This article is part
of the Fiddle & Violin series. The violin is a bowed String instrument with four strings usually tuned in Perfect fifths It is the smallest and highest-pitched member
|Basic physics of the violin|
|History of the violin|
|Making and maintenance|
|Playing the violin|
|Violin family of instruments|
The outer contour of a new violin, one of the more important aspects of the instrument, is designed by the violin maker, and today the outlines of the old masters' violins are usually used.
The traditional approach starts with a set of plans, which include a drawing of the outer shape of the instrument. From these plans a template is constructed, which can be made from thin metal or other materials, and is a flat "half-violin" shape. The template is used to construct a mould, which is a thick violin-shaped piece of wood.
Around the mould are built the sides (or ribs), which are flat pieces of wood curved by means of careful heating. The completed "garland" of ribs, blocks, and linings is removed from the mould to allow attachment of the separately carved top and back. When the body is complete, the neck, which is carved out of a separate piece of wood (usually maple), is set in its mortise to complete the basic structure of the instrument, after which it is varnished. Simple and strong the mortise and tenon joint has been used for millennia by Woodworkers around the world to join pieces of Wood, usually when the pieces Varnish is a transparent, hard protective finish or film primarily used in Wood finishing but also for other materials
Vital to the sound and playability of the instrument is setup, which includes adjusting the neck angle if needed, fitting the pegs so they turn smoothly and hold firmly, dressing the fingerboard to the proper scooped shape, fitting the soundpost and bridge, adjusting the tailgut and installing the tailpiece, and stringing up. A removable chinrest may be put on at this time.
Then the instrument begins the "playing-in" process, as its parts adjust to the string tension. The sound of a violin is said to "open up" in the first weeks and months of use, a process which continues more gradually over the years.
Quite as important as the excellence of the instrument is its care.—Carl Flesch, from The Art of Violin Playing
With careful maintenance, a violin can last and improve for many years. A well-tended violin can outlive many generations of players, so it is wise to take a curatorial view when caring for a violin. Most importantly, if the collected rosin dust is not wiped from the varnish, and left for long enough, it will fuse with the varnish, and become impossible to remove without damage.
Cleaning the rosin off strings can make a striking difference to the sound. A common wine cork serves admirably, quietly scrubbing off the crust of rosin without damaging the winding of the string. A dry microfiber cloth is often recommended; it retains the dust well, but makes a penetrating squeaking noise. Microfiber ( British spelling: Microfibre) refers to synthetic fibers ( Fiber) that measure less than one denier. A cloth with a little rubbing alcohol is effective, if care is taken to protect the top from the slightest chance of stray droplets of alcohol touching the varnish. The use of alcohol is generally avoided, as it easily damages violin varnish in ways which may be difficult or impossible to restore.
The tuning pegs may occasionally be treated with "peg dope" when they either slip too freely, causing the string to go flat or slack, or when they stick, making tuning difficult. "Peg dope" (also peg paste, peg stick, peg compound) is a substance used to coat the bearing surfaces of the Tuning pegs of String "Peg drops" (a solution of rosin in alcohol) may occasionally be used to treat slipping pegs, but that is a temporary solution at best; quite often slipping pegs have shafts which are no longer smoothly conical, and should be refitted or replaced.
The violin will benefit from occasional checks by a technician, who will know if repairs need to be made.
Violinists generally carry replacement sets of strings with their instruments to have a spare available in case one breaks. Even before breaking, worn strings may begin to sound tired and to become "false" over time, producing an unreliable pitch. Another common problem with strings is unravelling of the metal winding. Strings may need replacement every two or three months with frequent use. The higher strings require replacement more frequently than the lower strings – fortunately higher strings cost less. The price of strings varies, and the quality of the strings strongly influences the timbre of the sound produced. In Music, timbre (ˈtæm-bər' like timber, or, from Fr timbre tɛ̃bʁ is the quality of a Musical note or sound that distinguishes different A teacher can advise students how often to change strings, as it depends on how much and how seriously one plays.
For the bow, the only real maintenance is regular cleaning of the stick with a cloth, and re-hairing. In the course of playing the violin, hairs are often lost from the bow, making it necessary to have it rehaired periodically, which is done by professionals at roughly the cost of a new set of strings. The old horse hair is replaced with new hair. Other maintenance may include replacing the wire lapping and leather grip, or lubricating the screw. Large cracks and breakages in the bow are usually fatal; they cannot be repaired like the body of the instrument can. A bow which has warped and is no longer straight can sometimes be bent back to true or re-cambered, but this must be done with heat by a craftsman, and it is not always successful or worthwhile.
Loosening the hair when the bow is not being used helps keep the bow from becoming "sprung," or losing its camber, and the hair from becoming stretched. There are now bows available made from fiberglass or carbon composite which are less fragile.
The position of the sound post inside the violin is critical, and moving it by very small amounts can make a big difference in the sound quality and loudness of an instrument. In a String instrument, the sound post is a small Dowel inside the instrument under the treble end of the bridge spanning the space between the top and back plates Soundpost adjustment is as much art as science, depending on the ears, experience, structural sense, and sensitive touch of the luthier. Moving the sound post has very complex consequences on the sound; in the end, it is the ear of the person doing the adjusting that determines the desired location of the post.