If you’ve been wondering how many different types of violins there are, I’m happy to say I have an answer for you.
Along with the various sizes of the violin, there are a variety of other types of the instrument.
Perhaps you’re attempting to determine which type of violin would be best for you, or you’re conducting research for an assignment.
A Brief History of the Violin
Despite its recent invention, the creation of the violin was a long-ago process that lasted many years, from its early ancestor in the Middle East to its entry into Europe via Spain and then into Italy’s stronghold. Because of trade and commerce, the development of this instrument has spread geographically.
The first known violin was the Ravanastron, which emerged from Medieval India and was patronized by Kings and nobility. Between the seventh and tenth centuries, traders brought ravanastron into the Middle East. As a result, this bowed, stringed instrument spread and developed throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe.
The Rebab is the first recognizable ancestor of modern violins. It originated in the Middle East in the eighth century and spread through North Africa and Europe via trade routes. There’s Rebec, which arrived in Europe during the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula.
Then, from the Byzantine Empire, came the pear-shaped instrument known as the Lyra in the tenth to twelfth centuries. Some of its variants are still played by some people today. Vielle was an oval-shaped instrument with three to five strings and tuning pegs. Finally, prior to the introduction of modern violins, the Viola da Gamba appears to be the best-bowed instrument of the time.
9 Types Of Violins
- Baroque Violin
- Classical Violin
- Electric Violin
- Acoustic-Electric Violin
- Five String Violin
- Stroh Violin
- 1st and 2nd Violin
- Different Sizes of Violin
1. The Baroque Violin
We all know how much I enjoy a good history lesson, so let’s take a look at the first violin. At first glance, Baroque violins resemble modern classical violins. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll discover they’re quite different.
The Baroque violin was created during the Baroque Period, which began around 1600. This is the first standard violin from the sixteenth century.
It is the ancestor of the modern violin. It has a shallower neck angle and a thicker neck to provide support for the tension strings. The only difference between a classical violin and a modern violin is that the string tension is lower on the classical violin.
Due to more advanced crafting techniques, violin makers began to alter the original Baroque instruments, allowing them to achieve the new violin standards. Furthermore, Baroque violins differ from modern violins in that they use gut strings derived from animal intestines.
In addition, they had flatter bridges and fingerboards than modern violins. In appearance, Baroque bows were curved outwards, giving them the appearance of a launching arrow. Many musicians enjoy playing in the baroque style, which involves using a traditional baroque bow and an old-fashioned violin setup.
At first glance, the Baroque violin appears to be virtually identical to the modern violin. If you look closely, you’ll notice that its neck is much straighter. Its strings were also significantly different from those we use today.
Originally, violin strings were made of sheep gut, which produced a sound similar to a “baa” when played. I’m joking. The sound pole (the small stick visible through the soundholes) was also much thinner.
The Baroque violin is played with a much shorter bow than we are used to seeing. Old photographs of Baroque musicians show them putting their thumbs over their hair as well.
So, when you play with a Baroque bow, the hairs, not the strings, face you (if that makes sense).
A Lack of Comfort
I’m always put off by the lack of comfort when I consider playing a Baroque violin. There were no chin rests or shoulder rests on Baroque violins. I mean, I get aches and pains from playing the modern violin, so that screams aches and pains to me!
Differences in Sound
Because of the straighter neck of a Baroque violin, the strings aren’t as tight. As a result, the baroque violin has a much softer sound. However, you may be surprised to learn that the Baroque violin is more resonant than our modern instruments.
Because the body is under less tension, it produces sound even after you have stopped bowing. That explains why their bows were so short, don’t you think?
2. The Classical Violin (or Modern Acoustic Violin)
Then it’s on to the next type of my favorite instrument! Okay, let’s get back to normalcy. The classical violin gets its name from the fact that it was created during the Classical era (funnily enough). Back then, craftsmen tilted the violin’s neck back slightly so that the strings could be held at a higher tension without snapping.
