Friday, March 21, 2014

VIOLIN: Parts of the Violin

If you go to this website:
you can click on any part of this violin and you will be
linked to a page with more detailed information.




1 scroll
2 peg box
3 peg holes
4 pegs
5 neck
6 nut
7 fingergoard
8 bridge
9 tailpiece
10 saddle
11 end button

12 top plate
13 sound hole (f-hole)
14 purfling
15 bass bar
16 ribs 
16a lower bout
16b middle bout
16c upper bout
17 corner block
18 back plate
19 sound post

The body is made of slow-growing
wood of even density, since this type
of wood offers the best resonance.
Spruce is used for the belly, maple
for the back and ribs.

To make the belly a wedge is cut out of
a piece of spruce and split down the
middle to form two symmetrical parts.
These are then glued together so that
the older wood – where the rings are
closer together – are in the middle.
This flat piece of wood is planed to a
thickness of about 3 mm in the middle
and progessively thinner toward the
edges to form a vault. The F-holes that
are cut into the belly help it to vibrate
near the bridge and improve the
projection of sound from the body’s
interior. The back is made in a similar
way, either from one or two pieces of
maple. The curved ribs join the belly
to the back and consist of the upper
bout, middle bout and lower bout. The
body is given added stability by the
top block, lower block and four corner
blocks inside. The edges of the belly
and back are inlaid with pearwood or
ebony to strengthen the joins; this inlay
is called purfling. There has been a lot
of discussion regarding the effect that
varnishing the body has on the sound;
what is certain is that it offers the body
protection against changes in
temperature and humidity.

The head and neck are carved from a
single piece of maple. The neck is firmly
dovetailed with the top block and is about
13 cm long. The fingerboard is solid ebony,
joined to the neck and projecting over the
belly. Older fingerboards, from around
1700, were only about 20 cm long and
therefore rather shorter than today’s 27
cm. The strings are parallel to
the fingerboard.

The lowest string is the G string which is
usually made of gut and wound with silver
or copper wire. The D and A strings are
made either of gut or plastic and are
aluminum-wound, the E string is normally
made of steel. So that the tension of the
four strings is more or less equal, which
is very important for the projection of the
sound, strings with different diameters
or gauges are used. The E string is
pulled a little tighter than the others in
order to achieve the brilliance
required of it.

The bridge is positioned between the F-
holes and is made of maple, 30 mm high
and 40 mm wide. The pressure of the
strings presses it against the belly. The
bridge transmits the vibrations of the
strings to the belly via two small feet.
Even the smallest changes to height,
thickness, shape or position on the belly
influence the sound. Earlier models were
much more robust than today’s.

The bass bar is a 28 cm long and 5 mm
wide piece of wood (maple or fir) glued
lengthwise on the inside of the belly
under the left foot of the bridge (G string)
and transmits the vibrations of the bridge’s
left foot, the low notes, to the belly.

The soundpost, a 6 mm thick rod made of
spruce, is placed next to the bridge’s right
foot and wedged between the back and
the belly. Because of its vital importance
to the instrument’s sound it is often called
the “soul” of the violin. Its task is to transfer
the top string’s vibrations to the back. Even
the smallest changes to its position
influence the sound.

The mute (sordino) can be made of a wide
variety of materials: wood, rubber, plastic,
leather or brass. It is placed on the bridge
and has the effect of reducing the
projection of the higher partials with a
frequency of over 2000 hertz. As a result,
the brightness and loudness of the
sound is reduced.

The chin rest, which is made of wood or
plastic, and the shoulder rest, made of
fabric, support the instrument in such a
way as to allow the violinist’s left hand
greater freedom of movement and
prevent the shoulder from damping
the vibrations.

Scaling refers to the violin’s proportions,
i.e. the ratio of the distance between the
nut and the neck bracket to the distance
between neck bracket and bridge on
the one hand and the vibrating string
on the other.

Today a ratio of 2:3 between neck and
belly is regarded as the ideal. The term,
however, also refers to the overall size
of the instrument: standard-sized violins
are referred to as 4/4 violins, smaller
models with scaling of 7/8 are made for
players with smaller hands; for children,
the scaling can be reduced to 1/16.
This has the advantage of reducing the
distances on the fingerboard while
maintaining the tuning, making it
easier for smaller hands to play.