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The acoustic violin is the product of the evolution of various string instruments that were being played since the time of our nomadic ancestors. Its four-stringed form however is traced back to the fifteen hundreds, and credited to Italian violin maker Andrea Amati. Amati’s popularity rose greatly when he was commissioned by King Charles IX of France to make two-dozen violins for his court.
Basically, an acoustic violin is a wooden instrument with an hourglass body that is made to rest on the shoulder of the violinist. The basic parts of a violin are the soundboard, scroll, peg box, neck, fingerboard, upper and lower bouts, bridge, fine tuners, tailpiece and chinrest.
The materials used for making violins, as well as its shape and thickness contribute to the sound quality or voice that it produces. Typical materials that make up the body of the violin are maple wood, silver oak, spruce, and cedar.
The strings of violins were originally made out of catgut or sheep gut. However, today violins strings are made from steel that are either solid or stranded. Other materials used for violin strings are synthetic. Violin makers today also plate the strings with silver or gold. Among all the parts of the violin, it is the strings that experience the most wear and tear. Therefore, they often have to be replaced and restrung so that optimum voice quality is achieved.
Violins come in various sizes so it does not matter if you start playing as a child, or a full grown adult. The full size violins are the 4/4s. Next in line are the ¾, ½, 1/8 and so on.
The two main types of violins are the acoustic violin and the electric violin. The acoustic violin is the traditional instrument that most people are acquainted with. It produces a high-pitched sound and is also used by those who are starting out in learning how to play this instrument. Some advanced users move on to electric violins, which in contrast produce sharper sounds, compatible with rock and pop music. Acoustic or traditional violins do not require electricity, while electric violins require electrical outlets and an amplifier.
When it comes to price points, the acoustic violin is the more practical option for novice players. A good quality, basic acoustic violin can go for as low as forty-five dollars. Meanwhile, if you are looking for a higher quality or professional violin, the prices can range from the low hundreds to the high thousands. The same goes for electric violins.
Antique violins and those that are collector’s items are all acoustic violins, because as mentioned earlier, these were the violins used since the fifteen hundreds. The most in demand collector’s violins as well as those that fetch high prices in auctions today are those made by the Stradivari family. The Stradivari’s were the premiere violin makers in the sixteen to seventeen hundreds, along with the Guameri family.