This increased the violin’s range and gave it a lot more projection. They also included a chin rest.
Nowadays, modern violins rarely deviate from the models created in the late 18th century.
The modern violin had a slim neck and a high level of string tension, placing it high on the list of violin types. People nowadays use the classical violin to evaluate other types of violins. Classical violins have more comfortable fittings for the violin, such as a chin rest that allows players to hold the violin more comfortably.
Modern violins have improved over time by using better strings and rosins, resulting in a more classical sound.
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3. The Fiddle
If someone asks me what the difference between a violin and a fiddle is one more time, I think I’m going to explode… Sorry, I didn’t mean to lash out.
I play the fiddle, so it’s a very personal topic for me! Here are three key distinctions between the fiddle and the classical violin.
Allow me to break it down for you. The instrument itself is identical to a violin. Fiddlers, on the other hand, prefer folk, country, or bluegrass music to classical. So the only real distinction between a fiddle and a violin is who is playing it.
This is where things get a little tricky. Improvisation is a favorite pastime of fiddle players. They play on more than one string at times and add hundreds of grace notes (those short little twiddly notes before the main ones).
Classical violinists, on the other hand, usually stick to one string and what is written on the musical score. These days, I enjoy playing both folk and classical music. So, whether you play the fiddle or the violin is purely a matter of personal preference.
Because fiddle players like to play chords over two strings, a flatter bridge is sometimes preferred. Each string is elevated to a different height by the bridge, making it easier to play one string without hitting another. As a result, having a slightly flatter bridge makes it easier to play two strings at the same time.
4. Electric Violin
It’s time to crank it up a notch! Electric violins are a relatively new invention. They are used by performers to add extra volume and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To be heard, they will need an electric violin amp.
Have you ever seen a violin that generates sound electronically? The electric violin, on the other hand, does exactly that. Because it does not require a sound box to produce sound, it comes in a variety of styles, causing many of its models to undergo aesthetic changes. Electric violins, like electric guitars, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and forms. They’re becoming increasingly popular as most bands enjoy playing them.
The sound produced by an electric violin is electronically amplified. As a result, there is no need for a sound box or F-holes. Electric violins can be customized in terms of shape and color. Some appear to be acoustic, while others appear to be something straight out of Star Wars.
Most electric violins sound similar to acoustic violins, but they are much louder. Many electric violins, on the other hand, allow you to change the tone of your playing. As a result, you can easily switch things up and add a completely new element to your music.
Furthermore, they can be used in almost any musical genre. They’ve been used in pop, classical, folk, and even rock music.
5. The Acoustic-Electric Violin
Having trouble deciding between an acoustic and an electric violin?
Acoustic-electric violins are available with or without a pickup. They can provide extra volume when needed, but you are not forced to sound electronic all of the time.
Acoustic-electric violins produce a much more natural sound. Do you want to electrify your own violin (please don’t take this literally)? Some pickups do not have to be installed inside the violin.
There are some really cool ones that just clip onto the side! Sometimes I think that’s the best course of action. When not amplified, most semi-acoustic violins sound a little shy.
However, if you want to practice without frightening the neighbors, this can be useful.
6. The 5 String Violin
The clue is in the name! A five-string violin is, well, a violin with five strings. Now that’s a challenge! If you’re considering purchasing a five-string instrument, here’s what sets it apart from a classical violin.
If you ask me, this violin is pretty cool. The fifth string added to the five-string violin is low C, combining the ranges of the viola and violin. It can go all the way down to C3 (the open C string) and all the way up to A7 (played on the E string).
Aside from the extra string, the five-string violin is quite different from a regular violin. It had to be wider and deeper than the violin in order for the C string to have the same amount of resonance as the other four.
A word of caution: don’t just go out and buy any old five-string violin. I once ordered one online and when it arrived, the C string made no sound!
Because of its range, jazz and blues musicians adore the five-string violin. Improvisation is central to jazz. Having such a wide range of notes to play with is therefore ideal for musicians in this genre.
I first saw a five-string violin in a jazz club (or maybe I’d just had one too many glasses of wine, I’ll never know).
7. The Stroh Violin
There is currently a heated debate over whether the Stroh violin is even a violin at all. There are obvious differences between this violin and a standard violin. Let me set the record straight.
Given that the Stroh violin is also known as the horn violin, it’s safe to say there are quite a few physical differences between the two. This violin was created by John Stroh in the late 1800s.
Essentially, he thought that adding a horn to the standard soundbox would be a good idea. To be honest, I think the Stroh violin is quite cool and steampunk-like. It does, however, retain the standard four strings, fingerboard, pegbox, and scroll!
At the very least, that’s something…
Difference in Sound
Yes, it does sound very different from a classical violin. The Stroh violin has a much harsher sound than a regular violin. The horn makes it much louder, but it doesn’t have the same impact as the classical violin. Stroh, he gave it his all! However, a horn with strings is quite pricey…
8. Silent Violin
This is simply a violin that is powered by electricity. So don’t be fooled by the name, because it’s not as silent as the name implies. It simulates the sound of the bow striking the string. This instrument produces a sound that is very similar to that of a standard violin on mute. It’s the best violin for beginners because it allows them to practice without bothering others.
You can get high-quality sound by wearing earplugs, but you can’t use the amplifier. This is the best violin for practicing at home without disturbing your neighbors.
9. Different Sizes of Violin
If you’re thinking about getting a violin, you should figure out what size you’ll need first. The violin is available in eight sizes: 4/4, 3/4, 2/4, 1/4, 1/8, 1/10, 1/16, and 1/32. It’s unlikely that anyone would require a 1/32 size violin. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one!
How to Choose the Right Size Violin
No matter how long their arms are, most adults can play a 4/4 size violin! Children and teenagers, on the other hand, require a variety of violin sizes. Unfortunately, you can’t just guess based on your age.
So, if you’re a teen or looking for a violin for your children, knowing what size is best is helpful. You can figure out what size to get by measuring your child’s neck to the middle of their palm.
If they are between sizes, I recommend going with the smaller one. If their violin is a little too big, they’ll have trouble getting the right finger positions!
|Arm Length||Violin Size|
|35.5cm (14 inches)||1/16|
|38cm (15 inches)||1/10|
|42cm (16 inches)||1/8|
|47cm (18.5 inches)||1/4|
|51cm (20 inches)||1/2|
|56cm (22 inches)||3/4|
|58.5cm (23 inches)||4/4|
Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about the various types of violins and what size you require, it’s time to make a decision!
Whether you enjoy jazz and want to jump right to the five-string violin, or you prefer classical, you’ll enjoy your new instrument.
If you already play the violin, however, I hope this article has inspired you to try something new.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to learn the Stroh! Or maybe not, because that thing looks a little scary.
FAQs About Different Types of Violins
What are the different types of violins?
A Guide To The 8 Different Types Of Violin
The Modern Violin (Classical)
The Baroque Violin.
The Hardanger Fiddle (Hardingfele)
The Stroh Violin.
What are the 4 types of violins?
The violin, viola, cello, and (possibly) double bass comprise the standard modern violin family.
Do different violins have different sounds?
The loudness and timbre of each string differ, and the material used influences sound quality and ease of articulation. Originally made of catgut, violin strings are now usually made of steel or a synthetic material.
What sounds do violins make?
Full, singing, eloquent, introspective, supernatural, sensuous, lustrous, bright, metallic, vibrant, clear, glassy, flute-like, shrill, brilliant, sparkling, calm, thin, whistling, round, pure, muffled, solemn, austere, dark, muted, open, sustaining, rough, wafting, soft, sweet, merry, dancing, veiled
What are violins used for?
Violins have traditionally been used to accompany singing and dancing. It is also a significant classical solo instrument, as well as occupying a prominent position at the front of orchestras.
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