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Cello (violoncello)

The cello, which is technically called a violoncello (plural: celli or violoncelli), is a stringed instrument in the violin family along with the violin, viola and bass. It represents the tenor voice and is tuned to C2 – G2 – D3 – A3. Its design largely …

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Bridge

The bridge is one of the parts of a violin, cello or other string instrument which has a tremendous effect on its sound. There is a simple reason for this: the bridge transfers the vibrations of the strings to the body of the instrument. Even the …

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Scroll

A scroll is the most commonly used traditional shape that artistically crowns the peg box of a violin or other string instruments in the violin family. The term volute adapted from art history indicates that the scroll is not merely a special flourish found in violin …

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Krouchdaler, Hans (Krauchthaler)

Hans Krouchdaler (also spelled Krauchthaler) was a master luthier of historic violins and one of the most important representatives of the Alemannic tradition. He was born at some point before 1650 and probably completed his training under Joseph Meyer in Geroldshofstetten near Grafenhausen in the southern …

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Carbon bow

The carbon bow is a string bow made of carbon fibres. It was developed in the late 1980s and patterned after earlier models made of other composite materials. Since they are often more affordable in comparison to classic bows crafted out of pernambuco or brazilwood, they …

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Fingerboard

In stringed instruments of the violin family, the fingerboard generally does not have frets or markings; it is glued to the neck, and its lower end extends over the top of the body down to the line between the notches of the sound holes. The underside …

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Frog

The frog helps the hairs of the bow achieve the necessary tension. It is not known how the frog received its name; in German it is also called “frog” (Frosch), whereas in Italian and French it is referred to as the “heel”.  One possible explanation for …

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Pernambuco

Ever since the days of François Xavier Tourte (1747/48-1835), pernambuco has been the most popular kind of wood used to make bows and is favoured over brazilwood, especially for premium quality instruments. Pernambuco is the name given to the heartwood of different trees of the genus …

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Fine-tuners

Fine-tuners are devices placed on the tail of a violin, viola or cello to allow more precise adjustments to the tuning of the string, although their scope is limited in comparison to peg tuning. They consist of a lever mechanism which affects the tension of the …

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Purfling

Purfling is an inlay placed a few millimetres from the edge of the top or back of a stringed instrument. It usually consists of three thin strips of 0.5 mm each inlaid next to each other. The outer two strips are dark, most frequently made of …

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Ebony

Ebony is a collective term for tropical hardwoods of different varietals from the genus Diospyros. Only the very dense, hard and heavy heartwood is used, and it is known for its deep black colour which sometimes features grey streaks. In making string instruments, ebony was traditionally …

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Dietl, Gustav (luthier)

Gustav Dietl was a luthier from the village of Schönbach in what is now Czechia. He was born there in 1882 and completed his apprenticeship under Josef Neudörfer from 1906-1909 before attending the violin-making school in his home town from 1910-1911. In 1919, he opened his …

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Détaché

Détaché describes the basic technique in playing string instruments in which every note is played with alternating bow strokes (down bow, up bow) without any particular articulation. The opposite is known as legato, the technique in which multiple notes are connected with a single bow stroke.

Top

The top, as the name suggests, is the upper part or “face” of a stringed instrument. It is connected to the back by means of ribs and has the same curved shape as the back. Unlike the back, which is one intact piece (or two halves …

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Gut strings

Until well into the 20th century, gut strings were the primary kind of strings used in European string instruments, whereas nowadays they are most commonly used in performances of historical music. This development took place because steel strings and then eventually synthetic-core strings improved their musical …

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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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