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Mute

A mute for a string instrument is a clip of wood (usually ebony), metal, plastic or rubber which is attached to the bridge to make the sound of the instrument softer and quieter. It is thought to have been invented in the early 17th century and …

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Endpin

Crafted from metal or composite materials, the endpin (also called a spike) is a long stick with one pointed end. It is attached to the underside of the cello and supports it as it rests against the player. Pins became commonplace in the early 19th century; …

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Viola

The viola is a stringed instrument which belongs to the violin family (along with the violin itself, the cello and the bass) and represents its alto voice. It is comparable to the violin in how it is constructed and played, but it is much larger, with …

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Bow

The bow’s purpose is to generate sound from a string instrument by being pulled along the strings or striking against them. A bow consists of a stick of hardwood ‑‑ traditionally pernambuco, brazilwood or amourette, although in modern times the stick might also be made of …

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Back

The underside of a stringed instrument is its back. It is connected to the top of the instrument by means of ribs and share the same curvature as the top. The back is one solid piece (or two halves fitted together to a solid whole) unlike …

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Button

The “button” is the amusing name given to the handle on the screw used to tighten the hair on a bow. In top-quality bows, it often has many parts; for example, it may consist of pieces of ebony and metal rings, and it commonly features a …

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Bausch, Ludwig Christian August (bow maker)

Contemporaries of Ludwig Christian August Bausch referred to him as the “German Tourte.” Famous violinists of the 19th century such as Joseph Joachim and August Wilhelmj had a stated preference for Bausch bows, and not simply as an expression of patriotism. They even chose Bausch’s work …

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Bass bar

The bass bar is a strip of wood glued to the inside of the top of a string instrument. It plays a major part in its stability and its resonant properties. The bass bar is positioned along the length of the corpus (i.e., parallel to the …

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Bushing

Bushing is a repair to the peg box in which new peg holes are drilled. This procedure is necessary if the old peg holes have grown too wide or their position has to be changed. The process of bushing begins with closing the peg holes by …

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Up bow

The up bow is the stroke in which the player moves the arm from right to left, i.e. from the tip to the frog. Its opposite is known as the down bow. Among violin-family instruments, the up bow is most commonly used for unaccented beats such …

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Grafting

Grafting is a complicated repair in which the neck of a string instrument is replaced, but the peg box and scroll remain in place and are integrated into the new neck. Many older violins have grafted necks: some are repairs from previous damage, and some are …

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Alemannic violins (Alemannic School)

Scholars who study the history of instrument making define the tradition known as the Alemannic School as a particular style prevalent in the 17th and early 18th century. It has specific stylistic criteria that distinguish it as an independent movement in the region ranging from the …

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Maple (sycamore maple, sycamore)

Acer pseudoplatanus is a member of the maple family and called sycamore in the UK and sycamore maple in the US. It ranks amongst the most popular materials used in crafting string instruments. Traditionally it is selected to make the back, ribs, neck, scroll and bridge. …

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Down bow

A down bow is the movement in which the bow is moved to the player’s right, i.e. pulling from the frog towards the tip. As the name suggests, an up bow is the stroke in the opposite direction. For instruments in the violin family, the down …

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