Violin facts

Violin string instrument

Find out more about the violin, the smallest member of the string family.


Violin history

It's thought the first violin was constructed around 1555 by Andrea Amati, although no one is sure of the exact year. Older versions of the instrument only had three strings, and were known as 'violetta'.


Range of notes played on a violin

Violin notes range

A violin can play from the G below middle C, known as G3, up to a high E two octaves above its highest string, known as E7. Each of the four strings is tuned a fifth apart, making up the notes G, D, A and E. The sound is made when vibrations from the strings resonate inside the instrument's wooden body.


How to play the violin

Changing the length of the string by pressing down on it changes the frequency of the vibration - and so makes a different note.

  • Every violin is made up of certain parts including pegs to hold the strings, a bridge to rest the strings on, a fingerboard, on which a player puts his or her fingertips, and sometimes a chin rest to make playing more comfortable.
  • The bow is made from a horse hair and a stick of wood, and is usually around 75cm long. 'Rosin' is created from liquid plant resin, and rubbed on the hair to help it grip the strings and make sound when the violin is played.
  • It's not just the bow that makes a sound on the violin. A player can use their right hand to pluck the strings, known as playing 'pizzicato'.

How to play the violin