ready to play. Read about the elements of a good setup here because they really matter!

Violin vs Viola: My best friend in high school played the viola, and here I thought she was just always mispronouncing violin. Violas are larger instruments than violins and have a deeper, mellower sound.

Violin vs Fiddle: To end our journey with a bit of vulnerability, I thought the fiddle was its own instrument for YEARS. Well, come to find out, the violin is called a fiddle when used to play folk music. Hopefully I’m not the only one who was confused by this last bit of violin jargon.
Violin 101

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