How to choose my first violin
Violin, my first violin
To choose my first violin, it is important to know how it has been manufactured over time and its main actors who were the ones who created the foundations so that today we have different violin choices according to our objective.
The birth of the first violins. A little history
In the 16th century, the dynasties of Luthiers were born, the first of them in the city of Cremona, where the famous school was established by Antonio Amati, Girolamo Amati and their son Niccolò Amati.
Among Niccolò Amati's pupils were Girolamo Amati, Andrea Guarneri and probably Antonio Stradivari.
The Stradivarius myth
By the first half of the eighteenth century, the Cremona school dominated the world of violin making, headed by Antonio Stradivari, who set the model for the instrument for all his successors.
Three creative phases are identified in Stradivari. The early one, with great influence from Amati, between 1666 and 1690. Later, between 1690 and 1700, his models were longer; finally, its “golden age”, the heyday of the Cremona school and the art of violin making.
Antonio Stradivari, in his career of more than seventy years, built some 1,100 instruments (the latest official count is 1,116), of which about 650 are known to exist today, possibly including some imitations and forgeries.
Currently around 450 Stradivaruis violins are preserved. The most expensive violin ever auctioned fetched $15.9 million.
After Stradivari, the Guarneri dynasty occupied an important place in violin making. This dynasty was headed by Andrea Guarneri, a student of Niccolò Amati and his sons.
After the famous violinist Nicolo Paganini played on his Guarneri-made violin, known as “il Cannone” (the cannon), many violinists came to prefer them over Stradivari's. The Guarneri were characteristically larger than the Stradivari, and with a legendary sound; Sadly, Guarneri del Gesù only produced about 200 instruments, these being very rare today.
Solid or laminated wood?
As we saw in ancient times there were no violins that were not made of solid wood, but as the study of the instrument became more widespread, the need arose for instruments more accessible to the public of a more industrial origin.
At the beginning of the 20th century in Europe, most people could obtain a solid wood instrument, but in the last 30 years these instruments have become more expensive, and at the same time mass production of their manufacture has grown; mostly in Asia, they began to make laminated instruments of acceptable quality and at an affordable price.
Solid or solid wood
Solid wood is normally used in high-end instruments, it usually preserves all the beauty of the wood; its fibers, knots, tones. Aesthetically it is unmatched.
The solid woods generally used in violins
- The spruce , for the top, the soundbar and the soul.
- European maple , for the back, sides, neck and bridge.
- Ebony for the fingerboard and nuts
- Contra-hoops and studs can be made of spruce, poplar , willow or any other light wood.
- The pegs and tailpiece can be made of ebony or rosewood.
Laminated wood is generally composed of 2, 3 or 4 layers of wood, it allows them to be worked with heat to bend them, offering a more economical alternative to the finish of a solid wood top. Laminated wood is more dimensionally stable and very resistant.
Let's see below what these woods look like to be able to identify them.
Several factors must be taken into account when choosing my first violin: Budget, the approach I want to give when studying the instrument, objectives (if they are short, medium or long term)
It is important to know that a studio violin (by this we mean beginner) is normally made of laminated wood or in some cases they are hybrids which have a solid wood top and the rest of the instrument made of laminated wood. If the person is just starting out, it is advisable to start with a simple violin and as the student progresses in their process, buy a better quality one.
There are different measures that vary according to the age of the child. To get an approximate measurement, extend the child's arm moderately (parallel to the floor) where the hand should grasp the conch shell or the end of the violin. If he can do it without any difficulty, it is the perfect medium for him. Below, we present a table of measurements to guide us according to the age of the child:
Violin Size Measurement (Cm) Average Age
1/16 35-38 cm 3-5 years
1/8 39-42 cm 5-6 years
1/4 43-46 cm 6-7 years
1/2 52-56 cm 7-8 years
3/4 57-60 cm 9-11 years
4/4 - 60 cm 12 and up
It is important to take this table into account, but many times the measurement also has to do with the child's height, comfort and, most importantly, inform you, you should consult with a teacher so that the child acquires the instrument that is tailored to him and not one bigger or smaller.
The mistake is often made of buying one so that it lasts longer and when he is 12 years old, buying the 4/4, this should not be the case since the child, if he is just starting out, would have poor posture and technique on the instrument at the time. not having one of your size.
The violin is an instrument that, if you dedicate your time, patience and discipline to it, will give you good results in the future. Make the most of your time and get closer to the music, and live a true musical experience.