Bowed String Instruments And Their Parts

The string instruments , as its name suggests, are those in which sound is produced by rubbing its strings. By rubbing the strings, there is a vibration of the strings that produces the sound. Also, sound can be produced by plucking the strings, this is called pizzicato. The stringed instruments are the violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

Rubbed string instruments are made of wood, although in recent times instruments that can be plugged into an amplifier, which are made of various materials, have begun to appear. The strings were initially made with animal guts, but today synthetic materials such as nylon and steel are used.

Musicians playing stringed instruments in an orchestra.

To reach some of the highest notes on the violin, gold or silver strings can be used. In order for the strings to rub gently, a wooden bow is used, which has taut horsehair.

The manes of the bow are greased with resin so that they glide more smoothly along the strings and do not produce tearing-like sounds. The length of the bows varies depending on the size of the instrument. The longer they are, the more bass will be produced.

To produce sound, the strings are rubbed with the resin-coated bow, producing a vibration that is transmitted through the bridge to the soundboard.

From here they pass to the soul that picks up the sound and, through its vibration, amplifies it in the resonance box. This goes outside through the efes. The height of the notes is modified with the fingers.

You may also be interested in seeing tango instruments: changes, evolution and influences.

Stringed instruments

The stringed instruments are the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. These constitute the basis of the orchestras.


It is the smallest of the family of stringed instruments, and therefore the sharpest. By having shorter strings. There are several sizes within the violin family, which are adapted to the size of the musician. But normally it is about 59 cm.

Within the orchestras, the violinists are to the left of the conductor and are the most numerous instrument.

2- Viola

The viola is very similar to the violin, although slightly larger, about 69 cm. Being bigger, it is also more serious. In the orchestra, she is situated between the violins and the cellos.

3- Cello

The cello is played by resting it on the floor. It has a lower register, and within the string instruments, it is the one that most closely resembles a human voice in the register. It measures about 125 cm and is placed to the right of the conductor in an orchestra.

4- Contrabass

It is the lowest and largest instrument in the rubbed string family. It measures about 190 cm. In the orchestra they stand behind the cellos, since they are not usually very numerous.

Parts of a stringed instrument

Stringed instruments have the same parts with minor variations. The violin and viola are used by holding them under the chin; while the cello and the double bass rest on the floor.


The volute is the head of the stringed instruments. It is shaped like a shell and has an ornamental function. In it is the pegbox, where the pegs are, which are in charge of securing the strings on top of the instrument.

They not only hold the strings, but also tune them, tightening them, to achieve the desired sound.


The handle is the part where the rubbed string instruments are held, it is also known as the neck. Attach the volute to the soundboard of the instrument and attach it to the fingerboard.


The fretboard is one of the most important parts of the instrument. Placed on top of the neck, its main function is to guide the strings to the bridge.

It has a tab, or nut, at the beginning; at the junction with the scroll. This nut allows the strings to be slightly raised above the fretboard.

The fingerboard is where the fingers are placed to produce the different notes. The length of the strings determines the sound of the strings, if they are longer they will produce more bass sounds, and if the length is shorter, they will produce higher sounds.

Positioning the fingers closer to the scroll will produce lower sounds than those positioned closer to the bridge.

Sounding board

The soundboard is made up of the soundboard, the back cover and the fs. When the strings vibrate, this vibration passes through the bridge to reach the soundboard, which in turn transmits the vibration to the soul.

The soul is inside the soundboard. Once it vibrates, the resonance box works as an amplifier of the sound, leaving this through the efes.


It is a piece perpendicular to the soundboard, which fulfills one of the most important functions of string instruments. It is in charge of transmitting the vibration of the strings so that it is amplified in the harmonic box.


It is a cylindrical piece that is located inside the harmonic box. It is responsible for transmitting vibrations and amplifying them.

To be able to vibrate and produce sound, this piece is not glued, but is held by the pressure of the soundboard and the bottom cover.


Allows you to attach the strings to the bottom of the instruments. It also features a peg system that allows you to tune the strings more precisely than the pegs.

Chin guard

This part only belongs to the viola and the violin and is the part that helps musicians to hold the instrument with the chin more easily.


This part is only present on cello and double bass. It is a metal part that is removed and adjusted to the height necessary to hold it on the ground.


  1. KARTOMI, Margaret J. On concepts and classifications of musical instruments . University of Chicago Press, 1990.
  2. RAMAN, Chandrasekhara V. On the mechanical theory of the vibrations of bowed strings and of musical instruments of the violin family, with experimental verification of the results. Indian Assoc. Cultivation Sci. Bull , 1918, vol. 15, p. 1-158.
  3. CREMER, Lothar. The physics of the violin . Cambridge: MIT press, 1984.
  4. FLETCHER, Neville H .; ROSSING, Thomas. The physics of musical instruments . Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
  5. BONTA, Stephen. From violone to violoncello: a question of strings? . American Musical Instrument Society, 1977.
  6. HAYES, Gerald Ravenscourt. The Viols and other bowed instruments . Alexander Broude, 1969.
  7. ADLER, Samuel; HESTERMAN, Peter. The study of orchestration . WW Norton, 1989.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *